Concepts – Downloading Autosomal Data from Family Tree DNA

In the new Concepts series titled Managing Autosomal DNA Matches, we’re going to be working with your DNA information from several sources. In order to create matching spreadsheets, you’ll need to download your autosomal information from Family Tree DNA.

Sign on to your account and click on “Matches” under the Family Finder section. You can reach this section by either clicking on the “myFTDNA” link in the upper left corner, or by clicking on the Matches option shown on your main page.

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We’ll be downloading two files.

File 1 – Family Finder Matches

The first file is a list of your matches. That file download link is found at the bottom of your match page in the lower right hand corner.

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Click on either orange button.

A file will download.  I create a file folder by date and save by download date.

On a Windows PC, you’ll be given the option of downloading and saving to the location of your choice.

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The file contains a list of your matches along with other relevant information.

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You can click on the graphic above to enlarge. Match information includes name, e-mail, match date, relationship range, suggested relationship, total shared cM, longest block, haplogroups and ancestral surnames.

File 2 – Chromosome Browser Results

The second file you’re going to download is your file that contains the matching segments with all of your matches.

To find this link, you’ll need to select someone, anyone, to compare in the chromosome browser.  We just need to get to that page, so who you select doesn’t matter.

This is my mother’s account, so I’m selecting me to compare.

On the dropdown box below the picture, select “compare in chromosome browser.”

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Family Tree DNA will then add me to the list of people to compare.  You could select 4 more, but in this case, we simply want to get to the results page, so click on the big blue compare button.

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Hint:  If you aren’t actually comparing people, you can take the shortcut to the Chromosome Browser by clicking the Chromosome Browser button beside the match button in the middle of your main page.

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Regardless of which way you get to the top of the Chromosome Browser page, at the top of the chromosome browser page, you will see three options.

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The first option, on the left will only download the matches currently showing in the chromosome browser.  In this case, it would be only for me and mother.

The second option shows the same data in a table.

You’re not interested in either of those two options. You want to click on the third option, on the far right, “Download All Matches to Excel,” which will produce a file with the following information for all of your matches.

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This file shows you the matching information on each chromosome location for every one of your matches.  We’ll be using this information to group relevant matches in the next article.

When you’re ready to download the files from Family Tree DNA to your computer, do the download for all people involved on the same day, at the same time, so that their results will be in sync.

Preparing for the Managing Autosomal DNA Series

For the first part of the Managing Autosomal DNA Matches series, you’ll want to download your results and those of your parents or parent, as described above. If you don’t have living parents, you’ll want to download the files of your siblings.  If you have one or both parents, you don’t need the files of your siblings.

By the way, if you’re lucky enough to have grandparents who have tested, by all means, we need their file too.

This series also presumes at least a rudimentary working knowledge of Excel.  Specifically you’ll need to know how to sort correctly (meaning sort the entire spreadsheet, not just a specific column) and how to colorize cells.

You may want to refer to training videos for Excel including “Twenty with Tessa, Tips and Suggestions for Spreadsheets” which is focused on using spreadsheets with one name studies and genetic genealogy, but the principles are the same.

I have not taken this class, but some have joined and taken the basic Excel class which they found very useful.

Transferring Results from Ancestry and 23andMe

For the next step, you’ll need your results and those of both or either of your parents at Family Tree DNA.

If you have tested your parents or siblings at Ancestry (before the middle of May 2016) or at 23andMe on the v3 chip (before November 2013), you’ll want to transfer their files to Family Tree DNA, assuming they have not already tested at Family Tree DNA.

The transfer is free, but it costs $39 to unlock the file.  That’s a lot less than retesting.  It takes a few days to process, so do the transfer now so that you’ll have their results. To be clear, we need your results and those of either or both of your parents at Family Tree DNA for the first article.  If you have both parents, that’s the ideal situation.  If not, one parent will do.  If you have grandparents, by all means, we need them too.

Having said that, in future articles, we will also be working with other known relatives, such as uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.  If you have tested other known relatives elsewhere, now would be a good time to transfer their results as well, although we won’t utilize their information in the first article.

Jacob Lentz (1783-1870), Shipwrecked, 52 Ancestors #121

This article took not months, but years to prepare. I have written and rewritten the story of Jacob several times now, and even yet this week while preparing the final draft, I made new discoveries as additional records have come on-line.  We have so little information about Jacob directly, although we do have some.  Most of what we have comes from other sources.  Suffice it to say, Jacob’s story was not one I would describe as low hanging fruit, and we still don’t have all the answers we want – like where he was born, for example.

So…please get a nice cup of coffee or tea and join me on an absolutely incredible journey, much further back in time than I ever imagined possible.  And yes, I’m saying that – me, doing what I do for a living with genetics.  Even I’m amazed.

Much of this research is courtesy of numerous cousins, one way or another, several of whom I’ve been remembering posthumously and fondly as I’ve written.  Collaboration is a fabulous tool.  I hope that those who have passed over can somehow “see” this or know.  They would be so excited and proud of their contribution.  And if they are listening…well…I still have some questions that need answers that I think can only come from beyond:)

The Tribute

It’s not many ancestors that have a tribute written about them. At least not in my family.  My family is either very quiet (pietist) or notorious, and not in a “tribute” sort of way.

I wish I had found this tribute early on. I didn’t, but I’m going to introduce you to Jacob Lentz via his tribute, sent to me a few years ago, written by his grandson.  This same basic story has descended through two different lines of his children, one that went west and one that stayed in Ohio.  My line that went North?  We didn’t even know about Jacob Lentz.  We were the clueless line!

The following tribute was sent by the descendants of Johann Adam Lentz, Jacob’s son. The first portion was written by George William Lentz, Adam’s son, a grandson of Jacob, for his son Roscoe.  George was a Church of the Brethren evangelist and elder and traveled extensively throughout the Midwest in his endeavors. The Lentz family is very indebted to him for this document.  As I look at the photo below, I can’t help but wonder if he looked like Jacob Lentz or Fredericka, his wife.

George Lentz

This document was 12 pages in length, with page 5 missing, although the missing page appears to be in Adam’s generation detailing the trip west, not during Jacob’s lifetime.  I have omitted the rest of the letter as it is not relevant to Jacob’s lifetime.

A second account of this same letter later surfaced sometime later from another cousin who descends from a separate son of Jacob.  The accounts are quite similar, but not exact.  This second version was transcribed Oct. 17, 1989 from the original letter written by George W. Lentz.  Our thanks to cousin Laura Hall for sharing it with us.  I’ll begin with the first letter and note the relevant differences in the second letter with brackets ().

A Tribute to Jacob Lentz

Jacob Lentz was born in Wuertemburg, Germany May 5, 1783 and he died in Dayton Ohio April 10, 1870 and is buried 13 miles northwest of Dayton. He married Frederica Mosselman who was born in Wuertemburg, Germany March 8 1788.  She died March 22, 1863.

When a boy Jacob heard with great interest the wonderful stories about the wonderful land to the west, beyond the sea and the unlimited opportunities that were open to everyone in the young rising nation that was dedicated to the principle that all men are created free and equal and that everyone has the inalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own heart and conscience, as the reading of God’s word would lead them. He was so impressed with what he was constantly hearing that he found himself with a great desire to emigrate to this land of limitless opportunity and many times he would watch the setting sun, he would find himself saying, “Someday I am going there.”

But that someday did not come until he was almost 34 years of age and had 3 (4) children in his home to care for. (Those children were Jacob, Fredericka, Elizabeth and Barberry. The other children were born in America.)

Finally all arrangements were completed and bidding farewell to all their relations he and his family with his wife’s sister began their journey in 1817 (the words “in 1817” are omitted in the second version) to the land of his dreams. Thus they left Wuertemburg, Germany to return no more.

Ships were very different then than what they are now, and as their finances were limited. They did not have the best accommodations that were furnished to the more favored, even in that early day.  But they were willing to endure the hardships of an ocean voyage that they might come to the land about which they had heard so much.  Strange as it may seem to us now, they were to spend about 3 months on the ocean before landing on American soil (the words “on American soil” are omitted from the second version).  But now comes a very strange and trying part of their experience.

They experienced much of the ocean storm and the time seemed long. As the time came that they could reasonably expect to end their journey and set foot on the new world, everyone was making preparation to quit their ocean home.

But many days passed by and no land came in sight. Everyone became restless and there were many misgivings.  They sought explanations from the captain of the ship but his explanations were not satisfactory.  One part of their diet was a large kettle of soup or hash of which they all partook.  Some actions on the part of the captain as he was about where this food was being prepared at a certain time aroused suspicions of those in charge of preparing the food and instead of serving this food it caused the arrest of the captain of the ship.

A sample of the food was preserved and found to contain poison enough to kill many more than were on board this vessel. The captain’s purpose was to poison the crew and turn the ship over to pirates. He was later executed for this.

The ship without a captain wandered around in the northern waters for some time and finally landed (shipwrecked) way up on (the western coast of) Norway where they have six months of day and six months of night; thus were your (my) early ancestors brought to a disappointment in life that they were never able to find words to express. Landing in Norway where conditions were very unfavorable and where but few people live, instead of in America.  Their money all gone, strangers in a strange land, unable to speak the language, without (a) home (and) friends or prospects (“or prospects” omitted from second copy), a sad condition.

Fishing and weaving were the only things in sight and this they did, thus managing to get along for a few months. It was not possible for them to save anything out of the meager rewards for their work, but they still kept their steadfast purpose, to finally in some way reach America.  (Second copy says “It was not possible for them to kept their steadfast purpose, to finally in someway, reach America.”)

After 6 months of weary waiting in that northern climate, an opportunity came their way. A certain ship was to leave their port for the new world and proposed to enter (so they entered) into a contract, stipulating that they should be bound out to services to anyone that would pay their passage and food expense.  The time of service was to be determined by the bidding of interested employers after landing in America.  They would be indentured servants. (Previous sentence not in second copy.)  It was stipulated that the family was not to be separated.

With this contract they set sail the second time for the land beyond the sea, not knowing what would befall them or how they would be dealt with in the future (rest of sentence not in second copy) that was veiled with clouds that seemed to be very dark. All they knew was to commit their all into the hands of the overruling Providence “That doeth all things well, patiently labor, and wait for the future to unroll whatever was in store for them.”

(The passage was $30 each for mother and father and $15 each for Jacob and Fredericka. Elizabeth died on the ocean and Barberry was a baby.)

They landed in New York on the 1st day of January 1819 (rest of sentence omitted in second copy) some 18 months or more after leaving Germany. Very soon after landing advertisements were sent out giving contract notice,  description of the family, amount of money to be paid and setting the date when they would be bound out to the one that would pay the money for the least period of service.

The momentous day soon came. They were placed on a platform before the crowd, the contract read, the amount of money to be paid was stated and the bidding began.  Of course anyone had the privilege to talk with them before hand.  The bidding was in time of service.  One bidder would offer to pay their fare for 10 years services, another for nine, another for 8, another for 7, and so the bidding continued until finally their service was declared to the successful bidder for 3 years and 6 months.  They went with him to his home at Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, wondering, wondering, wondering what it all meant to them.

They worked with a will and did their best to please their employer so he would have no just cause to hold them for service longer than the specified time.

They soon found that their employer and his wife were very good people asking reasonable work and supplying them with a comfortable home and an abundance of food. Contrasting this kindness with what they had to meet in the two preceeding years, they were content and the future looked brighter to them, as they were now sure that in a few years of time they would be free to start life over again in this land where they had longed (long hoped) to be.

After they had worked about 8 months their employer invited them into his parlor one morning and kindly explained to them that according to customary wages, they had earned enough to pay their fare across the ocean and that was all he wanted, that he appreciated very much their faithful service. There were at the liberty to do for themselves and to work for who or where they would and their wages would be theirs to do with as they wished.

Freeing them of over two and a half years of service was so unthought-of on their part that they could never thank those people enough for their great kindness. So he often told it to his children and asked them to tell it to their children – that they might know and appreciate this kindness that was shown to them at the time it meant so much.

(The following 2 paragraphs were only in the second letter, not the first.)

This was about the time Adam was born so he had a special reason to remember the story as he heard it from his father. They remained in that community some nine or ten years and then moved to Dayton, Ohio, locating ten miles northwest on land they purchased from the government.  This was in 1829.  They cleared and improved the land and there they raised their children.  They spent almost 40 years of their last in comfort.  This was a homestead.

Adam was born August 30, 1819 in Shippenburg, Pa. to Jacob and Frederica. There is a question of any other children born in America and of those they brought with them from Germany and the sister who came with them.  Jacob took his family to Dayton, Ohio in 1829 where be bought land from the government and made a homestead.  There Frederica died March 22, 1863 at 75.  She was buried 13 miles Northwest of Dayton.  Jacob died there April 10, 1870 at the age of 87.  Tribute to them and gratitude that they made the trip to America.

(Next resumes text in both letters.)

He often talked of how kindly America has dealt with him, and exhorted his children to always think well of America. Even the storms of life seemed to overwhelm him for a time with crushing force, but the time finally came when they all were made to subside, and he was made to feel and say that the good Father above, surely loves and cares for his own in his own way and time.

They were members of the Lutheran Church when they came to this country, but in the course of time united with the Church of the Brethren in which faith they closed their earthly pilgrimage, prepared we trust, for their home above.

The things herein related are the real living experiences of the long ago and I hope you will find a message in it that will do you good in life.

George W. Lentz

Of note, a third cousin was told that the place where they spent “nearly a year” was “Bergen, Norway,” shown on the map below.

Lentz Bergen

The western part of Norway borders the Atlantic and the few cities that exist are utterly stunning with the fingers of the sea reaching into the mountains as fjords.  Houses are snuggled into the lowlands bordering the sea, where any lowlands exist.  Jacob would have had to have been in a port city to arrange for transport to the US, and there are only a few cities that would have qualified, Bergen being among them.  The photo below is a photochrom from the 1800s and would have looked similar to what Jacob would have seen.

Lentz Bergen photochrom

Another Letter Surfaces

Two cousins, Laura and Dana, independently wrote to me some years ago with another letter. Their commentary appears below, followed by the letter itself.

“I remembered the story my Grampa (Ray) told me about the trip from Germany to America. He gave me his copy of the hand written notes from George to write up on my PC.  We never knew about the 12 pages George wrote, we only had 3 pages.  Grampa added a fourth page.  Grampa’s 4th page talked out the land donated to the city of Dayton where the VA center was built.  You have no idea many times we kids heard about the “dairy” stories.  Grampa actually ran the dairies in Dayton in his early adult life through WW1.  Sorry about rambling on, but he was very dear to us and I miss him and Grandma so much.  By the way, Grandma was a Bookwalter.  I noticed that the Lentz’s bought land from the Bookwalters.  They must have been in kahutz together.

Jacob’s son (who wrote these notes) name was George. George had a son named Isaac who married Ida Beeghly who had a son named Ray Lentz who is the author of the following letter:”

Abraham Lincoln was president of the USA from 1861 to 1865 when he was assassinated, vice president Andrew Jackson then became president. He was from Greenfield, Tennessee, age 56 and was president for 4 years.

During his presidency he decided to build a hospital for war veterans in central USA. The railroad which had a big depot came to Dayton.  President Jackson looked the town over and saw an attractive hillside three miles west of Dayton.  He liked the location so well that he decided to purchase the land, 400 acres, offering $113.00 per acre.  Jacob Lentz owned 120 of the 400 acres of land.  When President Jackson made the offer to Jacob, he said no, no way he would sell the land, but he would donate it, telling him what a time he had getting here to America, and how much he appreciated America.  So two years later the Central Branch of Dayton (Soldiers Home) Hospital opened.  The date was December of 1867, at the cost of $212,900.60.  $20,000 was donated by the citizens of Dayton.  In the first year 1249 veterans arrived.  On March 1869, there were 224 bed patients and 700 barracks.  The chief surgeon received $50 per month and the nurses received $8 per month.  4000 were buried there.  In 1896, the same year Nebraska became a state, and Atlanta telegraph was completed, there were 7,141 enrolled in the hospital.

End of letter.

Lentz Soldiers Home

The Soldiers home is shown on the map above today at 4100 W. Third St, Dayton, Ohio.

From the Veteran’s Facility to Happy Corners where Jacob is buried is about 10 miles.

Lentz Map Soldier Home to Happy Corner

The National Home For Disabled Volunteer Soldiers now known as The Veterans Administration is located at 4100 W. 3rd St. [which is U.S. 35] in Dayton. This address is on its north side. The 1875 Atlas of Montgomery County shows it taking nearly the entire of section 1 in Jefferson Township containing 490 acres. It was created not long after the War Between the States. There is a 35 bypass that runs on the south side of the grounds off of which you would turn north on Lyscum Rd. which is on the western edge of the complex. The only other earlier atlas is for 1851 in which this land was then owned by Henry Reasor, Jac. Wolf, Dan Kinsey and the D. Reasor heirs.

Given how far the Soldier’s Home, now the Veteran’s Families is located from where Jacob lived and this 1851 atlas information, it calls into question the accuracy of this family story.

The Soldier’s Home

It was a good story, but like many family stories, it was slightly mistaken – but not without some merit.

However, it’s a generation offset with the facts slightly askew.

The letter stated that Jacob Lentz donated the land to the Dayton Soldiers Home, now the large VA complex, in thanks for his opportunities here in the US. I contacted the VA historian, because if this was indeed true, I wanted our Jacob to take his rightful place in history, and I thought perhaps they would have some correspondence from Jacob in this vein that might be enlightening.  Not to mention, they might have a document with his signature!

The historian, Tessa Kalman, was indeed very nice and helpful, and provided the early deeds for the property. They have the original deeds there at the Veterans facility.  And yes, Jacob Lentz is involved, but it’s Jacob F. Lentz and his wife Sophia, the son of the original Jacob.  And Jacob F.’s involvement isn’t as direct as was originally noted, but let’s take this one item at a time.

The land for the VA complex was purchased from several farmers. There is a map of the land of each individual.  Jacob’s grandson’s recollections mention President Jackson, but Johnson followed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and there is no record of him ever having visited the facility or the land prior to the facility. In fact, a lawyer named Lewis Gunckel, a German, was responsible for putting the deal together feeling it would be good for the area.  It was then and is yet today, employing thousands and providing much needed care for our veterans.

The various deeds read like this, extracted:

  • March 12, 1850 Jacob Wolf Jr., executor for Jacob Wolf Sr., decd, to Jacob F. Lentz, 80 acres, recorded March 14, 1850 in record book 2 pages 418 and 419. Jacob Wolf Sr. wrote his will in May 1849 and it was probated in Aug. 1849. Sold to Jacob F. Lentz for $1800, the best offer, all of the south half of the northeast quarter section 1 twp 3 range 5e of a meridian drawn from the Great Miami River and containing 80 acres. Signed and witnessed by Jacob Wolf Jr, and wit John Soltherin? And D.A. Haynet?
  • Following that deed, Elizabeth Wolf, widow of Jacob Sr., separately conveys her dower to Jacob F. Lentz for $500. She signed with her mark.
  • James Crosby for $12,000 from the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, in Jefferson Twp, all the south half of the NE qtr of section 1 twp 3, r5e, 80 acres more or less, conveyed by Jacob Lentz and Sophia Lentz to said James Crosby by deed dated Sept. 9, 1858 and recorded in deed book E # 3 page 465.
  • Elizabeth Cole and John C. Cole her husband formerly of Montgomery Co., Ohio and now of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. $1100 paid by the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers the following real estate in Montgomery Co. Ohio the SE quarter of section 36 twp 4 range 5e and the ne quarter of section 1 twp 3 range 5e….(metes and bounds)…containing 7.98 acres of land.
  • The next document is a survey which shows this piece of land south butting up against D&E (Eaton) Turnpike Road and shows the township line dissecting this land. This survey further divided this land into 4 quadrants of which the one sold above was one. The survey date as Oct 28 1861.
  • James B. Oliver and wife to Henry Reesor deed recorded in Book O page 85 and 86, date illegible on outside but inside it says Aug. 23, 1831, 100.17 acres for $800 SE corner east half sect 36 twp 4 range 5e on the Eaton Road. Mary Oliver release dower.
  • Followed by “I hearby release the within mortgage the notes secured by the same being all paid and cancelled. Dayton June 20, 1860 signed Jacob F. Lentz assignee of Henry Reeser. This is on the back of a mortgage deed from John C. Cole and wife to Jacob F. Lentz assignee of Henry Reesor. Recorded April 12, 1838 (is that 1858). I believe it is 1858 given later dates. Recorded May 17, 1858 in Book P pages 155 and 156. Inside deed says tract of land on SE quarter of sect 36 twp 4 range 5e…metes and bounds….along road to a stone in Jacob F. Lentz’s land, H. S. Williams 10 acre tract, 108.8 acres. Mortgage amount is $363 and it is to be paid two years later.
  • Another mortgage deed from James Crosby and Lydia Crosby to Jacob F. Lentz. Jacob signs a note on the packet that says it is for $625 payable April 1, 1864 (4 is smeared) and that it has been assigned to Henry Caylor for the principle, the interest being paid to March 1, 1860. Then there is a second note that says the notes secured by this mortgage are paid in full this April 4, 1865 and signed by Jacob F. Lentz.
  • Then a deed from Jacob F. Lentz and his wife Sophia for $6500 paid by James Crosby for the NE quarter of sect 1 twp 3 of range 5w 80 acres. Signed by Jacob F. Lentz and Sophia Lentz. Sophia released dower. Sept. 9, 1858.
  • James Crosby and Lydia Crosby conveyed to Jacob F. Lentz for $4500 the south half of the NE quarter of sect 1 in twp 3 r5e, 80 acres. Sept. 9, 1858 This is a mortgage and it has verbiage about 6 promissory notes and interest and such.
  • The last thing in the packet from Tessa is a map of the various lands purchased for the lands for the Soldier’s Home.

So the net net of this is that Jacob F. Lentz seems to have a little side business financing mortgages or notes for his neighbors. He bought the 80 acres in 1850 for $1400 and sold it in 1858 for $6500, taking a note for $4500, which was paid.  Then in the mid-1860s, the Crosby’s sold that same land for $12,000 to become part of the land for the Soldier’s Home.  One thing we know for sure, Jacob F. Lentz didn’t have a crystal ball, or he would have held onto that land a few years longer.

Sigh, another family story debunked. But it was SUCH a good story!

What Do We Know?

Now that we know that Jacob Lentz did not donate the land for the Soldier’s Home, let’s take a look at what information we have been able to collect about Jacob Lentz.

Let’s begin with a timeline of the early years, then work our way forward in the records.

  • 1783 – May 15, 1783, Jacob born in Wurttemberg, according to the letter.
  • 1809 – If Jacob had 4 children in 1817, then he was likely married about 1808 or 1809, or possibly earlier. This would have made Fredericka about 20 or 21 when they married.
  • 1817 – If he was 34 when he left for America, that would have been in 1817.
  • 1817 – Letter says they left for America in 1817.
  • 1817 or 1818 – Shipwrecked in Norway for at least 6 months, plus at least 3 months trip, so at least 9 months delayed, plus a second trip across the Atlantic.
  • 1819 – Landed in New York January 1, 1819 according to the letter.  That was indeed a Happy New Year!
  • 1819 – Indentured for 3 years and 6 months, but released after about 8 months by a family in Shippensburg, PA.
  • 1819 – son Adam born Aug. 30, 1819 in Pennsylvania.
  • Not present on census
  • 1828-1829 – lived another 9 or 10 years in the Shippensburg community, according to the letter, which would be about 1828-1829
  • 1829 – Jacob moved his family to Montgomery County and purchased land from the government 10 miles north of Dayton, according to the letter.
  • 1830 – Not present on census.

Let’s begin with the Wurttemberg location. What, if anything, do we have to verify Jacob was born in Wurttemberg?


As it turns out, there is quite a bit of information that points to Wurttemberg, just not exactly where in Wuerttemburg.

In the 1860 census, Jacob and Frederica tell us themselves that they were born in Wurttemburg.

Lentz Jacob 1860 census

In 1860, Jacob and his wife were living with son, George, born in 1824 in Pennsylvania.

I also used Wurttemberg to help reassemble Jacob’s children, since he didn’t do us the favor of leaving a will.

We know that son, Adam, was born in 1819, per the letter, and marriage records tell us that he married Margaret Whitehead January 3, 1843.  They moved to Elkhart County, Indiana before she died in July of 1844.

Another Lentz female, Margaret, married Valentine Whitehead Dec. 31, 1840 and they too migrated to Elkhart County, Indiana. Valentine died in 1851, and on March 30, 1856, Margaret remarried to John David Miller, also a widower.

In the 1880 census, Margaret tells us that her parents were both born in Wurttemberg. Margaret is my ancestor through her second marriage to John David Miller.

Lentz Miller 1880 census

Adam, first having moved to Elkhart County, Indiana, but then having moved on to Montgomery Co., Illinois tells us that his parents were born in Wurttemberg too.

Lentz Adam 1880 census

Benjamin Lentz who migrated to Kosciusko County, Indiana, abutting Elkhart County, Indiana, also tells us that both of his parents were born in Wurttemberg. Benjamin’s death certificate tells us his father was Jacob Lentz.

Lentz Benjamin 1880 census

George Lentz living in Montgomery County, Ohio tells us that his parents were born in Wurttemberg too.

Lentz George 1880 census

Jacob F. Lentz living in Montgomery County, Ohio tells us he and his parents were born in Baden.

Lentz, Jacob 1880 census

Jacob’s Children

This might be a good place to discuss Jacob’s children, because it’s through the children’s records, in part, that we verify the Wurttemberg location. Conversely, because Jacob gave that location himself in the census, it’s also through this location that we verify, as best we can, some of his children.

Jacob did not leave a will, so we’ve had to reassemble his family through other means.

Here are the children of Jacob Lentz and Fredericka Mosselman as I know them so far:

  • Jacob Franklin Lentz born Nov. 28, 1806 in Baden (1880 census) Germany, married Sophia Schweitzer. In the 1880 census he is listed as a real estate agent census and shows parents born in Baden. He is identified as Jacob’s son in a local history book.
  • Fredericka Lentz, born in Germany July 3, 1809, married Daniel Brusman in Pennsylvania and is identified by her son Lafayette’s death certificate as Fredericka Lentz.
  • Elizabeth Lentz born in Germany, died in 1818/1819 at sea, per the letter.
  • Barbery Lentz, born in Germany, a baby when they sailed. Sister Yost is mentioned in Jacob’s obituary. Barbara married Henry Yost and her death certificate in Elkhart County, Indiana gives Jacob’s name as her father.  Based on her death certificate, she was born August 21, 1816.
  • Adam Lentz born August 30, 1819 in Pennsylvania, married first in 1843 in Montgomery County, Ohio to Margaret Whitehead who died in 1844 in Elkhart Co. He then married Elizabeth Neff in 1845 in Elkhart County, then left and went to Montgomery Co., Illinois where he was listed the 1880 census with his parents having been born in Wurttemberg. The tribute letter written by his son states he was the son of Jacob.
  • Margaret Elizabeth Lentz born December 21,1822 in Pennsylvania, married Valentine Whitehead December 31, 1840 in Montgomery County, Ohio. He died in 1851 in Elkhart County, Indiana. She remarried to John David Miller March 30, 1856 and died July 4, 1903. She identifies her parents as being born in Wurttemberg in the 1880 census.  Her death certificate names her father as Adam Lentz, who was actually her brother.
  • George W. Lentz born Feb. 11, 1824 in Pennsylvania, married Sarah Spitler or Spitzler about 1845. She died in 1853 and George married Catherine Blessing in 1855 in Montgomery County, Ohio.  He shows his parents as having been born in Wurttemberg in the 1880 census. Jacob is living with George in 1880.
  • Benjamin Lentz born May 7, 1826, married first Sarah Overlease (Overlees) in Montgomery Co, remarried to Catherine Halderman in 1859 in Elkhart Co., Indiana. In the 1880 census, gives his parents birth location as Wurttemberg.       His death certificate gives Jacob as his father.
  • Mary Lentz born May 9, 1929 in either Pennsylvania or Ohio, married Henry Overlease on December 1, 1848 in Montgomery Co., Ohio. In the 1850 census, the couple was living with Jacob and Fredericka (misspelled Hannah) Lentz. Mary died on May 18, 1918 in Bartlesville, Washington Co., Oklahoma. In 1860, they too were living in Elkhart County, Indiana. In 1880, in Neosho Co., Kansas, she gives her parents’ birth location as Wurttemberg.
  • Possibly Lewis Lentz born in 1832.

Every one of Jacob’s living children that we can identify in 1880, says their parents were born in Wurttemberg (shown in red below), Germany or Baden.

Lentz Wurttemberg

By Shadowxfox – Own work based on: File:Deutsches Reich (Karte) Württemberg.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Kingdom of Württemberg was a state in Germany that existed from 1805 to 1918, located in the area that is now Baden-Württemberg. The kingdom was a continuation of the Duchy of Württemberg, which existed from 1495 to 1805.

Lentz Wurttemberg map

By Ssch – drawn by myself, CC BY-SA 3.0,

It looks like we’ve pretty well proven Wurttemberg, so what about Shippensburg?

Shippensburg, Cumberland Co., PA

Shippensburg could be a tougher nut to crack.

Fortunately, a cousin, Paul Lantz, was able to make a trip in 2004 to Cumberland County, PA where Shippensburg is located.  Actually, Shippensburg spans the county line between Cumberland and Franklin Counties.  Franklin County records were not reviewed.

Paul reviewed the deeds and other records, including tax lists in Cumberland County, and was only able to find one record with Jacob Lentz’s name, and that was in 1828, as follows:

#158 Lentz, Jacob         Potter

As Paul said after his research, “If Jacob Lentz spent nine years there and didn’t get on any of the records we searched, then he sure was an elusive cuss.”

There is a Lantz family living in the area during this time, but not in Shippensburg and there is, thankfully, no Jacob.

It’s truly unfortunate that Jacob, while so very grateful to the family who released him from his indentured servitude early, didn’t share with us their name.

He could have been living on their land the entire time, working for them so therefore not taxed on his own.

Montgomery County, Ohio

The book titled, “Biographical Sketches, City of Dayton” provides us with the following information about Jacob Lentz’s son, Jacob F. Lentz. It appears from this and other documentation that Jacob Lentz (Sr.) moved to the Dayton area in 1829, but he is absent from the 1830 census.  The article below provides information about his son, Jacob F. Lentz, including that he arrived in 1830 and at one point, he was a potter.  It’s interesting that the one record from Shippensburg that we do have about Jacob refers to him as a potter.  It makes me wonder if the 1828 record of Jacob in Shippensburg is for Jacob F. Lentz and not Jacob, the father, although the father could clearly have been a potter as well.

The other interesting item in this article is that Jacob F. was a member of the Lutheran Church, not the Brethren Church. We don’t know when Jacob, the father, converted to the Brethren faith, but Jacob F. Lentz may well not have been raised Brethren.

There were both Brethren and Lutheran Churches in Shippensburg, ironically, utilizing the same church building for many years.

Jacob’s Land

Did Jacob, as per the story, purchase land from the government after arriving in Ohio? What do we know about Jacob in Montgomery County?

When I visited Montgomery County in 2004, I found information about the family, but no land records prior to 1836. Cousin Paul Lentz had the same experience.

In 1835, on the tax roll, there is one Jacob Lantz who had 2 horses and one cow and in 1836 Jacob Lense with the same number of animals, and no land. This is in Madison Township, the same township where the Whitehead family lives as well and where Jacob would eventually purchase land.

From the tax records, it appears that Jacob F. Lentz, the son, obtained 100 acres of land in 1838, range 5e section 3 twp 4 (which is where his land is always located), noted as the the S part of the E 1/8th.  In 1840 he is shown the same but with 3 cows and 3 horses.

Lentz land tax table

In 1841, 42 and 45 it looks like Jacob and his son, Jacob F. both owned 50 acres, but by 1850, only Jacob (Sr.) is shown with land in Madison Township.

In the 1840 census, there is a Jacob Lints shown in Madison Township with several family members. I’ve noted Jacob’s children where they would fit according to their known birth dates and the census categories.

  • Male 50-60 (born 1780-1790) Jacob
  • Female 50-60 (born 1780-1790) Fredericka
  • Male 5-10 (born 1830-1835) unknown, possibly Lewis
  • Male 10-15 (born 1825-1830) Benjamin born 1826
  • Male 15-20 (born 1820-1825) George born 1824 married in 1846
  • Male 20-30 (born 1810-1820) Adam born 1819 married 1843 to Margaret Whitehead
  • Female 10-15 (born 1825-1830) Mary born 1829, married 1848
  • Female 15-20 (born 1820-1825) Margaret born 1822, married December 1840 to Valentine Whitehead

Valentine Whitehead and Margaret Lentz were married Dec. 31, 1840 in Montgomery Co, Ohio. Margaret and Valentine would subsequently move to Elkhart County, Indiana, along with Margaret’s brother Adam, brother Benjamin and her nephew Cyrus, son of Jacob F. Lentz.  Valentine Whitehead died, and Margaret remarried in Elkhart County to John David Miller in 1856.

On October 17, 1840, we find a record in Montgomery County for Jacob Lenz taking an oath of citizenship, denounced Frederick II King of Wurttenburg. It is unclear whether this is either Jacob Lentz, the father, or Jacob F. Lentz, or neither.  Wright State has these originals and was unable to find this citizenship application.  There is an 1856 application as well which is clearly neither man based on the age of 32.

Based on the following deed, Jacob, the father, bought land from Jacob F., the son, in 1841.

Deed 1 – Jacob F. Lentz to Jacob Lentz (Sr.)

Record Storage Center
Montgomery County, Ohio
Deed Book F-2 Page 524-525
Jacob F. Lentz to Jacob Lentz
Received for Record November 2nd 1841 and Recorded November 20th 1841

By this deed it is witnessed that Jacob F. Lentz of the County of Montgomery and State of Ohio for the consideration of nine hundred dollars the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, doth grant, convey and confirm to Jacob Lentz of the same County and State his heirs and assigns. All that certain tract or parcel of land bound as follows to wit, Beginning at the South East corner of Section three(3) in Township four(4) of Range Five(5) East of a Meridian line drawn from the mouth of the Great Miami River, and running from thence North four degrees West  with the Eastern boundary of said section twenty five chains and Twenty two links to a post from which a White Oak twelve inches in diameter bears North thirty eight and a half degrees east forty five links distant and a Burr Oak twenty inches in diameter bears North Ten and a half degrees West Sixty three links distant thence South Eighty five and a fourth degrees West Thirty nine chains and Eighty nine links to a post from which a Sugar tree fourteen inches in diameter bears South Sixty six degrees East Seventy links distant another Sugar tree thirteen inches in diameter  bears North Forty eight degrees East fifty one links distant thence South Three and three fourths degrees East Twenty five Chains and twenty two links to a post in the Southern Boundary of said section from which a White Oak fifteen inches in diameter bears South Sixty six degrees East twelve links distant (being the original witness tree) thence North Eighty five and one fourth degrees East thirty nine chains and sixty five and a half links to the place of beginning. Containing Fifty acres being the North half of the above described land and the division line running east and west through the middle of said land be the same more or less situated lying and being in the County of Montgomery and State of Ohio and being the same land that was divided to Mary Hood in and by his last will and testament of her Father Andrew Hood deceased late of the County aforesaid which Mary Hood afterwards intermarried with Robert Means and said Robert Means and said Mary his wife conveyed said land to John Means by deed bearing date on the ninth day of February in the year 1836 and said John Means conveyed the same to said Henry Herrman by deed bearing date  the twenty fourth day of March in the year 1837 and the said Henry Herrman conveyed  the same to said Jacob F. Lentz by deed bearing date on the twenty fourth day of March in the year 1838. And all claim and title in law or equity, of the said Jacob F. Lentz to the said premises; the said Jacob Lentz to have and to hold the same  to the of himself and his heirs and assigns forever, and the said grantor for himself and his heirs and legal representatives covenants with the said grantee and his heirs and assigns, that he the said grantor is the owner of the said premises, and hath lawful right to convey the same in manner of  aforesaid ; and also that he the said grantor doth warrant, and with his heirs and legal representatives will forever defend the said premises, and their proper appurtenances, and every part thereof, to the said grantee and his heirs and assigns against all lawful claimants. In testimony whereof, the said Jacob F. Lantz and Sophia Lentz the wife of the said Jacob F. Lentz who hereby forever relinquishes all right of dower in the said premises, have hereunto set their hands and seals, on the ninth day of June in the year eighteen hundred and forty one.

Signed and sealed in the presence of “interlining from the word North to the word ten on the fourth line was done before signing”

Jacob F. Lentz  (seal)
Sophia Lentz   (seal)

Nathan Polcliff
Abraham Niepman

The State of Ohio SS

Montgomery County Before me, a Justice of the Peace within and for the County aforesaid, personally came Jacob F. Lentz and Sophia his wife the above named grantors and acknowledged the signing and sealing of the above deed to be their voluntary act for the uses therein expressed. And the said Sophia Lentz begin examined by me separate and apart from her said husband in the contents of said deed being fully made known to her she upon such separate examination declared that she did voluntary sign, seal and acknowledge the same, and that she is still satisfied therewith. Witness my hand, this ninth day of June in the year eighteen hundred and forty one.

Abraham Niepman J.P.

Jacob (Sr.) bought his land from his son, Jacob F. Lentz. This makes me wonder if perhaps Jacob F. Lentz could speak both German and English, and his father could not speak English.  There is no record that Jacob bought or was granted land from the government.

The deed also correlates with the tax lists that show both Jacob and Jacob F. owing 50 acres each – this deed says that Jacob F. sold Jacob half the land described.

In the 1850 census, Jacob and Fredericka are living with their daughter Mary and their son-in-law, Henry Overlees. The 1850 census shows Mary born in Ohio, and if that is true, then Jacob and Fredericka were in Ohio by May 9, 1829.  Of course, the census has been known to be wrong.

Lentz, Jacob 1850 census

Jacob continues to pay tax on the land be bought from Jacob F., his son, until he sells the same land to his son George in 1865 for $2500. In 1860, Jacob is living with his son George.  I wonder if the entire family group is living on Jacob’s land.  In 1865, the deed where Jacob sells his land to George is recorded, but note that Fredericka has been dead for 2 years by 1865, and in her release of dower, the year is recorded as 1855, not 1865.  So this actual transaction occurred 10 years before the deed was recorded.

Deed 2 – Jacob Lentz to George W. Lentz

Record Storage Center
Montgomery County, Ohio
Deed Book V-3 Pages 681-682
J & F Lentz to Geo. W. Lentz
Received for Record October 12 1865 and Recorded October 13 1865

Know all men by these presents, Jacob Lentz and Frederica Lentz his wife of the County of Montgomery & State of Ohio in consideration of the sum of Twenty Five Hundred Dollars to these paid by George W. Lentz of said County and State the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged do hereby bargain Sell and convey to the said George W. Lentz and to his heirs and assigns forever the following Real Estate viz. All that certain tract or parcel of land bounded as follows to wit, Beginning at the South East corner of Section three(3) in Township four(4) of Range Five(5) East of a Meridian line drawn from the mouth of the Great Miami River, and running from thence North four degrees West  with the Eastern boundary of said section twenty five chains and Twenty two links to a post from which a White Oak twelve inches in diameter bears North thirty eight and a half degrees east forty five links distant and a Burr Oak twenty inches in diameter bears North Ten and a half degrees West Sixty three links distant thence South Eighty five and a fourth degrees West Thirty nine chains and Eighty nine links to a post from which a Sugar tree fourteen inches in diameter bears South Sixty six degrees East Seventy links distant another Sugar tree thirteen inches in diameter  bears North Forty eight degrees East fifty one links distant thence South Three and three fourths degrees East Twenty five Chains and twenty two links to a post in the Southern Boundary of said section from which a White Oak fifteen inches in diameter bears South Sixty six degrees East twelve links distant (being the original witness tree) thence North Eighty five and one fourth degrees East thirty nine chains and sixty five and a half links to the place of beginning. Containing One Hundred Acres be the same more or less. Excepting however the South half of the foregoing described premises. The premises hereby conveyed is the North half of the above described premises containing fifty acres more or less and being the same that was conveyed by Jacob F. Lentz and Sophia his wife by deed dated the 9th day of June AD 1841 recorded in Book No.2 Page 524 of the Montgomery County records, Said premises are situate in said county and state; together with all privileges and appurtenances to the same belonging; to have and to hold the same to the only proper use of the said George W. Lentz, and of his heirs and assigns forever. And the said Jacob Lentz and Frederica Lentz his wife for themselves and their heirs, executors and administrators do hereby covenant with the said George W. Lentz and with his heirs and assigns, that they are the true and lawful owners of the said premises, and have full power to convey the same; and that the title so conveyed is clear, free, and unencumbered; and further, that they will warrant and defend the same against all claim or claims of all persons whatsoever. In witness whereof, the said Jacob Lentz together with said Frederica Lentz his said wife who hereby releases her right and expectancy of dower in the said premises. Have hereunto set their hands and seals on this twenty ninth day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty five.

Signed, Sealed, Acknowledged                                               Jacob Lentz  (seal)
and Delivered in presence of us:                                             Frederica Lentz   (seal)

Daniel P. Nead, Youngs V. Wood

State of Ohio, Montgomery County; SS

Be it remembered that on this twenty ninth day of December in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fifty five before me, the subscriber a Notary Public in and for the county personally came Jacob Lentz and Frederica Lentz wife of said Jacob Lentz, the grantor in the above Conveyance and acknowledged the same to be their voluntary act and deed for the uses and purposes herein mentioned. And the said Frederica Lentz wife of the said Jacob Lentz being examined by me separate and apart from her said husband and the contents of said Deed, being by me made known and explained to her, as the statutes directs, declares that she did voluntarily sign, seal and acknowledge the same and that she is still satisfied therewith as her act and deed for the uses and purposes therein mentioned. In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my notorial seal at Dayton on the day and year last aforesaid.

Interestingly enough, George conveys the land back to Jacob and Fredericka the following year for their “natural lives,” in other words, this was a life estate which ended at their deaths. I wonder if this was to make them feel better about the transaction, or there was some friction within the family.

Deed 3 – George W. Lentz to Jacob and Frederica Lentz

Record Storage Center
Montgomery County, Ohio
Deed Book Z Page 358
George W. Lentz to Jacob Lentz
Received for Record February 12th 1856 and Recorded March 5th 1856

Know all men by these presents that George W. Lentz of the County of Montgomery and State of Ohio in consideration of the sum of five hundred dollars to him paid by Jacob Lentz and Frederica Lentz wife of said Jacob Lentz of the same place receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged does hereby bargain, sell and convey to the said Jacob Lentz and Frederica Lentz for and during their natural and the natural life of the survivors of them. The following Real Estate viz: All the South half of al that certain tract or parcel of land to wit. Beginning at the South East corner of Section three(3) in Township four(4) of Range Five(5) East of a Meridian line drawn from the mouth of the Great Miami River, and running from thence North four degrees West  with the Eastern boundary of said section twenty five chains and Twenty two links to a post from which a White Oak twelve inches in diameter bears North thirty eight and a half degrees east forty five links distant and a Burr Oak twenty inches in diameter bears North Ten and a half degrees West Sixty three links distant thence South Eighty five and a fourth degrees West Thirty nine chains and Eighty nine links to a post from which a Sugar tree fourteen inches in diameter bears South Sixty six degrees East Seventy links distant another Sugar tree thirteen inches in diameter  bears North Forty eight degrees East fifty one links distant thence South Three and three fourths degrees East Twenty five Chains and twenty two links to a post in the Southern Boundary of said section from which a White Oak fifteen inches in diameter bears South Sixty six degrees East twelve links distant (being the original witness tree) thence North Eighty five and one fourth degrees East thirty nine chains and sixty five and a half links to the place of beginning. Containing One Hundred Acres be the same more or less, the north half of the same hereby conveyed as aforesaid containing fifty acres more or less. Situated lying and being in the township of Madison County of Montgomery and State of Ohio together with all privileges and appurtenances the same belonging to have and to hold the same to the only proper use of the said Jacob Lentz and Frederica Lentz for and during their natural life and the natural life of the survivors of them and the said George W. Lentz for himself heirs executors and administrators does hereby covenant with the said Jacob and Frederica Lentz wife of said Jacob Lentz and with their assigns that he is the true and lawful owner of the said premises and has full power to convey the same and that the title so conveyed is clear for and unencumbered and further that he will warrant and defend the same against all claim and claims of all persons whatsoever.  In witness the said George W. Lentz together with Catherine Lentz his wife who hereby releases her right and expectation of dower in the said premises have hereunto set their hands and seals on this thirty first day of December in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty five.

Signed sealed acknowledged and delivered in presence of us.

Daniel P. Nead                                                       George W. Lentz  (seal)

Youngs V. Wood                                                    Catherine Lentz  (seal)

State of Ohio, Montgomery County; SS

Be it remembered that on this first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and fifty six before me, the subscriber a Notary Public in and for the county personally came George W. Lentz the grantor in the above Conveyance and acknowledged the same to be their voluntary act and deed for the uses and purposes herein mentioned. And the said Catherine Lentz wife of the said George W. Lentz being examined by me separate and apart from her said husband and the contents of said Deed, being by me made known and explained to her, as the statutes directs, declares that she did voluntarily sign, seal and acknowledge the same and that she is still satisfied therewith as her act and deed for the uses and purposes therein mentioned. In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my notorial seal at Dayton on the day and year last aforesaid.

Daniel P. Nead Notary Public for Montgomery County Ohio

The 1860 census shows Jacob and Fredericka living with son George. It shows Jacob’s real estate as worth only $200.

Lentz Jacob 1860 census

An 1875 plat map shows the SE corner of section 3 then belonging to A. Sanger and the portion that Jacob F. Lentz originally retained belongs to M. Hyer.  George owned other land and apparently sold Jacob’s land not long after his death.

The Whitehead family with whom the Lentz family intermarried still owns the land in section 12 in 1875, just a short distance away.

The Montgomery County GIS system shows this land today, and I’ve utilized red arrows to point to the corners of Jacob’s land.

Lentz Jacob land GIS

The section of land in the exact same size and shape just below Jacob’s belonged to his son, Jacob F.

Today, this land is located just north of the intersection of Shiloh Springs and Olive Roads on the west side of Olive Road, just north of the developed quadrant of land. That developed quadrant would have been the portion retained by Jacob F. Lentz.

Lentz Jacob land map

You can see the area on a larger map, above.

Lentz Jacob land satellite

A satellite view of Jacob’s land shows that while his son’s land has now been entirely developed, Jacob’s portion has not been.

Lentz Jacob land satellite close

A church sits close to the road today on Jacob’s land. The field behind the church is farmed.  Near the road, a modern home has been built south of the church, but south of that, at 5175 Olive Road, we see an older structure.

Lentz Jacob house on land

Could this be Jacob’s home, remodeled?

Lentz Jacob house closeup

Sometimes one gets lucky with homes and they have a relatively recent realtor listing that includes the year they were built. This property has not been sold since 1996, so no luck there.

Jacob’s Religion

Jacob and several of his children were Brethren. It’s unclear when and where Jacob converted.  We know that Jacob Franklin Lentz, Jacob’s oldest son, was not Brethren from the age of 17, which would have been about 1823.  There is also no indication that eldest daughter Fredericka was Brethren, or married Brethren.  On the other hand, “Sister Yost,” born in 1816, would not have been referred to as such were she not Brethren.

Margaret, born in 1822 and most of the younger children were Brethren, which may suggest that Jacob’s conversion occurred in the late 1820s or perhaps even when or after he arrived in Montgomery County. I had wondered if the family Jacob was indentured to in Shippensburg was Brethren, but that is unlikely, both from the standpoint of how the Brethren felt about any kind of servitude, and the fact that Jacob would likely have converted earlier, during his indenture, influencing his older children.

In Montgomery County, Ohio, Jacob attended the Happy Corners Church of the Brethren and is buried in the Happy Corner cemetery down the road from the church. This was the first Brethren Church established in Montgomery County.

Lentz Jacob church to home

The church was about two and a half miles from where Jacob lived, shown on the map above.

Lentz Happy Corner

This is the building that stands at the church location today, but Jacob wouldn’t recognize it. The history, below, is taken from the church website:

The Happy Corner congregation began as a body of about 50 members in 1811. The members met in various homes and made up what was known as the Lower Stillwater congregation. In 1818 the first meeting house was built out of logs near Salem pike and was the first meeting house in the Miami valley. A second meeting house was erected in 1860 on the corner of Wolf Creek and Salem pike. This became known as the lower house of Lower Stillwater. The upper house was where Happy Corner Church now stands. Services during this time alternated between the upper and lower houses.

Beginning in 1875 three more buildings of worship were built in the next two decades at the upper house location. The first burned before it was completed and the second destroyed by a tornado the same year it was built. Later that same year the white framed building on the corner of Old Salem and Union was built.

Jacob and Fredericka would have been in the cemetery before this church, as it stands today, was built. They would have attended when the church was a log structure.  In fact, they would have attended this church exclusively for 30 years, from the time of their arrival until the second church building was built in 1860.  Beginning in 1860, they would have alternated between this building and the church building at Wolf Creek Pike for services. The congregation was not large, so it would have been more like an extended family – the perfect scenario for Jacob and Fredericka who had no known family in America, aside from their children.  In 1909, the two churches combined only reported about 150 members.

The second church would have been about equidistant from Jacob’s land, shown below, and that church had a cemetery as well. I’m sure Jacob’s cemetery choice when Fredericka died in 1863 was reflective of his comfort with his home church, the one he had attended for more than 3 decades.

Lentz Happy Corner to Ft. McKinley

The second church was eventually known as the Fort McKinley Brethren Church and a cemetery was associated with that church as well. The church no longer exists, but the cemetery remains. The family who owned Jacob F.’s land, south of Jacob’s, in the 1870s is buried in this cemetery, along with many of Jacob’s neighbors.

Ft. McKinley Cemetery is located on the south side of Free Pike, 500 feet west of Salem Avenue (SR 49) at the southeast corner of North Gettysburg Avenue.

Lentz Ft. McKinley satellite

Based on the burials, you can see that the church building sat on the corner, with the cemetery behind the church.

Lentz Ft McKinley corner

Many of the people Jacob knew are buried here as well. Jacob likely attended both church services and funerals in this very location for the last decade of his life, between 1860 and 1870.

Jacob’s Death

Jacob died on April 10, 1870 and was buried in the Happy Corner Cemetery near Fredericka.

This aerial map shows the location of the white Happy Corner Church with the small grey pin on the southwest corner of Salem Road and North Union. The newer Happy Corner church is north of Salem Road at the end of the blue line.

Lentz Happy Corner map

The Happy Corner Cemetery is not immediately adjacent to the church, but is about 700 or 800 feet east of the intersection of Old Salem Road and North Union, on the north side of the street, marked below with a grey pin below. The 1875 plat map for Randolph Township shows the Happy Corner church, a second church across the road diagonally, and the cemetery tucked in-between two orchards on what looks to be a commercial orchard enterprise.

Lentz Happy Corner cemetery satellite

The Gospel Visitor index shows Jacob’s obituary in the May 1870 issue, and gives his age as 86 at the time of death – here is the exact text.

May 1870 page 160, Gospel Visitor:

Died near Dayton, O., April 10th, Brother JACOB LENTZ, aged 86 years, 10 months and 25 days. Disease palsy. He was sick but 10 days and was almost speechless during that time. He died at the home of one of his children several of whom are living here, sister Yost being one of them. He was from Wuertemberg and came to this country in 1817.

Funeral services from 2 Cor. 5:8 by brethren Bauman and Nead.

Second Corinthians 5:8 says: “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

Apparently, at almost 87 years of age, Jacob was ready to go and join Fredericka whom he had buried just slightly more than 7 years earlier.

Who is Sister Yost?

However, Jacob’s obituary raises an intriguing question.

Who was sister Yost?

Jacob’s daughters are accounted for, except for Barbery.  But there is no Barbara Yost in the 1870 census in Montgomery County except for Barbara Yost,  born in 1819 in Switzerland.  We know where Jacob was in 1819 and it wasn’t Switzerland.  That Barbara Yost doesn’t seem to fit well.  The census has been known to be wrong, and this is the only Barbara Yost showing, so let’s see what we can discover about Barbara Yost, wife of Henry.

Lentz Sister Yost 1850 census

The 1850 census shows us a Henry Yost (indexed as Tost), a tinner, wife Barbara, living in Dayton, and living with them we find one Lewis Lentz, age 18, the exact age of the child unaccounted for in the 1840 census living with Jacob and Fredericka.  Have we found Jacob’s daughter, Barbara?  And maybe a previously unknown son?

The 1860 census shows her listed as Mary B., born in Germany in 1815.

The 1870 census shown Barbara as born in Switzerland in 1819.

In 1880, Henry and wife Mary B. have moved to New Paris, Elkhart County, Indiana, with their nephew, Cassius. Mary B. is shown as being born in Germany in 1815, and both parents as well.  Henry is still shown as a tinner, so we have the correct family.

In the 1900 census, there is no record of either Henry, Mary B. or Barbara.

FindaGrave shows no Yosts at all in Elkhart County, BUT, Indiana Death Certificates for 1899 show Mary Barbara Yost, age 83 years, 2 months and 19 days, died on November 9, 1899 and her father is listed as Jacob Lentz – so indeed – this “sister Yost” is the long lost daughter, Barbary, of Jacob Lentz.

Lentz Barbara death cert

By subtracting her age as shown, we calculate Barbara’s birth date as August 21, 1816. She is also buried in the Baintertown Cemetery, along with her sister Margaret, but sadly, neither Barbara nor her husband have a marker in the cemetery.

The fact that her name vacillates between Barbara and Mary Barbara means that she was likely baptized Maria Barbra Lentz in Germany (or Switzerland).  This is the only record showing any of Jacob’s children connected with Switzerland, so while I keep it in the back of my mind, it may be irrelevant.

We also find Lewis Lentz, born in 1832, in the 1860 census living in Peru, Miami County, Indiana, not far from Elkhart County.  He is a tinner, just like Henry Yost, so we have the correct Lewis Lentz.  He died in Peru, Indiana on January 21, 1918 but his death certificate in Peru lists the day as January 25, 1918.  His death certificate is not indexed in Ancestry’s Indiana Death Records data base, but I found it by reading the Miami County entries page by page.

Lentz Lewis death cert

Lewis Lentz’s death certificate shows his father’s name as George. This cannot be Jacob’s son, George, who would only have been 8 years old when Lewis was born.  There is no candidate George Lentz in Montgomery County or anyplace else in Ohio in the 1830 or 1840 census.  It’s possible the death certificate is incorrect, or it’s possible that Lewis is not Jacob’s son, although the connection through the Yost family seems too close to be circumstantial.  It’s clear that is Lewis was living in Indiana by 1860, his children never knew their grandparents.

Jacob’s Burial

Jacob and Fredericka are both buried in the Happy Corners Cemetery.

Lentz Happy Corner cemetery

Cousin Steve Lentz visited this cemetery several years before I had the opportunity. That’s a good thing, because otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to see Fredericka’s stone at all.

Lentz, Jacob-Fredericka graves from Steve-a

Jacob’s stone is located to the right center – the light one with a rounded top. The short stone to the left center 1 row in front of Jacob’s is Fredericka’s stone.  Photo above and below courtesy of Steve Lentz.

Lentz, Fredericka Lentz grave from Steve

Close up of Fredericka’s stone, above.  In 2004, when I visited, this stone was obscured by a large yucca type plant.

Lentz Happy Corner cem

In the photo above, Fredericka’s stone is just beneath the white blooms.

Lentz, Jacob's stone

Jacob Lentz’s stone.

Jacob had no will or estate papers upon his death, as he had already sold his land to his son, George, years before.  Jacob lived his final years with George and his family. George owned other land as well, and by 1875, Jacob’s land was in the hands of another family.

However, Jacob’s legacy didn’t end there, because, thanks to his descendants, we have his DNA today, or at least part of it! 

Jacob’s DNA

In 2003 or 2004, Mother and I attended the Lentz family reunion in Ohio. It was fun to meet our cousins that we never knew we had before discovering the identity of the parents of Mother’s grandmother, Evaline Miller Ferverda. Evaline’s grandfather was Jacob Lentz.  The chart below shows the path of descent from Jacob to mother.

Lentz Jacob to mother

At the reunion, we met our cousin, Bill Lentz, who descended from Benjamin Lentz who lived in Kosciusko County, Indiana. Kosciusko County neighbored Elkhart County where Margaret Lentz who married John David Miller lived, where Adam Lentz lived before moving westward and where Barbara and Henry Yost lived, all children of Jacob Lentz.  Furthermore, Cyrus Lentz, son of Jacob Franklin Lentz also moved to Elkhart County and married a Whitehead.  Cyrus was a grandson of Jacob Lentz.

Benjamin Lentz’s death certificate, in 1903, identifies his father as Jacob Lentz.

Lentz Benjamin death cert

Bill was kind enough to take a DNA test. In the early years of DNA testing, autosomal DNA tests weren’t yet available, so Bill took a 12 marker Y DNA test.

At that time, William didn’t match any other Lentz men. Few had tested.  However, we thought we might have been related to another group of Lentz men out of Pennsylvania, and perhaps a second group out of NC.  Those were both red herrings as proven by subsequent DNA tests, but we didn’t know that at the time.  In fact, we spent a whole lot of effort trying to connect dots that weren’t there.  Thank goodness for DNA and people who will test, make their results public, and share.

Lentz DNA project

In the Lentz DNA project, the NC group is group B, E. Our Jacob Lentz group is F,G.

And speaking of red herrings, there was another Jacob Lentz found in Pennsylvania that we thought might be connected. He was found in Berks County and died there in 1789. One of his descendants had a prayer book that descended from that Jacob, and one of our cousins dutifully hunted it down and took photos.  We later discovered, via DNA testing, that the Jacob Lentz of Berks County is group I, above, so also not related to us either.

However, Cousin William did match two Lantz men, as shown on YSearch below.

Lentz Y search William

The common ancestor of these Lantz men was Michael Lantz born about (or before) 1773 in Baden, Germany and according to the information provided by his descendant, lived in Washington County, MD. Unfortunately, neither of these Lantz men have taken the Family Finder test, and one has since passed away.

Paul Lantz, one of the testers, unfortunately now deceased, did a prodigious amount of research on this line and was unable to determine who the parents or Michael were, or even where he was born, although the information in YSearch says Baden. Paul was, however, able to tell that in the book, “The Lantz Family Record” by Jacob W. Lantz, G1 Jacob Lantz of Washington County, Maryland has a son John Lantz.   The children listed for John are the children of Michael Lantz who settled in Porter Township, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania around 1810 according to all records found in Washington County, Maryland and Jefferson County, Pennsylvania.  So the children are attributed to the wrong parent, as confirmed by DNA testing.

The earliest mention of Michael in Washington County, Maryland is when Susanna, Michael’s daughter, was born January 13, 1794 and baptized April 12, 1794 in Jacob’s Church, Washington County, Maryland.  The next mention of Michael is on the 1800 Census in Williamsport, Washington County, Maryland. This is the last mention of Michael in Maryland.  All other information was found in western Pennsylvania where he is found in the 1850 census stating he is 77 years old and born in Pennsylvania (via ditto marks down the entire column.”  Michael Lantz died in 1854 in Porter Township, Jefferson County, PA.  Michael’s son John is the ancestor of both Lantz men, above, who tested and match both William and C. Lentz, who you haven’t met yet.

I am documenting what Paul Lantz provided in regards to Michael Lantz, here, in the hope that it will prevent other researchers from having to repeat this research and also with the hope that someday additional information will become available about Michael Lantz who is descended from a common ancestor with the Lentz line. By googling Paul Lantz Genforum you can view additional postings made by Paul.

When the autosomal test became available, sadly, William Lentz had passed away, but his kit was upgraded with the permission of his widow. I am still hopeful of contacting Paul’s cousin who was the second Lantz male to take the Y DNA test with the intention of asking him if he will take the Family Finder test.  It’s possible that Michael Lantz was a brother to Jacob Lentz, and if so, Michael’s descendant should match some of Jacob Lentz’s descendants as well.

The chart below shows the path of descent from Jacob Lentz to 4 cousins who have tested. Mother’s first cousins, Don and Cheryl, are not shown on the chart, below.  Their father is the brother to John Ferverda.  Only the more distant relationships are shown because they are the least likely to match and those matches are the ones we need to prove descent from a common ancestor.

Lentz descent from Jacob

William Lentz matches R. Miller, Mother and both of mother’s first cousins (Don and Cheryl) through Evaline Miller. Not only that, but William Lentz matched the various cousins on several of the same segments, shown on the chromosome browser, .

Lentz chrom browser William

The largest triangulated segment is on chromosome 2 for about 7 cM between William, mother and her first cousin, Don.

The matches to William with the various known cousins are shown below, including C. Lentz who has not yet been introduced, but who did not match William at Family Tree DNA. More about this part of the story in a minute.

Lentz William relationship table

Based up on the chart above, these match relationships fall within the expected ranges and the triangulated DNA between William, Mother and Don confirms the common ancestor.

It would be another 12 years before a second Lentz male cousin, C. Lentz, was found. He too was willing to take a DNA test, and he matches William on the 12 marker Y test, with one mutation difference.

Adding the C. Lentz results to YSearch (top row) shows the following comparative information.

Lentz Ysearch C Lentz

It’s certainly worth noting that the Lantz/Lentz match does hold at 25 markers, but unless one of the Lantz men tests above 25 markers, we won’t know if it continues to hold with only one mutation.

Let’s see how C. Lentz stacks up relative to matching the known Lentz cousins utilizing the Family Finder test.

Lentz relationship table C. Lentz

As you can see, in the above table, C. Lentz also matches all of the known cousins.

Lentz chrom browser C. Lentz

On chromosome 3, Mother, Don and C. Lentz triangulate for about 9cM.

It’s unfortunately that C. Lentz does not match William Lentz, but about 10% of third cousins don’t match at this threshold. I’m guessing that if we were to lower the threshold a bit at GedMatch that they might match.  Let’s see.

Lentz at GedMatch William and C. Lentz

Not only do they match, but that’s the same segment where C. Lentz matches my mother, so we have achieved triangulation as well between William, Mother and C. Lentz for a 7cM segment and about 900 SNPs on chromosome 22.  Not only is this triangulation, but between the descendants of 3 of Jacob’s children.  Yippee!!!

Lentz GedMatch Mother and C Lentz

The relationship from all of the known cousins is proven back to Jacob and Fredericka. This DNA where the cousins match came either from Jacob or Fredericka, through the generations to the descendants who carry it today.  I wish we had the ability to sort out which segments belonged to Jacob and which to Fredericka, but we don’t without people from Jacob’s line and Fredericka’s line to test as well.  And clearly, if we don’t know who their parents were, we don’t know who their siblings are either.

But some things, thanks to the DNA, we do know. We know that the Y DNA came exclusively from Jacob, without any admixture from Fredericka, because the Y chromosome is passed exclusively from father to son.  

What Does the Y DNA Tell Us?

Because Y DNA tracks a male’s direct paternal ancestor back in time, there is a story to be told that is detailed and relevant only to that paternal line. Thankfully, C. Lentz was gracious enough to take the Big Y test as well, so not only do we have his STR markers for comparison, we have a deeper dive into the Lentz heritage that descends from our common ancestor, Jacob Lentz.  For those of us who don’t have a Y chromosome, this is truly a Godsend.

The Lentz STR markers, meaning the panels of 12, 25, 37, 67 and 111 markers, are very unique. Translated, this means that we don’t have matches to men, other than those by the surname of Lentz and Lantz except for one Hays at 37 markers with 4 mutations difference, and no genealogy information provided.  The Hays we’re not concerned about, but the Lantz/Lentz matches are quite exciting.

Many times, you can look at the locations of solid high level matches, meaning 36, 67 or 111 markers, and look for patterns of where your matches ancestors are from. But, you can’t look for patterns if you don’t have matches, so we’re a bit out of luck on this one.

Fortunately C. Lentz was kind enough to agree to the Big Y test, which is in essence a research test, looking for both known and previously unknown mutations. By unknown, I mean unknown to mankind, not just unknown to us.

C. Lentz’s Big Y test showed that he has 618 known SNPs, or mutations, that have already been documented, plus 42 novel variants, meaning mutations that will be named as SNPs if they appear in enough men so that they aren’t considered “personal SNPs.”

Of his novel variants, some have a high number of people whom he matches, but one novel variant is found in only one other person.

Lentz Big Y novel variants

Not only that, but while he has virtually no STR matches (except Lantz and Hays), which reflect matches within a genealogically relevant time frame, normally up to about 500 years, he has 35 Big Y matches which reflect matches generally before the advent of surnames, unless another known Lentz male were to test, of course – and we would expect two related Lentz men to match exactly on the Big Y, since this test is testing ancient (or at least much older) ancestry.

C. Lentz’s Big Y matches are as follows, with the fewest SNP differences, meaning the closest relationships, being shown first:

Lentz Big Y match table

These results are very divergent and truly unexpected. There are 6 German, 4 Russian and several Middle Eastern and Caucasus matches.  There seems to be a theme here that suggests eastern Europe and western Asia.

Sometimes one just strikes it lucky in genetic genealogy, and this is one of those times. One of the administrators of the haplogroup project that C. Lentz has joined is a geneticist.  He evaluated the raw data and found a fascinating correlation.

If you’re a Lentz descendant, and you’re not sitting down…well, sit down now.

The Lentz paternal line, along with two other men, has formed a new branch of the haplotree, as follows:

“Under Z2109, his haplotype and 2 other ones form the new branch, KMS67.”

This means that discoveries were made and thanks to C. Lentz and two other testers, a new branch has been added to the tree of mankind.  This is very much pioneering research.

The two screen shots below show that portion of the Family Tree DNA haplotree.

Lentz SNP treeLentz SNP tree2

The green line is the terminal SNP, KMS67, or new branch of the tree, beneath Z2109 shown above.  Unfortunately, we can’t name it “The Lentz Branch,” but I’d like to!!

The other two men are more closely related to each other but our Lentz line is distantly related to both of them and we do share a common ancestor, long before genealogical surnames, in the hundreds to thousands of years ago timeframe.

Here’s the kicker. These two men that C. Lentz matches belong to the Burzyan Bashkir people.

The geneticist says:

The relationships between Lentz and these Burzyan Bashkir men is very ancient. For example, the KMS75 marker was found in aDNA (ancient DNA) samples of the Yamnaya culture. Thus, the separation of Lentz’s line from the Bashkir line could have occurred even before the Yamnaya culture appearance. At the moment, the distribution of R-KMS67 line in Europe is completely unknown. It will take time to understand it. It is clear that this line is very rare. Germany could be an important place for the Z2109+ people because several different subclades of R-Z2109 were found here.

So, now the question is who were the Burzyan Bashkir and what is the Yamnaya culture? We’re moving further back in time now.

Burzyan Bashkir

The pin on this map shows the Burzyan district of the Republic of Bashkortostan in Russia.

Lentz Burzyan

Looking at this map, now, the Iran, Turkey and Russian Big Y matches for C. Lentz make more sense don’t they!

The Bashkir people are a Turkic people indigenous to Bashkortostan, extending on both sides of the Ural Mountains, on the place where Eastern Europe meets North Asia.

Lentz Bashkir settlement range

By No machine-readable author provided. Kmusser assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 2.5,

This map shows the main settlement areas of the Bashkirs in the late 18th century extending over the Kama, Volga, Samara and Tobol Rivers.

The Ural Mountains divide Russia north to south, and also divide Europe from Asia.

Lentz Ural Mountains

By Russland_topo.png: Captain Bloodderivative work: Materialscientist – Russland_topo.png, CC BY-SA 3.0,

On this larger map, you can see the Ural Mountains, in yellow, dissecting Russia.

Lentz Russia

By Captain Blood – Own work (originally at de.wikipedia), CC BY-SA 3.0,

Most Bashkirs speak the Bashkir language, which belongs to the Kypchak branch of the Turkic languages and share cultural affinities with the broader Turkic peoples. In religion the Bashkirs are mainly Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi madhhab, having converted from Tengrism in the 9th century.  However, our connection reaches back before that time.

Tengrianism is a Central Asian religion characterized by features of shamanism, animism, totemism, both polytheism and monotheism, and ancestor worship. Historically, it was the prevailing religion of the Turks, Mongols, and Hungarians, as well as the Xiongnu and the Huns.

Early records on the Bashkirs are found in medieval works by Sallam Tardzheman (9th century) and Ibn-Fadlan (10th century). Al-Balkhi (10th century) described Bashkirs as a people divided into two groups, one inhabiting the Southern Urals, the second group living on the Danube plain near the boundaries of Byzantium – therefore – given the geography and date – referring to either Danube Bulgars or Magyars. Ibn Rustah, a contemporary of Al Balkhi, observed that Bashkirs were an independent people occupying territories on both sides of the Ural mountain ridge between Volga, Kama, and Tobol Rivers and upstream of the Yaik river.

The Bashkir on the Danube plain may explain our Lentz DNA.

This Danube Plain flood risk map is probably the best example of the extent of the Danube Plain that I’ve been able to find.

Lentz Danube plain

Achmed ibn-Fadlan visited Volga Bulgaria as a staff member in the embassy of the Caliph of Baghdad in 922. He described the Bashkirs as a belligerent Turk nation. Ibn-Fadlan described them as nature worshipers, identifying their deities as various forces of nature, birds and animals. He also described the religion of acculturated Bashkirs as a variant of Tengrism, including 12 ‘gods’ and naming Tengri – lord of the endless blue sky.

The first European sources to mention the Bashkirs are the works of Joannes de Plano Carpini and William of Rubruquis in the mid-13th century. These travelers, encountering Bashkir tribes in the upper parts of the Ural River, called them Pascatir or Bastarci, and asserted that they spoke the same language as the Hungarians.

During the 10th century, Islam spread among the Bashkirs. By the 14th century, Islam had become the dominant religious force in Bashkir society.

By 1236, Bashkortostan was incorporated into the empire of Genghis Khan who was very successful in uniting the nomadic tribes of Asia. Using his massive army, he set out to conquer most of Eurasia, including what is now eastern Europe.  This is another possibility of how the Bashkir DNA found its way into Germany to become the Lentz DNA.

Lentz Genghis Khan empire

By derivative work: Bkkbrad (talk)Gengis_Khan_empire-fr.svg: historicair 17:01, 8 October 2007 (UTC) – Gengis_Khan_empire-fr.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This map shows the Mongol empire in the 13th century, following Genghis Khan’s raids.  As you can see, the arrows continue into Europe.

The Mongol invasion of Europe in the 13th century involved the severe and rampant destruction of East Slavic principalities and major cities, such as Kiev and Vladimir. Mongol invasions also affected Central Europe, warring with the Kingdom of Hungary (in the Battle of Mohi) and causing the fragmentation of Poland (in the Battle of Legnica).

The operations were masterminded by General Subutai and commanded by Batu Khan and Kadan, both grandsons of Genghis Khan. As a result of the successful invasions, many of the conquered territories would become part of the Golden Horde empire and go on to invade yet other territories and nations including Russia, Poland, Thrace, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia.

You can read more about the Mongol invasion of both Poland and Hungary here.

Lentz Mongol invasion manuscript

This medieval manuscript drawing from the National Library of Budapest depicts the Mongol invasion of Hungary in 1285, but it does not depict the extent of the devastation in which half of the population was killed.

In 1242, the Mongols were resting on the Hungarian plain when they began to withdraw. The reason is unclear, but many think it was because word reached them by messenger that the Great Khan had died in December 1241 and they returned so that the princes of blood would be present to elect a new “great Khan.”  Others believe they retreated due to the fact that they were making little progress and even though they had been successful, they had lost a lot of fighting men and didn’t have the strength for the next step which would have been taking on the princes and fortifications of Germany.  Furthermore the winter of 1241/1242 had been particularly brutal, and they were camped on the Hungarian plain.  Perhaps many of these factors played a part, but they did withdraw.  However, some of their DNA remained in the region, one way or another, and would become part of the European population after their withdrawal.

However, thanks to the C. Lentz DNA, we can go back yet another step in time.  Before the Bashkir, our Lentz ancestor was part of the Yamnaya culture. 

The Yamnaya People

I must admit, I’ve been fascinated by the Yamnaya since they first came to my attention as the elusive “ghost population” that founded Europe in addition to the known hunter-gatherers and the farmers from the Middle East. I wrote about them here. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I have any idea that one of my lines might have a direct link back in time to this fascinating culture.

Lentz Yamna culture

By Joostik – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Yamna or Yamnaya culture, also called Pit Grave Culture and Ochre Grave Culture, was a late Copper Age/early Bronze Age culture of the Southern Bug/Dniester/Ural region (the Pontic steppe), dating to 3,500 – 2,300 BCE. The Yamna culture is identified with the late Proto-Indo-Europeans, and is the strongest candidate for the Urheimat (homeland) of the Proto-Indo-European language that would eventually evolve into the European languages of today, including German and English, although through different branches of the language tree.

The names “Yamna culture” and “Yamnaya culture” are from Ukrainian: Ямна культура and Russian: Ямная культура, both meaning “pit-grave culture”, from Russian/Ukrainian яма meaning “pit”

These beautiful items were found during excavation of the Yamna culture pit grave sites, now on display at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Lentz Yamna jewelry

By EvgenyGenkin – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

I can’t help but look at this beautiful jewelry and wonder if our ancestors wore something similar, or if this type of adornment was only for shamans and leaders. Perhaps our ancestors were shamans and/or leaders.  Perhaps they carved items like this.

Lentz Yamna pot

By EvgenyGenkin – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

This beautiful corded-ware pattern was clearly used to adorn pottery. Their lives may have been rather primitive, compared to ours, and perhaps somewhat brutal, but the spark of creativity had clearly ignited.

Lentz Yamna tips

By EvgenyGenkin – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

These points probably served the the dual purpose of protection and hunting.

Lentz Yamna tools

By EvgenyGenkin – Own work, CC BY 2.5,

A hammer is a hammer in any culture, but this one is quite beautiful and far from the crude hammers of a rock lashed to a stick.

The Yamnaya-people were the likely result of admixture between eastern European hunter-gatherers (via whom they also descend from the Mal’ta-Buret’ culture or other, closely related people) and hunter-gatherers from the Caucasus. Their culture is materially very similar to that of the people of the Afanasevo culture, their contemporaries in the Altai Mountains; furthermore, genetic tests have confirmed that the two groups are genetically indistinguishable.

The Yamnaya are also closely connected to later, Bronze Age cultures which spread throughout Europe and Central Asia, especially the Corded Ware people, but also the Bell Beakers as well as the peoples of the Andronovo, Sintashta, and Srubna cultures. In these groups, there are present several aspects of the Yamna culture (e.g., horse-riding, burial styles, and to some extent the pastoralist economy). Studies have also established that these populations derived large parts of their ancestry from the steppes.

Lentz Corded Ware culture

By File:Corded Ware culture.png : User:Dbachmann (2005)File:Europe laea location map.svg : User:Alexrk2Derivative work : User:Sir Henry – File:Corded Ware culture.pngFile:Europe laea location map.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Eastern-European hunter gatherers were part of a forager population complex that prevailed in Mesolithic Europe, from the Iberian peninsula to Russia, before a farming population entered from the Middle East during the Neolithic. Remains of the Eastern European hunter gatherers have been found in Mesolithic or early Neolithic sites in Karelia and Samara Oblast, Russia. Three such hunter-gathering individuals of the male sex have had their DNA results published. Each was found to belong to a different Y-DNA haplogroup: R1a, R1b, and J. R1b is also the most common Y-DNA haplogroup found among both the Yamnaya and modern-day Western Europeans, but not just any R1b, R1b carrying the same ancient SNP markers are our Lentz DNA.

Haak et al. (2015) conducted a genome wide study of 69 ancient skeletons from Europe and Russia. They concluded that Yamnaya autosomal characteristics are very close to the Corded Ware culture people, with an estimated a 73% ancestral contribution from the Yamnaya DNA in the DNA of Corded Ware skeletons from Germany. The same study estimated a 40–54% ancestral contribution of the Yamnaya in the DNA of modern Central & Northern Europeans.

The Lentz SNPs match the Bashkir SNPs and the Big Y file is currently being analyzed to determine whether or not our Lentz family descended from the Yamnaya or preceded the Yamnaya, according to our geneticist. If our ancestor preceeded the Yamnaya, it means that our ancestral DNA did not come from the Yamnaya, but the Yamnaya DNA came from our ancestor, as did ours.  Once we derive the answer, I will  include those results here.  We are very fortunate to have ancient DNA results to compare with contemporary DNA and a geneticist to make that detailed comparison.

Whoever would have guessed that the Y DNA of C. Lentz could tell us so very much about our ancient ancestors. I can’t help but think of them as they rode across the steppes on their way to settle in what is now Germany.  Looking at the sky above the steppes, I can understand why one of their Gods was Tengri – Lord of the endless blue sky.

Lentz steppes

By Dobrych – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0,

The steppe, shown in red, below, was the passageway from Asia to Europe, as well as the path for cultures. Along this path rode the domesticated horse, rolled the wheel and the chariot, and along with them, our ancestors.

Lentz steppe map

By Two-point-equidistant-asia.jpg: Mdfderivative work: Cp6 (talk) – Two-point-equidistant-asia.jpg, Public Domain,

What a journey the Lentz DNA has made – across the steppes, finding its way one way or another into Germany, leading to us, today.

C. Lentz, I can’t thank you enough for testing and providing the only path available into our deep ancestry. What a legacy for you to leave, not only to your own family, but to all of Jacob’s descendants!  Thank you!!!  You’ve done Jacob proud!

Beware The Sale of Your DNA – Just Because You Can Upload Doesn’t Mean You Should

You know something is coming of age when you begin to see knockoffs, opportunists – or ads on late night TV. As soon as someone figures out they can make money from something, rest assured, they will.

In the past few weeks, we’re beginning to see additional “opportunities” for places to upload your DNA files. Each of them has something to “give” you in return.  You can view this as genuine, or you can view this as bait – or maybe some of each.

So far, each of them also seems to have an agenda that is NOT serving us or our DNA – but serving only or primarily them. I’m not saying this is good or bad – that depends on your perspective – but I am saying that we need to be quite aware of a variety of factors before we participate or upload our autosomal DNA results.

Some sites are more straightforward than others.

I have already covered the fact that both 23andMe and Ancestry sell your DNA to whomever for whatever they see fit.

Truthfully, I always knew that 23andMe was focused on health, but I mistakenly presumed it was on the study of diseases like Parkinson’s. My mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, so I had a personal stake in that game.  When their very first patent was for “designer babies,” I felt shell-shocked, stupid, naïve, duped and taken advantage of. I had willingly opted-in and contributed my information with the idea that I was contributing to Parkinson’s research, while in reality, my DNA may have been used in the designer baby patent research.  I have no way of knowing and I had no idea that’s the type of research they were doing.

Parkinson’s yes, designer babies no.  It’s a personal decision, but once your DNA is being utilized or sold, it can be used for anything and you have no control whatsoever.  While I was perfectly willing to participate in surveys and have my DNA utilized for a cure for diseases, in particular Parkinson’s, I was not and am not willing for my DNA to be utilized for things like designer babies so the wealthy can select blue eyed, blonde haired children carrying the genes most likely to allow them to become athletes or cheerleaders.

And once the DNA cat is out of the bag, so to speak, there is no putting it back in. In some cases, you can opt out of identified data, but you can’t opt out of what has already been used, and in many cases, you can’t opt out of having your anonymized data sold.

So, let me give you an example of just how much protection anonymizing your data will give you.

Anonymized Data

Let’s say that someone in one of those unknown firms wants to know who I am. All they have to do is drop my results into GedMatch and my name is right there, along with my e-mail.

Have a fake name at Gedmatch? Well, think for a minute of the adoption search groups and how they identify people, sometimes very quickly and easily by their matches.  Everyday.

Not to mention, my children (and my parents, were they living) are very clearly identifiable utilizing my DNA. So while my DNA is mine, and legally belongs to me, it’s not entirely ONLY mine.

The promise of anonymized data by stripping out your identifying information has become somewhat of a hollow promise today. In a recent example, a cholesterol study volunteer recognized “herself” in a published paper, but was not notified of the results. In an earlier paper, several Y DNA volunteers were identified as well. Ironically, Dr. Erlich, now having formed DNA.Land and soliciting DNA uploads was involved with this unmasking.

Knowing what I know today, I would NEVER have tested at 23andMe and I would have to think very long and hard about Ancestry. The hook that Ancestry has, of course, is all of those DNA plus matching trees.  Is having my anonymized DNA sold worth that?  I don’t really know.  For me, it’s too late for an Ancestry decision, because I’ve already tested there and you cannot opt out of having your anonymized data sold.

I already had an Ancestry subscription, but some testers don’t realize they have to have at least a minimum level subscription to receive all of the benefits of testing at Ancestry. That could certainly be a rude awakening – and unexpected when they purchased the test.  The $49 DNA base subscription is not available on Ancestry’s website either – you have to know about it and call support to purchase that level.  I’m sure most people simply purchase the normal subscription or do without.

One thing is for sure, our DNA is worth a lot of money to both research and Big Pharm, and apparently worth a lot of effort as well, given how many people are attempting to capture our DNA for sale.

In the past few weeks, there have been several new sites that have come online relative to autosomal DNA uploading and testing.

But before we talk about those, I’d like to take a moment for education.

The Sanger Survey

Sanger survey

I’d like to suggest that you take a few minutes to view the videos associated with the Sanger Institute DNA survey here. I think the videos do a good job of explaining at least some of the issues facing people about the usage of their DNA.  Of course, you have to take their survey to see the videos at each step – but it’s good food for thought and they do allow you to make comments.

So, please, take a few minutes for this survey before proceeding.

Genes and US

One of the first “sidebar” companies to appear in September 2014 was at the site which is now nonfunctional.

I took screen shots at that time, since I was going to write an article about what seemed quite interesting.


It was a free service that offered to “find the best genes that you can give to your child.” You had to test at 23andMe, then upload both you and your partner’s raw DNA files and they would provide you with results.

I did just that, and the screen shot below shows the partial results. There were several pages.


At the end of this section was a question asking if I wanted to “speak to a doctor about any of these benefits.” I didn’t, but I did want to know if gene selection was actual possible and being implemented.  I found the site’s contact information.  I sent this e-mail, which was never answered.


So let me ask you…where is my and my husband’s DNA today? I uploaded it.  Who has it?  Was this just a ploy to obtain our DNA files?  And for what purpose?  Who were these people anyway?  They are gone without a trace today.


More recently, in the fall of 2015, DNA.Land came upon the scene.

As of today, 22,000+ people have uploaded their autosomal DNA files.

What does DNA.Land offer the genealogist?

A different organization’s view of your ethnicity as well as relative matching to others who upload.

The quality and reliability of these enticements offered by companies in exchange for our DNA files may vary widely. For example, when DNA.Land launched, their matching routine didn’t find immediate family members.  No product should ever be launched in an alpha state, which calls into question the quality of the rest of their products and research.  That matching problem has reportedly been fixed.

The second enticement they offer is an ethnicity tool.

I can’t show you my example, because I have not uploaded my DNA to DNA.Land.   However, a genetic genealogy colleague conducted an interesting experiment.

TL Dixon uploaded four DNA files in late April 2016. He tested twice at 23andMe, both tests being the v3 version, and twice at Ancestry, in 2012 and 2014, and uploaded all 4 files to DNA.Land to see what the results would be, comparatively.

TL 23andMe test 1

23andMe v3 test 1

TL 23andme test 2

23andMe v3 test 2

TL Ancestry test 1 2014

Ancestry test from 2014

TL Ancestry test 2 2012

Ancestry test from 2012

We all know that ethnicity testing as a whole is not terribly reliable, but is the most reliable on the continent level, meaning Africa vs Europe vs Asia vs Native American. Given that these raw data files are from the same testing companies, on the same chip platform, for the same person, the Ancestry 2012 and 2014 ethnicity results from DNA.Land are quite different from each other relative to African vs Eurasian DNA, and also from the 23andMe results – even at the continent level.  Said another way, both 23andme results and the Ancestry 2014 results are very similar, with the Ancestry 2012 test, shown last, being the outlier.

Thanks to TL Dixon for both his multiple testing and sharing his results. According to TL’s known family history, the two 23andMe and the Ancestry 2014 kits are closest to accurate.  Just as an aside, TL, surprised by the differing results, utilized David Pike’s utilities to compare the two Ancestry files to see if one had a problem, and they were both very similar, so the difference does not appear to be in the Ancestry kits themselves – so the difference has to be at DNA.Land.

So, what I’m saying is that DNA.Land’s enticement of a different company’s view of ethnicity, even after several months, and even at the continent level, still needs work. This along with the original matching issue calls into question the quality of some of the enticements that are being used to attract DNA donors.  We should consider this not only at this site, but at others that provide enticement or “free” services or goodies as well.  Uploaders beware!

While the non-profit status of DNA.Land along with their verbiage leads people to believe that their work is entirely charitable, it is not, as reflected in this sentence from their consent information.

I understand that the research in this study may lead to new products, research tools, or inventions that have financial value. By accepting the terms of this consent, I understand that I will not be able to share in the profits from future commercialization of products developed from this study.

At least they are transparent about this, assuming you actually read all of the information provided on the site – which you should do with every site.

My Heritage Adds DNA Matching

This past week, My Heritage, a company headquartered in Israel, announced that it has added autosomal DNA matching. Some people think this is great, and others not so much.


My Heritage, like Ancestry, is a subscription site. I happen to already be a member, so I was initially pretty excited about this, especially when I saw this in their blog.

Your DNA data will be kept private and secure on MyHeritage.

Our service will then match you to other people who share DNA with you: your relatives through a common ancestor. You will be able to review your matches’ family trees (excluding living people), and filter your matches by common surnames or geographies to focus on more relevant matches.

And also:

Who has access to the DNA data?

Only you do. Nobody else can see it, and nobody can even know that it was uploaded. Only the uploader can see the data, and you can delete it at any time. Users who are matched with your DNA will not have access to your DNA or your email address, but will be able to get in touch with you via MyHeritage.

I was thinking this might be a great opportunity, perhaps similar to the Ancestry trees, although they don’t say anything about tree matching.

However, their Terms of Service are not available to view unless you pretend to start an upload of your DNA (thanks for this tip Ann Turner) and then the “Terms of Service” and “Consent Agreement” links become available to view. They should be available for everyone BEFORE you start your upload.

On the MyHeritage main site, you’ll see DNA matching at the top. I’m a member, so, if you’re not a member, your “main site” may look different.


Click on “learn more” on the DNA Matching tab.


Step two shows you two boxes saying you have read the DNA Terms of Use and Consent Agreement. Don’t just click through these – read them.  Not just at this vendor, at all vendors.

In the required DNA Terms of Use we find this in the 5th paragraph:

By submitting DNA Results to the Website, you grant MyHeritage a perpetual, royalty-free, world-wide, transferable license to use your DNA Results, and any DNA Results you submit for any person from whom you obtained legal authorization as described in this Agreement, and to use, host, sublicense and distribute the resulting analysis to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered.

And this in item 7:

c. We may transfer, lease, rent, sell, share and/or or otherwise distribute de-identified information to third parties for any purpose, including without limitation, internal business purposes. Whenever we transfer, lease, rent, sell, share and/or or otherwise distribute your information to third parties, this information will be aggregated and personal identifiers (such as names, birth dates, etc.) will be removed.

In the optional Informed Consent agreement, we find this:

The Project collects, preserves and analyzes genealogical lineage, historical records, surveys, genetic information, and other records (collectively, “Research Information“) provided by users in order to conduct research studies to better understand, among other things, human evolution and migration, population genetics, regional health issues, ethnographic diversity and boundaries, genealogy and the history of the human species. Researchers hope that the Project will be an invaluable tool for a wide range of scholars and researchers interested in genealogy, anthropology, evolution, languages, cultures, medicine, and other topics and that the Project may benefit future generations. Discoveries made as a result of the Project may be used in the study of genealogy, anthropology, population genetics, population health issues, cultures, trends (for example, to identify health risks or spread of certain diseases), and other related topics. If we or a third party wants to conduct a study (1) on topics unrelated to the Project, or (2) using Research Information beyond what is described in this Informed Consent, we will re-contact you to seek your specific approval. In addition, we may contact you to ask you to complete a questionnaire or to ask you if you are willing to be interviewed about the Project or other matters.

  1. What are the costs and will I receive compensation? MyHeritage will not charge participants any fees in order to be part of the Project. There will be no financial compensation paid to Project participants. The data you share with us for the Project may benefit researchers and others in the future. If any commercial product is developed as a result of the Project or its outcomes, there will be no financial benefit to you.

You can’t see the terms of use or consent agreement unless you are in the process of uploading your DNA and in addition, it appears that your DNA data is automatically available in anonymized fashion to third parties. The terms of service and informed consent data above does not seem to correlate with the marketing information which states that “nobody else” can see your data.

The other thing that’s NOT obvious, is that you don’t HAVE to click the box on the Consent Agreement, but you do HAVE to click the box on the DNA Terms of Use.

If you are not alright with the entirety of the DNA Terms of Use, which is required, do not upload your DNA file to My Heritage.  If you are not alright with the Consent Agreement, don’t click the box.  Judy Russel wrote an detailed article about the terms here.

Uploading your DNA to MyHeritage is free today, but may be a pay service later. It is unclear whether a subscription is required today, or will be in the future.  However, at one time one could upload a family tree of up to 250 people to MyHeritage for free through 23andMe.  Larger files were accepted, but were only free for a certain time period and now the person whose tree was larger than 250 people and who did not subscribe is locked out of their account.  They can’t delete their larger-than-250 person tree unless they purchase a subscription.  It’s unclear what the future holds for DNA uploads, trees and subscriptions as well.

I have not uploaded my DNA to MyHeritage either, based on 7c. It would appear that even if you don’t give consent for additional “research information” to be collected and provided, they can still sell your anonymized DNA.



Very recently, a new company, WeGene at has begun DNA testing focused on the Chinese marketplace.

Their website it in Chinese, but Google translates it, at least nominally, as does Chrome.



It does not appear that WeGene does matching between their customers, or if they do, I’ve missed it in the translations.

You can, however, upload at least 23andMe files to WeGene. I can’t tell about Family Tree DNA and Ancestry files.  Unless you have direct and fairly recent Chinese ancestry, I don’t know what the benefit would be.

Their privacy and security, such as it is, is at this link, although obviously autotranslated. Some people seem to have found other verbiage as well.  Navigating their site, written in Chinese, is very difficult and the accuracy of the autotranslation is questionable, at best.

Their autosomal DNA file is obviously available for download, because GedMatch now accepts these files.

I am certainly not uploading my DNA to WeGene, for numerous reasons.

Vendor Summary

This vendor summary was more difficult to put together than I thought it would be – in part because I am not a new user at either Ancestry or 23andMe and obviously can’t see what a new user would see on any of my accounts. Furthermore, Ancestry in particular has several documents that refer back and forth to each other, and let’s just say they are written more for the legal mind than the typical consumer.

vendor summary

* – Both 23andMe and Ancestry appear to utilize all clients DNA for anonymized distribution, but not for identified distribution without an individual opt-in.

*1 – According to the 23andMe Privacy Policy, although you can opt in to the higher level of research testing where your identity is not removed, you cannot opt out of the anonymized level of DNA sharing/sale. Please review current 23andMe documentation before making a decision.

*2 – Can Opt in or Opt out.

*3 – Can opt out of non-anonymized sales, but not anonymized sales. Please verify utilizing the current Ancestry documents before making a decision.

*4 – indicates that you can withdraw consent, but does not say anything about deleting your DNA file.

*5 – DNA.Land states in their consent agreement that they will not provide identified DNA information without first contacting you.

*6 – At 23andMe, deleting DNA from data base closes account.

*7 – Automatically opted in for anonymized sales/sharing, but must opt in for identified DNA sharing.

*8 – 23andMe has been and continues to experience significant difficulties and at this point are not considered a viable genetic genealogy option by many, or stated another way, they would be the last choice of the main three testing companies.

*9 – All legal action must be brought in Tel Aviv, Israel, individually, and not as a class action suit, according to item 9 in the DNA Terms of Use document.

*10 – Website in Chinese, information through an automated English translator, so the information provided here is necessarily incomplete and may not be entirely accurate.

Please note that any or all of these factors are subject to change over time and the vendors’ documents should be consulting and read thoroughly at the time any decision is being made.

Please note that at some vendors there are many different documents that cross-reference each other. They are confusing and should all be read before any decision is made.

And of course, some vendors’ websites aren’t even in English.

Points to Consider

While these companies are the ones that have come to the forefront in the past few months, there will assuredly be more as this industry develops. Here are a list of things for you to think about and points to consider that may help you make your decision about whether you want to either test or upload your autosomal DNA with any particular company.  After all, your autosomal DNA file does contain that obviously much-sought-after medical information.

First, always read every document on a vendor site that says anything like “Terms of Use,” “Security and Privacy” or “Terms of Service” or “Informed Consent.” Many times the fine print is spread throughout several documents that reference each other.  If their policy does not say specifically, do NOT assume.

Also be aware that the verbiage of most companies says they can change their rules of engagement at any time without notification.

Here are the questions you may want to consider as you read these documents.

  • Does the company or organization sell or share your data?
  • Is the data that is sold or shared anonymized or nonanonymized, understanding that really no one is truly anonymous anymore?
  • Who do they sell your data to?
  • For what purpose?
  • Do you have the opportunity to authorize your DNA’s involvement per study?
  • If you do not live in the same country as the company with whom you are doing business, what recourse do you have to enforce any agreement?
  • How do you feel about your DNA being in the hands of either organizations or companies you don’t know for purposes you don’t know?
  • Are you asked up front if you want to participate?
  • Can you opt out of your DNA being shared or sold entirely from the beginning?
  • Can you opt out of your DNA being shared or sold entirely at any time if you have initially opted in?
  • Do you receive the opportunity to opt in, or are you automatically opted in?
  • If you are automatically opted in, do you get the opportunity, right then, to opt out, or only if you happen to discover the situation? And if you can opt out immediately, are you only able to opt out of non-anonymized data or can you opt out entirely?
  • Is the company up front and transparent about what they are doing with your DNA or do you have to dig to unearth the truth?
  • If you already tested, and gave up rights, were you aware that you did so, and do you understand if or how you can rescind that inadvertent authorization?
  • Do you have to dig for the terms of service and are they as represented in the marketing literature?
  • Do you feel like you are giving truly informed consent and understand what can and will happened to your DNA, and what your options are if you change your mind, and how to exercise those options? Are you comfortable with those options and the approach of the company towards DNA sale as a whole? Were they forthright?
  • For companies like MyHeritage and Ancestry, are their other unknown “gotchas” like a subscription being required in addition to testing or uploading to obtain the full benefits of the test or upload?
  • What happens to your DNA if the company no longer exists or goes out of business? For two examples, look at the Sorenson and Ancestry Y and mtDNA DNA results. This is certainly not what any consumer or tester expected. Not to mention, I’m left wondering where my DNA submitted to genesandus is today.
  • Who owns the company?  What are their names?  Where can you find them?  What is the address of the company?  What does google have to say about the owners or management?  Linked-In?  Facebook?  If there is absolutely no history, that’s probably as damning as a bad history.  No one can exist today in a professional capacity and have no history.  Just saying.
  • Is the company acting in any way that would cause you not to trust them, their motives or agenda?  As my mother used to say, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

Near and Dear to My Heart

I have family members who work in the medical field in various capacities. I also have family members who have or have had genetically heritable conditions and like everyone else, I would love to see those diseases cured.  My reticence to donate my DNA to whomever for whatever is not a result of being heartless.  It’s a function of wanting to be in control of who profits with/from my DNA and that of my family.

Let me share a personal story with you.

My brother died of cancer in 2012. He went for chemo treatments every two weeks, and before he could have his chemo treatment, he had to have bloodwork to assure that his system was able to handle the next dose of chemo.

If his white cell count was below a certain threshold, a shot of a drug called Neulasta was available to him to stimulate his body to increase the white blood cells. The shots were $8000 a piece.  And no, that is not a typo.  $8000!  His insurance did not cover the shots, because as far as they were concerned, he could just wait until his white cell numbers increased of their own accord and have the chemo then.  Of course, delaying the chemo decreased his chances of survival.

Over the course of his chemo, he had to have three of these $8000 shots. Fortunately, he did have the money to pay, although he did have to reschedule his appointment because he was required to bring a cashier’s check with the full payment in advance before the clinic would administer the shot.  After that, he simply carried an $8000 cashier’s check to each appointment, just in case.

I do not for one minute believe that those shots COST $8000 to manufacture, but I do believe that the pharmaceutical industry could, would and does CHARGE $8000 to desperate patients in order to continue the chemo that is their only hope of life. For those whose insurance pays, it’s entirely irrelevant. For those whose insurance does not pay, it’s a matter of life and death.  And yes, I’m equally as angry with the insurance company, but they aren’t the ones asking for me to do donate my DNA.

So, as for my DNA, no Big Pharm company will ever get their hands on it if there is ANYTHING I can do about it – although it’s probably too late now since I have tested with both 23andMe and Ancestry, who do not allow you to opt out entirely. I wish I had known before I tested.  At least I would have been giving informed consent, which was not the case.

Consequently, I want to know who is doing what with my DNA, so that I have the option of participating or not – and I want to know up front – and I don’t want it hidden in fine print with the company hoping I’ll just “click through” and never read the documentation. I don’t want it to be intentionally or unintentionally confusing, and I want unquestionable full disclosure – ahead of time.  Is that too much to ask?

My brother had the money for the shots, and he died anyway, but can you imagine being the family of someone who did not have $24,000?

And if you think for one minute that Big Pharm won’t do that, consider Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, dubbed “the most hated man in America” in September 2015 for gouging patients dependent on a drug used for HIV and cancer treatment by raising the price from $13.50 per pill to $750 for the same pill, a 5,556% increase – because he could.

Medical research to cure disease I’m supportive of in terms of DNA donation, but not designer babies and not Big Pharm – and today there seems to be no way to separate the bad from the good or to determine who our DNA is being sold to for what purpose. Worse yet, some medical research is funded by Big Pharm, so it’s hard to determine which medical research is independent and which is not.

The companies selling our DNA and Big Pharm are the only people who stand to benefit financially from that arrangement – and they stand to benefit substantially from our contributions by encouraging us to “help science.” We’ll never know if a study our donated DNA was used for produced a new drug – and if it’s one we can’t afford, you can bet the pharmaceutical industry and manufacturers care not one whit that we were one of the people who donated our DNA so they could develop the drug we can’t afford.  If any industry should not be soliciting free DNA donations for research, Big Pharm is that industry with their jaw-dropping profits.

So, How Much is Our DNA Worth Anyway?

I don’t know, directly, but we can get some idea from the deal that 23andMe struck with pharmaceutical company Genentech, the US unit of Swiss drug company, Roche, in January 2015, as reported by Forbes.

Quoting now, directly from the Forbes article:

According to sources close to the deal, 23andMe is receiving an upfront payment from Genentech of $10 million, with further milestones of as much as $50 million. The deal is the first of ten 23andMe says it has signed with large pharmaceutical and biotech companies.

Such deals, which make use of the database created by customers who have bought 23andMe’s DNA test kits and donated their genetic and health data for research, could be a far more significant opportunity than 23andMe’s primary business of selling the DNA kits to consumers. Since it was founded in 2006, 23andMe has collected data from 800,000 customers and it sells its tests for $99 each. That means this single deal with one large drug company could generate almost as much revenue as doubling 23andMe’s customer base.

The article further says that the drug company was particularly interested in the 12,000 Parkinson’s patients and 1,300 of their parents and siblings who had provided family information. Ten million divided by 13,300 means Genentech were willing to pay $750 for each person’s DNA, out the door.  So the tester paid $99 or upwards, depending on when they tested – $1000 before September 2008 when the test dropped to $399, to 23andMe and then 23andMe made another $750 per kit from the tester’s donated DNA results.

And that’s before the additional $50 million and the other deals 23andMe and the other DNA-sellers have struck with Big Pharm. So yes indeed, our DNA is worth a lot.

It’s no wonder so many people are trying to trying to find a way to entice us to donate our results so they can sell them. In fact, it’s a wonder, and a testament to their integrity, that there is ANY company with access to our DNA results that isn’t selling them.  In fact, there are only two companies, plus the Genographic Project.

Who Doesn’t Share or Sell Your Autosomal DNA?

Of the major companies, organizations and sites, the only three, as best I can tell, that do not share or sell your autosomal DNA (or reserve the right to do so) and specifically state that they do not are National Geographic’s Genographic Project , Family Tree DNA and GedMatch.

Of those three, Family Tree DNA, a subsidiary of Gene by Gene is the only testing company and says the following:

Gene by Gene collects, processes, stores and shares your Personal Information in a responsible, transparent and secure environment that fosters our customers’ trust and confidence. To that end, Gene by Gene respects your privacy and will not sell or rent your Personal Information without your consent.

National Geographic utilizes Family Tree DNA for testing, and the worst thing I could find in their privacy policy is that they will share:

  • with other selected third parties so that they may send you promotional materials about goods and services that they offer. You have the opportunity to opt out of our sharing information about you as described below in the section entitled “Your Choices”;
  • in accordance with your consent.

Nothing problematic here.

Your Genographic DNA file is only uploadable to Family Tree DNA and Nat Geo does not accept uploaded data from other vendors.

GedMatch, which allows users to upload their raw data files from the major testing companies for comparison says the following:

It is our policy to never provide your genealogy, DNA information, or email address to 3rd parties, except as noted above.

Please refer to the entire documents from these organizations for details.

Serious genealogists have probably already uploaded to GedMatch and tested at or uploaded to Family Tree DNA as well, so people are unlikely to find new matches at new sites that aren’t already in one of these two places.

To Be Clear

I just want to make sure there is no confusion about which type of companies we’ve been referencing, and who is excluded, and why. The only companies or organizations this article applies to are those who have access to your raw data autosomal DNA file.  Those would be either the companies who test your autosomal DNA (National Geographic, Family Tree DNA, Ancestry and 23andMe in the US and WeGenes in China), or if you download your raw data file from those companies and upload it to another company, organization or location, as discussed in this article.  The companies and organizations discussed may not be the only firms or organizations to which you can upload your autosomal DNA file today, and assuredly, there will be more in the future.

The line in the sand is that autosomal DNA file. Not your Y DNA, not your mitochondrial DNA, not your match list – just that raw data file – that’s what contains your DNA information that the medical and pharmaceutical industry seeks and is willing to pay handsomely to obtain.

There are other companies and organizations that offer helpful tools for autosomal DNA analysis and tree integration, but you do NOT upload your raw data file to those sites. Those sites would include sites like and I want to be sure no one confuses sites that do NOT upload or solicit the upload of your raw autosomal DNA files with those that do.  I have not discussed these sites that do not upload your autosomal DNA files because they are not relevant to this discussion.

This article does not pertain to sites that do not utilize or have access to your autosomal raw data file – only those that do.


As the number of DNA testing consumers rises, the number of potential targets for DNA sales into the medical/pharmaceutical field rises equally, as does the number of targets for scammers.

Along with that, I increasingly feel like my ancestors and the data available through my DNA about my ancestors, specifically ethnicity since everyone seems to be looking for a better answer, is being used as bait to obtain my DNA for companies with a hidden, or less than obvious, agenda – that being to obtain my DNA for subsequent sale.

I greatly appreciate the Genographic Project, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch, the organizations who either test or accept autosomal file uploads do not sell my DNA, and I hope that they are not forced into that position economically in order to survive. It’s quite obvious that there is significant money to be made from the sale of massive amounts of DNA to the medical and pharmaceutical communities.  They alone have resisted that temptation and stayed true to the cause of the study of indigenous cultures and population genetics in the case of Nat Geo, and genetic genealogy, and only genetic genealogy in the case of Family Tree DNA and GedMatch.

In other words, just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Frankly, I believe selling our data is fundamentally wrong unless that information is abundantly clear, as in truly informed consent as defined by the Office for Human Research Protections, in advance of purchasing (or uploading) the test, and not simply a required “click through box” that says you read something. I would be much more likely to participate in anything that was straightforward rather than something that was hidden or not straightforward, like perhaps the company or organization was hoping we wouldn’t notice, or we would automatically click the box without reading further, thinking we have no other option.

The notice needs to say something on the order of, “I understand that my DNA is going to be sold, may be used for profit making ventures, and I cannot opt out if I order this DNA test,” if that is the case. That is truly informed consent – not a check box that says “I have read the Consent Document.”

Yes, the companies that sell DNA testing and our DNA results would probably receive far fewer orders, but those who would order would be truly informed and giving informed consent. Today, in the large majority of cases, I don’t believe that’s happening.

We need to be aware as consumers and make informed decisions. I’m not telling you whether you should or should not utilize these various companies and sites, or whether you should or should not participate in contributing your DNA to research, or at which level, if at all. That is a personal decision we all have to make.

But I will tell you that I think you need to educate yourself and be aware of these trends and issues in the industry so you can make a truly informed decision each and every time you consider sharing your DNA. And you should know that in some cases, your DNA is being sold and there is absolutely nothing you can do about if it you utilize the services of that company.

Above all, read all of the fine print.

Let me say that again, channeling my best Judy Russell voice.



Unfortunately, things are not always as they seem on the surface.

If you see a click-through box, a red neon danger light should now start flashing in your brain and refuse to allow you to click on that box until you’ve done what? Read all the fine print.

There really is no such thing as a free lunch – so be judiciously suspicious.

I will leave you with the same thought relative to testing companies and upload opportunities that I said about companies selling our data. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

I think early in this game we all got excited and presumed the best about the motives of companies and organizations, like I did with both 23andMe and genesandus, but now we know better – and that there may be more to the story than initially meets the eye.

And besides that, we all know that presume is the first cousin to assume…and well, we all know where this is going.  And by the way, that’s exactly how I feel about genesandus who disappeared with my and my husband’s DNA.  I wasn’t nearly suspicious or judicious enough then…but I am now.

Family Finder Matching Thresholds Changing at Family Tree DNA

By Endlisnis – Street limbo 3, CC BY 2.0,

A long-requested change is taking place shortly at Family Tree DNA – although we don’t have a firm date as of yet.  Final testing before release is still underway.

I received a notification from Family Tree DNA, as follows:

You asked for it and we listened!

Currently, the current matching thresholds – the minimum amount of shared DNA required for two people to show as a match are:

  • Minimum longest block of at least 7.69 cM for 99% of testers, 5.5 cM for the other one percent
  • Minimum 20 total shared centiMorgans

Some people believed those thresholds to be too restrictive, and through the years requested changes that would loosen those restrictions.

In the near future, as soon as the quality assurance process is complete, the following changes will be implemented to the matching program.

  • No minimum shared centiMorgans, but if the cM total is less than 20, at least one segment must be 9 cM or longer.
  • If the longest block of shared DNA is greater than 9 cM, the match will show regardless of total shared cM or the number of matching segments.

The entire existing database is being rerun using the new matching criteria, and all new matches calculated with the new thresholds.

Most people will see only minor changes in their matches, mostly in the speculative range. They may lose some matches but gain others.

This is truly exciting news, especially for people with African American heritage whose connections to matches may be several generations back in time and may not have met the previous 20cM total threshold criteria. In fact, these new thresholds may benefit many of us with deep colonial roots, but I’m hoping that people who have had few matches until now will be pleasantly surprised.

As soon as this change is released, I’ll be checking to see if I’ve gained or lost matches, and will report back as either additional information or results are forthcoming!

Preserving Family Information Forever?

mom and me matching dresses

Given that today is Mother’s Day, and those who have mothers still with us are hopefully visiting and feeling very grateful for their presence in our lives – I want to take this opportunity to talk about preserving as much about our mothers’ lives as possible for future generations.

Those whose mothers have already passed over know the huge hole their passing creates, in so many ways – unfathomable until they’ve crossed that bridge.

Not only do our mothers take their own memories with them, but the memories of their parents, who we may or may not have known, and the memories of their grandparents, who we probably didn’t know. Their grandmother may have told our mother stories about her parents and grandparents and what happened in their lifetimes – and all of that is lost too.

If you’re counting, that’s a link to 5 generations back in time we’re losing when we lose a parent. In my case, that 5th generation reached back to a woman born in 1823 in Germany.

I asked my Mom questions before she passed away, but not enough. I wish I had asked sooner.  Older people do forget.  I wish I had asked my grandmother’s sister more questions too. I wish, I wish….

There isn’t anything I can do about that now, except document and research based on their recollections – which really has been very productive.

The Memory Book or Journal

In the last few years before my mother passed, I asked her to complete a memory book and when she should no longer write legibly, she dictated the answers and I transcribed in her own words – although I love the answers in her own handwriting.

There are several flavors of memory books available, for Mom, Dad and grandparents.

Here are links to two, but if you look at the “frequently bought together,” books, you’ll see the others too.

And if you are the mother, father or grandparent, do your descendants a favor and just order one for yourself!

What’s Next?

But the next question is how to preserve this information forever.

And by forever, I do mean after I’m gone, and after my children, who are not currently interested in genealogy are gone – hopefully into the indefinite future.

We used to think that Rootsweb was forever, but given that Ancestry purchased Rootsweb and has a history of suddenly obsoleting products and services, we certainly can’t depend on that anymore.

WordPress, which is the platform I used for my blog, has a free option.  Of course, there really is no such thing as a free lunch, so there will be ads on the site from time to time.  And it’s free “forever,” as long as forever is in this technoworld.  How long is that?  I don’t know.  Weebly has the same type of arrangement.  Of course, some functions and options aren’t free, like a domain name, and if you exceed a certain space limit, fees apply.  You can’t pay fees if you’re dead.

Any entrepreneur want to start a “legacy” business, pay now, die later, your information stays forever?  I think it would be a wonderful idea!!!

I have several articles on my blog that I’d really like to be archived “forever,” in particular, my 52 Week of Ancestors articles, which has now grown to over 120 (from the originally anticipated 52) and will continue to grow until I’m, well, done.  Now I don’t know what “done” actually means in a genealogists world, so I can’t tell you when that might be.

I would also like to preserve family stories, the kind I hope you’re collecting from Mom this Mother’s Day.

Let’s Have Fun!

Be sure to have fun. Tell Mom you love her.  You really never know when it might be your last opportunity.  Laugh.  Let the conversation flow, and ask Mom questions that will result in interesting conversations.  You never know what you might find out!  And she’ll be very pleased that you are interested in her and her family!

Here are some ideas of questions you might ask Mom, just for fun:

  • Tell me about your first bicycle ride.
  • What were your chores as a child?
  • Who was your first boyfriend?
  • What was your favorite candy bar as a kid?
  • What food did you hate as a child? Do you still hate it?
  • Tell me about your first day at school?
  • Did anyone ever play a trick or prank on you?
  • Did you play a trick or prank on someone else?
  • Did you know your grandparents? What are your fondest memories of them?
  • Tell me about a family vacation.
  • Did your family have picnics?  Who came?
  • Did your parents have any special family traditions surrounding the holidays, like Christmas, Easter, Hanukah or other times of the year?
  • What television programs did you watch as a child?
  • Did your parents or grandparents have a hobby?
  • What games did you play for fun?
  • What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your lifetime?

Avoid topics that might make Mom sad, like funerals and pets. I made the mistake of asking about Mom’s pets as a child and let’s just say I immediately wished that I hadn’t.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t think you’ll remember the answers, because, regardless of your best intentions, you won’t.  Write them down, or better yet, record them and later transcribe the recording.

Don’t you wish you had this kind of information about your great-great-grandparents? I do. This is your opportunity to provide that gift to future generations.

Now, it’s up to you to preserve these stories. If you don’t do it, no one else is going to.

Archival and Preservation

First, commit the stories to paper. You can then utilize those documents to publish the stories online, on a free “forever” site like Weebly or WordPress.  Of course, you’ll need to take into consideration any privacy issues, living people and such.  I mean, announcing uncle Joe is gay online when he hasn’t announced that publicly himself, and without his permission, is maybe not such a good idea.

In my case, by family, I’ve also combined several stories into a “book” and donated an electronic copy to the Allen County Public Library, who printed the book and added it to their collection.

The Allen County Public Library is one of the largest genealogy libraries in the US and has partnered with both FamilySearch and the Internet Archive.  They also have taken a leadership role in preserving oral history and have other suggestions at this link.

Not all libraries are interested in genealogy.  Gasp – I know – hard to believe.  Libraries that are local to your family would be most interested, although I’ve donated family books and visited the library later to find that they have “no record” of the book being donated – and it surely was not on the shelf.  While you might want to donate to local libraries, I wouldn’t depend on them for posterity.

Donating your book to the Family History Library has specific guidelines, including “if they have space.”  If your family history and stories fit this criteria, the Mormon Family History Library has as good a chance at “forever” as anyplace.  They want genealogical information, and your stories should include a pedigree chart, minimally, so that future generations have some idea of who is recanting about whom.

There’s nothing worse than an old photo of someone that you know you’re related to, with no names on the back – so you have no idea who it is. The same goes for your family stories and recollections as well.

And as for those old pictures, add those to the stories as well. People love pictures and stories.

Leave it up to one of my wonderful subscribers (thanks Karen) to identify another source for archiving books.  The Internet Archive accepts donations of one or more books at a time, digitized (hopefully) or hardcopy, and this nonprofit whose goal is to “create universal access to all knowledge” makes the books available to everyone, by key word search and by title search, forever.

Personally, I would utilize all of these options to assure the widest coverage possible.

Honoring Mothers Who Have Passed Over

Enjoy your Mother’s Day, hopefully with Mom, but if she has passed over, maybe you can memorialize her today by recording something special about her life. Here are some suggestions:

  • Her favorite or most memorable food.  Do you remember her preparing or family meals eating that dish together?
  • Her favorite scent.  Do you think of her when you get a whiff?
  • Her favorite flower.  Did you plant or tend the garden with her?
  • Something silly that she did.  Do  you have a photo to go along with this?
  • Something embarrassing that she did – maybe embarrassing to you, not her:)
  • Her favorite recipe, and your memories of her making that recipe.  I know whatever that was came immediately to mind and maybe you can even smell it now.  My Mom’s was fudge!
  • Your favorite memory of her.
  • A typical day in her life.
  • A memory of your mother with her parents.
  • Her hobby.  What did she love to do, and why.  Do you have anything she made?
  • What gave her life meaning?  What was her motivation?
  • Her most memorable moment.
  • What is her legacy?

Preserve Mom’s DNA

If your Mom is still with us, and for that matter, your Dad too, please, PLEASE test their DNA. Family Tree DNA archives the DNA for 25 years, and presuming it has not degraded during that time, you can order upgrades for new tests not yet available (and maybe not even dreamed of) today.  I ordered my mother’s Family Finder test several years after she was gone and I thank that woman every day of my life for that gift that she gave me.

For your mother, you can order the Family Finder autosomal test and the mitochondrial DNA full sequence which directly tests her mother’s mother’s maternal line. If you’re ordering for Mom, the tests are on sale for a significant savings until midnight (Central Time) on Mother’s Day night.

Your father can order both of those plus the Y DNA test. I recommend at least the 37 marker panel, and 67 if you’re feeling particularly generous.  It would make a great Father’s Day present, and you can order now while the Family Finder and mitochondrial are on sale.

If your Mom has passed over, you can still test her mitochondrial DNA, which she gave to all of her children, by testing your own mitochondrial DNA.

You can learn a lot about the legacy of your matrilineal ancestors, meaning your mother’s matrilineal line, with the mitochondrial test – things so far back in time that no oral history could possibly remember.

My mother’s mitochondrial DNA line dies in my generation, as none of my children will be passing it along, so don’t let the information in your mother’s mtDNA be lost to posterity.

You can click here to order a DNA test, on sale.

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Philip Jacob Miller (c1726-1799), Buried on a Missing Island?, 52 Ancestors #119

Philip Jacob Miller was born about 1726 in Germany to Johann Michael Mueller, spelled Miller here in the US, and Suzanna Agnes Berchtol (Bechtol, Bechtel) and was an infant or child when arriving in the colonies in 1727.

We don’t know exactly when Philip Jacob was born, but we do know he was born before his parents immigrated because he was naturalized in 1767, and had he been born after immigration, he would not have needed to be naturalized.  We also know that his parents were married in 1714 in Krotelback (Crottelbach), Germany, with their first child being baptized in the same church in 1715, so by process of elimination, Philip was born sometime between 1716 and 1727.

Philipp Jacob is a bit unusual, because parts of his life are virtually unknown, but others are well documented. His early life we can only infer because of what little we know of his parents.  His life after marriage and moving to Frederick County, Maryland is fairly well documented, comparatively speaking, but his final years in Campbell County, KY are a bit fuzzy.  He sort of drifts into and out of focus.

Philipp Jacob Miller was also somewhat unusual in another way too – in that he never seemed, with only a couple possible exceptions, to use solely his middle name, always using both his first and middle names.  Typically German men were called by and known by their middle name alone – for example Johann Michael Miller was Michael Miller.  That was unless their name was Johannes Miller, with no middle name, and then they would just have been called Johannes, or John.  Normally, Philipp Jacob Miller would be called Jacob, but Philipp Jacob wasn’t called Jacob – although when we see a Jacob I always have to wonder.  We can simply say that Philipp Jacob wasn’t your typical Brethren man and that would probably sum things up pretty nicely.  He seemed quite religiously faithful, except for these “tidbits” that creep up here and there – just enough to hint otherwise and make you really scratch your head and look confused.

Philip Jacob’s Childhood

Philip Jacob Miller would have spent the first part of his childhood after arriving in the colonies in Chester Co., PA where his father paid taxes until about 1744 when he bought land near Hanover, Pennsylvania, in the part of Lancaster County that would become York Co., PA in 1749. By 1744, Philip Jacob would be a young man of at least 18, perfectly capable of farm work and the manual labor required to wrest a living from the land.  Perhaps he drove one of the wagons as the family packed up and moved to the Brethren community near Hanover, PA in 1744 where his father bought land jointly with Nicholas Garber and Samuel Bechtol.

Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena

Philip Jacob Miller married Magdalena whose last name is stated to be Rochette, about 1751, probably in York County, PA.  Let me be very clear about one thing.  There is absolutely no confirmation or documentaion for her surname, despite hundreds of entries on and other online resources that suggest otherwise.  I thoroughly perused the Frederick County, MD records and there are no Rochette’s or similar surnames there.  York County, PA records need to be reviewed in their entirety as well, but it would be very unusual to find a French surname in the highly German Brethren congregation.  There are no Rochette deeds in York County from 1749 forward and no Rochette records in any Brethren church reference.  I found no Rochette names in the Lancaster County records either, although I have not perused every record type.  Until or unless proven otherwise, I do not believe that Magdalena’s surname was Rochette.

Frederick County, Maryland

Philip Jacob moved to the Conococheague area (Frederick, then Washington Co., MD) by about 1751 or 1752 when an entire group of Brethren migrated from York Co., PA following years of bickering about land ownership and border disputes that turned violent and was subsequently known as the Maryland-Pennsylvania Border War and also as Cresap’s War.

PA-MD boundary issue

Brethren, being pacifists, tried to remain neutral but eventually, simply sold out and left for an area they thought would be safer and less volatile. Little did they know about what the future would hold.

The first Brethren, Stephen Ullerich, by 1738, and Philip Jacob’s father, Michael Miller, by 1745, had crossed into the Antietam Valley and Conococheague Valley (either side of Hagarstown) and purchased land.

Philip Jacob Miller is one of 3 confirmed children of Michael Miller as proven by a series of deeds and surveys to property called Ash Swamp near Maugansville in Frederick County, MD, northwest of Hagerstown. Philip Jacob obtained this land in October of 1751 from his father who had clearly purchased it speculatively in 1745.

In 1753, Philip Jacob Miller had his land resurveyed.

Miller 1753 Ash Swamp resurvey crop

This land, Ash Swamp positively belongs to “our” Philip Jacob Miller, although there is another survey (and resurvey) for one Jacob Miller for 50 acres on “The Swamp” adjacent Diamond Square. Is that our Philip Jacob Miller too?  We don’t know – it’s that ambiguous Jacob name again.  Ash Swamp is definitely our Philip Jacob as is later proven through subsequent transactions.

1753 Ash Swamp resurvey 2

1753 Ash swamp resurvey 3

Ash Swamp is where Philip Jacob Miller lived, adjacent to his brother John Miller to whom he deeded part of Ash Swamp.

Miller page 27

The resurvey documents were plotted on top of a contemporary map to isolate the location just southwest of Maugansville.

Miller farm west 3

I visited Philip Jacob’s land in the  fall of 2015.  This view of the area is from the location of the Grace Academy school, just about dead center in Philip Jacob’s land, looking west. This land is discussed in detail in Johann Michael Miller’s article.

The third brother, Lodowick purchased adjacent land to the south.

Lodowick's land

Sometime between 1748 and 1754, Philip Jacob’s mother died because his father remarried to the widow of Nicholas Garber, the man that he co-owned land with in York County, PA. We know this because in 1754, Michael Miller was administering the estate of Nicholas who had died in 1748, implying of course that Michael’s wife, Philip Jacob’s mother, Susanna Berchtol, had died as well, probably in that same timeframe.

We know very little about the years between the resurvey of Ash Swamp in the early 1750s and 1771 when Philip Jacob’s father died. Most of what we do know is due to a history of the area and not from the family directly.  However, when a war is being waged where you live and the entire county evacuates, you can’t not be affected.

Philip Jacob Miller, along with the rest of the residents of this region would have abandoned their farms for safety, twice, as difficult as that is for us to fathom today. The first time was in 1755 when General Braddock was defeated and the Indians descended on this part of Maryland, burning, killing and running the residents off of their farms and back east.

Based on the resurvey document, we know that the surveyor was working on May 15, 1755 in Frederick County, surveying Philip Jacob’s land, and you can rest assured that Philip Jacob was right there with him, watching every move.

Braddock was defeated on July 9, 1755, less than two months later, leaving the entire frontier exposed.

From 1755 to 1757, Alfred James writes, “Raid after raid from Fort Duquesne hit pioneer settlements along the Susquehanna and the Potomac.” It was unending and relentless. Another reports that “Frederick, Winchester and Carlisle became the new frontiers of the colony” and “Many even fled to Baltimore,” and “some to Virginia.”  Arthur Quinn writes that families went as far east as Bethlehem “where there was no more room in the inns, or the shops or even the cellars.”  Nead writes, “Terror and desolation reigned everywhere.” Repogle 106

In the fall of 1756, Indians scalped 20 people in Conococheague including one Jacob Miller, his wife and 6 children. Were they related?  We don’t know.  If they were Brethren, they would not have defended themselves.

Most settlers fled east from Monocacy. George Washington received a report in the summer of 1756 that “350 wagons had passed that place to avoid the enemy within the space of 3 days” and by August the report was that “The whole settlement of Conococheague in Maryland is fled, and there now remain only two families from thence to Fredericktown…..”

The settlements remained abandoned in 1757 and into 1758 when General Forbes actions served to end the war. Were it not for Forbes, we might all be speaking French today.

In 1758, General Harris extended a road from Harrisburg, PA to Fort Duquesne on the Ohio River (Pittsburg.) Highway 30 follows this road most of the way today. Replogle 55

Forbes road went from Cumberland to Bedford and by August 1758, 1400 men had completed the road to Bedford, just wide enough to get a wagon through. A contemporary writer said it took 8 days to travel from Bedford to Ligonier, a distance of about 45 miles.  This military tactic succeeded.  General John Forbes took Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburg, the French abandoned it, and ended the French and Indian War on November 25, 1758.  Indian attacks diminished and by 1762, the French had given up Canada.  Replogle 107-108, 110

Forbes Road

There is one item of particular significance – during the war, a small fort was built at Raystown, which would eventually become Bedford, PA, a location that would, in the 1770s, become quite important to the Brethren Miller family. It was indeed the next stop on the frontier and two of Philip Jacob’s sons would find themselves traveling that road and settling in in Bedford County, PA for a few years, at least until their father rallied the family round once again.

Philip Jacob Miller would eventually float down the Ohio River to Campbell Co., KY, and settle one last time, on one last frontier, across the river and a dozen miles upstream from Fort Washington, now Cincinnati. The Forbes road may have been part of the route he took.

Return to Frederick County

When did the settlers return to Frederick County? We don’t know.  Certainly not before the end of 1758, and probably not until they were certain things had settled down and the attacks had abated.  They likely had to rebuild from scratch, their homesteads and barns all burned.  As difficult as this must have been, they obviously did rebiuld and we have absolutely nothing in our family history reflecting this extremely difficult time.  You would think there would be stories…something…but there is nothing.  These hardy people simply did what needed to be done.

The only hint we have in terms of when they returned is that Michael Miller is back in Frederick County by 1761 purchasing land and in 1762, paying taxes. Given that he was by that time, 69 years old, you can rest assured that he was not alone and was in the company of his sons.  Wherever they had taken refuge – the family had been together.

Something else was afoot too, because in 1762, the Brethren began to be naturalized, and this from a group of people who disliked government and oaths and any processes of this type more than anything else. Brethren leaders even shunned their children if they obtained a license to marry.  However, in 1762, Nicholas Martin was naturalized in Philadelphia, PA, a state that did not require a citizen to “swear an oath” but allowed to them to “affirm,” instead.  Michael Miller and Jacob Miller (possibly Philip Jacob Miller although another Jacob Miller was present in Frederick County at this time) were witnesses for Nicholas.

If Philip Jacob and his family thought they could rest easy now, they were wrong. In fact, they had probably only been resettled a couple of years, were probably still rebuilding when they, once again, had to run for their lives.

Pontiac’s War descended upon them and from 1763 to 1765, the Brethren families in this area had to take shelter elsewhere.  According to historical records, the devastation and fear was even worse than the first time.  And true to form, we don’t know where they went, or for how long.  What I wouldn’t give for a journal…even just one sentence a week…anything.

The Maryland Gazette, written at Frederick on July 19, 1763 said, “The melancholy scene of poor distressed families driving downwards through this town with their effects…enemies…now daily seen in the woods….panic of the back inhabitants, whose terrors at this time exceed what followed on the defeat of General Braddock.”

Ironically it also reported that the season had been remarkably fine and the harvest the best for many years. Once again, Frederick County put together two companies of militia and once again, no Brethren names appeared on the list.  Replogle 113 – 114

Perhaps the entire group of Brethren returned to Conestoga. I suggest this possibility because we know that two Brethren, Nicholas Martin and Stephen Ulrich, are found attending the Great Council of the Brethren in Conestoga in 1763.  Where you find one Brethren, or two, you’re likely to find more.

Conestoga is near present day White Oak in Lancaster County, PA and both Conestoga and Conewago, another Brethren settlement, aren’t far from the Brethren settlement in Ephrata. It would make sense for the Brethren to return to areas they knew and relatives with whom they could shelter for as long as need be.


In 1765, the Millers are once again back in Frederick County because Michael, now at least 73 years of age, is selling or deeding his land.  One must admit – the Miller’s didn’t give up and they were persistent.


In 1767, another surprising event took place. Michael Miller, Philip Jacob Miller and Stephen Ulrich (or Ulrick) all traveled to Philadelphia along with Jacob Stutzman (from Cumberland County) and were naturalized at the April term of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  They were listed under the title, “Affirmers Names.”  This makes me wonder why Michael Miller wasn’t naturalized in 1762 when he witnessed Nicholas Martin’s naturalization?  He was already there and could have easily been naturalized at that time.  What had changed in those 5 years to make an entire group of Brethren men “affirm?”

Philip Jacob Miller naturalization 1

Philip Jacob Miller naturalization 2

Philip Jacob Miller naturalization 3

Philip Jacob Miller naturalization 4

Michael Miller, Philip Jacob’s father, had waited a long time to be naturalized. He was just a few months shy of 75 years old.  He must have felt a pressing need for the naturalization and it must have been very urgent for him to risk his religious affiliation he had so staunchly preserved throughout his entire life – even in the face of warfare and extreme adversity.  From the perspective of today, we’ll likely never know what exactly was so urgent that it prompted these men to make the trip from Frederick County, MD to Philadelphia, PA where they could do the lesser of two evils and affirm as opposed to swear their loyalty and become citizens.  Whatever it was, it had to be mighty important.

This was clearly a family group that included Jacob Stutzman, Johann Michael Miller’s younger “step-brother,” Stephen Ulrich whose daughter would marry the son of the fourth Brethren man, Philip Jacob Miller, less than a decade later. Oh course Philipp Jacob Miller was the son of Michael Miller.  Stephen Ulrich would also marry Hannah Stutzman, Jacob Stutzman’s widow in 1782.  So yes, indeed, these families where closely bound and would become even more so.  Of these men, Johann Michael Miller was the eldest, and Philip Jacob Miller, at just over 40 was part of the second generation of Brethren.  He was born in the old country, but was probably too young to remember. This list does beg the question of why John Miller, Philip Jacob’s brother wasn’t with this group, nor brother Lodowick.  It’s possibly that both John and Lodowick here born after immigration, and therefore did not need to be naturalized.

Map Frederick co to Philly

The trip from Maugansville, Maryland to Philadelphia, about 165 miles, was not trivial, then or now, and certainly not for an old man bouncing around in a creaky wagon. It makes me wonder if the reason that the entire group went was because Michael Miller, as elder statesman, got it in his head he was going and the rest of the men certainly weren’t going to allow him to go alone, at his age, so they all went and shared in the “shame” of taking an oath or affirmation, equally.  Or maybe Michael set the leading example.  Probably a matter of perspective!

New Frontiers Open

In 1768 and 1769, events began to unfold which did not necessarily affect the Miller family right then, but would have an profound affect upon them in coming years. Likely, the idea of more plentiful and less expensive land was alluring, at least to the younger generation.

In 1768, the defeat of Pontiac triggered mass migration westward over the mountains. Replogle 20

In November 1768, the British government bought large tracts of land from the Iroquois and Pennsylvania now owned all the land west of the Alleghenies to the Ohio River except for the northernmost part of the colony, opening the doors for a huge migration. However, the Delaware and Shawnee were left out of the negotiations, and the raids continued.  Replogle 115

1768-1769 – A list of persons who stand charged with land on Frederick County rent rolls which are under such circumstances as renders it out of the power of George Scott Farmer to collect the rents and there claims allowance under his articles for the same from March 1768 to March 1769: (Note there are several pages of these, so much so that it looks like a tax list, not a typical roll of uncollectibles.)

  • No Cripe, Greib, Ullrich, Ullery or Stutzman
  • Conrad Miller
  • Isaac Miller
  • Jacob Miller Jr
  • John Miller
  • Lodwick Miller
  • Michael Miller heirs
  • Oliver Miller, Balt Co.
  • Oliver Miller, Balt Co additional
  • Thomas Miller

Source: Inhabitants of Frederick Co. MD, Vol 1, 1750-1790 by Stefanie R. Shaffer, p 45

Philip Jacob Miller’s father died in 1771. A few years later, between 1774 and 1778, Philip Jacob’s sons, Daniel and David Miller would both set out on the road to Bedford County, wagons full, waving good bye to an aging Philip Jacob Miller and his wife who had probably crossed the half-century mark by this time.

It was about this time that Philip Jacob Miller bought a great Bible that was printed in 1770 in Germany. Perhaps he bought it when his father died in 1771, in his father’s memory.  Perhaps an earlier family Bible had been destroyed in the evacuations and depredations, or perhaps Philip Jacob Miller simply did not inherit his father’s Bible.  Whatever, the reason, Philip Jacob bought his own and began to fill in the important dates of his life.  He probably reflected on each occurrence as he wrote each child’s birth lovingly in his own handwriting.

Miller Bible cover

Philip Jacob Miller’s incredibly beautiful Bible is shown above.

The Revolutionary War

If Philip Jacob Miller thought his life was ever going to be peaceful and serene, he was wrong. Next came the Revolutionary War which began in 1775 and in many ways was just the continuation of the issues present in the Seven Years War, also known as Dunsmore’s War or the French and Indian War – the same beast that had run the Miller’s off of their land, twice now. They had only been back from the last evacuation for a decade before war raised its ugly head again.  Would there never be peace?

Philip Jacob Miller lived through the Revolutionary War in Frederick County, MD. This would have been his third war in 30 years, or fourth war in 40 years, depending on how you were counting.

Floyd Mason, in his book, “The Michael Miller and Susanna Bechtol Family Record,” tells us what he discovered about the Brethren in Frederick County during the Revolutionary War.

During the Revolution, the colonists held their national conventions and appointed certain committees of local leaders to carry out local responsibilities. In PA and MD, the main committee was the Committee of Observation who had the responsibility for raising funds to promote the war, select its leaders and furnish themselves with one committee member for each 100 families.  This committee had full power to act as it saw fit, answered to no one and there was no appeal of their decisions.

The militia groups were called Associations, later called Militia Companies. The Committee of Observation made lists of those not participating, whether Loyalist or members of the “Peace churches,” and they were called non-enrollers or Non-Associators.

The war issues divided the people’s loyalty. About one third favored the revolution, one third were Loyalists or Tories who favored the English and one third were neutral or did not believe in this manner of settling the issues.  This threw the Quakers, Mennonites and Dunkers in with the Tories or Loyalists and in opposition to the efforts of the Committee of Observation, at least as the committee saw it.

The churches were bringing discipline to bear on members who did not follow the historic peace teachings of the church. Annual Conferences were held each year and members were asked to remain true to the Church’s nonviolent principles, to refrain from participating in the war, to not voluntarily pay the War taxes and not to allow their sons to participate in the war.  This caused a lot of problems for the church members who wanted to be loyal to the church, loyal to the Loyalists who had brought them to the new country and loyal to the new government which was emerging.

As the war wore on and it looked as if the patriots efforts might lose, emotions raged. Non-Associators found themselves having to pay double and triple taxes.  Their barns were burned, livestock stolen or slaughtered and their crops destroyed.  They were often beaten and “tarred and feathered.”  Church members came to the aid of those who endured the losses.

Some members chose not to pay the war taxes or participate in the war activities and chose to wait until the authorities came and presented their papers to have taxes forced from them. This was in compliance with the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Action. The Committee of Observation provided that non-Associators could take as much of their possessions with them as they could and then they would seize the property and remaining possessions and sell them to fill their war chests.

During this time, the Revolutionary War was taking place and the Brethren were known as non-Associators, those who would take an oath of loyalty, but would not belong to a militia unit nor fight. Many non-Brethren residents suspected them of secretly being allied with the Tories and resented their refusal to protect themselves and others.  Laws of the time allowed for the confiscation of property of anyone thought to be disloyal.  Records of this type of event have survived in the oral and written histories of some of the Brethren families, in particular some who migrated on down into the Shenandoah Valley.  Perhaps others thought it wise to move on about this time as well.

Taken from several sources, these are some of the names of non-Associators and others who were processed by the Committee of Observance that are descendants of Johann Michael Mueller (Jr.) who died in 1771.

  • Samuel Garber who may have married one of Michael Miller’s daughters, and their sons Martin and Samuel Garber
  • Jacob Good, Michael’s step-daughter’s husband
  • John Rife, Michael’s step-daughter’s husband
  • David Miller, the son of Philip Jacob Miller
  • Michael Wine, married Susannah, the daughter of Lodowich Miller, son of Michael Miller
  • Jacob Miller, son of Lodowich Miller
  • Abraham Miller, relationship uncertain
  • Another source lists Elder Daniel Miller, stated as Lodowick’s son, as being fined 4.5 pounds.

Susannah Miller Wine told her children and grandchildren that Michael Wine, Jacob Miller, Martin Garber and Samuel Garber had their property confiscated by the authorities for remaining true to the non-violent principles of their church.

Lodowich Miller’s family group removed to Rockingham County, VA about 1782 or 1783.

We know that in 1783, Philip Jacob Miller, John Miller and Lodowick were signing deeds back and forth in Frederick County. These activities may well have been in preparation for Lodowick’s departure.

William Thomas, on the Brethren Rootsweb list in 2011 tells us:

I have a copy of the 1776 non-enrollers list for Washington County, MD, that lists “Dunkars & Menonist” fines. The list includes Abraham Miller, David Miller, and David Miller son of Philip.  It goes onto list an appraisal of guns (whatever that means) in 1777 and includes a Henry Miller.

Point being there were several Miller’s in Washington County, some of who were Dunkers or Mennonites, a name common to both denominations.

If you move to the 1776 non-enroller list for Frederick County, MD, you have even more Millers. You have Jacob Miller, Jacob Miller s/o Adam, Abraham Miller, Peter Miller, Stephen Miller, Solomon Miller, Robert Miller, Henry Miller, Philip Miller, David Miller and Daniel Miller, all fined, and implying a Dunker/Mennonite/Quaker religious affiliation.

Washington County, Maryland was formed in September 1776 from the portion of Frederick County where Philip Jacob Miller lived.  Note that while David Miller, son of Philip is listed, Philip or Philip Jacob is not listed and neither is a Jacob.

However, there is also evidence that Philip Jacob Miller did participate at some level. Men 16-60 were required to participate in the local militia.

From the book, “Colonial Soldiers of the South, 1732-1774” by Murtie June Clark:

Capt John White’s Company Maryland Militia, 6 days, undated:

  • Michael Miller
  • Jacob Miller

Note that there were multiple Michael and Jacob Millers in the area, and not all of them appear to be Brethren.

Capt Jonathan Hager’s Company, Maryland Militia 6 days service, undated:

  • Jacob Miller
  • Conrod Miller
  • John Miller Jr.
  • John Miller
  • Jacob Miller Jr.
  • Zachariah Miller
  • Philip Jacob Miller
  • Jacob Miller (son of Conrad)

List of Militia 1732-1763 now before the Committee of Accounts lists John White’s militia as from Frederick County as well as that of Jonathan Hager.

Perhaps Philip Jacob Miller was trying, rather unsuccessfully it seems, to find a middle ground.

It’s difficult to understand how to interpret this information that seems to be conflicting.  To try to resolve or better understand the situation, I turned to the 1790 census where I found 2 Philips in Washington County, 5 Jacobs, 7 Johns and an Abraham in both Washington and Frederick County.  Unfortunately, the 1790 census did not add clarity.

The Sons Leave

Philip Jacob’s sons, Daniel and David, followed the migration to Bedford Co., PA about the time of the onset of the Revolutionary War. The brothers went to Morrison’s Cove (Juniata River) and possibly on to Brothers Valley, both early Brethren settlements.

Morrison's Cove fall

David and Daniel both moved to Morrison’s Cove (shown above) between 1774 and 1778, staying for about 20 years until they joined their father later in Kentucky, but Philip Jacob remained in Washington Co., Maryland, which was formed from Frederick County in 1776. There is a record of a Jacob and Daniel Miller taking the oath of fidelity to the State of Maryland in 1778 in Washington County (formed from Frederick County in 1776,) so perhaps they didn’t leave until after 1778.

It was a rough time for Philip Jacob Miller. In the 1760s, the family had to abandon their land for a second time, returning in about 1765.  We don’t know where they sheltered, but likely, the family group included Philip’s elderly father, Michael.  In 1771, Phillip Jacob’s father, Michael, died.  Between 1774 and 1778, Philipp Jacob’s two sons, Daniel and David left for Bedford County.  In about 1783, Philip Jacob’s other brother, Lodowick left for the Shenandoah Valley, possibly as a result of the Revolutionary War.  Family is getting scarce.  The final straw seemed to be when Philip Jacob’s brother, John, died a decade later, in 1794.  John had lived beside Philip Jacob for his entire adult life in Frederick (now Washington) County, and they assuredly depended on each other and helped one another farm.  Now John was gone too.

The Big Decision

I can see Philip Jacob and Magdalena talking by the fireplace one evening, perhaps as Philip Jacob stared out the window, over his land, pondering the bold and life-changing move he was considering. It would change his life, and death, and the lives of all of his children as well – not to mention Magdalena.

Philip Jacob had farmed with his brother John since they all moved from York County in 1751 or 1752 – more than 40 years earlier. They had likely all evacuated together, twice, and rebuilt together, twice.  When their father died, there were still the three brothers, but with Lodowick removed, now John gone to death, and both of Philip Jacob’s oldest sons having moved to Bedford County, Philip Jacob obviously felt uneasy and probably somewhat isolated.  Was he concerned that he wouldn’t physically be able to farm alone?  Was he concerned that there would be no one left to inherit Ash Swamp in Washington County while at the same time his two sons in Bedford County were renting land?

Was the allure of reuniting his family who was marrying and scattering, for once and for all, in a new location, strong enough to cause a man 70 years old, or older, to sell out?

On the new frontier, Philip Jacob could buy seven times as much land as he had in Maryland –  enough land for everyone.  Seven times the land.  That’s some powerful motivation.  Was this dream enough to make an elderly man sell most of his possessions, pack everything up in a wagon and head overland for the new frontier of Ohio, some 450+ miles distant, down rough roads, on a riverboat and through Indian territory?

That must have been his motivation, for I can think nothing other than the love of family that would uproot a man of that age from his well-deserved rocking chair beside the warm fireplace and propel him on to yet one final, untamed, frontier.

Map Mauganstown to Cincy

Philip Jacob Miller would succeed in leaving a legacy in land for his children.

Campbell County, Kentucky

Philip Jacob sold Ash Swamp in Washington County, Maryland in 1796 to the same man who bought his brother’s land from John’s estate. Michael then likely took a wagon overland to somewhere he could intersect with a river, probably Pittsburg, then floated down the Ohio River to Campbell Co., KY, a few miles upstream from Fort Washington that would one day become Cincinnati.

Conestoga wagon

The group would have moved by conestoga wagon. This conestoga wagon belonged to Jacob Miller who was found in Frederick County but had left by 1765 for Virginia. Later, this same Jacob Miller arrived in Montgomery County, Ohio about the same time that Daniel Miller, Philip Jacob’s son would arrive.  This wagon was supposedly built in 1788, so it would not have been the actual wagon used to move from Frederick County, it was used by the Brethren group on subsequent moves and did wind up in Ohio.  The wagons used by Philip Jacob Miller and his family would have been very much the same.

Brethren historian, Merle Rummel tells us more about the migration of the Brethren during this time.

Emigration came down the Ohio River from Western Pennsylvania by flatboats, but it was hazardous due to Indian depredations. These Brethren started on the Monongahela where Elder George Wolfe I is recorded to have been in the business of building flatboats (Wolfe and Sons) at Turtle Creek (just upstream from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania). When General Wayne defeated the Ohio Indians in 1795 (Treaty of Greeneville), the dangers of the Ohio River route were reduced, and it opened the way for others to follow the old Shawnee War Path, (the Kanawha Way) from North Carolina and the lower Valley of Virginia, through the (West) Virginia mountains to below the “Falls of the Kanawha.” There flatboats could come down the Kanawha River to Point Pleasant and down the Ohio. Others continued on the Trace by land into southern Ohio. Many more Brethren began coming west from the Old Frontier regions.

We know that Philip Jacob Miller arrived before August of 1796, because he was paying personal property tax and by then, he had acquired a horse and a cow.

Campbell County, Kentucky Tax Lists, posted by Dale Landon, March 2010, on the Brethren Rootsweb list.  These tax lists generallyonly counted males.

  • taken 16 Aug 1796, Philip Jacob Miller, 1 over 21, 1 horse, 1 cattle
  • taken 28 Aug 1797, Philip Jacob Miller, 1 over 21, 3 horses
  • taken 28 Aug 1797, Daniel Cripe, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • taken 25 Aug 1797, Arnold Snider, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • 1798, Daniel Cripe, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • 1798, Philip Jacob Miller, 1 over 21, 3 horses
  • 1798, Arnold Snyder, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • 1799, David Miller, 1 over 21
  • 1799, Arnold Snider, 1 over 21, 2 horses
  • taken 28 Aug 1800, Philip Miller, 1 over 21
  • taken 9 Aug 1800, Stephen Miller, 1 over 21, 1 horse
  • taken 23 May 1800, Arnold Snider, 1 over 21, 3 horses

It’s unclear whether Philipp Jacob Miller bought land in Campbell County, KY, or not. I don’t believe that a thorough sifting of available Campbell County records has been done by any researcher, although several researchers have done some.  A visit needs to be made and all of the available records thoroughly researched, including the estate packet, if one remains, for dates and signatures.

Phillip’s Death

We know that Phillip Jacob died before April 8, 1799 when his estate was probated, and probably after the first of the year.

Philip Jacob Miller estate probatePhilip Jacob Miller estate probate 2

There is a slight discrepancy in the documentation.  We have a tax list dated 9-1-1800 that lists Philip.  However, it’s also possible this is a list for what’s owed this year from the previous year or for his estate, although it doesn’t specify that it’s an estate and not an individual.

Philip Jacob Miller 1800 taxes


BullSkin Trace

Merle Rummell tells us the following, with the maps added by me:

Stonelick church today

The first Brethren Church north of the Ohio River was the Obannon Baptist Brethren Church (now Stonelick, above), near Goshen Ohio, on the Indian Trail north from Bullskin Landing (1795).

The old log Obannon Church Building (c1823) was at the Stoddard (Stouder) Cemetery, about a mile east of the south edge of Goshen – so these families were in the immediate Church area.

Stouder Cemetery

Daniel and David Miller lived at 132 and Woodville Pike, in the lower left hand corner.

Gabriel Karns lived about a mile on east of the Millers, on Manila Pike, the old Indian Road. They were forced to move north (1805, Dayton area, Montgomery County, Ohio) being forced off the Bounty Lands.  Daniel Miller was put into the ministry at the Obannion Church.

In eastern Ohio Territory, the land back from the River was not good farmland. It was Appalachia Hills, that crowded the River. David Horne travel 60 miles up the Muskingum River to the Forks of the Licking at the new Zane Trace, before he found land. John Countryman left the Massie Fort at Three Islands (now Manchester OH) and went 30 miles up the Ohio Brush Creek till he found farmland. It was at the Little Miami River, just before Cincinnati where the Brethren stopped at good farmland along the Indian Trace, the Obannon Church.

The Bullskin Landing was a goal for the Brethren migration down the Ohio River by flatboat. It was probably the best landing on the river, being a sunken valley back into the Ohio Hills.

Bullskin creek

Bullskin Creek is flooded by the Ohio River for half a mile back from the River, a wide valley opening. It was the first major landing for Ohio River flatboats above Fort Washington (Cincinnati). Here the flatboat was protected, off the river, with easy unloading facilities.

Bullskin landing

This settlement in Clermont County is called Utopia. The Brethren settled on the Bullskin about 1800. (Miller, Moyer, Metzgar, Rohrer, Hoover, Houser; the old Olive Branch Church. It converted en-mass to Church of Christ in the New Light Revival of 1830’s.) Being farmers, they lived mostly on the level lands above the high riverbank hills, at the head of Bullskin Creek.

The major Indian Traces north, one going to Old Chillicothe on the east of Dayton, continuing on to Fort Detroit, left from there. Another went to the ford of the Great Miami at Franklin Ohio and up the west side of Dayton. The Bullskin Trace, the old Indian Road to Detroit, became the first State Road in Ohio.

Most of the settlers on the New Frontier were frontier folk from the Old Frontier, very few were from the Settled East. The River brought them from Old Fort Redstone (now Union and Brownsville PA), Brothers Valley and Washington Co PA in the west; from Penns Valley, Brush Valley and Northumberland Co PA in the north; from the Conococheague, Middletown Valley MD; from Morrison’s Cove, Cambria Co and the Juniata Valley PA. The Kanawha Trace brought them from the Carolina settlements on the Yadkin; from Franklin and Floyd Cos and the lower Valley VA. These areas were the Old Frontier. It showed in the type of people who came, in their self-reliance and independent thought. They didn’t just accept being told something was true, they tried it out for themselves, and used it. They had to, or they died on the frontier. They were not stupid, while some were illiterate, most could read their Bible -maybe a Berleburg Bible, some read Greek. The Brethren knew what the Bible said, and lived it. They were definitely Brethren, and they took their Brethrenism with them, making a real Christian witness to their neighbors!

To this area near Cincinnati came the Aukerman Family in 1789, to “Columbia” at the mouth of the Little Miami River. The 11 year old son was John, who eventually would be the first settler at Gratis, in present day Preble County, in 1804, on Aukerman Creek, named in his honor. The John Bowman family came near that same time. They settled north on the trace probably in now Warren Co OH, between Lebanon and Goshen OH.

South of Goshen, came first David Miller, then his brother, Daniel. Daniel was put into the ministry there about 1798. The first minister was Elder John Garver, from Stony Creek in Brothers Valley PA, by way of Virginia, to North Carolina, to Kentucky. In 1805 he moved to the Donnels Creek Church, up the Indian Road. By tradition, the founding of the Obannon Baptist Church was 1795, Elder David Stouder. He seems to have come over from Kentucky, and by research, may be the David Stover near Limestone, probably from the Log Union Church. This was the beginnings of the Obannon Church, but these families weren’t allowed to stay.

These were the Bounty Lands, claimed by Virginia as payment for service to their Veterans of the Revolution. Government survey of the lands began in 1802, and it did not matter to the Government or the surveyors if people already lived on these lands, if there were homes built and fields cleared. That the Dunker custom often included getting title from the Indians to homesteads gave them no claim to their lands in the eyes of the surveyor or state. Legally, they were squatters. There was no appeal for their claim to the land, all they could do was leave. They moved north, beyond the Bounty Lands, to the little Village of Dayton. Their move was easy, they went up the Indian Trace. From Little’s Bounty Lands Survey (1802) we have been able to identify the adjoining farms of David and Daniel Miller,  they were surveyed as cleared lands.

Now other Brethren families came to Bullskin Landing. These were the second line of Brethren, moving west from the Old Frontier lands in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia or Carolina, and some moved up from the churches in Kentucky. They used Bounty claims to get land, Bountys purchased back home, by self or through kin, from those who had no wish to leave for the west. The families at Obannon were mostly from Maryland and Pennsylvania: Binkley, Cripe, Grossnickle, Frey, Karns, Maugans, Miller, Moler, Pringle, Stouder; Elder John Garver and Frederick Weaver as ministers. Stonelick was a meeting house of the Obannon Congregation. This was good farmland, but it was a heavy clay and many Brethren soon moved north to better lands on the Great Miami headwaters near Dayton Ohio, where they remain strong today.

 Philipp Jacob Miller’s Land in Warren County, Ohio

After arriving in Kentucky, Philip Jacob Miller bought 2000 acres of land that lay along O’Bannon Creek in Warren County, Ohio, across the river from Campbell Co., KY and north about 45 or 50 miles, for $1.10 an acre, near where his sons, David and Daniel, may already have been living.

Philip Jacob’s 2000 acres were north of Goshen some 8 miles – being on the Clermont-Warren Co line, extending east beyond Cozaddale.

After Philip Jacob’s death in September 1799, his children made an agreement among themselves to divide this land into ten 200 acre parcels. Magdalena, his daughter, decided to take her share in cash. The other children drew lots for these 200 acre parcels, but only a few of them ever lived on their land in Warren County, Ohio. Stonelick covered bridge, shown below, now closed and undergoing renovation is located near the Stonelick Brethren Church where several of Philip Jacob’s children were founders.

Stonelick bridge

Philipp Jacob Miller lived in Campbell County, Kentucky, not Clermont County, Ohio, across the river nor in Warren County, Ohio, where he purchased land, which was located about 40 miles north of the Ohio River on the Warren County/ Clermont County border.  It’s unclear whether or not Philip Jacob purchased land in Campbell County, or not, or why he settled and stayed in that location as his children were settling further north, although the tax lists do indicate, at least initially, that some of his children did live in Campbell County.

Philipp Jacob’s sons Daniel and David Miller settled in Clermont County, Ohio across the Ohio River and Philipp Jacob himself acquired land about 10 miles north of his son’s land on the border of Clermont and Warren Counties, but apparently none of those three families ever lived on Philip Jacob’s land.

This was also a time of some confusion, because the settlers who had acquired land in this region, which became designated as military bounty land for Revolutionary War veterans, often lost that land when veterans or those they sold their rights to subsequently patented that land.

To Philip Jacob, this must have smelled too much like what happened back in York County, PA in the 1740s with the disputed land involved in Cresap’s War, claimed by both states, and granted by both states as well – to different settlers.

Troy Goss tells us the following about Philipp Jacob’s land, with maps and documents added by me:

Ohio land magnate William Lytle (1770-1813) obtained a patent from the United States government on May 2, 1803, which included the lands that Philip Jacob Miller had acquired.

Phillips two sons, David and Abraham, serving as administrator of his estate purchased his land for a second time from Lytle later in 1803. That was apparently better than losing the land altogether.

They purchased 1,800 acres and an adjacent lot of 200 acres for a total of $2,200. These tracts conform to Virginia Military Reserve Survey tracts 3790 and 3791 in the southeast corner of Hamilton Township, Warren County, and with about 162 acres crossing over into Goshen Township, Clermont County. They are roughly bounded in the north by the community of Comargo, on the east by Cozaddale and Stony Run, and encompassing the community of Dallasburg in the southwest.

Philip's land satellite

As you can see, this area is about 45 miles north of Bullskin Creek on the Ohio River. However, Daniel and David’s land are right on the way, shown with the red pin below.

Philip's land map

Troy continues:

Philip’s children made an agreement among themselves to divide this land into ten 200-acre lots of 163-1/3 by 196 poles (~2,695 by 3,234 feet). Daughter Magdalena Cripe decided to take her share in cash. The children designated John Ramsey and Theophilus Simonton to appraise the lots and stipulate compensation between the varying values of the lots, whereupon the children drew lots for the parcels and David and Abraham, as estate administrators, began deeding each in April 1805 for the nominal sum of $1. Arbitrarily numbering the lots from the northwest to southeast, we find the following among the ten surviving children and one widower son-in-law:

Will-Philip Jacob Miller p1


Document filed in Warren County, Ohio.

1 – Northernmost 200 acres adjacent to the 1,800 survey; estate sold to Francis Eltzroth for $200, 22 Sep 1809; quit claim from the heirs of Daniel Miller to Benjamin Eltzroth (son of Francis and grandson-in-law to Philip Jacob) for $500, 7 May 1828; the town of Comargo lies in the northeast corner

2 – Northwest 200 acres; estate sold to Gabriel [& Esther] Morgan for $1, 22 Apr 1805; Gabriel had purchased an adjacent 200-acres lot from Richard & Mary Cunningham two months earlier

3 – North-central 200 acres; estate sold to John [& Mary] Creamer for $1, 22 Apr 1805

4 – Northeast 200 acres; estate sold to Henry [& Christina] Snell for $1, 22 Sep 1809; the town of Cozaddale lies along the southeastern boundary

5 – West-central 200 acres; estate sold to Arnold [& Hannah] Snider for $1, 22 Apr 1805

6 – Central 200 acres; estate sold to Daniel [& Susannah] Ullery for $1, 22 Sep 1809

7 – East-central 200 acres; Abraham sold his lot to William Spence for $400, 22 Apr 1805

8 – Southwest 200 acres; estate sold southern half (100 acres) to Jacob Wise for $200, 6 Dec 1806; and northern half (100 acres) to Jacob Creamer, perhaps a brother of John Creamer, for $200, 16 Jan 1807; the western half of the town of Dallasburg lies in this tract

9 – South-central 200 acres; estate sold to Andrew [widower of Sarah] Nifong for $1, 22 Sep 1809; the eastern half of the town of Dallasburg lies in this tract

10 – Southeast 200 acres straddling the Warren-Clermont county line; estate sold to Gabriel [& Esther] Morgan for $1, 22 Apr 1805

Lots 8, and either 2 or 10, may have been designated for David or Elizabeth, whose names do not appear among the deeds. On the other hand, Esther and Gabriel Morgan somehow managed to acquire both lots 2 and 10.

Only the families of four Miller daughters, Christina Snell, Esther Morgan, Mary Creamer, and Hannah (Snider) Shepley, ever lived on their land in Hamilton Township, Warren County. An 1867 map of the area shows Snells, Cramers, and Eltzroths still living in the area.

Magdalena Miller reportedly died in in Campbell County nine years after Philip in 1808.

Following Philip Jacob’s and Magdalena’s deaths, a few Miller children remained in Warren and Clermont counties, while others moved north to more fertile lands in Montgomery and Preble counties. Daughters Susannah (Snider) and Magdalena Cripe migrated into northern Indiana, settling in Elkhart County.


  • Agree 1799: 19 Dec 1799, Articles of Agreement, Warren County Deed Book 14, Ohio
  • Deed 1803: 7 Sep 1803, Warren County, Ohio; recorded 9 Nov 1803
  • Deed 1803: 7 Sep 1803, Clermont County, Ohio; recorded 14 Dec 1803
  • Deed 1803: 28 Dec 1803, Warren County, Ohio; recorded 11 Apr 1804
  • Deed 1803: 28 Dec 1803, Clermont County, Ohio; recorded 28 Apr 1804
  • Deed 1805: 22 Apr 1805, Deed Book 1, Warren County, Ohio
  • Deed 1809: 22 Sep 1809, Deed Book 2, Warren County, Ohio

I was able to locate Philipp Jacob’s actual land thanks to a combination of sale information and the Warren County Maps and Atlases website which documents the military land grants and where they were located in Warren County.

Warren county maps

Hamilton Township is in the lower portion of Warren County bordering Clermont County on the south.

Hamilton twp map

“Map of Warren County Ohio With Municipal and Township Labels” by US Census, Ruhrfisch – taken from US Census website [1] and modified by User:Ruhrfisch. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons

Below we see track 3790 in 1867, still in the Cramer and Snell families. Part of grant 3790 extended southward into Clermont County.

Miller 3790 tract map

In 1867, we can see that the land in grant 3791 also remains in the Eltzroth family that purchased this section from Daniel Miller.

Miller 3791 tract map

Grant 3791 is located just above 3790.

Miller 3790 and 3791

Philipp Jacob’s Burial

We know where Philipp Jacob’s land was located, and we know he never lived there. When he died in early 1799, he was living in Campbell County, KY, across the Ohio River.  Had he planned to move to his land in Warren County?  We’ll never know.

There is a persistent family rumor that Philip Jacob was buried in an old cemetery that was on an island in the mouth of 12 Mile Creek (Campbell Co KY) that was washed away in an Ohio River flood. I find this hard to believe, given the difficulty of burying someone on an island.  The Brethren were practical if anything, and burying someone on an island is not practical from any standpoint.   On the other hand, if you can’t farm the island, at least it could serve as a cemetery.  So who knows.

12 Mile Creek crop

Merle Rummel, Brethren minister and historian visited the site of the “Twelve Mile Regular Baptist Church Island” cemetery. This cemetery is not on an island, and still exists, such as it is.  So perhaps Philip Jacob Miller was not buried on an island after all?

You might notice that 12 Mile Creek is about 20 miles downriver (northwest) from Bullskin, and assuming there was a ferry crossing, significantly closer to Philipp Jacob’s land which was northeast of present day Cincinnati.

12 Mile Creek to Warren Co

Merle Rummell visited the 12 Mile “Regular Baptist Church” Island Cemetery in either 2007 or 2009. You can see photos of this location here, including what Merle believes is the foundation of the original church which was probably Brethren.

All that remains on this site are 6 tombstones, none with death dates before 1849. Those buried earlier, and there seem to be several, are in unmarked graves.

Merle said:

Several field stones were found on end protruding out of the ground.  Several bases of headstones were also found.  The area around the foundation is heavily covered with Vinca or Periwinkle vines.  I suspect there may be more stones beneath this vegetation.  It also seems apparent that graves were placed on two sides of the old church.  This leads me to believe there are many more graves at this site than previously believed.  There appears to be foundation remains of two smaller outbuildings.

Based on the information and photos provided by Merle, the location of this cemetery and original church is where the red pin is shown below.

12 Mile Church

This suggests that Philipp Jacob Miller probably lived in close proximity to this location.

12 Mile Church larger

Google street view shows us the area near the church, back in the gently rolling hills.  12 Mile Creek is to the right, paralleling the road.

Campbell Co near church

This picture shows the crossing of 12 Mile Creek.

Campbell Co. 12 Mile Creek

The cemetery would have been in the hills to the right.

Campbell Co viewing hills

If Philipp Jacob Miller truly was buried on an Island in the Ohio River at the mouth of 12 Mile Creek that washed away in a flood, it would have been near this location, where the divit marks the mouth of 12 Mile Creek.

Campbell Co 12 Mile map

A satellite view of the location.

Campbell Co 12 Mile satellite

The final resting place of Philipp Jacob Miller is one of the more interesting family mysteries that will, of course, never be solved.

Philip Jacob Miller’s Estate

I have always felt that looking at what someone left behind at their death tells us a lot about their life. In essence, it tells us the story of their life – except in Philipp Jacob’s case, he had gotten to start over several times.  Philip Jacob’s estate spoke of a farmer, but one that wasn’t entirely poor despite having “sold out” three years before when he left Maryland.

The family used glass. They had a looking glass, which is actually rather amazing considering the fact that they were Brethren, and a coffee mill.  All of the kitchen goods were included in the estate inventory as well, and of note, the value of the Bible and “sundry other books” is valued highly, equal to the box of glass, the cow and calf and the saddle.  And what were those “other books?”  My guess is that they were religious books.  Clearly, Philip Jacob Miller knew how to read and his books were important enough to him for them to be brought along to the new frontier, probably in the two trunks.

Nothing is found in Philipp Jacob’s estate inventory that speaks to anything but a simple, plain lifestyle that would be expected of a Brethren church member – except that pesky looking glass, which is very, very un-Brethren. A looking glass would have been considered very vain.

The amazing thing is that this is that an estate inventory lists ALL that the family owned, not just what they wanted to dispose of – and included everything – even things that were the wife’s.  So we have a complete picture – as unfair as that is to the spouse.

I shudder to think of cooking for a family with the utensils Magdalena had at her disposal.  There was no cook stove, so she cooked in the fireplace.  There was only one bed – but of course Philipp Jacob sold off anything extra before leaving Pennsylvania, so one bed was all that he and Magdalena needed.  They probably had more in Pennsylvania, or, the children slept on hay in the corners, a common practice at the time.

As a matter of course, family members often “bought” items at an estate sale, along with the neighbors. The widow was often allowed to take some kitchen things on credit against her “share,” which was one third of the value of the estate.

Persuant to an order of Campbell County Court, We the undersigned after being sworn appraised the Personal Estate of Philip Jacob Miller, Deceased. The articles contained in the Inventory are listed with the value of each respective article being placed opposite to it.

Philip Jacob inventoryPhilip Jacob Inventory 2

Campbell September Court 1799

Dale Landon was kind enough to provide the original estate documents from his visit to Campbell County, KY.

Estate Appraisal Page 1 crop

Estate Appraisal Page 2 Part 1

Estate Appraisal Page 2 Part 2

As I look at his estate, I wonder how much Philipp Jacob brought with him in 1796 as he migrated down the Ohio to Campbell County and how much be bought after arriving.

It’s odd that he had an old wagon and an old horse too. Did they come all the way from Pennsylvania in that wagon and horse?  One horse could not have pulled a loaded wagon alone.  Of course, the “grey stud” was probably a horse (given his value) and could have been teamed with the mare.

One thing we know for sure, the Bible came along with Philip Jacob from Washington County, probably packed into one of those two trunks. And in those two trunks were packed the cumulative results of a lifetime – all condensed into just two trunks.

If I had two trunks to pack, what things would I take with me?

Philip Jacobs’ sons, David and Abraham administered his estate. Estate packets are extremely interesting and sometimes hold many hints as to the life of the person whose estate is being administered.  In this case, we know that Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena became ill, was treated for her illness, but it “carried her off” anyway.

Debts of the estate of Jacob Miller deceased in account with David and Abraham Miller administrators:

Philip Jacob estate accountPhilip Jacob estate account 2

Campbell County to wit: Agreeable to an order of the Court of Campbell County we the undersigned being appointed commifsioner to examin and settle with the administrators of Philip Jacob Miller dec.’d as to the personal estate of the deceased and do report to the court of Campbell County that the above is a true statement given under our hands this 19th day of Sep’r 1808 James Noble George Porter Written on the right edge of the page. Campbell September Court 1808 This Report of the commifsioners appointed to settle with the Administrators of Philip J. Miller dec’d was returned to Court and ordered to be recorded and is recorded. Test James Taylor clk

Estate inventory and debts posted to the Rootsweb Brethren list by Dale Landon on March 11, 2010 and he provided originals below, as well.

Estate Inventory Page 1 Part 1

Estate Inventory Page 1 Part 2

Estate Inventory Page 2 Part 1

Estate Inventory Page 2 Part 2

There are couple items of interest on this list. The money from John Schnebly was likely for the land back in Washington County.  He bought both John’s and Philip Jacob’s land, and he may have also bought all of the farm and household goods that Philip Jacob wanted to sell before leaving as well.

I had to laugh at the entry for whiskey at the estate appraisal.  I have seen whiskey provided at the sale and I’m guessing it loosens up the bidding and makes the net sales much higher!

At first glance, it looks like Jacob had a son Jacob who had an estate, but that’s not the case. The court referred to Philip Jacob as Jacob, crediting the balance of his estate sale to his estate account to be settled by the administrators at a later date.

Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena does pass away and the estate pays for her doctor bills and funeral as well.   I’d love to see the date on that receipt.

The Philip Jacob Miller Bible

Philip Jacob Miller probably sat in front of his fireplace in his home on Ash Swamp, about the time of his father’s death in 1771, reminded of his own mortality, and dutifully wrote the names and dates of his children’s births into his new Bible.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible front page

On February 11, 2009, I was fortunately enough with some hints and sleuthing to find the Philip Jacob Miller Bible in Elkhart, Indiana. The custodial family, who has no idea how the Bible originally came to be in their family, has taken wonderful care of the Bible and allowed it to be photographed.

Both the custodial family and I spent a significant amount of time trying to figure out how they came to be in possession of the Miller family Bible, which is greatly cherished as a family heirloom. I suspected a second marriage or something of that sort, but the only connection we could find was that their family bought a house that was in the John Miller family – and perhaps, just perhaps, the Bible got accidentally left in that home, perhaps to be discovered a generation later in the attic – and of course, cherished as a family heirloom – not realizing it wasn’t from their family.  Thank goodness they cherish it, because that’s the only reason it still exists today.

Upon arriving to visit the Bible, another surprise was awaiting me, as the front section holds the children’s birth records of Philip Jacob Miller, and the back holds the same for the children of Daniel Miller, son of Philip Jacob Miller, also my ancestor. It was a double hitter day!  Given a signature in the Bible, I also believe that Daniel’s son John was likely the next custodian, taking the Bible to Elkhart County, Indiana.

This Bible was printed in 1770, but the first child’s birth recorded is in 1752, and Philip Jacob’s children are not entered in birth order. Furthermore, the handwriting in the back matches Daniel’s exactly.  This tells us that this Bible is probably not the original Philip Jacob Miller Bible.  One look at what happened in Frederick County, MD in 1750s and 1760s and we’ll quickly understand why.

The residents all evacuated twice and their houses were burned. If the family Bible didn’t manage to somehow get put in the wagon as the family was evacuating, then it was burned.  The Miller family was back in the region by 1765 when Michael Miller, Philip Jacob’s father, was deeding land, but I’m guessing a new Bible didn’t get purchased until after Michael’s death in 1771.  Perhaps Philip Jacob thought the purchase of a new Bible would be a fitting remembrance for funds received after his father’s death.  Or maybe Michael bought it for Philipp Jacob before his passing.

Regardless of how Philipp Jacob acquired this Bible it was obviously precious to him and cherished by the family.

A single entry unquestionably identifies the owner.

Beside the first entry in the Bible, which is the birth of Daniel in 1755, there is another entry which says “1775 Daniel Meines Sohn Sohn zur Welt geboren” (my son’s son was born into this world). In the back portion, we show the birth indeed of Stephen in 1775, the eldest son of Philip Jacob’s eldest son Daniel.  An earlier 1947 translation (apparently before the tape was applied) says “my grandson was born March 7, 1775”, which was obviously translated before the tape was applied, and matches exactly with Daniel’s own entry of his son’s birth.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible Daniel entry

The following photo is me holding the Bible. What a glorious day.  I am extremely grateful to the owners for very graciously allowing me to visit.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible and me crop

The following page is the front page with Philip Jacob’s children’s birth recorded.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible children

The births are recorded as follows:

  • Lizabeth Miller was born in April 1752.
  • My daughter Lidia was born at 3 o’clock at night, Junee 18, 1754. The zodiac sign was the Waterman (Aquarius).  (Note that the name and date were struck out.)
  • My son Daniel Miller was born at 4 o-clock at night April 8, 1755. He died August 26, 1822.
  • My son David was born December 1, 1757, at 3 o-clock at night. The zodiac sign was he lion (Leo).
  • My daughter Susannah was born March 2, 1759, at 7 o’clock in the morning. The sign was the Bull (Taurus).
  • My daughter Christine was born December 4, 1761 at 10 o’clock in the forenoon, the sign was the Fish (Pisces).
  • My daughter Mariles was born — 1762 at 8 o’clock in the morning. The sign was the Virgin (Virgo).
  • My son Abraham was born April 28, 1764.
  • My son Solomon was born March 20, 1767.
  • My daughter Ester was born February 13, 1769.

Daughter Hannah, as reflected in the 1799 agreement between Philip Jacob’s heirs is not reflected in this list of Philip Jacob’s children.  We’re also left to presume that Mariles is Mary.

As little as this is, it’s absolutely the only thing written in Philip Jacob’s own hand, showing any of his personality at all. It’s extremely interesting that he recorded the astrological signs for many of his children.

The following page is the back page recording the births of Daniel’s children.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible Daniel children

However, the first entry is that of Daniel himself, again, and the second entry is that of his sister Lizbeth born in 1752 who was not recorded on the front page. Of course, we know this was a recopied Bible. This Bible survived the trip west in a wagon, then floating down the Ohio River.  This Bible has been wet one or more times.  We know that in the early 1800s, this Bible went to Warren or Clermont County, Ohio, then Montgomery County, Ohio, then in the 1830s, to Elkhart County, Indiana where it remained for the next 177 years or so.

The top back entry for Daniel also has his death entry beside it to the right in a different hand and ink.

Following those entries we find Daniel’s children. Oddly, we find no other deaths recorded nor marriages.

We do find his son John’s signature in the Bible twice, once at the bottom of the back page (shown above) and once a few pages inside the front.

Philip Jacob Miller Bible John signature

It looks like Philip Jacob Miller and his wife lost a child in 1756, as there is a child born in April 1755 and then not another one until 2 and a half years later, suggesting that they lost a child about September 1756. 1756 was the year that the Brethren were evacuated and was reported to be the worst of that time. Did Magdalena have that child in a wagon perhaps?  We are left to wonder what happened.  One thing is for sure, that child’s death and the grief it brought to the family made whatever else was happening in 1756 even worse.  For all we know, that child may have had to be laid to rest along the roadside someplace in an anonymous grave.

Daughter Lidia died, probably as a child – as the only record of Lidia is this Bible.

We don’t know what happened to Solomon either, so the presumption would have to be that he passed away.

A Remarkable Life

As I think of Philip Jacob’s life, I think if what an undauntable spirit this man must have had. He was undefeatable and seemingly tireless.  If you look at his life, he repeatedly faced incredibly difficult challenges that would be overwhelming to most of us, yet he overcame them all in one way or another, in spite of, or perhaps because of his overarching Brethren faith.

Here’s a brief timeline review of Philip’s life:

1726 or before – born in Germany
1727 – immigrated to America
1727 – ?? uncertain
17?? – 1744 – Chester County, PA
1744 – 1751 – York County, PA and the Border War
1751 – married Magdalena, probably York Co, PA
1754 – his mother has died by 1754 when his father has remarried
1751 – 1755 – Frederick County, MD on Ash Swamp
1755 – 1761? – Evacuated to someplace
1761 – 1763 – Frederick County, MD on Ash Swamp
1763 – 1765 – Evacuated to perhaps Conewago in Lancaster Co., PA
1765 -1796 – Frederick Co., MD on Ash Swamp
1767 – Naturalized in Philadelphia, PA
1771 – his father dies, Frederick County, MD
1775 – 1782 – Revolutionary War, Frederick Co. MD on Ash Swamp
1782 – 1783 – brother Lodowich moves to the Shenandoah Valley
1780 – sons Daniel and David move to Bedford County, PA
1794 – brother John dies
1796 – Sells Ash Swamp, moves to Campbell County, KY
1799 – Dies, leaves 2000 acres in Ohio across the river from Campbell County, KY to his children

In 1796, Philip Jacob Miller, at age 70 (or older), sold Ash Swamp, 290 acres and probably rode the Ohio River to the next frontier where he bought 2000 acres. What a fine grand hurrah and legacy for the German man who began with nothing.  America truly had been the land of opportunity, albeit with a few pretty significant speed bumps along the way.

I would love to have known this man with the irrepressible spirit. Even in his golden years when other men his age want nothing more than to be left alone drowsing in sun puddles in the rocking chair on the porch, he sold everything, packed up, probably bought a flat boat and set out on one final adventure.  His sons Daniel and David had been in Morrison’s Cove now for about 20 years.  His daughters were marrying and moving away too.  Was this Philip Jacob’s way of bringing the family together in one place for his final years?  If so, it worked.  Land has a way of doing that.

Oh yes, and did I mention that the Revolutionary War veterans who received grants for this Ohio land that Philip Jacob had already claimed felt it was too risky and dangerous to claim, so they sold it to land speculators, or privately to frontiersmen willing to take risks, like Philip Jacob Miller. Philip Jacob Miller never seemed to shy away from challenges.  In some cases, he had no choice, but this time, he set forth willingly and embraced an uncertain future – even in the golden years of his life.

Ironic that Philip Jacob Miller, as a pietist Brethren, lived through being caught in the midst of 4 separate wars that spanned his entire adulthood. We’ll likely never know the full price of his decision to remain true to the Brethren principles.  The Jacob Miller family that was slaughtered could have been his brother.


The Miller family genealogy has been particularly difficult because so much ambiguity remains about the children of Johann Michael Miller, the original American immigrant, and then about his grandchildren as well. For example, his son, Philipp Jacob Miller’s children are documented, thanks to his Bible and his estate record, but his brothers’ Lodowick and John don’t have Bibles to document their children, and neither are the descendants of their children documented in many cases.

To make matters worse, any person with the surname of Miller in that time and place, or even nearby got appended to this family.

In order to help sort through this, the Miller-Brethren DNA project at Family Tree DNA welcomes not only Miller males of Brethren heritage, but anyone who descends from a Miller Brethren line, male or female.  Miller males need to take the Y DNA test.  These men and everyone descended from any Brethren Miller line needs to have taken the Family Finder autosomal test.

One challenge with autosomal DNA is that so many of the Brethren lines are so highly intermarried. When you match another Miller descendant, it’s difficult to know if you’re matching through your Miller line, or maybe through a different Brethren line that you both share.  Unfortunately, since the Brethren frowned on things like marriage licenses, many wives’ surnames are unknown.

For example, we don’t know who Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena’s parents were, but a number of Miller descendants do match with a whole group of Mumaw descendants who don’t appear to have a common ancestor with the Miller line. Clearly we do have a common ancestor, someplace, so either they have a Miller, or Miller wife’s line in the Mumaw woodpile, or we have a Mumaw or Mumaw wife’s line in the Miller lineage woodpile.  And yes, the Mumaw’s were indeed in the right places at the right time.  It’s a much better bet than Rochette – but only time and more testing by more descendants will tell.

We don’t have all the answers, by any stretch, but we have proven one thing. The Elder Jacob Miller of Maryland, Virginia and Ohio does not share a common paternal ancestor with Johann Michael Miller.  That’s a very valuable piece of information, moving forward.  This also helps us sort descendants.  Let’s face it, Miller is a German trade name and there are just too many men with the same first names.  We need all the help we can get.

If you descend from anyone in a Brethren Miller line, please join the Miller-Brethren DNA project through Family Tree DNA.

References and Acknowledgements

Lots of researchers have written about and compiled information about the Miller family, and I have drawn liberally from their work. Suffice it to say that they don’t all agree – and in fact some contradict each other. So I’ve gone through each and compiled the information I found credible by evaluating the sources, where possible.  Where doubt remains or work needs to be done, I have said so.

Replogle – “Ancestors on the Frontier: Miller, Cripe, Ulrich, Replogle, Shively, Metzger” by Justin Replogle, self-published in 1998

Mason – “The Michael Miller and Susanna Bechtol Family Record” compiled in 1993 by Floyd R. and Catherine Mason, now deceased

Miller – “A History and Genealogy of David Y. Miller 1809-1898” by Gene Edwin Miller, self-published

Goss, Troy – The Miller Family History

Stutesman – “Jacob Stutzman (?-1775); His Children and Grandchildren” by John Hale Stutesman, Jr.

Tom and Kathleen Miller’s Johann Michael Miller Family History

I want to offer a special thank you to Reverend Merle Rummel for his numerous and ongoing contributions, not just to me personally, and there have been many, but to the Brethren research community at large. His insight and knowledge of the Brethren history and families is one of a kind.  He is a living tribute to the spirit of our ancestors.

Concepts – Parental Phasing

I recently used a technique called parental phasing as part of the proof that one Curtis Lore found in Pennsylvania was the same person as Curtis Benjamin Lore, found later in Indiana.  Given that I’ve already used parental phasing as part of a proof argument, I’d like to break it down further and explain the concepts behind parental phasing, what it is, why it is so important, and why it works so well.

For those of you who don’t have at least one parent available to test, I’m truly sorry, and not just because of the lost DNA opportunity. But please do read this article, because you may be able to substitute other family members and derive at least some of the benefits, although clearly not all.

What is Parental Phasing?

The fundamental concept of parental phasing is that the only way you can obtain your DNA is through one or the other of your parents, so every one of your matches should match you plus one of your parents. Right?

Should, yes, but that’s not exactly how autosomal matching works in real life.

You can match someone in one of two ways:

  1. Because you received the matching segment from one of your two parents, and they received that same segment from one of their two parents, a circumstance that is called identical by descent or IBD.
  2. Because your match’s DNA is zigzagging back and forth between the DNA you inherited from both of your parents, or your DNA is zigzagging back and forth between their parents, either of which is called identical by chance or IBC.

I wrote about his in the article titled, Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance.

Here’s the matching “Identical By” cheat sheet since you may find it helpful in this article as well.

Identical by Chart

How Does Parental Phasing Work?

Parental phasing works by comparing your DNA against your matches DNA, then comparing your matches DNA against your parents DNA, and telling you which, if either, or both, parents they match in addition to you. Oh yes, and there’s one more tiny tidbit – they must match you and your parent(s) on the same segment(s).

As bizarre as it sounds, sometimes your match will match you on one segment, and match your parents on an entirely different segment.  While this was not an expected finding, it does happen, and frequently enough that it was found in every parental phasing test run – so it’s not an anomaly or something so rare you won’t see it.

Therefore, parental phasing may be a two part process, where:

  • Step 1 is determining whether or not your match matches either or both of your parents.
  • Step 2 is determining if your match matches you and your parent on the same segment(s), or at least part of the same segment? If not, then it’s not a phased IBD match – even though they do match you and your parent.

Conceptually, each of your matches will fall nice and cleanly into one, or both, of your parent’s buckets. Let’s look at a couple of examples.  For each of the people who match you, they will also match your parents on the same segment as follows:

Match Matches Your Mother Matches Your Father Matches Neither Parent Comment
Susie Yes No From Mom’s side, IBD
John No Yes From Dad’s side, IBD
Bob Yes Yes Matches both parents lines, IBD and may be IBP
Roxanne No No Yes Identical by Chance, IBC

Please Note: Your match list will change if you change your matching threshold, and so will your phased matches to your parents.  In other words, while someone might not match you and a parent both on the same segment at 15cM, you might well match on a common segment at a 10, 7 or 5cM threshold.

So in essence, parental phasing puts your matches into very useful buckets for you and helps eliminate false positives – or matches that appear real but aren’t.

How Can Someone Match Me But Not My Parents?

That’s a really good question. Sometimes you match someone because you received common DNA from an ancestor, through your parents, which means you’re identical by descent (IBD), a legitimate genealogical match.  But other times, you match someone just by chance because their DNA is matching pieces of both of your parents’ DNA, and not because you actually share a common ancestor.

Let’s take a look.

This first graphic shows you with an identical by descent match to your match’s father’s DNA. Your match’s father shares a common relative with (at least) one of your mother’s lines.

Phase IBD

In the most basic terms, an identical by descend (IBD) match looks like this, where your match is matching you on one of your parent’s strands of DNA. Both matching strands are colored green in this example.

Of course, your DNA does not come labeled as to which side is mother’s and which side is father’s. You can read more about that here. If it did, we wouldn’t even need to be having this discussion at all – because that’s what parental phasing does.  It tells you which side of your family your DNA match came from.

You can see in the above example that you and your match both share an actual strand of DNA. You inherited yours from your Mom and your match inherited theirs from their Dad, which means your Mom and their Dad share a common ancestor.  However, to be able to discern that fact, that your Mom and your match’s Dad share a common ancestor, you need to be able to phase the DNA of both you and your match to know which parent that strand came from.

In reality, your DNA and their DNA is entirely mixed in each of you, shown in the chart below, and without additional information, neither of you will know which strand of DNA you match on, or who you inherited it from.  Initially, you will only know THAT you match.

Phase IBD2

So here’s what your DNA really looks like. It’s up to the DNA matching software to look at the two strands of your DNA that’s mixed together, and the two strands of your match’s DNA that’s mixed together and see if there is a common grouping of DNA at each location that extends for at least 10 locations in length, which is the “threshold” for our example that signifies a match that is likely to be “real” versus IBC, or identical by chance.  In my example, that common grouping is the green “Matching Portions” column, above.

An identical by chance match looks like the chart below. You can see that the green matching DNA is zigzagging back and forth between your parents’ DNA.

Phase IBC

It can even be worse where your match’s Mom’s and Dad’s DNA is also zigzagging back and forth, but you can certainly get the idea that there are all kinds of ways to NOT match but only three ways to legitimately match – Mom’s side, Dad’s side, or both.

So you can see that indeed, you do technically match, but not because you share a DNA segment of any size with one parent, but because your match’s DNA matches part of your Mom’s DNA and part of your Dad’s, which means that DNA segment does NOT come from one common ancestor, meaning not IBD. However, the matching software can’t tell the difference, because your strands aren’t coded to Mom and Dad.

What parental phasing does is to assign your matches to “sides” or buckets based on whether they match your Mom or Dad in addition to you.

One Parent Matches

In my case, I only have one parent whose DNA is available. Therefore, all of my matches will either match both my mother and me, or not.  The balance that do not match me and my mother, both, will either match to my father or will be IBC, identical by chance matches.  Unfortunately, just by utilizing one-parent phasing, I can’t tell if the “non-Mom” matches are really to my father or are IBC.

Let’s look at an example.

Match Mom’s Side Dad or IBC Comment
Denny Yes Probably not Mom’s side, could also match on Dad’s side but we have no way to tell. My parents lines come from different parts of the world except that they both married into Native American lines.
Sally No Yes Can’t tell whether Dad’s side or IBC
Derrell No Yes Also matches cousin on Dad’s side on same segments, so Derrell is assigned to Dad’s side pending triangulation.

By using the ICW tool at Family Tree DNA, shown below, I can see who matches me and my matches, both – in this case, me and my mother.

No Parent Matches

If I have no parents in the system, but several other close family members, like uncles or cousins, I can easily see who else I match in common with my match.

In other words, without my mother to match, Denny will either match my Mom’s side family members, and I can tentatively group him there, my Dad’s side family members, and I can tentatively group him there, or neither, in which case I can’t do anything with him except note that fact.

An Example

I’m going to use my proven cousin Denny for my examples, because that’s who I used in my Curtis Lore case study and our connection is proven both genetically and genealogically.

Here’s Denny’s match list. My mother is Denny’s closest match and I’m his second closest.

Phase match list

Therefore, I can use the ICW technique to effectively put my matches into buckets that divide my DNA in half, if I have both parents.

If I have one parent, I can fill one bucket for sure by putting everyone who matches both my mother and me into the “mother” bucket. The balance will be in the “Father +IBC” bucket.

This is easy to do at Family Tree DNA by using the crossed arrow ICW tool to find everyone who matches me in common with my mother.

Phase iCW

If I don’t have either parent, but I have an uncle or a cousin, I can still assign some matches to buckets by utilizing this same ICW tool. What I can’t do without both parents is to eliminate IBC or identical by chance matches from my match list.  I need both parents or at least well fleshed out match groups to do that.  There are examples of using match groups to identify IBC matches in the article, Identical By…Descent, Chance, Population and State.

Furthermore, I will need to download my match lists for both my mother and myself to verify that each person matches both my mother and myself on a common segment.

Testing the Theory

Let’s use my real life example and see how this works. I’m going to utilize three generations, because this gives us the ability to see the parental phasing work twice.  In this illustration, below, four people have tested, Denny, Mother, Me and My Child.

Phase pedigree

Denny and my child, who are 3rd cousins once removed, match on the following DNA segments, utilizing the Family Tree DNA chromosome browser.  We are comparing against Denny, meaning he is the “background” black chromosome.  The orange illustrates where my child matches Denny.

Phase browser denny child

There are no matching segments on chromosomes 18-22.  I have not included X chromosome matching.

Here’s the same information in chart format.

Phase chart denny child

You can see that Denny and my child have several fairly significant segment matches, along with some smaller ones too. The question is, which of those segments are legitimate, meaning IBD and which are not, meaning IBC?

Let’s phase my child against my DNA and see which of these segment matches hold up.

My child is orange, and I am blue and we are both matching against cousin Denny.

phase browser denny child me

As you can see, many of those segments are legitimate because Denny matches both me and my child on the same segments. So they are not IBC, or identical by chance, but IBD, identical, literally, by descent – because my child received them from me.

In some cases, Denny matches only me, blue, which is fine because all that means is that either our matches are IBC or I didn’t pass that DNA to my child. Both matches on chromosome 3 are to me (blue) and not to my child (orange).

However, in the cases where Denny matches my child (orange,) and not me (blue,) on the same segments, that means that either Denny and my child share an ancestor that is through my child’s father or the matches are IBC.  Those matches are not through me.  In other words, those segments did not pass phasing.  You can see examples of that on chromosomes 1, 4 and 14, and partial matches on 11 and 12.

Chromosome 16 shows a really good example of a crossover event where my child, orange, received part of my DNA, blue, but about half way through my segment, it was divided and my child inherited part of mine and the other half from their father.  So, visually, you can see that my child only matches Denny on about half of the segment where I match Denny.

Matches Spreadsheet

I downloaded the results of both Denny’s matches to me and Denny’s matches to my child into one Matches Spreadsheet and have color coded them so that you can see the relationships.  If Denny matches both me and my child, you will see a common segment on that chromosome for both me and my child in the spreadsheet.  Rows where Denny matches my child are light orange and rows where Denny matches me are light blue, similar to the chromosome browser colors.

Denny Me Child

There are only three possible conditions and I have colored the chromosome column accordingly:

  • Denny matches me only – dark teal – may be a legitimate match but we don’t have enough information to tell at this point
  • Denny matches my child only, but not me – red – NOT a legitimate match – identical by chance (IBC)
  • Denny matches me and my child both – boxed green – a legitimate identical by descent (IBD) match

You’ll note that some of these matches are exact. For example on the first matching segment of chromosome 2, below, my child received this entire segment of my DNA.  It was not divided at all.

Denny Me Child 2

However, in the next two matching groups on chromosome 2, my child received most of the DNA I share with Denny, but some was shaved off, but not half.

Denny Me Child 2 shaved

On chromosome 16, my child received almost exactly half of the DNA segment that I share with Denny.

Denny Me Child 16

On chromosomes 11 and 17, my child shares more DNA with Denny than I do, which means that all of that DNA isn’t ancestral though me. In this case, either there are some fuzzy boundaries, a read error, part of the DNA is IBD and part is IBC or part of the DNA is matching through both parents.

Denny Me Child 17 c

On chromosome 14, I match Denny, but my child received none of that DNA, which is why I’ve added the color teal.

Denny Me Child 14 c

Now, let’s phase me against my mother and see how the DNA matches hold up in a third generation.

Adding the Next Generation

The view of the chromosome browser below shows Denny matching my child, in orange, me in blue and my mother in green.

Amazingly, many of these segments follow through all three generations.

phase browser denny child me mother

Let’s see how the various matches stacked up, pardon the pun.

I’ve added Denny’s matches to mother to the Matches Spreadsheet and her rows are colored green.

On the Matches Spreadsheet from the first example, there were several segments where Denny matched only me and not my child. They were colored teal.  In the chart below, so we can track those segments, I have colored them teal in the matchname column, and you can see the resolution of how they did or didn’t survive phasing against my mother in the chromosome column.

Of those 11 segments, 2 phased with my mother, the rest did not. That makes sense, since none of those are segments I passed on to my child, so they would be more likely to be IBC.

Denny me Child Mom SS

The legend for the spreadsheet above is as follows:

  • Dark teal in chromosome column – Denny matches Mom only – may be a legitimate match but we don’t have enough information to know (chromosomes 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12 and 15)
  • Dark teal in matchname column, plus red in chromosome column – previously Denny matched only me, now I do not phase against my mother, so this is an IBC match (chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12 and 17)
  • Dark teal in matchname column, plus green box in chromosome column – previously Denny only matched me, but now this segment is parentally phased and considered legitimate (chromosomes 2 and 10)
  • Red in chromosome column – does not phase against parent, so not a legitimate match – IBC (chromosomes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14 and 17)
  • Green box indicates a phased match – considered IBD and legitimate (chromosomes 1, 2, 10, 14, 15, 16 and 17)


*So what the heck happened with chromosome 11?

In the first example, this segment received a green box because Denny matched both me and my child on a partial segment, which means that partial segment is phased and considered legitimate.

denny me child mom ss 11 grn

When we moved to the next generation, phasing against my mother, Denny does not match my mother on this segment, so it could NOT have arrived in me and my child via my mother, so it is not IBD, even though it appeared that way initially. Because of this, I’ve changed the box color to red for a non-IBD match.

Denny me Child Mom SS 11

How could this happen?

First, it’s a very small segment overlap match, and second, Denny matched more to my child than to me, which is a neon warning sign that this segment match is suspect, especially those two conditions in combination with each other.

Here’s an example of how, genetically, a match could phase with a parent in one generation, but not hold into the next generation.

phase n o phase

This match matches both me and my child (gold), but not my mother, who has no gold. As you can see, the match does accrue 10 gold location matches in a row, but not 10 green ones, so doesn’t match my mother.  The larger the number of locations in a row required to be considered a match, the less likely this type of random matching will be to occur.

This is both the purpose and the quandry of thresholds.  Finding that sweet spot that doesn’t eliminate real matches, but is high enough to be useful in eliminating false positive (IBC) matches.  And I can tell you, there are just about as many opinions on what that threshold number should be as there are people giving opinions – and everyone seems to have one!  You can read more about this in the article, Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs and Pickin’ Crab.

Segment Survival

Let’s take a look and see how many of which size segments survived parental phasing.  Are some of those smaller segments legitimate matches, or did we lose them in phasing?

The chart below shows the results in segment size order, color coded as follows:

  • Red = segments that did not phase and were IBC
  • Teal = segments that match Mom only and may or may not be valid. We don’t have any way to know without additional matches.
  • Green = segments that phased and are IBD

Phased cMs by size

As you would expect, all of the larger segments phased, but surprisingly, so did several of the smaller segments, through three generations.

Given the fact that teal matches did not phase, for the most part, in the previous example, and given that the teal segments are mostly small, my suspicion would be that most of  these teal segments would not phase (with the probable exception of the 10.27 cm segment), if we have the opportunity to find out – which we don’t.

This example is for a non-endogamous line, or better stated, with distant endogamous groups in multiple lines. Endogamous results would probably be different.


What do our statistics look like?

There were 58 matching segments between Denny, my child, me and my mother.

  Match To Whom # Segments # Phased %
Denny My Child 12 8 75
Denny Me 22 11 50
Denny Mother 24 Probably at least 11
Total 58

Of those 58 total matches, 16 were IBC meaning they did not match up through my mother.


Segment Matches

IBC (no phase) IBD (phase) Just Mother Match Groups 2 gen Groups 3 gen Groups
58 16 29 13 12 3 9
% 28% 50% 22% 25% 75%

Thirteen match just to mother (teal), of which one, on chromosome 12 for 10.27 centiMorgans, is the most likely to be legitimate, or IBD. The rest were smaller segments and none were passed to a the child, so they are less likely to be legitimate, or IBD.

There are a total of 12 matching groups, of which 3 are for only two generations, me and mother. In other words, not all of that DNA got passed on to my child, but at least some of it did 9 of those 12 times.

Does Size Matter?

I wanted to see how the small versus large segments faired in terms of three generations of parental phasing. Are smeller segments legitimate or not?  Do they stand up?  The “Phased cMs by Size” chart above was sorted in chromosome order, with teal being a match to mother only (so we don’t know if it phased), green meaning the segment DID phase and red meaning it DID NOT phase with the parent.

Removing the teal blocks, which match to mother only, meaning we don’t know if they would parentally phase or not, leaves us with the blocks that had the opportunity to phase, and whether they passed or failed. 100% of the blocks 3.57cM and above phased.  A natural dividing line seems to occur about the 3.5 cM level, shown below.

phased cms by size less teal

It’s interesting that all matches above 3.36 cM phased, several of them twice, through three generations or two transmission (inheritance) events. Of those, 9, or 43% were under the 10cM threshold suggested by some, and 7, or 33% were under the 7cM threshold.

Most of the segments 3.36 cM and below, did not pass phasing. Of those, 6 or 26% did pass phasing, while 17, or 74%, did not.  Note that this cM level is with the SNP threshold set to 500 SNPs, which is generally the lowest number I use.

Segment Size # of Segments # Segments Phased %
Larger than 3.5 cM 21 21 100
Smaller than 3.5 cM 23 6 26

Are these results a function of this particular family, or would this hold if more parental generational phasing studies were performed?

Let’s see. 

The Threshold Study

I was surprised by the seemingly low threshold of 3.5 cM that appeared to be the rough dividing line for cMs that passed parental phasing and those that did not. I undertook a small study of four additional 3 generation non-endogamous families.

I’ve included the Lore study that we discussed above in the first column.

I have also removed all duplicates in the results below, since the duplicates were an artifact of matching groups where we had three generations to match.

I completed 4 different three-generation studies in 4 unrelated non-endogamous families and noted the rough threshold for where matches seem to pass or fail phasing – in other words, the fall line. In all 4 examples below, the threshold was between 2.46 and 3.16 cM.  You could move it slightly higher, depending on what criteria you use for the “fall line,” which is why I’ve included the raw data.  In all cases, the SNP threshold was at 500 so you would not see any matches with fewer than 500 SNPs.

The black bar in the results below marks the location where the shift from fail to pass occurs in the various studies.

4 family phasing

Additionally, I have one 4-generation study available as well. The closest related of the 4 generations that were being matched against were first cousins, then first cousins once removed, then first cousins twice removed (equal to 2nd cousins) then 1st cousins three times removed (equal to second cousins once removed).

You can see, below, that the pass/fail threshold for this 4 generation, 3 transmission study was also at 3.69 cM for valid segments that survived. The segments labeled “2 match” mean that they did not get passed to the younger generations, so they only matched in the oldest two generations, 3 match the oldest 3 generations and 4 match meaning the match survived through all 4 generations.

It’s interesting that even some of the smaller segments held through all 4 generations.

4 gen phasing

Ethnicity Matters

Clearly, parental phasing is only successful when you have matches. Of the three data bases available for autosomal DNA comparisons today, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe likely have the largest representation of non-US participants, because the test was not sold outside the US for quite some time.  The Family Tree DNA Family Finder test was sold in the most locations outside the US.

Family Tree DNA probably has the best representation of Jewish DNA of all of the data bases.

Family Tree DNA projects facilitate the grouping of individuals by self-selected interest which includes ethnic categories, making those relationships visible by virtue of project membership wherein they are not readily evident in other data bases.

Therefore, by virtue of who has tested, if your ancestry is not “US” meaning a melting pot type of environment who are not recent arrivals, then you are likely to have less matches, so less phased matches too.  If you have a high degree of any particular ethnicity, even if your ancestry is “US,” you may still have fewer matches.  For example, 3 of 4 of my mother’s grandparents were either German or Dutch, and she has 710 matches, or roughly half the matches that I have.  My father’s heritage was Appalachian, meaning Colonial American.

Here’s a quick chart showing the total matches as of April, 2016 for a number of individuals who contributed their match totals in Family Finder and who carry either no US heritage or a specific ethnicity.  For purposes of comparison, three individuals with typical mixed colonial US heritage are shown at the top.

Ethnicity match chart

People with high percentages of African heritage tend to have few matches today, as do those of purely European heritage. Unfortunately, not many Africans or African-Americans test their DNA and DNA testing is not as popular in Europe as it is in the US.  Many people in Europe are leary of DNA testing or don’t feel they need to test, because “we’ve always lived here.”   I’m hopeful that the sustained popularity of programs like Who Do You Think You Are and Finding Your Roots will encourage more people of all ethnicities and locations to test from around the globe.

People from highly endogamous populations have a different issue to deal with, as you can see from the very high number of Jewish matches in the chart above. Since these people descend from a common founder population, they share a lot of ancestral DNA that is identical by population, meaning they did receive it from an ancestor, so it’s not IBC, but they received that segment because that particular segment is very prevalent within that population.  Determining which ancestor contributed that piece of DNA is exceedingly difficult, if not impossible because several ancestors carried that same segment.

Therefore, while the segment is identical by descent, it’s probably not genealogically useful in a 100% endogamous scenario.

In an unpublished study, we discovered that while working with parentally phased Jewish results, it’s not unusual for up to half of the matches to not match the participant plus either parent on the same segments. Or conversely, they may match both parents, but the segments are comparatively small.  Matching to both parents in an endogamous population, without a known familial relationship, and without at least one relatively large segment, is an indicator of IBP, identical by population, matches.  For Jewish and other endogamous people, parental phasing is very promising, and will help them sort through irrelevant “diamond in the rough” matches indicated by no parent matches or smaller both parent matches to find the genealogically relevant gems.

In all parental phasing groups studied, no one lost less than 10% of their matches utilizing parental phasing and most people lost significantly more, up to half.  I would very much like to see these same kinds of 3 or 4 generation parental phasing studies done for groups of Jewish, other endogamous and African American families.  In order to do a study of one family, you need at least 3 generations who have tested and another known family member, like a first or second cousin perhaps, to match against.

In Summary

Dual parental phasing works wonderfully.  One parent phasing works pretty well too.  Even close relative phasing works, just not as well as parental phasing.  You can only work with the people you have available to test, so test every relative you can convince!

If you have one or both parents to test, by all means, do. You’ll be able to phase your matches against both of your parents individually and eliminate the majority of IBC matches.

If you have grandparents or their siblings available to test, do, and quickly so you don’t lose the opportunity. Test the oldest person/generation in each line that you can.

If you don’t have both parents, test your half and full siblings, all of them, the more the better, because they inherited parts of your parents DNA that you didn’t.

Find your closest relatives and test them, yes, all of them.

If you are testing parents, you don’t need to test their children too, because their children will only receive half of their parent’s DNA, and you already have the parents DNA.

Even if you can’t phase your matches utilizing your parents DNA, you can use the combination of your matches with other relatively close family members to assign or suggest matches to both sides of your family along family lines – creating match groups. For example, if your match matches you and your great-uncle Charlie on the same segment, then it’s very likely that match is from the common ancestral line shared by your common ancestor with great-uncle Charlie – your great-grandparents.  Triangulation, of course, will prove that.

Some of your relatives will be quite interested in DNA testing and others will be happy to test simply because it helps you, and they like to hear about the result of the genealogy research. I’ve discovered that providing a scholarship for the testing, especially for those people you really want to test, goes a very long way in convincing people that DNA testing for genealogy is something they might be interested in doing.  If you can’t personally afford a scholarship for everyone, try the old fashioned collection jar.  And no, I’m not kidding.  It works wonders and gives everyone an opportunity to participate and invest as well, as much as they can afford.

Ethnicity testing has a lot of sizzle for some folks too – so don’t just deliver the dry facts – be sure to talk about the sizzle too. Sizzle sells!  People get excited about the possibilities and of course, you’ll explain the result to them, so they get to visit with you a second time as well.  Something to look forward to at next summer’s picnic!

Be sure to take swab kits to family events; picnics, reunions, graduation parties, weddings and holiday gatherings. Believe me, I have a DNA kit in my purse or car at all times.  And maybe, if your extended family lives close by, resurrect the old-time Sunday afternoon tradition of “going calling.”  Not only can you collect DNA, you can collect family memories too and I guarantee, you’ll make a new discovery with every visit.  Take this opportunity to interview your relatives.

It’s amazing isn’t it, the things we do for this “DNA phase” that we’re all going through!


I want to thank Family Tree DNA for their ongoing support of projects and citizen scientists which makes these types of research studies possible. I also want to thank several individuals in the genetic genealogy community who provided their information and gave permission for me to incorporate their results into this article.  Without sharing and collaboration, these types of efforts would simply not be possible.