Concepts – Why DNA Testing the Oldest Family Members is Critically Important

Recently, someone asked me to explain why testing the older, in fact, the oldest family members is so important. What they really wanted were talking points in order to explain to others, in just a few words, so that they could understand the reasoning without having to understand the details or the science.

Before I address that question, I want to talk briefly about how Y and mitochondrial DNA are different from autosomal DNA, because the answer to the “oldest ancestor” question is a bit different for those two types of tests versus autosomal DNA.

In the article, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy, I explain the differences between Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, who can take each, and how they differ from autosomal DNA testing.

Y and Mitochondrial DNA

In the graphic below, you can see that the Y chromosome, represented by blue squares, is inherited only by males from direct patrilineal males in the male’s tree – meaning inherited from his father who inherited the Y chromosome from his father who inherited it from his father, on up the tree. Of course, along with the Y chromosome, generally, the males also inherited their surname.

Y and mito

Mitochondrial DNA, depicted as red circles, is inherited by both genders of children, but ONLY the females only pass it on. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from your mother, who inherited it from her mother, who inherited it from her mother, on up the tree in the direct matrilineal path.

  • Neither Y or mitochondrial DNA is ever mixed with the DNA of the other parent, so it is never “lost” during inheritance. It is inherited completely and intact. This allows us to look back more reliably much further in time and obtain a direct, unobstructed, view of the history of the direct patrilineal or matrilineal line.
  • Changes between generations are caused by mutations, not by the DNA of the two parents being mixed together and by half being lost during inheritance.
  • This means that we test the oldest relevant ancestor in that line to be sure we have the “original” DNA and not results that have incurred a mutation, although generally, mutations are relatively easy to deal with for both Y and mitochondrial DNA since the balance of this type of DNA is still ancestral.

Testing the oldest generation is not quite as important in Y and mitochondrial DNA as it is for autosomal DNA, because most, if not all, of the Y and mitochondrial DNA will remain exactly the same between generations.  That is assuming, of course, that no unknown adoptions, known as Nonparental Events (NPEs) occurred between generations.

However, autosomal DNA is quite different. When utilizing autosomal DNA, every person inherits only half of their parents’ DNA, so half of their autosomal ancestral history is lost with the half of their parents’ DNA that they don’t inherit. For autosomal DNA, testing the oldest people in the family, and their siblings, is critically important.

Autosomal DNA

In the graphic below, you can see that the Y and mitochondrial DNA, still represented by a small blue chromosome and a red circle, respectively, is inherited from only one line.  The son received an entirely intact blue Y chromosome and both the son and daughter receive an entirely intact mitochondrial DNA circle.

Autosomal DNA, on the other hand, represented by the variously colored chromosomes assigned to the 8 great-grandparents on the top row, is inherited by the son and daughter, at the bottom, in an entirely different way.  The autosomal chromosomes inherited by the son and daughter have pieces of blue, yellow, green, pink, grey, tan, teal and red mixed in various proportions.

Autosomal path

In fact, you can see that in the first generation, the grandfather, for example, inherited both a pink and green chromosome from his mother, and a blue and yellow chromosome from his father, not to be confused with the smaller blue Y chromosome which is shown separately. The grandmother inherited a grey and tan chromosome from her father and a teal and red chromosome from her mother, again not to be confused with the red mitochondrial circle.

In the next generation, the father inherited parts of the pink, green, blue and yellow DNA. The mother inherited parts of the grey, tan, teal and red DNA.

The answer to part of the question of why it’s so important to test older generations is answered with this graphic.

  • The children inherit even smaller portions of their ancestor’s autosomal DNA than their parents inherited. In fact, in every generation, the child inherits half of the DNA of each parent. That means that the other half of the parents’ autosomal DNA is not inherited by the child, so in each generation, you lose half of the autosomal DNA from the previous generation, meaning half of your ancestors’ DNA.
  • Each child inherits half of their parents’ DNA, but not the same half. So different children from the same parents will carry a different part of their parents’ autosomal DNA, meaning a different part of their ancestors’ DNA.

The best way to understand the actual real-life ramifications of inheriting only half of your parent’s DNA is by way of example.

I have tested at Family Tree DNA and so has my mother. All of my mother’s DNA and matches are directly relevant to my genealogy and ancestry, because I share all of my mother’s ancestors. However, since I only inherited half of her DNA, she will have many matches to cousins that I don’t have, because she carries twice as much of our ancestor’s DNA than I do.

Mother’s Matches My Matches in Common With Mother Matches Lost Due to Inheritance

920

371

549

As you can see, I only share 371 of the matches that mother has, which means that I lost 549 matches because I didn’t inherit those segments of ancestral DNA from mother. Therefore, mother matches many people that I don’t.

That’s exactly why it’s so critically important to test the oldest generation.

It’s also important to test siblings. For example, your grandparent’s siblings, your parent’s siblings and your own siblings if your parents aren’t living. These people all share all of your ancestors.

I test my cousin’s siblings as well, if they are willing, because each child inherits a different half of their parent’s DNA, which is your ancestor’s DNA, so they will have matches to different people.

How important is it to test siblings, really?

Let’s take a look at this 4 generation example of matching and see just how many matches we lose in four generations. We begin with my mother’s 920 matches, as shown above, but let’s add two more generations beyond me.

4-gen-match-totals

As you can see in the above example, the two grandchildren inherited a different combination of their parent’s DNA, given that Grandchild 1 has 895 matches in common with one of their parents and Grandchild 2 has 1046 matches in common the same parent. Those matches aren’t to entirely the same set of people either – because the two siblings inherited different DNA segments from their parent. The difference in the number of matches and the difference in the people that the siblings match in common with their parent illustrates the difference that inheriting different parental DNA segments makes relative to genealogy and DNA matching.

However, if you look at the matching number in common with their grandparent and great-grandparent, the differences become even greater and the losses between generations become cumulative. Just think how many matches are really lost, given that in our illustration we are only comparing to one of two parents, one of four grandparents and one of 8 great-grandparents.

The really important numbers are the Lost Matches, shown in red. These are the matches that WOULD BE LOST FOREVER IF THE OLDER GENERATION(S) HAD NOT TESTED.

Note that the lost matches are much higher numbers than the matches.

Summary

In summary, here are the talking points about why it’s critically important to test the oldest members of each generation, and every generation between you and them.

Autosomal DNA:

  1. Every person inherits only half of their parents’ DNA, meaning that half of your ancestors’ DNA is lost in each generation – the half you don’t receive.
  2. Siblings each inherit half of their parents’ DNA, but not the same half, so each child has some of their ancestor’s DNA that another child won’t have.
  3. The older generations of direct line relatives and their siblings will match people that you don’t, and their matches are as relevant to your genealogy as your own matches, because you share all of the same ancestors.
  4. Being able to see that you match someone who also matches a known ancestor or cousin shows you immediately which ancestral line the match shares with you.
  5. Your cousins, even though they will have ancestral lines that aren’t yours, still carry parts of your ancestors’ DNA that you don’t, so it’s important to test cousins and their siblings too.

Y and mitochondrial DNA:

  1. Testing older generations allows you to be sure that you’re dealing with DNA results that are closer to, or the same as, your ancestor, without the possibility of mutations introduced in subsequent generations.
  2. In many cases, your cousins, father, grandfather, etc. will carry Y or mitochondrial DNA that you don’t, but that descends directly from one of your ancestors. Your only opportunity to obtain that information is to test lineally appropriate cousins or family members. This is particularly relevant for males such as fathers, grandfathers, paternal aunts and uncles who don’t pass on their mitochondrial DNA.

I wrote about creating your DNA pedigree chart for Y and mitochondrial DNA here.

Be sure to test the oldest generations autosomally, but also remember to review your cousins’ paths of descent from your common ancestors closely to determine if their Y or mitochondrial DNA is relevant to your genealogy! Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA are all different parts of unraveling the ancestor puzzle for each of your family lines.

You can order the Y, mitochondrial DNA and Family Finder tests from Family Tree DNA.

Happy ancestor hunting!

Another Daniel Miller – A Y DNA Tale – 52 Ancestors #135

Just when you think you have the family all straightened out, a left hook comes along, sneaks up and sucker-punches you.

Indeed, as if there wasn’t enough confusion about the various Daniel Millers, we now have yet another very interesting twist in the Daniel Miller saga, thanks to DNA.

And a conundrum it is too.

In the article, “Daniel Miller (1755-1822), Musical Graves, 52 Ancestors #130” I provided this summary of the various Daniel Miller’s that we know existed in Montgomery County, Ohio at or about the same time that my Daniel Miller (1755-1822) lived there, or subsequent generations. Below is the summary from that article.

Daniel (1) is my ancestor and was born to Philip Jacob Miller and his wife, Magdalena, whose last name is unknown, on April 8, 1755 in Frederick County, Maryland. Daniel was married to Elizabeth Ulrich and died in Montgomery County, Ohio on August 26, 1822. Those are the easy dates. The rest are difficult.

Daniel (2) arrived in Montgomery County from Huntington County, PA. Daniel (2)’s wife was Susanna Bowman and Daniel (2) lived in what would become the City of Dayton proper where he settled on Wolf Creek in November of 1802, according to the History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio, Volume 1.   For those specifically interested in this line, the Brethren Heritage Center has an article available written by Gale Honeyman.

Daniel (3) is the son of Daniel (1). According to the family Bible he was born on March 30, 1779 and he died on June 25, 1812. He would have been 33 years old, and unless he was disabled in some way, he was likely married and may well have had children. He would only have been about 20 when his father Daniel floated down the Ohio on a raft, probably in 1799. Daniel (3) could have remained in Clermont County when his father and uncle, David Miller, left for Montgomery County sometimes around 1802. There is no mention of an estate for Daniel (3) in Montgomery County.

Daniel (4) is the grandson of Daniel (1) through his son Stephen Miller. Daniel (4) was born in 1797 in Bedford County, PA and died in 1879 in Preble County, Ohio.

Daniel (5) is the son of Michael Miller and Salome Cramer of Montgomery County. Michael is the son of David Miller who died in 1845. David was the brother of Daniel (1). Michael obtained and farmed his father’s farm in Randolph Township. Daniel (5) was born in 1822, died in 1903 and was married to Isabella Cook.

Daniel (6) is the grandson of Daniel (1) through son Jacob A. Miller born in 1776 who married first to Elizabeth Metzger and second to Catherine Zimmerman. Jacob farmed his father’s land in Randolph Township past 1851 and likely until his death in 1858. Jacob’s son Daniel (6) by his first wife was born about 1800, married Susanna Hardman on November 1, 1819 and died about 1835 in Montgomery County.

Daniel (7) born in 1815 is the son of Isaac Miller, son of Daniel (1) and his wife Elizabeth Miller who is the daughter of David Miller, brother of Daniel (1). I know nothing more about Daniel (7).

Daniel Y. (8) born in 1808 is the son of John Miller, son of Daniel (1).  John’s wife Esther Miller, daughter of David Miller, brother of Daniel (1). Daniel Y. (8) married Margaret Bainter and died in 1833.

Daniel (9) is the son of Daniel (2) and his wife, Susan Bowman. Daniel (9) was born about 1808 and died about 1863 in Montgomery County, marrying Susan Oliver.

Daniel (10) is the son of the Elder Jacob Miller by either his first or second wife, who are unknown. This Daniel was born on September 6, 1780 and died on November 15, 1858 in Monroe County, Iowa. Daniel (10) married Elizabeth Shidler or Shideler on April, 13, 1808 in Montgomery County, Ohio, but by 1813, it appears that they had moved on to Union County, Indiana. When Daniel lived in Montgomery County, he owned land near the 4 Mile Church, east of Cottage Creek, about one and one half miles west of the Lower 4 Mile Church.

Today’s article specifically deals with Daniel (2), referred to in this article as Dayton Daniel to keep him separate from Daniel (1) who lived in Montgomery County at the same time as Dayton Daniel (2).

To this group, we need to add two more Daniels. It’s OK to groan now. I’ve been groaning all week!

Daniel (11) who is the son of Lodowich Miller, brother of Philip Jacob Miller. Daniel (11) was born about 1752, probably in Frederick County, Maryland and moved with Lodowich’s family to the Shenandoah Valley about the time of the Revolutionary War. Daniel (11) died in Rockingham County, Virginia in 1819.

Daniel (12), the son of John Miller, also a brother to Philip Jacob Miller. This Daniel was probably John’s eldest son and was one of the executors of his father’s estate in 1794 through 1799 when the estate paid the heirs.

Therefore, Daniel (1), Daniel (11) and Daniel (12) were all first cousins to each other – and Daniel (2), Dayton Daniel, we’ve discovered this week, was also somehow related as well.

The question is, who is Dayton Daniel and how is he related?  And how do we know he’s related?

Michael Miller’s Sons

As a short review, let’s take a look at the immigrant Michael Miller’s sons. He has three proven sons, and only three; Philip Jacob, Lodowick (Lodowich) and John, parents of Daniel (1), Daniel (11) and Daniel (12), respectively.

For many years, every stray Miller male in a several-hundred-mile radius around Frederick County, Maryland was pinned to Michael Miller like tails on the proverbial donkey. To date, we have disproved every line that has tested utilizing Y DNA. In fact, that’s the purpose of the Miller Brethren DNA Project – to sort out the various Brethren Miller lines.  I expected several lines to match Michael’s descendants, but surprisingly, they haven’t – until now.

Before this week, not one line that was not from Michael Miller’s proven sons has ever matched Michael’s line utilizing Y DNA. But then came today and all that changed.

And of course, the end of line oldest ancestor for the new Miller Y DNA participant was none other than Daniel Miller (2), Dayton Daniel, found originally in what would become the City of Dayton, in Montgomery County, Ohio, very early – his arrival date stated variously as either 1802 or 1804 and having come from Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

If you recall from the article about “my” Daniel Miller, the son of Philip Jacob Miller, the son of Michael Miller, the immigrant, Daniel lived in Bedford County from sometime in the 1780s until around 1800 when he floated down the Ohio River and joined his father and siblings in Clermont and Warren Counties in Ohio. My Daniel migrated on to Montgomery County by 1805, about the same time as Dayton Daniel. In fact, when I first began researching Daniel Miller in Montgomery County, I found the information about the Daniel in Dayton and thought for some time that he WAS my Daniel, until I found additional information and pieces of the puzzle began not fitting. I figured out that there were indeed two Daniel’s living in Montgomery County at the same time, thanks to tax lists and other information. Actually, there were three Daniels until 1813 when Daniel (10), who is not descended from the Michael Miller line, did us the huge favor of moving on.

Dayton Daniel was also Brethren, but that alone does not mean he is related to my Daniel. Another man was Brethren too – the Elder Jacob Miller, who everyone thought surely WAS related to Michael Miller, but who, it turns out, is not – at least not through the paternal line. So just being a Miller male, a Brethren and being found in Frederick County, Maryland, then Montgomery County, Ohio does not guarantee a kinship relationship – as unlikely as that seems. I can see why people reached those earlier conclusions, before Y DNA testing, but they were wrong.

Michael Miller, the immigrant, had three proven sons – and only 3, who were:

  • John Miller who died in 1794 in Washington County, Maryland, formerly Frederick County, with a will which listed his children. This John had a son Daniel (12).
  • Lodowich Miller who died about 1782 and whose children (if not Lodowich too) moved south to the Shenandoah Valley about this same time also had a son Daniel (11) who died in Rockingham County, Virginia in 1819.
  • Philip Jacob Miller also had a son Daniel (1) who married Elizabeth Ulrich, moved to Bedford County, Pennsylvania, then on to Ohio where he was the Daniel who wound up in Montgomery County but did NOT live in Dayton. This is my Daniel.

After I published my article about Daniel, sorting through the various Daniel Millers in Montgomery County, a cousin, Doug, contacted me and was confused. Doug descended from Dayton Daniel (2), born in 1765, and he wondered, if his Daniel was not descended from Johann Michael Miller, why did Doug’s autosomal DNA so strongly match my mother and cousins. Obviously, I couldn’t answer that question, so Doug set about finding a male Miller, his second cousin, who descended from Dayton Daniel, to test. That participant is referred to as TM in this article.

Obviously, if TM’s DNA representing Dayton Daniel’s Y DNA had not matched my Daniel’s Y DNA, you either would not be reading this article right now, or it would be a very different story. But Dayton Daniel’s Y DNA does match the Michael Miller line.

Um….so now what? Who is Dayton Daniel (2) and who are his parents?  They can’t be the only three proven sons of Michael Miller – because all 3 of them had sons named Daniel and all 3 are accounted for.  So, who were Dayton Daniel’s parents?  Let’s walk through the possibilities and look a the DNA results.

The Y DNA

Looking at the Miller Brethren project, we can see 5 men descend from Michael Miller. There are also two additional men, but they are not project members.   One is private, so I can’t even e-mail him.

robertas-view

The first thing I noticed was that marker 449 has two different values, shown at far right, in purple, above. I mapped them to the participants, with the hope that TM’s marker 449 would tell us which line he was from. In other words, I was hoping that 449 was a line marker mutation.

michael-miller-desc-pedigree

TM, shown at far left, has a value at marker 449 of 30. One of Philip Jacob’s descendants, RM as well as both of Lodowich’s descendants carry the same value. So no, marker 449 does not indicate a specific son’s line of Johann Michael Miller.

How can this same marker show up in two of Daniel’s sons’ lines, represented by HAM and RWM, but not in the third son’s line, represented by RM? Apparently this marker value has mutated in both Isaac and John’s lines, sons of Daniel, independently, someplace between Daniel and the testers, HAM and RWM today. We know that the original marker value is 30 because it is found independently in the lines of two different sons, Daniel and Lodowich, and probably a third son now with TM.

Ok, we know that marker 449 doesn’t help us, so where do we look next?  Let’s take a look at the genealogy.

Candidates for Dayton Daniel’s Father

Obviously, the first place to look for this Daniel is among the grandchildren of Michael Miller.

Dayton Daniel’s wife is Susanna Bowman who was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania. They are both buried with tombstones that give their age at death, so we can extrapolate that information to obtain a birth date and year.  Thanks to the tombstone, we know that Daniel was born in 1765 and because he married Susanna who was born in the next county, we know that they were living there about 1785, marriage age.

Knowing Daniel’s birth year helps us rule out various grandchildren of Michael Miller.

We have already ruled out Philip Jacob Miller as Dayton Daniel’s parent, because his son was my Daniel (1), according to the family Bible.

Two of our other Y DNA testers descend from Lodowick’s son, Daniel (11), who was born in 1752 and died in 1819 in Rockingham County, Virginia. Clearly, this is not the Daniel living in Montgomery County, Ohio who died in 1849.

That leaves Michael Miller’s son, John, who also had a son Daniel (12).  Could Daniel (12) actually be Dayton Daniel?  Let’s see.

John Miller, Michael’s third son did us the favor of executing a will just days before his death listing his children.

john-miller-will

Children named:

  • Daniel
  • John
  • Jacob
  • Abraham
  • Ludwick
  • David
  • Michael
  • Catherine
  • Susanna
  • Mary
  • Elizabeth

Underage sons were Ludwick, David and Michael.

Son Daniel Miller and son-in-law John Fisher were executors.

The will was made Dec 13, 1794 and recorded Dec. 20, 1794. Clearly John was literally on his death bed when he made his will.

On April 9, 1799, Daniel Miller and John Fisher, executors of John Miller’s estate made a distribution of 2010 pounds, 5 shillings and 9 pence, in equal parts to the 10 remaining children, all apparently now 21 years of age. The order of the named heirs is: Daniel Miller, John Fisher, Susanna Wissinger, Mary Studanbaker, Elizabeth Cameron, Jacob Miller, Abraham Miller, Lodwick Miller and David Miller. Michael is missing in the distribution list so he apparently died sometime between 1794 and 1799. Washington County Distribution Liber I, folio 80.

In 1799, when the estate was paid, all children would have reached the age of 21. The youngest child, Michael, apparently did not survive, so if we can presume he wouldn’t have become 21 until 1801, that means that he was born in about 1780. There were a total of 11 children, so a child was born every two years, with no deaths, then the oldest child, presumably Daniel, would have been born about 22 years before the youngest, or about 1758.

There is some confusion about John Miller’s name, because while most deeds and documents, such as his will, refer to him clearly as John, which would mean his German name was Johannes, with no middle name, one deed refers to him as Peter, not Johann Peter, just Peter. Was the deed in error, or was John really Johann Peter? We don’t know.

Did Michael Miller Have Other Sons?

The answer to this question is yes, he did, according to German church records. What we don’t know is if they lived, how many he might have had that are unrecorded, and if he had children after he arrived in Pennsylvania. Yes, there are a lot of unknowns.

In Frederick County, Maryland in the 1760s, there is a Michael Miller Jr. and a Hans Michael Miller, both of whom are involved with Michael Miller, the immigrant. It would be very unlikely for Michael to have two sons named so closely, but then again, stranger things have happened. One or both could also be grandsons. Or the two men could be one and the same.

In the Michael Miller article, I introduce both of these men. I did not follow either one forward in time, but it might well behoove the descendants of Dayton Daniel to pick up the trail where I left off.

Birth Records in Germany

My retired German genealogist friend, Tom, has found records of the births of several of Michael Miller’s children, in Germany. Unfortunately, the church records are missing for a time period, so we don’t know if all of the children lived, or how many more children might have been born. Tom is reading every single entry on every single page, just to be sure we don’t miss something.

Yes. Every. Single. Entry. On. Every. Single. Page.

Tom is my super-hero!

Michael Miller married Susanna Berchtol in 1714, who was born in 1688, in Konken, Germany. Their first child was born the following year, also in Konken.

  • Hans Peter Miller born January 19, 1715 (This might be John.)

The next children were born in Kallstadt.

  • Johann Jacob Miller baptized May 26, 1716
  • Regina Maria Elisabetha born August 30, 1717
  • Johannes Michael Miller born April 24, 1719 (This could be Hans Michael or Michael Jr.)
  • Johann Ludwig born April 10, 1721. (This would be Lodowich.)

Very unfortunately, by 1722, Johann Michael Miller and Susanna Berchtol had moved to Lambscheim where they live until 1726 where the records indicate they immigrated. I will be documenting these movements in a special update article about Michael Miller and Jacob Stutzman soon, but for today, we just needed the names of Michael’s sons.

We next find Michael’s immigration record, along with Jacob Stutzman, in 1727.

We know that Philip Jacob Miller was born about 1726, so he was probably a babe in arms on the boat.

If Michael Miller and Susanna Berchtol continued having children in the same pattern, they would have had another child in 1723.

Susanna would have probably had children until she was in her early 40s, so until about 1730. Therefore, in addition to Philip Jacob in about 1726, they could have had another child in 1727, 1729 and perhaps even 1731.

This gives us the opportunity for 4 additional sons (besides Philip Jacob) not recorded in existant church records. Of course, additional children may not have been male, and may not have survived.

Is John the Same Person as Hans Peter?

If John who died in 1794 is the same child as Hans Peter born in 1715, then he would have been age 43 in 1758 when his first child was born. That’s actually quite unusual for a man in that timeframe, so one of a number of situations have to be the case.

  1. The John Miller who died in 1794, brother to Philip Jacob is not the same Hans Peter who was born in 1715.
  2. The John Miller, brother to Philip Jacob who died in 1794 had more than one wife, and had children before 1758 who are all omitted from the will.
  3. The Hans Peter born in 1715 died and Johann Michael Miller had another son by the same or a similar name either in 1723, 1727, 1729 or 1731. This would make John between the ages of 27-35 in 1758, which is still on the older side for a Brethren man to be marrying, but more believable than age 43 for a first marriage.

However, even allowing for these possibilities, it still doesn’t seem reasonable that Dayton Daniel Miller who died in 1849 in Montgomery County, Ohio and was born in 1765 is the oldest child of John Miller. That would mean that the next 10 children were born beginning in 1767 and continue being born until 1787. However, we know that all of John’s surviving children were of age by 1799. Therefore, Dayton Daniel simply cannot be the son of John.

It’s also possible that John’s son Daniel was not the eldest, but the children seem to be listed in order, twice – once in the will and once in the distribution.  Daniel is listed first in both documents. It’s typical for the eldest son to be the executor.

Therefore, for all these reasons, I don’t think it’s feasible that Daniel Miller of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania who was born in 1765 is the son of John Miller who died in 1794.

However, Dayton Daniel’s descendant matches the Y DNA of Johann Michael Miller. Furthermore, Dayton Daniel’s descendants match several of Johann Michael Miller’s proven descendants utilizing autosomal DNA, so he has to be related in a reasonable timeframe. Autosomal DNA becomes less and less likely to match with each passing generation beyond third cousins.

Other Candidates?

Our next best candidate as the father of Dayton Daniel is Michael Miller Jr. and/or Hans Michael Miller.

I did not track them forward in time, but other researchers have spent some time on this endeavor. It is reported that Hans Michael Miller lived in Franklin County, PA and what is now Mineral County, West Virginia, and had a will. He reportedly paid taxes in Antrim Township in Franklin County and New Creek, now in Mineral County, WV, according to the 1772 Frederick County Tax list. He was given money by Michael Miller to purchase land called Pleasant Gardens, which could be Garden’s Delight and Add Garden’s Delight on the 1772 tax list as well.  This information is detailed in the Michael Miller article.

Michael Miller could have had other sons that did not accompany him to Frederick County in about 1750 from York County, Pennsylvania, or who do not appear recognizably as his sons in the Frederick County records. Those sons would have been 20 or slightly older by the time that Michael left Pennsylvania and moved to Maryland. It’s certainly possible that one of Michael’s sons survived infancy, the voyage overseas and the frontier, married, and did not elect to move to yet another frontier – instead, remaining in York County or striking out on his own.  Possible, but not terribly likely.  There was safety and help in groups, especially for a small religious denomination who were known as “dissenters” and not terribly well liked because they would not defend themselves, or the neighborhood where they lived.  Brethren tended to stick together, moving in groups.  Young families would not be inclined to stay behind, especially not if the rest of the family moved on.

If Michael Miller’s son, Johann Michael Mueller, born in 1719 is the father of Dayton Daniel, he would have married sometime around 1740 and could still have been having children in 1765. It’s also possible that Dayton Daniel was the grandson of Johann Michael born in 1719, but to do so, both Johann Michael and his firstborn son would have bad to have married young.

DNA Findings

When Doug and I first realized we were cousins, and I mean via DNA, we didn’t know exactly how. Doug had always assumed that Dayton Daniel was indeed a descendant of Michael Miller, the immigrant. However, as the documentation surrounding Michael Miller’s life unfolded, we realized that we needed more information and documentation. Doug and I discovered additionally that we are also both descended through the Stephen Ulrich line, so Doug and I could have been matching through that line and not the Miller line. That’s when Doug reached out to Dayton Daniel’s Miller descendant, TM.

Unlike Doug, TM does not descend through the Ulrich line, so any of the known Michael Miller descendants that TM matches should be matching through the Miller line only.

michael-miller-autosomal-pedigree

TM’s matches are shown above, in red. Of course, he matches his second cousin, Doug, as expected. But aside from that, he matches four of Philip Jacob’s descendants, and none of Lodowich’s, as shown above and below on the chromosome browser.

tm-mtches

It’s exciting to think that the segment on chromosome 14 is shared by four of Michael Miller’s descendants. A piece of Michael or his wife that still exists today and is identifiable. That’s just amazing for a man and his wife who were born before 1700.

Is this Michael Miller or Susanna Berchtol’s DNA?

I have access to the kits that TM matches, and the DNA segments that match the other Miller descendants do triangulate, so we know for sure that these segments do indeed belong to the Miller line, descended from Michael Miller or his wife, Susannah Berchtol.  We can’t tell which, of course, without matching someone from another Miller, like Michael’s brother, or a Berchtol.  So now, we can simply say this matching DNA comes from this couple.

I know what you’re going to ask next? Did Michael have a brother that could have also immigrated and father’s children who, in turn, had Dayton Daniel in 1765?  Great question.

There is absolutely no evidence that Michael had a Miller brother who immigrated. In fact, according to the church records in Steinwinden, Germany, no other children born to Michael’s parents survived. Michael was the last child born before his father’s death.

Autosomal Messages

Let’s look at what the autosomal DNA suggests in terms of how closely related TM and these 4 matching individuals might be. The table below shows TM’s matches to the 4 Miller descendants, except for Doug.  We already know how TM and Doug are related.

Shared cM Longest block Segments >5cM *Estimated Relationship **Shared DNA Range ***Predicted Relationship Average DNA****
Barbara 98 27 5 6C 0-21 2-4C 2C1r-2C2r
Donald 87 29 4 6C 0-21 2-4C 2C2r
HAM 77 35 2 5C1r 0-41 2-4C 3C
Cheryl 57 29 3 6C 0-21 2-4C 3C1r

*Estimated relationship presumes (I know, bad word) that Dayton Daniel is Michael Miller, the immigrant’s grandson. Dayton Daniel cannot be Michael’s son, because Michael married a widow woman about his same age by 1754, after his wife died. In 1765, Michael would have been 73.

** Shared DNA Range is the range of the lowest and highest amounts of DNA found for the estimated relationship in the Shared cM Project.  In other words, this is how much DNA someone of that Estimated Relationship is found to share.  6th cousins share a range of 0-21 cM DNA, not 98cM like TM and Barbara share.

***Predicted Relationship is the relationship level predicted by Family Tree DNA based on the amount of shared DNA.

****Average DNA is the best fit from the chart I compiled in the article, “Concepts – Relationship Predictions” that combines information from several sources on the expected, actual average and ranges of DNA for each relationship type. The average DNA is taken from the column titled “Blaine’s Shared cM Average” which are results from a crowd sourced project indicating the actual amount of shared centiMorgans from various relationships.  In this case, the best fit for Barbara and TM would be between second cousins once removed (2C1r) and second cousins twice removed (2C2r).

Even though the average DNA suggests that these people are some flavor of second or third cousins, we know from the proven genealogy that these relationships cannot be in the second or third cousin range, because we know beyond a doubt that Dayton Daniel born in 1765 cannot be more closely related to Barbara, Donald, HAM and Cheryl than the nephew of Philip Jacob Miller, their common ancestor.  In fact, they cannot be related more closely than the 5th or 6th cousin level, as shown in the Estimated Relationship column.

Clearly, the amount of shared DNA exceeds the expected average for 6th cousins or 5th cousins once removed, significantly, for all 4 matches – comparing the value in the Shared cM column with the Shared DNA Range column. The amount of shared DNA also exceeds the maximum amount of shared cMs in the range, by at least double. In the case of Barbara and Donald, they exceed the maximum DNA for 6th cousins by 400%.  That’s not a slight deviation.   What could cause this?

There can be three possible causes for the amount of shared DNA to so dramatically exceed the maximum amount found for the estimated relationships.  I’ve listed these in the order of probability.

  • TM is related to Barbara, Donald, HAM and Cheryl through a secondary line. However, TMs mother is English and his paternal line is well researched back through Dayton Daniel. If TM and Barbara, Donald, HAM and Cheryl share more than one line, that occurred in or before Dayton Daniel’s father’s generation and Philip Jacob Miller’s generation. We do not know the surname of Philip Jacob Miller’s wife, Magdalena, nor have we identified the parents of Dayton Daniel. This shared secondary line is the most likely scenario for why TM shares so much DNA with Barbara, Donald, HAM and Cheryl.
  • For some reason, a very large amount of common DNA has been passed to TM and Philip Jacob Miller’s descendants. This is not one “sticky segment” but multiple segments, which makes this scenario less likely.
  • All 4 matches, meaning TM to Barbara, TM to Cheryl, TM to Donald and TM to HAM are extreme outliers in the relationship range shared centiMorgans. This is the least likely scenario and it would have had to have happened independently four different times.

If Philip Jacob Miller and the father of Dayton Daniel married women who were related, that would cause a higher amount of matching DNA in the descendants of both lines – but not to people the Lodowich line, which is exactly what we are seeing.

It’s also possible that in addition to being related to each other, both of their wives were also related to or descended from the Berchtol line, which would also drive up the shared amount of DNA in the descendants. We know during that timeframe it was not unusual for people to marry their first cousins and there were not a lot of Brethren brides to choose from on the frontier.

What Have We Learned?

This exercise has been very interesting and we have learned a number of things.

  • Via DNA and genealogy combined, we have probably confirmed that the immigrant Michael Miller did in fact have another son that survived and had offspring. Based on records alone, that son may be Michael Jr., or Hans Michael Miller. Additional genealogy work needs to be done to follow the records for these men from Frederick County, Maryland forward in time.
  • Via Y DNA, we know that Dayton Daniel does positively share a common ancestor with the descendants of Philip Jacob Miller and Lodowich Miller, both sons of Johann Michael Miller, the immigrant.
  • Via genealogy records, we have proven that Dayton Daniel cannot be the son of Philip Jacob Miller, Lodowich Miller or John Miller, the three proven sons of  Michael Miller, the immigrant.  All three of Michael Miller’s sons had sons named Daniel, but all three Daniels are accounted for and eliminated as being Dayton Daniel born in 1765 by other records.
  • Via autosomal DNA, we confirm that the relationship between TM and the Miller descendants he matches is in a genealogical timeframe, not back in Germany several generations. Due to the fact that Michael had no Miller siblings that survived, if the relationship was further back in time, it would have to be at least two generations before Michael Miller, the immigrant, making DNA matching between TM and Michael’s descendants unlikely at all, and certainly not at the level they match, as they would be at least 8th cousins.
  • Via autosomal DNA, we suspect that there may be a secondary matching line, and the best candidates for secondary lines would be Magdalena, the wife of Philip Jacob Miller along with the mother of Dayton Daniel.
  • Given the very high amount of shared DNA, more than double the expected maximum amount, it’s also suggestive that in addition to being related to each other, than the wives of Dayton Daniel’s mother and Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena Miller, may also have been related to Michael Miller and Susanna Berchtol. We know that Susanna Berchtol had relatives in York County. Michael Miller did not, except for his step or half-brother, Jacob Stutzman, whose will we have and who did not have a daughter Magdalena who married a Miller, nor another unknown daughter who also married a Miller.
  • Because of the Brethren Miller DNA Project, we have gathered together the descendants of several Brethren Miller lines which allows us to compare the Y and autosomal DNA and work together to solve this ongoing mystery.
  • Doug and I have now confirmed that we are related on both the Miller and Ulrich lines – and now perhaps a third mystery line as well.

As with all genealogy, every question answered produces several new ones. What a wonderful puzzle to unravel and how lucky we are to have DNA tools in our genealogy toolbox today!!!

Elizabeth Ulrich (c 1720 – 1758/1782), Not a Cripe, 52 Ancestors #134

Elizabeth Ulrich, the wife of Stephen Ulrich (Jr.), has been rumored as long as I’ve been researching this family to be a Cripe, supposedly the daughter of Jacob Cripe, but she isn’t.

Unfortunately, we don’t know much about Elizabeth, and most of what we do know, including her name, is because she signed deeds selling land with Stephen, her husband.  Thank goodness for that!

Assuming she was Stephen’s only wife, and he was her only husband, they were likely married about 1740 or so, very probably in York County, Pennsylvania where Stephen lived at the time.  Stephen’s father, Stephen Ulrich Sr. had purchased land there and Ulrich was a surname listed as a founder of the Brethren congregation there in 1738.  At that time, and for some time thereafter, the Brethren met in homes and barns and didn’t build church buildings.

There weren’t a lot of Brethren families in this area early.  Many German families were Lutheran and some were Mennonite.  Elizabeth was almost assuredly Brethren, or Stephen would have been unwelcome in the Brethren Church.  Her family could have been a sister religion, like Mennonite, but when she married Stephen she would have to have converted.  Two Mennonite families related to the Brethren Miller family, who also lived in the area, were Berchtol/Bechtol/Bechtel and Garver/Garber.

If Elizabeth’s family was Brethren, the Brethren families that we are aware of in York County that early, based on the “History of the Church of the Brethren in Southern District Pennsylvania,” are as follows:

  • Leatherman
  • Martin
  • Ulrich
  • Greib/Gripe/Cripe
  • Becker
  • Stutzman
  • Miller (may not have been there in 1738, but arrived shortly thereafter and was related to the Stutzman family)
  • Dierdorff
  • Bigler

Unfortunately, Morgan Edwards, writing in 1770 also added the phrase, “and others.”  Perhaps other Brethren family researchers will know some of those “other” surnames that were in York County before about 1745.

The Brethren men tended to stay out of the record books, out of court, and out of the deed offices.  They didn’t believe in obtaining marriage licenses, and often didn’t have wills.  The Brethren churches didn’t keep membership rosters or other types of minutes.  Brethren didn’t serve in the militias either, but thank Heavens they had to pay taxes because often, that’s our only record that they were living in a particular place and time – if the tax records survived.

Brethren did sometimes register deeds, and they had to have surveys for land grants, warrants and patents.  There was no choice in that matter.  However, Stephen’s surveys for his 1742 land warrants weren’t returned until 1800 and 1802, many years and several owners after his death.

We can presume, and that’s a dangerous word, that Stephen Ulrich was married or marrying in 1742 when he was granted land.  Single men typically didn’t set up housekeeping by themselves.

Our best resource would be a family Bible, but we don’t have one of those either.  If you’re thinking to yourself, Brethren research sure is difficult….yes it is!!!

Based on the fact that Stephen Ulrich, Jr., would sign his name in German script in 1773 when his close friend, Jacob Stutzman wrote his will in German, it’s unlikely that Stephen or Jacob spoke English, or if they did, it was minimal.  This also tells us unquestionably that Stephen’s wife was German as well, and the logic tells us that she was also Brethren, although there was an entire German settlement in York County.

According to the “History of the Church of the Brethren of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania,” in 1770, the Little Conewago Church had 52 families, and Edwards reports the entire Brethren population in all churches to be about 419 families.  By 1770, these should be second or third generation, so if you divide 419 by 5 (children per family) you would have 83 families 30 years earlier in 1735.  Of course, their children all married each other’s children.  If there were a total of 83 families in 1735 or so, or roughly 10 families per congregation, assuming no conversions between 1735 and 1770 and that all congregations were the same size.  Of course, the older churches were certainly larger, so perhaps the only Brethren families in Little Conewago were actually the families mentioned by Edwards.  Maybe there weren’t “others” or, at least, not many “others.”

Prior to 1742, according to Edwards on page 79 of the same book, there were only about 8 congregations, including the following:

cripe-churches-2

That means Elizabeth was likely the daughter of one of those early Brethren families, or maybe the daughter of one of the unnamed “others.”  Perhaps other Brethren researchers can add to the list of Brethren families in York County prior to 1745.  York County was Lancaster County prior to 1749.

The Elizabeth Cripe Confusion?

I do know where some of the confusion arises relative to Elizabeth being a Cripe.

Jacob Greib/Cripe was Elizabeth’s purported father and the only known Greib/Cripe in York County.  Jacob wrote his will in 1779 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, but it wasn’t probated until 1801.  His wife’s name was Elizabeth and in his will, he thankfully tells us that she was “born Ulrich.” Given Jacob’s age, his wife, Elizabeth would have had to have been the daughter of Stephen Ulrich Sr., and therefore the sister of Stephen Ulrich Jr. whose wife’s name was also Elizabeth.

So we do have Elizabeth Ulrich Cripe.  This family liaison also explains why Jacob Cripe moved to Frederick County, Maryland with or near Stephen Ulrich Jr. in the 1750s.

Jacob Cripe, several of Stephen Ulrich Jr’s children along with Stephen’s two brothers, John and Daniel Ulrich, moved on to Bedford County, Pennsylvania in the 1770s.

What Do We Know About Elizabeth’s Life?

If our Elizabeth was born about 1720, she was probably born overseas, most likely in Germany.  Elizabeth was assuredly German, based on the fact that the German’s didn’t speak English, so to communicate with Stephen, she would have been a German-speaker.

Stephen and Elizabeth probably married about 1742, the year Stephen Jr. bought land in York County.

Stephen’s land was probably located along Narrow Drive, along Indian Run where it intersects with the South Branch of Conewago Creek, according to Stephen’s deeds.

ulrich-york-land

While some of this land is beautifully groomed farmland today, other parts are still wooded and probably look much like they did when Stephen and Elizabeth lived here.  The photo above shows the land along Indian Creek, patented by Stephen Ulrich.  The tree line runs along the creek.

We do know that Elizabeth and Stephen’s land included part of the “Old Conestoga Road,” which is now Hanover Pike, shown below.

ulrich-york-land-2

Then, it would have been nothing more than a wagon trail, and probably only wide enough for one wagon.  There would have been ruts and they would have been mudholes when it rained.  Wouldn’t Elizabeth be surprised to see this land today.  And paved roads.  There weren’t such things in the 1740s.  Only paths and dirt.

We know that Elizabeth had son, David Ulrich, about 1746 while they lived in York County, but we don’t know if he was the first child born to Elizabeth and Stephen Ulrich.  They could have had a child or children that died earlier, or David could have been born earlier than 1746.  It would have been very unusual for a couple to marry in 1742 and not have a child until 1746.

Elizabeth’s son, Stephen the third, was born about 1750.  A 4-year gap between children strongly suggests that at least one child died.

In 1751, Elizabeth and Stephen moved from York County to Frederick County, Maryland, a move of about 50 or 60 miles nearly straight west.

ulrich-hanover-to-frederick

This move would have been made with the hope of escaping the conflict in York County surrounding land and the incessant bickering brought about by the “border war” between Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Daughter Christina was born about 1752 and eventually married Jacob, a son of their neighbor, Jacob Stutzman.

Samuel was born about 1754.

Elizabeth was born about 1755/1757 and she married Daniel Miller, son of Philip Jacob Miller who was about the same age as Stephen Ulrich and wife, Elizabeth. Philip Jacob’s father, Johann Michael Mueller/Miller was also one of the early Brethren settlers in York County.

There could have been another child born between Samuel and Elizabeth.

Mary was born about 1760.

There could have been a child between Elizabeth and Mary.

Hannah was born about 1762 and Lydia about 1764.

Given those birth dates, it’s possible that in about 20 years of child bearing, Elizabeth buried 3 or more children.

It’s actually surprising that they didn’t lose more children, considering the upheaval that surrounded them as they lived in the borderland between whites and Indians.

Not only were they living in a war zone in Pennsylvania – with the border being disputed by both Pennsylvania and Maryland for 30 years, but the ownership of their land was in question as well.

In York County, a murder occurred at their neighbor’s mill.  Stephen had a land grant from Pennsylvania, but a man named Digges had a Maryland land grant for that same area – and he tried to force the Germans who obtained Pennsylvania grants to surrender them to him, or at least repurchase their land. Needless to say, that didn’t go well.  Digges tried to force the miller to surrender his deed, and the miller’s son shot Digges son, Dudley, in the ensuing scuffle.  Danger and violence was ever present – a frightening prospect for a Brethren woman whose religion forbade even self-defense.

Finally, in 1751, the Ulrich family sold their land, packed up and headed for Frederick County with a few other Brethren families as well – namely Leatherman, Martin, Miller and Cripe.  The Brethren were converting other settlers as they went too – and Maryland was becoming a popular location for other German-speaking families because there were other Germans there.  When you don’t speak English, you need a German community.

It’s difficult for us to remember today that these people were at a distinct disadvantage, given that they did not speak English, nor would they have understood American customs well.  Letters written to the governor of Pennsylvania explained that these people, who spoke only German, didn’t understand the circumstances surrounding the land sales at Digges Choice and were being taken advantage of by Digges aggressions.  It didn’t help any, of course, that Digges was a slippery sheister and was very likely targeting the Germans who he felt were opportunistic targets.

The land Stephen and Elizabeth bought in Frederick County may or may not have had “improvements.”  Waggoner, the man they bought the land from sold two halves, and one of the two halves included the following:

One dwelling house 20 by 16 feet made of hewd logs and covered with lap shingles, a stone chimney, one dwelling house 27 by 22 feet of hewd logs and covered with lap shingles, plankd above and below, a stone chimney, a new barn of hewd logs covered with lap shingles, 49 feet by 27, 69 apple trees, 72 peach trees and 6 acres of cultivated land well fenced.

While a house 20 by 16 doesn’t sound very large by today’s standards, it was typical for the time.  Most cabins, even when referenced as the “mansion house,” were not very large.  But the barn, that’s another story indeed.  The husband would have been one very happy man with a barn more than twice the size of the house.  Dare I say he would have been in “hog heaven?”

In 1767, when Stephen and Elizabeth had their property resurveyed to include two new parcels into a homestead they would call Germania, there was only “a quarter acre cleared and 230 old fence posts.” That certainly doesn’t sound like there were many improvements, nor does it reflect “6 acres of cultivated land,” so apparently, Stephen Ulrich didn’t purchase the half with the two houses, peach and apple trees and cleared land.

If their land in 1767 had only one quarter acre cleared, how did they live and how had they lived since 1751?  Clearly, they weren’t farming the way we think of farming today.  If Stephen wasn’t clearing his land, what was he doing with it?  Did they only farm enough to provide food for the table?  How did they earn money for the rest of their needs?

More Issues and Warfare

I’m sure these families believed they had moved far enough south and west to avoid border issues, but ironically, when the Mason-Dixon line was completed in 1767, Stephen’s neighbor Jacob Stutzman’s land would straddle the Pennsylvania/Maryland border, and it’s probable that Stephen’s land did as well, given that a later deed for part of his land that was able to be accurately placed is located just north of the state line.

This picture, below, is take on Fort Loudon Road, which would have been the main and probably the only road at the time Stephen lived there. This land is just north of the Maryland/Pennsylvania border, looking east.  The land on the west side of the road is elevated and truly does begin the mountain range – so this land was literally at the foot of the mountains.  The land to the east is flat.  Perhaps this is what Elizabeth saw, if she could get high enough to see over the trees. Of course, not much was cleared at that time, so maybe all she saw was trees.  And behind the trees….Indians.

ulrich-maryland-pa-border

In 1755, Elizabeth’s life would have been turned upside-down.  When General Braddock was killed after marching his red-coasted soldiers through Frederick County on his way west, those same soldiers were soundly defeated.  The French and Indians saw that defeat as an opportunity to remove the settlers – and by remove, I don’t mean in a friendly way.  The Indians descended upon the settlers with tomahawks and torches, killing settlers and burning homesteads, and the people who would not defend themselves were easy pickings.  Elizabeth must have been terrified.

In 1755, Elizabeth had a 9 year old child, a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a baby.  She and Stephen packed the children, and probably as much as they could take with them, if anything at all, into a wagon and they evacuated – abandoning everything left behind to flames.

They were gone for at least three years.  The only clue we have as to where they went during that time is that in 1758, Stephen and Elizabeth sold land in York County, Pennsylvania from Baltimore County, Maryland.

The war officially ended in 1758, but the attacks didn’t stop at once, but slowly subsided over the next few years.  Taxes weren’t collected in Frederick County until 1762.  We know that at least some of the Brethren returned in 1761 – the Michael Miller family being one.

In 1761, Elizabeth and Stephen were back in Frederick County, rebuilding their home, and they also had at least one baby while they were gone – Elizabeth.  Depending on when they returned, Mary, born in about 1760, was probably born elsewhere as well.

Now Elizabeth is raising 6 children and living in conditions much like camping, minus the fun, while they rebuild their home and farm.  Elizabeth must have cooked over an open fire.  Perhaps they lived in their wagon during this process.  Or they may have lived with others as they rebuilt their homestead.  The Brethren, Mennonite and Amish were well known to have barn and house raisings, even yet when I was growing up 200+ years later.

By early 1761, Elizabeth and Stephen were selling land in York County, again, and they list their residence as Frederick County.  Furthermore, Jacob Stutzman who had bought land in York County from Stephen sells his land there and purchases the land next to Stephen in Frederick County. I wonder if Stephen and Elizabeth returned to York County and stayed with Jacob Stutzman for at least part of the time they were in exile.  Surely those two men welcomed each other’s presence back on the frontier in Frederick County when Jacob moved next door to Stephen in 1761.  Stephen named his land “Good Neighbor” and Jacob named his “Good Luck.”

Hannah, Jacob’s wife would have been good company to Elizabeth as well.  We do know that there were other Brethren in the area, but the Miller family was located further east by at least 5 miles and possibly more – near present day Mauganstown.  The Leatherman and Martin families lived in the area too, but I don’t know where.  Jacob Cripe lived near Stephen Ulrich, as did Daniel and John Ulrich, brothers of Stephen Jr.

As the rhythmic cycle of planting and harvesting resumed after their return in 1761, and some semblance of normalcy returned, it would be short lived.

Just two years later, in 1763, the families had to evacuate again when Pontiac’s Rebellion reached Frederick County.  Reports were that the attacks were even worse than they had been in 1755.  Elizabeth must have been heartsick.  After all, they had just rebuilt and they had to leave the farm to flames once again.

By this time, Elizabeth had born another child, about 1762, and was probably pregnant  again for Lydia who was born about 1764, most likely while the family was once again in refuge elsewhere.

Elizabeth was most assuredly tired.  Tired from taking care of 8 children, tired of burying children, tired of evacuating and living someplace not her home.  Tired of fearing for her life, and the lives of her children, and tired of fleeing in terror.  She would have been tired of her home burning – and it assuredly burned twice from warfare – and that’s assuming it never burned any other time.  Many cabins did.

We know that Elizabeth and Stephen were back in Frederick County by 1766, because Stephen sells land then.  However, Elizabeth does not sign or release her dower, nor does she sign in 1768 when Stephen sells additional land.

It’s tempting to think that perhaps Elizabeth just didn’t sign for some reason, but given the history of Elizabeth signing deeds, that’s unlikely.

The following deed history is extracted from the Stephen Ulrich Jr. article as well as from Dan Olds work.  Unfortunately, sometimes our knowledge of early deeds comes from later deeds that reference unrecorded earlier deeds.  From their reports, Elizabeth signed every deed until 1761, although I am uncertain about 1755.  I feel that all of these deeds actually need to be verified against the original records.

  • 1753 – To Lodowich Miller, son of Johann Michael Miller
  • 1754 – To Lodewick Miller
  • 1754 – To Daniel Ulrich
  • 1755
  • 1758 – Sold land in York County
  • 1761 – Sold to George Wine, probably related to Michael Wine who would marry Lodowich Miller’s daughter. This transcribed record does not show Elizabeth signing. The original record should be checked.  If Elizabeth had children in approximately 1762 and 1764, she was clearly alive in 1761. Since we don’t know the exact birth years of Elizabeth’s last two children, it’s possible that both were born in or before 1761, and Elizabeth had died by the time the deed was signed.
  • 1766 – multiple deeds, none of which include Elizabeth.

We don’t know that Elizabeth didn’t die while they were in exile, and we don’t know that she wasn’t killed.  The commentary from contemporaneous writers was that nearly all families lost someone in the depredations.

In 1766, Stephen Ulrich and Nicholas Martin sold their tract of land that they had patented in 1761, in several pieces, giving Elizabeth several opportunities to sign…but Elizabeth did not seem to be present.  Ironically, they deeded part of the land to another Elizabeth Ulrich, thought to be the sister of Stephen Ulrich Jr.  Is it any wonder that Elizabeth Ulrich, Stephen’s wife, is so confusing and so often confused with other people?

By the way, Nicholas Martin is also rumored to be married to Elizabeth Ulrich, the daughter of Stephen Ulrich Sr., but since the Elizabeth Ulrich who received the 1766 deed married Jacob Snively, who sells that same land two years later, Nicholas Martin certainly can’t be married to her at this time.

If Stephen Ulrich’s wife, Elizabeth, died sometime between about 1764 and 1766, she may well have died in exile, leaving Stephen with children ages 19, 15, 14, 11, 9, 7, 5, 3 and a newborn.

Stephen did not remarry until 1782, to Hannah Stutzman.  How did he raise those children from roughly 1765 to 1782? By 1782, the children would all have been on their own, except for perhaps the very youngest who would have been about 18.  Did he marry between Elizabeth and Hannah?  Or did Elizabeth not die in 1765 or so, and simply fail to sign all of those deeds?

Elizabeth would have been about 45 when she died, assuming she died about 1765 – not old by any measure.  I cannot help but wonder if she died giving birth to a final child, who also died.

If in fact Elizabeth did not die in 1765, but simply stopped signing deeds, for some reason, she was assuredly gone by 1782 when Stephen Ulrich remarried to Hannah Stutzman, Jacob Stutzman’s widow.  In 1782, Elizabeth would have been about 62 – still not elderly.  So we can say with certainty she died between 1758 when she positively signed a deed and 1782 when Stephen remarried.

I wonder if Elizabeth is buried in Frederick County or if she died and was buried while the family was gone?  Did she die in the wagon along the road?  Did she die in childbirth?  Did she succumb to Indian raids?  It’s unusual that there are absolutely no stories about an early death and what happened to the children.  But by the same token, there were absolutely no stories about the Indian raids forcing the residents to remove, twice, and their homesteads burning either.

Did Stephen and the children ride home in that wagon alone – ending their exile.  It would have been a long, joyless, silent ride, punctuated only by the clip-clop of horse hooves as they propelled the family ever closer to home – or what had once been home.

How did the family feel to finally arrive where their home had been to only find charred rubble?  Did they pull up in front of where they had once lived and sit in silence looking at the shadow of what had once been, and now lay before their eyes in ruins?  If Elizabeth was gone, how were they going to survive without a mother?  Their home was gone and their mother was gone.  How could life get any worse?  They must have sat in that wagon feeling utterly dejected, staring at their former home, gone up in smoke and taking with it their hopes and dreams.  Now there were only charred remains, perhaps with weeds and vines growing in the cracks, returning to nature.  Not only did they have to rebuild their homestead, they had to rebuild their lives.  How did they do that?

Fortunately, they had other Brethren families to help them and provide moral support too.  Assuredly, someone helped Stephen with the younger children.  As the older children married, perhaps they took the younger ones under their wing.  Stephen physically could not watch young children and work in the barn and fields.

Elizabeth Was Not Jacob Cripe’s Daughter

The final nail in the coffin that proves that Elizabeth was not the daughter of Jacob Cripe is found in Jacob Cripe’s will, written in 1779 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  Marian Corya was kind enough to provide me with this transcribed copy:

Will of Jacob Gripe (1801), Huntingdon County Will Book 1: 195, Huntingdon County Historical Society, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.

Last Will & Testament of Jacob Gripe Deceased

June 4th 1779

As I live and not know how long and must Die and not know how soon so is this my Will after my decease. My Son Jacob shall have Three hundred Pounds in all in Money of the Piece of Land which I bought in Frankstown he shall have One hundred and fifty Acres where he used to live and it shall be paid out of the Three hundred Pounds and the Remainder of that mentioned Money he shall have from that Money arising of that sold place.

The two Daughters of my Daughter Elizabeth shall have One hundred Acres in Frankstown where their Mother used to live and they shall pay for the Land Thirty Pounds, their Mother & Stepfather shall live unmolested on the Land during their Natural Life and after their Decease the two Daughters of the Elizabeth shall have it free if the thirty Pounds are paid.

Christian Shively shall have Two hundred Acres where he used to live, whereof he shall pay One hundred and fifty Acres.

John Wise shall have One hundred and fifty Acres whereof he shall pay One hundred Acres.

My Daughter Catharine shall have my hundred Acres where John used to live but she must live herself on the Land and shall give to Easter Thirty Pounds.

My Son Daniel shall have One hundred Acres where he used to live and shall give to Easter Thirty Pounds.

My Daughter Hanna shall have One hundred Acres adjoining Daniel and shall pay to Easter Thirty Pounds.

The remainder of the Land shall have my Son Samuel and shall pay to Easter Thirty Pounds.

And my Wife Elizabeth a born Ulrich shall have the right to one half of Samuels Land during her Natural Life for her own Use and Benefit with the House, Garden, Meadows and Improved Land to have it at her own Discretion, further she shall have, One Mare and all the House furniture and the Horn’d Cattle Samuel shall have the Horses, Cooper Tools, Plough, Hoes and Axes and that such shall be kept and done shall my Wife a born Ulrich with her Son Samuel have the Right as Guardian in my Name to give the others Titles according to the Rule of the Country, And herewith all under the Commands of God.

                                                                                                Jacob Gripe

As you can see from this will, Jacob did indeed have a daughter Elizabeth who was clearly living in 1779, and living in Frankstown which is either in Bedford County or the adjacent county.  Furthermore, Elizabeth, the wife of Stephen Ulrich Jr. had 5 daughters, not three, and Elizabeth and Stephen Ulrich never lived in Bedford County.

Elizabeth and Stephen’s first two children were males, as was the fourth.  The third and fifth children were daughters.  The fifth child was Elizabeth who married Daniel Miller.  All of Stephen and Elizabeth’s children mentioned above were accounted for when they sold Stephen’s land in 1785, after his death.  In fact, that’s how we know who his children were and who they married.

Lastly, there is nothing to indicate that Stephen’s wife, Elizabeth, was married twice, but Jacob Cripe in his 1779 will clearly refers to the step-father of the two daughters.  If Stephen’s wife, Elizabeth, was still alive in 1779, she was living in Washington County (formerly Frederick County,) Maryland, not Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  Stephen and Elizabeth never moved to Bedford County.

We can’t say unequivocally that Elizabeth was dead by 1779, but given that she stopped signing deeds, it’s likely.  We know positively, however, that she is gone by 1782 when Stephen remarries and we know that Elizabeth, Stephen’s wife, never lived in Frankstown.

And so ends the myth that Stephen’s wife,  Elizabeth Ulrich, was Jacob Cripe’s daughter.

The challenge here, of course, is that we know who Elizabeth Ulrich isn’t, but we don’t know who she is!

Pure Speculation

Given that most of Stephen Ulrich’s land sales of Germania (later resurveyed as Good Neighbor) were to either Ulrich family members or people in or related to the Miller family, I have always wondered if Elizabeth was a daughter of Johann Michael Miller.  Jacob Stutzman was either Michael Miller’s step-brother of half-brother.  Regardless of the exact relationship, Michael was very close to Jacob, and the two men immigrated together.  Lodowich Miller was Michael’s son.  There is no way to know if Elizabeth was Michael Miller’s daughter, unless Stephen Ulrich’s Bible, or Michael Miller’s Bible shows up on e-bay one day.  Keep in mind that the Bibles of both of these men, unless they managed to be put inside the wagons when evacuating, probably burned when their homes burned in 1755 and 1763.

Again, this is simply thinking out loud and trying to put puzzle pieces together.  Please do NOT list Elizabeth as Michael’s daughter in any trees due to this speculation.  I’m simply hoping that perhaps this line of thought could lead to additional research or a discovery by another researcher down the road as other records become available.

Can Mitochondrial DNA Help?

Mitochondrial DNA is passed intact from a mother to all of her children, but only daughters pass it on.  Fortunately, it’s not admixed with any DNA from the father, so many generations later, it stays the same, except for an occasional mutation.  That means that if Elizabeth is the daughter of Suzanna Berchtol and Michael Miller, her mitochondrial DNA would match exactly to other women who share the same common ancestor.

Michael Miller and his wife, Suzanna Agnes Berchtol, had no proven daughters, so to be able to utilize mitochondrial DNA, which Elizabeth would have inherited from her mother, we need to reach back to Suzanna Berchtol’s sisters in Germany.

To see if Elizabeth’s descendants match Suzanne Berchtol’s mitochondrial DNA, we would have to find a descendant of the sisters of Suzanna Agnes Berchtol, descended through all females to the current generation, where the descendant could be male or female.  Suzanna Berchtol did have two sisters, according to baptismal records in Germany, Barbel (Barbara) born in 1693 and Ursula born about 1696.  We don’t know for sure if these women lived or married, so there may be no descendants today, but hopefully there are.

To prove that Elizabeth is Michael Miller and Suzanna Berchtol’s daughter, or not, we would also need an individual descended from Elizabeth through all females, to the current generation, which can be male or female.

berchtol-miller-mtdna

If Elizabeth is the daughter of Suzanna, the mitochondrial DNA of anyone descended from her through all daughters will match the mitochondrial DNA of anyone descended through all daughters from either Barbel (Barbara) born in 1693 or Ursula born in 1696.

If a descendant of each line tests, and they don’t match (except for perhaps a mutation), then we know that Elizabeth was not the daughter of Suzanna Berchtol Miller, and we can look at the oldest ancestors of other people Elizabeth’s descendant matches to see if any of those matches come from Brethren families.

Fortunately, Elizabeth had 5 daughters who could have had daughters, highlighted below…on down the line to living descendants today.

Elizabeth Ulrich’s children were:

  • David Ulrich born about 1746 and died in 1823, married Barbara and had 7 children. They lived in Montgomery County, Ohio.
  • Stephen Ullery born about 1750 and died in 1835. He married Susan Rench and they lived in Morrison’s Cove in Bedford County, PA and then in Montgomery County, Ohio.
  • Christina Ulrich born about 1752 and died about 1810. She married Jacob Stutzman (Jr.) who later became her step-brother when their widowed parents married. They eventually moved to Montgomery County, Ohio.
  • Samuel Ulrich born about 1754 and died in 1822. He married Mary Brumbaugh and they lived in Bedford County, PA.
  • Elizabeth Ulrich born about 1757 and died in 1832. She married Daniel Miller and they moved first to Bedford County, PA, then to Clermont County Ohio, then to Montgomery County, Ohio.
  • Mary Ulrich born about 1760 and died about 1842. She married George Butterbaugh and they lived in Bedford County, PA.
  • Hannah Ulrich born about 1762 and died in 1798. She married Henry Butterbaugh and they lived in Washington County, Maryland.
  • Lydia Ulrich born about 1764 and died about 1810. She married Jacob Lear, Jr and they lived in Cambria County, PA.

I have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone who descends from either Barbara or Ursula Berchtol, the sisters of Suzanna Agnes BerchtolI in the manner described above, through all females to the current generation which can be male or female.

I also have a DNA testing scholarship for anyone descending from Elizabeth, wife of Stephen Ulrich, through all females to the current generation, which can also be male or female.

Why Can’t Autosomal DNA Solve this Riddle – At Least Not Today?

Many times autosomal DNA can help identify families and parents, but in this case, it’s unlikely.  Why?

To begin with, Elizabeth Ulrich is 7 generations back in time from me.  That’s a long time, genetically speaking.  Autosomal DNA is divided approximately in half in each generation, so I could only expect to carry less than 1% of Elizabeth’s autosomal DNA.

ulrich-direct-line

This doesn’t mean that I can’t match people who also descend from this couple, because I can and do, but it means that I’m unlikely to be able to tell with a combination of both DNA and genealogy who Elizabeth’s parents are.  Obviously, in this case, the genealogy is entirely missing, so we have to rely entirely on DNA.

Also making this even more difficult is that I have one other wife with an unknown surname in this same family grouping, from about the same time and place.

ulrich-unknown-females

Philip Jacob Miller’s wife’s name was Magdalena.  Philip Jacob married Magdalena about 1751, also probably in York County, or possibly in Frederick County, Maryland.  She too would have been Brethren.  Clearly, both Elizabeth and Magdalena could have been from any of the other Brethren families, and they could also have been related to each other, or any number of other Brethren families.  In other words, it’s not impossible or even unlikely that they shared some DNA, then.  The Brethren lines continued to intermarry, and many Brethren carry the DNA of these early founders.  The only family lines we can eliminate, positively, as Elizabeth’s (or Magdalena’s) parents would be Jacob Cripe, Stephen Ulrich Jr. and Sr. and Jacob Stutzman whose will was probated in 1776 and lists his children.  Aside from that, all Brethren families are candidates.

Therefore, if I did receive a “Brethren” match from a line whose genealogy was complete, with no unknown ancestors, and who did not descend from either the Miller, Stutzman or Ulrich lines, I would not be able to tell if the match was from Magdalena’s line or Elizabeth’s line – because I carry DNA from both of those women.  Furthermore, I don’t know if there are any lines out of this area that have not intermarried by this time.  The Brethren moved together, intermarried and founded churches together, for generations, and can still be found living adjacent today.

Still it’s fun to see who I match that is descended from Stephen and Elizabeth Ulrich.  If you descend from these families and have taken an autosomal DNA test, please do let me know.  We might share a segment of Stephen and Elizabeth’s DNA.  I share segments of DNA with other descendants of Stephen and Elizabeth through four of their daughters and one son.

My mother, who is one generation closer than me is at Family Tree DNA under the name of Barbara Jean Ferverda and her kit number at GedMatch is T167724.  She isn’t at Ancestry, because she passed away before Ancestry began autosomal testing, but I’ve tested at Ancestry.

In Summary

I hope that one day we can resolve the question of who Elizabeth’s parents were.  That resolution could happen because of DNA testing, or it could happen as more records become available and indexed at genealogy sites, or some combination of both. Even today, if other Brethren researchers can eliminate a few more York County families as candidates by providing the names of their children, or add some additional Brethren families known to be in York County before 1745, that would be most helpful.

Regardless, of who Elizabeth’s parents were, she was clearly one very brave lady, facing the trepidations of warfare from the time she married in the early 1740s until the mid-1760s.  That could have been her entire adult life, depending on when she died.  I hope that she lived longer than we think.  I so want her to be able to see her children grown to adulthood – to cry at their weddings – and to be able to hold her grandchildren.

I want her to be able to sit in a rocking chair on her porch, overlooking the vistas in the distance, without fear, telling stories from “long ago” to wide-eyed grandchildren about living in the wagon when the Indians came, cooking in a pot over a fire under the starlight when they returned and building houses in the woods where no settlers had lived before.  I want her to be able to pluck peaches and pears and apples from the trees she and Stephen would have planted when they returned in 1766 and bake pies when her grandchildren come to visit.  I so want Elizabeth to have had some good years.

Concepts – Managing Autosomal DNA Matches – Step 2 – Updating Match Spreadsheets, Bucketed Family Finder Matches and Pileups

We’re going to do three things in this article.

  1. Updating Your DNA Master Spreadsheet With New Matches
  2. Labeling Known Pileup Areas
  3. Utilizing Phased Family Finder Matches

You must do item one above, before you can do item three…just in case you are thinking about taking a “shortcut” and jumping to three. Word to the wise. Don’t.

OK, let’s get started! I promise, after we get the housework done, you’ll have a LOT of fun! Well, fun for a genetic genealogist anyway!

Updating Your Chromosome Browser Spreadsheet

If you haven’t updated your chromosome browser spreadsheet at Family Tree DNA since you originally downloaded your matches, it’s time to do that. You need to do this update so that your DNA Master Spreadsheet is in sync with your current matches before you can add the Family Finder bucketed matches to your master spreadsheet. Just trust me on this and understand that I found out the hard way. You don’t have to traipse through that same mud puddle because I already did and I’m warning you not to.

Let’s get started updating our DNA Master spreadsheet with our latest matches.  It’s a multi-step process and you’re going to be working with three different files:

  • File 1 – Your DNA Master Matches spreadsheet that you have created. This is the file you will be updating with information from the other two files, below.
  • File 2 – A current download of all of your chromosome browser file matches.
  • File 3 – A current download of a list of your matches.

The steps you will take, are as follows:

  1. Download a new Chromosome Browser Spreadsheet, but DO NOT overwrite your existing DNA Master spreadsheet, or you’ll be swearing, guaranteed. This chromosome browser spreadsheet is downloaded from the Family Finder chromosome browser page. Label it with a date and save it as an Excel file.
  2. Download a new Matches spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is downloaded from the bottom of your matches page. Label it with the same date and save it as an Excel file too.
  3. Update your Master DNA Matches spreadsheet utilizing the instructions provided below.

If you need a refresher about downloading spreadsheet information from Family Tree DNA, click here.

Your Matches spreadsheet will include a column labeled “Match Date.”

concepts2-match-date

On your Matches spreadsheet, sort the Match Date column in reverse order (sort Z to A) and print the list of matches that occurred since your last update date – meaning the date you last updated your DNA Master Spreadsheet.

If you need a refresher about how to sort spreadsheets, click here.

concepts2-match-list

This list will be your “picklist” from the new chromosome browser match spreadsheet you downloaded. I removed the middle and last names the matches, above, to protect their privacy, but you’ll have their full name to work with.

After your spreadsheet is sorted by match date, with the most current date at the top, you’ll have a list of the most recent matches, meaning those that happened since your last file download/update. Remember, I told you to record on a secondary page in your DNA Master Spreadsheet the history of the file, including the date you do things? This is why.  You need to know when you last downloaded your matches so that you don’t duplicate existing matches in your spreadsheet.

Why don’t you just want to download a new spreadsheet and start over?

concepts2-headers

Remember the color coding and those pink columns we’ve been adding, at right, above, so you can indicate which side that match is from, if the segment is triangulated, how you are related, the most recent common ancestor, the ancestral line, and other notes? If you overwrite your current DNA Master spreadsheet, all of that research information will be gone and you’ll have to start over. So as inconvenient as it is, you’ll need to go to the trouble of adding only your new matches to your DNA Master spreadsheet and only add new matches.

Utilizing the new Chromosome Browser match spreadsheet, you are going to scroll down (or Ctl+F) and find the names of the people you want to add to your master spreadsheet. Those are the people on your Matches spreadsheet whose test date is since you last downloaded the chromosome browser information.

When you find the person’s name (Amy in this example) on the Chromosome Browser Match spreadsheet, highlight the cells and right click to copy the contents of those cells so that you can paste them at the bottom of your DNA Master Spreadsheet.

concepts2-pick-list

Next, open your Master DNA Spreadsheet, and right click to paste the cells at the very bottom of the spreadsheet, positioning the cursor in the first cell of the first row where you want to paste, shown below.

concepts2-paste

Then click on Paste to paste the cells.

concepts2-paste-position

Repeat this process for every new match, copy/pasting all of their information into your DNA Master Spreadsheet.  I try to remember to do this about once a month.

Housekeeping note – If you’re wondering why some graphics in this article are the spreadsheet itself, and some are pictures of my screen (taken with my handy iPhone,) like the example above, it’s because when you do a screen capture, the screen capture action removes the drop down box that I want you to see in the pictures above. Yes, I know these pictures aren’t wonderful – but they are sufficient for you to see what I’m doing and that’s the goal.

Combined Spreadsheets

In my case, if you recall, I have a combined master spreadsheet with my matches and my mother’s matches in one spreadsheet. You may have this same situation with parents and grandparents or your full siblings if your parents are missing.

You will need to repeat this process for each family member whose entire match list resides in your DNA Master spreadsheet.

I know, I groaned too. And just in case you’re wondering, I’ve commenced begging at Family Tree DNA for a download by date function – but apparently I did not commence begging soon enough, because as of the date of this article, it hasn’t happened yet – although I’m hopeful, very hopeful.

After your spreadsheet is updated, we have a short one-time housekeeping assignment, then we’ll move on to something much more fun.

Known Pileup Regions

I want you to add the following segments into your DNA Master spreadsheet. These are known pileup regions in the human genome, also known as excess IBD (identical by descent) regions. This means that you may well phase against your parents, but the match is not necessarily genealogical in nature, because many individuals match in these areas, by virtue of being human. Having said that, close relationships may match you in these regions. Hopefully they will also match you in other regions as well, because it’s very difficult to tell if matches in these regions are by virtue of descent genealogically or because so many people match in these regions by virtue of being human.

concepts2-known-pileup-regions

You can color code these rows in your spreadsheet so you will notice them.  If you do, be sure to use a color that you’re not using for something else.

I have used several sources for this information, including the ISOGG wiki phasing page and Sue Griffith’s great Genealogy Junkie blog article titled Chromosome Maps Showing Centromeres, Excess IBD Regions and HLA Region. The HLA region on chromosome 6 is the most pronounced. Tim Janzen states that he has seen as many as 2000 SNP segments in this region that are identical by population, or at least they do not appear to be identical by descent, meaning he cannot find the common ancestor. His personal HLA region boundaries are a bit larger too, from 25,000,000 to 35,000,000. Regardless of the exact boundaries that you use, be aware of this very “matchy” region when you are evaluating your matches.  This is exactly why you’re entering these into your DNA Master spreadsheet – so you don’t have to “remember.”.

By the way, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch use Build 36, but eventually they will move to Build 37 of the human genome, so you might as well enter this information now so it will be there when you need it. If your next question is about how that transition will be handled, the answer is that I don’t know, and we will deal with it at that time.

I do not enter the SNP poor regions, because Family Tree DNA does not utilize those regions at all, and they are the greyed out regions of your chromosome map, shown below.

concepts2-snp-poor-regions

On my own spreadsheet, I have a few other things too.

I have indicated chromosomal regions where I carry minority ancestry.  For both my mother and me, chromosome 2 has significant Native admixture.  This Native heritage is also confirmed by mitochondrial and Y DNA tests on relevant family members.

concepts2-native-segments

If you carry any Native American or other minority admixture, where minority is defined as not your majority ethnicity, as determined by any of the testing companies, you can utilize GedMatch ethnicity tools to isolate the segments where your specific admixture occurs. I described how to do this here as part of The Autosomal Me series. I would suggest that you use multiple tools and look for areas that consistently show with that same minority admixture in all or at least most of the tools. Note that some tools are focused towards a specific ethnicity and omit others, so avoid those tools if the ethnicity you seek is not in line with the goals of that specific tool.

Ok, now that our housekeeping is done, we can have fun.

Adding Phased Family Finder Matches to your Spreadsheet

I love the new Family Tree DNA phased Family Finder matches that assign maternal or paternal “sides” to matches based on your matches to either a parent or close relative. If you would like a refresher on parental phasing, click here.

We’re going to utilize that Match spreadsheet you just downloaded once again.

In this case, we’re going to do something a bit different.

This time, we’re going to sort by the last column, “Matching Bucket.” (Please note you can enlarge any image by clicking or double clicking on it.)

concepts2-match-bucket

When you’re done sorting the “Matching Bucket” column , you will have four groups of matches, as follows:

  • Both
  • Maternal
  • N/A
  • Paternal

I delete the N/A rows, which means “not applicable” – in other words, the match did not meet the criterial to be assigned to a “side.” You can read about the criteria for phased Family Finder matches here and here. If you don’t want to delete these rows, you can just ignore them.

The next thing I do is to add a column before the first column on the spreadsheet, so before “Full Name.”

In this case, you can highlight either the entire column or just the column heading, and right click to insert an entire column to the left.

concepts2-insert-column

If these are your matches, add your name in the “Who” column. If these are your parents’ or full siblings’ matches, add their names in this column. When you have a combined spreadsheet, it’s critical to know whose matches are whose.

Then select colors for the maternal, paternal and both buckets, and color the rows on your spreadsheet accordingly.

I use pink and blue, appropriately, but not exactly the same pink and blue I use for the mother and father spreadsheet rows in my DNA Master spreadsheet. I used a slightly darker pink and slightly darker blue so I can see the difference at a glance. The yellow, or gold in this case, indicates a match to both sides.

concepts2-bucket-colors

You’re only going to actually utilize the first two columns of information.

Highlight and copy the first two columns, without the header, as shown below.

concepts2-bucket-columns

Then open your master spreadsheet and paste this information at the very bottom of your spreadsheet in the first two columns.

concepts2-bucket-paste

After the paste, your spreadsheet will look like this.

concepts2-bucket-rows

Next, sort your spreadsheet by match name, this case, RVH is the match (white row).

concepts2-bucket-match-sort

Be still my heart. Look what happens. By color, you can see who matches you on which sides, for those who are assigned to parental buckets.  Now my white RVH match row is accompanied by a gold row as well telling me that RVH matches me on both my maternal and paternal sides.

Let’s look at another example. In the case of Cheryl, she is my mother’s first cousin. Since I have combined both my mother’s and my spreadsheets, you can see that Cheryl matches both me and my mother on chromosome 19 and 20 below. Mother’s match rows are pink and my rows are white.

concepts2-bucket-match-maternal

In this example, you can see that indeed, Cheryl is assigned on my maternal side by Family Tree DNA, based on the dark pink match row that we just added. Indeed, by looking at the spreadsheet itself, you can confirm that Cheryl is a match on my mother’s side. I am only showing chromosome 19 and 20 as examples, but we match on several different locations.

I don’t have as many paternal side matches, because my father is not in the system, but I do have several cousins to phase against.

concepts2-bucket-match-paternal

Here’s my cousin, Buster, assigned paternally, which is accurate. In Buster’s case, I already have him assigned on my Dad’s side, but if I hadn’t already made this assignment, I could make that with confidence now, based on Family Tree DNA’s assignment.  The blessing here is that the usefulness of Buster’s assignment paternally doesn’t end there, but his results, and mine, together will be used to assign other matches to buckets as well.  Cousin matching is the gift that keeps on giving.

Because my DNA Master spreadsheet includes my mother’s information as well, we need to add her phased Family Finder matches too.

Mother’s Family Finder Matches

Because I have my mother’s and my results combined into one DNA Master spreadsheet, I repeat the same process for my mother, except I type her name in the first column I added with the title of “Who.”

concepts2-mother

Continue with the same “Adding Phased Family Finder Matches” instructions above, and when you are finished, you will have a Master DNA Spreadsheet that includes your information, your parent’s information, and anyone who is phased for either of you maternally, paternally or to both sides will be noted in your spreadsheet by match and color coded as well.

Let’s take a look at cousin Cheryl’s matches to both mother and I on our spreadsheet now with our maternal and paternal buckets assigned.

concepts2-cheryl-to-mother

As you can see, my results are the white row, and my Family Finder phased matches indicate that Cheryl is a match on my mother’s side, which is accurate.

Looking at my mother, Barbara’s matches, the pink rows, and then at Barbara’s Family Finder phased match information, it shows us that Cheryl matches mother on the blue, or paternal side, which is also accurate, per the pedigree chart below.

Margaret Lentz chart

You can see that Barbara and Cheryl are in the same generation, first cousins, and Barbara matches Cheryl on her paternal line which is reflected in the Family Finder bucketing.

I have updated the “Side” column to reflect the Family Finder bucketing information, although in this case, I already had the sides assigned based on previous family knowledge.

concepts2-bucket-matching-blended

In this example of viewing my mother and my combined spreadsheet matches, you are seeing the following information:

  • Cheryl matches me – white rows
  • Cheryl matches me on my maternal side – dark pink row imported from Match spreadsheet
  • Cheryl matches mother (Barbara) – light pink rows
  • Cheryl matches mother on her father’s side – blue row imported from Match spreadsheet

I find this combined spreadsheet with the color coding very visual and easy to follow.  Better yet, when other people match mother, Cheryl and I on this same segment, they fall right into this grouping on my DNA Master spreadsheet, so the relationship is impossible to miss.  That’s the beauty of a combined spreadsheet.

You can do a combined spreadsheet with individuals whose DNA is “yours” and they don’t share DNA with anyone that you don’t. Those individuals would be:

  • Either or both parents
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and Uncles
  • Full siblings
  • Great-aunts and great-uncles

Why not half siblings or half aunts-uncles? Those people have DNA from someone who is not your ancestor. In other words, your half siblings have the DNA from only one of your parents, and you don’t want their matches from their other parent in your spreadsheet. You only want matches that positively descend from your ancestors.

While your grandparents, great-aunts, great-uncles, parents, aunts and uncles will have matches that you don’t, those matches may be critically important to you, because they have DNA from your ancestors that you didn’t inherit. So your combined DNA Master spreadsheet represents your DNA and the DNA of your ancestors found in your relatives who descend directly ONLY from your ancestors. Those relatives have DNA from your ancestors that has washed out by the time it gets to you.

Why can’t your cousins be included in your DNA Master spreadsheet?

I want you to take a minute and think about the answer to this question.

Thinking…..thinking….thinking…. (can you hear the Jeopardy music?)

And the answer is….

If you answered, “Because my aunt or uncle married someone with whom they had children, so my cousins have DNA that is not from an ancestor of mine,” you would be exactly right!!!

The great news is that between a combined spreadsheet and the new Family Finder bucketed matches, you can determine a huge amount about your matches.

After discovering which matches are bucketed, you can then use the other tools at Family Tree DNA, like “in common with” to see who else matches you and your match. The difference between bucketing and ICW is that bucketing means that you match that person (and one of your proven relatives who has DNA tested) on the same segment(s) above the 9cM bucketing threshold.  You can still match on the same segments, but not be reported as a bucketed match because the segments fall below the threshold.  “In common with” means that you both match someone else, but not necessarily on the same segments.

Here’s a nice article about utilizing the 9 tools provided by Family Tree DNA for autosomal matching.

The Beauty of the Beast

The absolutely wonderful aspect of phased Family Finder Matching is that while you do need to know some third cousins or closer, and the more the better, who have DNA tested, you do NOT need access to their family information, their tree or the DNA of your matches. If your matches provide that information, that’s wonderful, but your DNA plus that of your known relatives linked to your tree is doing the heavy lifting for you.

How well does this really work? Let’s take a look and see.

On the chart below, I’ve “bucketed” my information (pardon the pun.) Keep in mind that I do have my mother’s autosomal DNA, but not my fathers. His side is represented by 8 more distant relatives, the closest of which are my half-sister’s granddaughter and my father’s brother’s granddaughter – both of which are the genetic equivalent of 1st cousins once removed. My mother’s side is represented by mother and two first cousins.

Total Matches Maternal Side Bucket Paternal Side Bucket Both Sides Bucket Percent Assigned
Mother 865 13 106 2 14
Me 1585 356 361 3 23

Mother has the above 106 paternal bucketed matches without me doing anything at all except linking the DNA tests of mother to her two first cousins in her tree.  In my case, the combination of mother’s DNA and her two first cousins generated 356 maternal side bucketed matches, just by linking mother and her two first cousins to my tree.

concepts2-tree

Mother does have one third cousin on her mother’s side who generated 13 maternal bucketed matches.  So, while third cousins are distant, they can be very useful in terms of bucketed “sides” to matches.

It’s ironic that even though I have my mother’s DNA tested, I have slightly more paternal matches, without my father, than maternal matches, with my mother. Of course, in my case, that is at least partly a result of the fact that my mother has so many fewer matches herself due to her very recent old world heritage on several lines. Don’t think though, for one minute, that you have to have parents or siblings tested for Family Finder bucketed matching to be useful. You don’t. Even second and third cousins are useful and generate bucketed maternal and paternal matches. My 361 paternal matches, all generated from 8 cousins, are testimony to that fact.

The very best thing you can do for yourself is to test the following relatives that will be used to assign your resulting matches with other people to maternal and paternal sides.

  • Your parents
  • If your parents are not both available, all of your full and half siblings
  • Your grandparents
  • Your aunts and uncles
  • Your great-aunts and great-uncles
  • All first, second and third cousins unless they are children of aunts and uncles who have already tested

The new permanent price of $79 for the Family Finder test will hopefully encourage people to test as many family members as they can find! For autosomal genetic genealogy, it’s absolutely the best gift you can give yourself – after testing yourself of course.

Concepts – Sorting Spreadsheets for Autosomal DNA

This article covers both sorting in Excel and how to identify an overlapping segment, and what that means to you as a genetic genealogist.

I swore I wasn’t going to teach Excel, but there have been so many questions about sorting Excel spreadsheets that I am going to a very basic “how to sort and not hurt yourself” article. This does NOT replace actually understanding how to use Excel, but it will at least get you through the knothole of sorting for genetic genealogy.

I wrote more about sorting and filtering in the concepts article about assigning parental sides.

There are some advanced ways to accomplish the same thing, and I’m not discussing those. If you already know how to use Excel those are fine, but this article provides the basics for those who don’t.

Sorting

I am going to use, as an example, my matches to only a few people which gives us enough information to sort, but isn’t overwhelming.

When you download your results from Family Tree DNA, your spreadsheet will be in match name order, like the spreadsheet below.

SS Raw

I want you to notice that while the primary order is by match, there is a secondary order too (chromosome), and a third (start location) and fourth (end location) as well.

Within each match, the order is by chromosome, and then by start and end location.

What this means that you can look at Alice and see that chromosome 1 is first, and that the lowest value start location is shown first within chromosome order.

That’s not the order you’ll likely be working with all the time, so let’s take a look at how to sort the spreadsheet in a different way.

The row highlighted in red contain column headers.

SS column headers

When you sort an individual column you will select the header for that column, shown below, if you’re going to sort the Matching SNPs column.

SS Column select

The cell on your spreadsheet won’t be red, but I’ve colored it red here so you can see that I’m selecting this column header and only this column header.

When you select a column header, you put the cursor on that cell and click once.

SS column select 2

The cell you’ve selected will be bordered in black.  A screen shot of my spreadsheet is shown above.

I want you to watch what happens to these two rows colored green when I sort in Matching SNP order.

SS rows green

At this point, you will click on the sort and filter button on the upper right hand side of the toolbar.

SS sort dropdown

Here’s a closeup.

SS sort dropdown closeup

Selecting the “Sort A to Z” option sorts the contents of the entire spreadsheet in Matching SNP order, smallest to largest, because that’s the column header and sort option combination you selected. I use lowest to highest (A-Z) but you can also sort in reverse order, highest to lowest (Z-A) but that isn’t terribly useful for what we will be doing.

SS SNP column sorted

Notice that all of the rows are sorted into smallest to larger order by the Matching SNP column. So while the two green rows were originally together, now the rows all appear in order by the Matching SNPs column values.

The first green row match to Alice on chromosome 3 with 1300 cMs falls between the SNP value of 850 and 1458.  The second green row with a value of 2000 falls between 1638 and 2355.  This is exactly as it should be.  The contents of the entire spreadsheet are sorted by the values in the Matching SNPs column.

The statement “sorts the contents of the entire spreadsheet” is very important, because if you perform this task incorrectly, you will bollux up your entire spreadsheet, as in irrecoverably and forever.  What follows is an example of what NOT TO DO.

DO NOT DO THIS

DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT select the entire column to sort.

SS - Do Not Sort

This is an example of WHAT NOT TO DO.

If you select the entire column, as shown above, then sort, here’s what happens.

SS example bad sort

Notice that the green rows are now split apart – in other words they no longer form a row from left to right. That means that ONLY the data in the Matching cM column was sorted, but not rest of the data which is still in the same location on the spreadsheet as it was before the sort. Therefore, Alice’s green row Matching cM value of 1300 is no longer with Alice, since only the data in the Matching SNPs column was sorted. Now Alice’s 1300 cMs connected to Stacy’s red row on chromosome 4. Alice now has 500 SNPs instead, which as you can see, clearly isn’t accurate.

This is what I meant by selecting the entire column instead of just the header will forever ruin your data. If you do this, there is no recovery, unless you JUST did it, SS undo
realize the error, and can selecte the blue backarrow on the top of the toolbar on the left to “undo” your action. If you’re beyond that, the only recovery is to download your data again, or move to a backup if you have one.

What’s even worse if you do this and don’t realize it, so you’re working with incorrect data trying to find overlapping segments.  Of course, everything will be wrong.  I periodically do a sanity check and look at a couple people in the chromosome browser just to make sure that everything is as it should be on my spreadsheet and I haven’t done something like this.

To Sort Correctly – DO This

To use this spreadsheet effectively for genetic genealogy, we need the spreadsheet to be sorted in this viewing order:

  • Chromosome number
  • Start location
  • End location

In other words, we need the spreadsheet to look like this with all of the green cells remaining in their row with their match:

SS example good sort

You’ll notice that all matches on each chromosome are grouped together, with the smallest start location first, as illustrated by the red groupings of chromsomes 1 and 6. I do realize these are small segments, but the process is the same for large or small segments, so for our sorting example, just ignore any genealogical relevance associated with segment size.

You will be looking for overlapping segments. Notice that you have to be cognizatnt of the end location. In the case of chromsome 1, above, there are no overlapping segments for the two chromsome one matches, so they can’t match each other on this segment.

However, on chromsome 6, we have a different situation. Stacy’s segment match with me is quite long, 104cM. Stacy’s segment overlaps with everyone else’s on chromsone 6 that matches to me, either fully or part way. She matches Alice on all of the segments fully except for the last one. Stacy’s match to me ends at 108,000,000. Alice’s last segment matches to me from 107,779,220 which is included in Stacy’s match, but Alice’s match extends beyond Stacys, to 110,175,307.

Keep in mind that we don’t know at this point whether or not Stacy and Alice are from my mother or father’s side, based on matching. In other words, to draw any conclusions, we also have to know if Stacy and Alice match each other on this segment which we can’t tell from this spreadsheet.

Because I have access to Stacy’s account, I can indeed tell you that Stacy and Alice do not match each other on this segment, so they would be from different sides of my family tree. Stacy is a known relative from my father’s side and Alice does match my mother as well, so we now know that Stacy and Alice don’t match each other.

If you don’t have access to the accounts to see if your matches match each other, two tools at Family Tree DNA are partial substitutes.

  • The ICW tool tells you if two of your matches match each other, just not on which segments.
  • The maternal/paternal Family Matching tool, if you have connected the DNA of relatives who have tested, tell you which side your matches are from, maternal or paternal.

You can read about how to use those tools here.

If there are multiple matches with the smallest start location then they will be in order by the smallest end location first, shown in the yellow cells.

Sort Order

The sort order is exactly the opposite of the viewing order. If you want to SEE the data in this order:

  • Chromosome
  • Start
  • End

Then you must sort in this order:

  • End
  • Start
  • Chromosome

The last column you sort will be the primary viewing order.

Let’s look at our spreadsheet utilizing these three steps, in order.

Step 1 – First Sort

Selecting End Location to sort:

SS sort end location

After sorting by end location, below.

SS end location sorted

You will notice that all of the data is now in order by the values in the End Location column – smallest at the top, largest at the bottom.

The data in the other columns is not in any particular order at all.

Step 2 – Second Sort

Now selecting Start Location to sort that column in order, shown below.

SS sort by start location

Having sorted by Start Location, below:

SS sorted by start location

You will notice that now all of the data is sorted by start location. In the case where there is a common start location between two rows, highlighted in red, the end row with the lower end location will show first, noted in yellow, because you sorted first by end location in smallest to largest order.

Step 3 – Third Sort

Last, you’ll select the Chromosome column header to sort in chromosome order.

Sort by chromosome

Below, the result of sorting the third time in chromsome order.  After sorting, I bordered all segments on the same chromosome.

Sorted by chromosome

You can see that the entire spreadsheet is grouped by chromsome, and within chromsome number, the Start Location is grouped smallest to largest. If there are multiple people with the same start location, then the End Location comes into play, with the smallest end location listed first, as shown in the red and yellow rows.

If you want to sort your spreadsheet in another order for some reason, you can do so using the same methodology. Once you understand about sorting spreadsheets, you understand about sorting all spreadsheets.

Now, you’re ready to look for your overlapping segments.

What is an Overlap?

An overlap is two segments of your matches that are partially or completely overlapping each other.  When you have overlapping segments, assuming they are of decent size, that indicates that the two people who match you on your spreadsheet potentially match each other too.  Remember, there are three matching possibilities:

  • Your matches will either match each other, in addition to you, because you and both of them share a common ancestor or…
  • They both match you, but they won’t match each other because one is from your mother’s side and one is from your father’s side or…
  • One or both are identical by chance.  In you need a refresher on what identical by chance, descent and population mean, click here.

Ss no overlap

In this first example, above, there is no overlap between these two people on chromosome 17.  One begins at 31,000,000 and ends at 36,000,000 while the second person’s match with you doesn’t begin until 40,000,000, which is clearly beyond the end of 36,000,000, so there is no possibility of overlaps between these two individuals.  In other words, they cannot match each other on these segments.  However, clearly they both match you because they are both on your matching spreadsheet.

SS overlap 1

In the example above, the overlapping portion of the segment is from 38,000,000 – 40,000,000.  The second person’s match with you extends to 53,000,000, but the area between 40,000,000 and 53,000,000 does not overlap.

SS overlap 2

In the example above, the start number is lower for the top row than the second row, so the overlapping area is still from 38,000,000 – 40,000,000, because the matches don’t match from 36,000,000 to 38,000,000.

SS overlap 3

Occasionally, you have an overlap that is fairly miniscule, which I generally ignore unless they are in a group that has a larger overlap that overlaps or covers both smaller matches, as in the example above. You can see that our red and yellow rows have a very small overlap from 39,500,000 – 40,000,000. However, the top row includes the entire areas of both red and yellow rows, reaching from 33,000,000 to 55,000,000 which begins before either red/yellow row and ends after both red/yellow rows.  So either all 3 individuals will match each other, indicating a common ancestor, or the top row will match one of the red/yellow rows and not the other.

Combining Spreadsheets From Different Sources

The good news is that you can download your matches into a spreadsheet format from  23andMe, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch, but you do need to understand something about the basics of sorting and how to stay out of spreadsheet trouble. I am careful about combining spreadsheets sources for a couple of reasons.

  • First, the formatting is not exactly the same, so you may need to move columns to be in the correct order for your spreadsheet before actually combining them.
  • Second, there may be overlapping people between 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch. You’ll need to figure out how you want to deal with that, especially on an ongoing basis when you need to add to or update your spreadsheet without overwriting or eliminating your matching work and notes relative to common ancestors and ancestral lines in the columns you’ll be adding.

I always make a backup file with a date name in the file name before doing combinations, and sometimes before sorting as well.

Learning Excel

If you want to learn more about how to use Excel, here are some additional resources to utilize.

I found some 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.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ll_cfhOZTl0&feature=youtu.be

When discussing this online, one person mentioned that they joined www.lynda.com and took the basic Excel class which she found very useful.

Kitty Cooper has instructions on her blog for how to make a matches spreadsheet as well.

www.DNAadoption.com has some good courses.  Their DNA for beginners covers using spreadsheets and is not just for adoptees!

Concepts – Match Groups and Triangulation

Today, we’re going to talk about the concepts of autosomal DNA and the differences between:

  • Match groups
  • Mathematical triangulation
  • Genealogical triangulation

Match Groups

At Family Tree DNA, when you download your chromosome matching results, meaning your complete spreadsheet, then sorting into chromosome order (sort by column, end location, start location, then chromosome) your spreadsheet will look like this.

MG1

Of course, your spreadsheet will be a lot longer and will continue with additional matches on chromosome 1, then chromosome 2, etc.

In the example above, we see that this is just one match group, meaning that the segments for all individuals overlap, which indicates that they match me. In fact, I copied the first match group on my spreadsheet to use in this example.

A match group is a group of people that match YOU on the same segment of your chromosome.  You will have many match groups.

Each of these people matches me on chromosome 1 beginning at location 72,017 for some distance. The shortest match is Calvin and he matches on only 3.47 cM, which tells me that I have other matches with Calvin, because this segment is too short to have made it over the match threshold by itself. So I know this is just one of at least two segment matches to Calvin.

I don’t know Calvin, so I don’t know which side of my tree Calvin falls on or how we are related.

The next several matches’ segments are about the same size, 11 or 12 cM, with the final segment being significantly larger, 26.82 cM. If you need a refresher, I wrote a concepts article about centiMorgans and SNPs.

There are two really important things to remember about match groups.

  1. Match groups means that the people who are on this list match YOU. It does NOT means that these people match each other. In fact, if you recall, you have two sides to each chromosome, one from Dad and one from Mom, so it’s very likely that you have matches from Mom and matches from Dad, intermixed, in this and every match group. Without additional information, you have no way to discern who matches you on which side.
  2. Do not be deceived by thinking that the beginning or ending location, or both, is indicative of matching on one side or the other, or that the people who share beginning and/or ending locations match each other too. If I were to fall into this trap, I would PRESUME (and that’s a very dangerous word in DNA matching) that Cheryl through Rutha, inclusive, match each other and are from the same parental side – and I will tell you right now – they aren’t. So just don’t go there because it will trip you up sure as shootin’.

So, the people in a match group match YOU. Don’t read anything more into these matches at this point.

However, let’s move on to mathematical triangulation because there’s more that we can discover.

Mathematical Triangulation

I’ve gone and snuck a new term in on you haven’t I – mathematical triangulation. Sorry folks.

We have talked about autosomal triangulation several times before. You can read about triangulation here.

In a nutshell, triangulation requires three things of all people in a triangulation group:

  • They all match you on the same segment (math), which you know because they are all on your match list
  • They all match each other on the same segment (math), which you may or may not be able to discern by utilizing various tools
  • They have a common ancestor or ancestral line (genealogy), which you may or may not be able to discern through traditional genealogy

Triangulation is two parts math and one part genealogy. Don’t let that math word frighten you, because the math isn’t the hard part as it can be done by sorting a spreadsheet or by vendor tools, but the genealogy has to be done by you.

Mathematical triangulation divides your matches into two groups, one from your mother’s side and one from your father’s side.

Let’s step through this process and see how it works.

On any group of people who match you on a particular segment of a chromosome, when you have enough people, your matches will form two groups, plus possibly an outlier or two.

Why?

Because you have matches from both your father’s side and your mother’s side, assuming enough people have tested.

Let’s look at an example.

If you have 3 matches, it’s possible that all 3 matches are from your mother’s side.  However, as more people test and match you, eventually, you will have two groups of people form, one from each parent’s sides.

How do you know who is in each group?

Good question – and this is what defines a triangulation group versus a match group.

In a triangulation group, all of the people in the group MUST ALSO MATCH EACH OTHER on the same segment.  Yes, I’m shouting because if you forget this, you’re toast!

How do you figure out if they match each other?

In my case, I have access to the kits of the people colored peach below, because I paid for their testing, or put another way, they tested to do me a favor.

MG2

The kit in blue is managed by a cousin with whom I have a many-years long relationship, so while I don’t have direct access to this kit, I do have a great working relationship with the person involved.

So, I can sign in and I can see who matches whom. If you don’t have access to any of the kits, you can look at the ICW (in common with) list, which tells you which of these people also match each other, but the ICW list does not tell you if they match on the same segments, just that they match.  It’s not triangulation, but it is information and if the entire group matches each other utilizing the ICW tool, that’s fairly indicative that you do indeed have a mathematical triangulation group – but it’s not 100%.  You can read about the ICW tool and how to use it in this Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA article.

So, let’s see what the two groups look like after I see who matches whom by looking at each person’s matches on this segment of chromosome 1.

MG3

I was able to check each of Cheryl, Don and Rex’s kits and they all match each other along with Jim, so we know that all 4 of these people in the green group all match each other plus me.

I was able to check Lazarus’s kit directly and Amos’s kit through my cousin, and I was also to verify that they match each other and they both also match Rutha, so I know that this purple group all matches each other plus me.

So what happened to Calvin – the uncolored row in the middle?

First, I can’t check Calvin’s kit directly, but the fact that his segments do mathematically overlap BUT he doesn’t match all of the people in either group, in fact, he doesn’t match any of the people in either group whose kits I could check, tells me that his results are zigzagging back and forth between my mother’s and my father’s DNA, from side to side.  I also verified his non-matching status to my matches utilizing the ICW tool.

This is called an identical by chance match. In essence, Calvin doesn’t match either side so it’s what is known as a false positive match – looks to be real but isn’t upon further inspection.  Remember I said that your matches would form two groups that match each other – plus a few outlier?  Calvin is an outlier.

Now, we have all of our matches sorted into two groups, a mother’s group and a father’s group, plus one who doesn’t match either group. The question is which ancestors do these matches come from and which side is mother’s and which side is father’s.

Now it’s time to add the genealogy portion as the third piece of the triangulation pie.  Sometimes, when you don’t have the ability to do mathematical triangulation, per se, by comparing individual kits, you can achieve mathematical triangulation by utilizing genealogical triangulation – so these two actually go hand in hand.

While genealogical triangulation can achieve mathematical triangulation, by organizing people into matching sides, mathematical triangulation cannot replace genealogical triangulation.

But wait, there is actually a shortcut I can take, and it is a way to begin adding genealogy immediately and easily.

Genealogical Triangulation

There are multiple ways to perform the final step in triangulation which takes your matches from mathematically matched groups to genealogically triangulated groups with ancestors or ancestral lines assigned. In fact, sometimes the genealogy will actually be what helps you with the mathematical grouping if you don’t have access to kits to check who your matches match.

Genealogy Triangulation Method 1 – Adding a Parent or Parents

My mother has tested too. In my spreadsheet, I have added her matches into my master spreadsheet so I can easily see who matches both me and my mother. A match to both of us tells me immediately which side the match is on.

MG4

My mother’s matches are colored pink. You can see immediately that Mom and I both match Cheryl, Don, Rex and Jim, so those matches are assigned to my mother’s side.

Genealogical Triangulation Method 2 – Using Known Individuals and Identifying Common Ancestors or Ancestral Lines

As it turns out, I already know who Cheryl, Don and Rex are, so I know that they match on my mother’s side, even without my mother’s DNA test. Cheryl and Don are siblings who are my mother’s first cousins, and Rex is a second cousin. All of these people match both me and Mom on the same segments, which means that these matches come from my mother’s side.  It also means that I received this entire segment intact from my mother, without being divided.  Utilizing close relatives to sort matches into groups is exactly why we encourage everyone to test as many known relatives as you can convince to test, except children of relatives who have already tested, because their children only received a part of the parents’ DNA.

Furthermore, it also means that Jim, whose genealogy I don’t know, is from the same line because he matches Cheryl, Don, Rex and mother as well.

That does not means that Jim necessarily shares the same most recent common ancestors (MRCA) as Cheryl, Don, Rex and mother.

Even if I didn’t have my mother’s information, knowing her relationship to Cheryl, Don and Rex along with mathematical triangulation is enough to assign these relatives and people they all match to my mother’s side.  Even if I don’t have access to their accounts, I still know that they are closely related to my mother, there are multiple of them, and they all match me on the same segment, so I can group these people together, if nothing more.

Margaret Lentz chart

The common ancestors of Barbara (mother), Don and Cheryl are Evaline Miller and Hiram Ferverda.

The common ancestors of Barbara, Don, Cheryl and Rex are Margaret Lentz and John David Miller.

So while these individuals do share a common ancestor, and we can identify who it is, the most recent common ancestor is different between Rex and Cheryl, Don, and Barbara.

We don’t know who Jim is, but I can pretty much tell you that he isn’t a descendant of Evaline Miller and Hiram Ferverda, unless he is through an unknown child. I can be pretty certain that he’s not a direct descendant of Margaret Lentz and John David Miller either.

I can also tell you with equal conviction that he IS descended from either the Margaret Lentz or John David Miller line, because he matches all 4 cousins who descend from that couple – Cheryl, Don, Barbara and Rex – on the same reasonably large segment. So while we can’t identify his common ancestor with the group, at least not yet, we can say with certainly that he descends from either these common ancestors or an ancestor to these ancestors.

Now, if Jim also matched to William Lentz, above, which he doesn’t, but let’s say he did – we would then know which side of the Margaret Lentz and John David Miller line Jim represented. The Lentz line, of course.

This would also tell us that if Jim matched the Lentz line, that the DNA he shares with Barbara, Rex, Don and Cheryl was from Margaret Lentz, so descended from her parents, Jacob Lentz and Fredericka Reuhle. Of course, we don’t know that today – but all it takes is the right “new match” whose genealogy is proven and we can then attribute the individual segments to specific ancestors.

Let’s add mother’s lines into the mathematically matched chart.

MG5

As you can see, just as expected, Mom matches all of the same people that match each other, along with me, in the green match group, which is now a triangulation group because we know which side the match is on – Mom’s.

To add more definition to the triangulation group, we need genealogical information about the people in the group so that we know who their common ancestors are, or their common line. Fortunately, we have that.

You can also see that Mom matches Lisa as well, but neither Cheryl, Don, nor Rex match Lisa, so Lisa must be from Mom’s mother’s side AND I didn’t inherit that DNA from Mom because I don’t match Lisa either. That’s good information to know through deductive reasoning. It’s also possible of course that Lisa’s match to Mom is IBC, identical by chance, but at almost 14 cM, that’s rather unlikely.

I’ve updated the “side” column with what we’ve learned.

Lastly, given that I do know the genealogy of many of these people, I’ve added that information into additional columns on my spreadsheet, along with the fact that these segments do in fact triangulate. Please note that you can click to see a larger image.

MG6

Now, if you’ve just caught the words “these segments do in fact triangulate” and you’re about to ask if each matching segment needs to be triangulated individually – the answer would be yes. You may share multiple ancestors with someone, on both sides of your family. In fact, even worse you can share multiple ancestors on each side of your family. Endogamy will do that to you.

We’ll pause a minute here for the groaning to subside.

One last comment is that when I infer a side, like with Lisa who does not match on Mom’s father’s side on this segments, I don’t assign the side, I just make a note because we really CAN’T say that Lisa matches on my Mom’s mother’s side, because she might be a false positive match.

Also, in the case of Rutha, we know she descends from either one of these common ancestors or an ancestor of an ancestor, so I simply note the group she triangulates with for further reference.  That information about Rutha will come in useful when I work with other match groups that she is a member of – trying to make them into triangulation groups as well.

Genealogical Triangulation Method 3 – Phased Family Matches

You can also check for your phased Family Matches on your match page at Family Tree DNA to see if any of those individuals who match you on your spreadsheet are already assigned to the maternal or paternal sides based on phased matches with qualifying relatives. You can see on the page below that indeed, on my mother’s kit, Cheryl is assigned to her parental bucket, being her third closest match.

MG7

However, you CAN’T assume that because a match doesn’t have a maternal or paternal icon assigned that they aren’t descended from a particular side of your family.

Family Tree DNA only assigns high confidence phased matches so that you can depend on those results.

Remember, each segment needs to be individually triangulated, and the Family Matching algorithm that assigns maternal and paternal icons has a higher threshold and other internal requirements that may cause a parental icon NOT to be displayed when the match IS from that side of the family.  This is not a bug but a design element that assures that only highly confident matches are parentally assigned.

So you can use the parental icon as a great tool to assign a genealogical maternal or paternal side, but you still need to do due diligence in terms of working each segment to identify with whom it triangulates and the common ancestors.

Genealogical Triangulation Method 4 – Don’t Forget the X

While utilizing this trick won’t get you all the way to triangulation, it will help in several cases, at least by assigning parental “sides” to some matches – for males only.  Yes, ladies, I know, it’s not fair.

Because males inherit an X chromosome only from their mother, and a Y from their father, any match that is labeled as an X match:

  • Has to have come from a male’s maternal line if the segment is a valid match.
  • Has to have a segment on chromosomes 1-22 that is over the matching threshold for an X match to be reported.

Aside from that, the X is subject to the same segment size considerations of all other chromosomes and segments.

Any X match of a reasonable size, meaning one that is less likely to be identical by chance, had to have come from a male’s mother’s line – so a match to a male with a reasonably large X segment is an indication of a maternal line match for him, at least on that segment.  For two matching men, an X match has to be a maternal line match for both men.  However, keep in mind that I have seen X segments that match on completely different lines than autosomal matches.

When comparing the X chromosome, in non-endogamous populations, I would certainly note matches over 3cM. I would not assign a maternal “side” unless the match was 7cM or over and 500 SNPs or more.  Lastly, in endogamous populations, I would be even more restrictive in terms of assigning the segment as “real,” but I would make notes because it would help focus where I look.

MG8

As you can see, this gentleman only has 4 X matches, and two of those are quite small, One is near 5cM and one is near 7cM, but none of the 4 is compellingly large – meaning they could be identical by chance. I would make a note for the two larger matches by the names of the people he matches, but I would not assign any of the matches as maternal at this point with given the small segments.  When I make “side” assignments, I want them to be as strong as possible so I don’t have to second guess the assignment later.

I would also look at who else I match on the X on that segment and see if there is anything remarkable about common matches.  In males, if the X match is valid, it HAS to come from mother’s side, so if you see a small segment X match in someone you know is related on your father’s side, that’s an indication that the X match on that segment to that person is IBC or you also share a second ancestor on the maternal side.

Larger X matches are already mathematically triangulated for you, meaning, if you’re a male,  you know what side they come from.  There are no “2 sides” to this chromosome and all you need to add is genealogy.  Women, you still have two sides, because you inherited an X from both your mother and your father, so you are not mathematically triangulated.  Sorry ladies!

If you would like to read more about the X chromosome, inheritance patterns and matching, click here and here. Be sure to utilize the inheritance pattern genealogy charts.

Summary

See how easy and fun this is when you break it down into easy, logical steps.

Even if you can’t mathematically triangulate, if you can find multiple people in the match group that descend from the same known ancestors or ancestral line, you can form smaller groups with these individuals until you have the opportunity to create a larger mathematical match group.

It only takes three people to create a genealogical triangulation group, so long as they aren’t close relatives.  Siblings don’t count, for example, and neither do parents when counting to 3 in a triangulation group.

As long as you can identify who your DNA on a particular segment came from, you really don’t need to fit everyone on your match list into a triangulation group – so if you don’t have access to some accounts, it’s not the end of the world.  You can also use the ICW tool to determine who people match, in general, if not segment specific..

You’re only going to have two ancestral lines, a paternal line and a maternal line that is relevant to any match group – so once you know who those ancestors are, the rest of your matches HAVE to fall into one group or another, or are outliers.  So don’t obsess about not being able to fit everyone into a match group either mathematically or genealogically.  However, if you can find a genealogical connection, by all means do, because one of those matches may well be the person who isolates the DNA to either the male or female of the ancestral couple and allows you to go back another generation or two in time.

Don’t forget about utilizing your Family Matches with assigned paternal and maternal icons.  That’s a great new tool.

It’s fascinating to see which of our ancestors our DNA came from. Finding new cousins by utilizing DNA is exciting as well – and gives us new opportunities to establish family relationships and share research information – opportunities that never existed prior to DNA bringing us together and providing us with that all important introduction.

Have fun.

Maria Margaretha Grubler (1748-1823), A Woman of Steel Resolve,52 Ancestors #129

Maria Margaretha Grubler or Gribler (present day spelling) was born on May 4th, 1748 and baptized the same day in Beutelsbach, Wurttemberg, Germany to Johann George Grubler and Katharina Nopp, both also of Beutelsbach. This family is indexed incorrectly at Ancestry, under the surname Brabler and a wide variety of other ways as well that don’t remotely resemble their actual surnames.

Maria margaretha Grubler

We don’t know much about Maria Margaretha’s youth, except that she was Lutheran much as everyone else in Beutelsbach, and she was an only child – a rare occurrence in a time when pregnancies routinely occurred every 18-24 months and there was little, if anything, one could do to prevent that aside from abstinence.

Like other German girls, she was likely called by her middle name, Margaretha – an enchanting and beautiful name.

Margaretha may have originally been a Scandinavian name, where it means pearl. It’s found in some format in almost all European languages.

Beutelsbach has provided an invaluable service to genealogists seeking their family by reassembling the historical families from church and other records and providing the information online, and for free.

Maria Margaretha Grubler history

These records allow us to search specifically at Ancestry in their Wurttemberg Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriage and Burials, 1500-1985 (which includes Buetelsbach) records collection for events like baptisms, marriages, births of children and burials. In German families in the 1700s, these are the activities and events that defined your life, especially if you were a female.

Margaretha grew up in this small village of just a few hundred people not far from the Rems River, where the hillsides sloped upwards and were filled with grapevines and vineyards. Beutelsbach is dab smack in the middle of the German wine region and the countryside is dotted with small villages, either within sight of each other or nearly so – scattered just far enough apart to have their own church and for people to walk to the nearby vineyards to work daily. In German villages, people lived centrally and walked a mile or so to their fields, or the fields they rented or worked for the landowners, the gentry. In Beutelsbach, the people who owned the fields would have lived in the Manor House, up on the hillside, overlooking the village. You can see the manor house in the drawing below.  Today, the manor house is a hotel and conference center.  I’d love to visit!

Beutelsbach 1598

This beautiful view of Beutelsbach from 1598 was found in the forest register books created by Andreas Kieser. It probably didn’t look much different in 1748 when Maria Margaretha was born.

Beutelsbach and other nearly small villages have been joined together today administratively as the city of Weinstadt.

Margaretha’s father, Johann Georg Grubler, died on November 27, 1764 when he was 55 and she was 16 years old.  They buried him the next day.  This was probably Maria Margaretha’s first dealing with death up close and personal, as two of her grandparents died before she was born, one died a year after her birth and one when she was 4, so she never knew her grandparents – nor would she remember their funerals.

Grubler, Johann Georg 1764

Church records don’t reflect any additional children for Maria Margaretha’s parents, but it would be highly unusual for a couple in that time who clearly could have children to have only one child. However, information unearthed by my friendly German genealogist, Tom, indicates that Maria Margaretha’s mother didn’t marry until she was 37 years old, on October 26, 1745, had Maria Margaretha in May 1748, at age 40, and never conceived another child. Knowing this, the fact that Maria Margaretha had no siblings makes a lot more sense – but she was probably the only “only child” in the entire village!

Eight years after Margaretha’s father’s death, she married Jakob Lenz, a vinedresser, on November 3, 1772. Given that Jakob’s parents had also lived in Beutelsbach their entire lives, Jakob and Margaretha likely had known each other since they were small children playing in the sunshine. They were only 3 months apart in age and were 24 years old when they married.JakobLenzmarriage

The document above, from the Lutheran church in Beutelsbach shows their marriage record.  It says they were “married the 18th Sunday after Trinity and that Jacob Lenz was the legitimate unmarried son of the citizen and vinedresser, Jacob Lentz from here.  Maria Margaretha is the legitimate unmarried daughter of the late Johann George Grubler, citizen and vinedresser from here.”

So both of their fathers worked in those vineyards above Beutelsbach. Their fathers had probably known each other their entire lives as well.

While Margaretha’s father didn’t join them on their wedding day, he was nearby, most likely buried in the churchyard just outside. The cemetery beside the church was the burial site for the House of Wurttemberg until 1311 when the official burials took place in Stuttgart. Certainly the local people continued to use the church burial ground.

Jakob Lenz and Maria Margaretha Grubler had 9 children, their first child being born just days after their first wedding anniversary.

  • Katharina Barbara Lenz was born November 17, 1773 and died September 4, 1817 in Beutelsbach of epilepsy. She never married. This makes me wonder if she was epileptic for her entire life. I expect she lived with her parents. Perhaps it was a blessing that she died before they did.

Lenz, Katharina Barbara birth

Katharina Barbara’s birth and baptism records are shown above, and death entry in the church records, below.

Lenz, Katharina Barbara death

Katharina Barbara’s parents, now age 69 would have weeped beside their firstborn child’s grave. They buried their first child 44 years after she was born. They buried their second-born within weeks of his birth.

Lenz, Jakob 1775 birth

Jakob’s birth record above, and death entry in the church records, below.

Lenz, Jakob 1775 death

On a late summer’s day, holding their first-born daughter, now 22 months old and perhaps with epilepsy, they would have buried their son, not yet 6 weeks old. This was not a happy family portrait.

  • Maria Magdalena Lenz was born October 1, 1776 and died November 1, 1849 in Beutelsbach of weakness of old age. She too never married.

Lenz, Maria Magdalena birth

Maria Magdalena’s birth is recorded above, and her death in the church records, below.

Lenz, Maria Magdalena death

  • Johannes Lenz was born January 16, 1779 in Beutelsbach and died October 29, 1813 in Beutelsbach. He was single and the cause of death; stickfluss (bronchitis or pneumonia). Occupation not given. Tom indicates that the word gebrachi is used which means frail or infirm, so he may never have been well.

Lenz, Johannes birth

Johannes’ birth record is shown above, and his death entry in the church records, below.

Lenz, Johannes death

Lenz, Philip Jakob birth

Philipp Jakob’s birth is shown in the records above, and his death, below. He lived to be almost 8 years old, past the dangerous first year or two. His parents must have been devastated at his death. His death record doesn’t indicate a cause of death.

Lenz, Philipp Jakob death

Maria Margaretha’s mother, herself a widow, likely lived very close to Margaretha, if not with Margaretha and Jakob. On July 26, 1781, Margaretha’s mother died. Being an only child, Margaretha would have laid her mother to rest beside her father who died 17 years earlier.

Nopp, Katharina death

Given that Maria Margaretha had no siblings, her mother’s death would have been her last immediate family member to pass over. Siblings help to cushion the blow, but with no siblings, Margaretha may have truly felt orphaned at 33.

On the other hand, with 4 living children at home, including a 3 month old infant, Maria Margaretha would have been very busy. Perhaps that was a good thing because she did not have time to dwell upon her mother’s death. On the other hand, in a small village, every time she would have passed by the house where she was raised, she would clearly have remembered her parents. Every Sunday attending church, she would pass by her parents graves. Did that make Maria Margaretha feel comforted that they were close, or sad that they were so close, yet so far away?

Life moved on, and Maria Margaretha continued to have 4 more children.

  • Jakob Lenz was born March 15, 1783 and left to emigrate to America just before his 34th birthday. This is my ancestor whose story is absolutely incredible. So incredible, in fact, that we had to tell the story in two parts, plus a third for his wife, Johanna Friedericka Ruhle whom he married on May 25, 1808 in Beutelsbach. The church records tell us that Jakob left with his family to immigrate on February 12, 1817.
  • Katharina Margaretha Lenz was born November 2, 1785, died January 6, 1858 and married Johann Conrad Gos on April 21, 1807 in Beutelsbach.

Lenz, Katharina Margaretha birth

Katharina Margaretha Lenz’s birth is shown above and her death is shown in the church records below.

Lenz, Katharina Margaretha death

At Katharina Margaretha’s death on January 6, 1858, she is listed as daughter of Jakob Lenz, vinedresser and Maria Griblerin, the trailing “in” often added to maiden names of single women.  Griberlin, the way it’s written, indicates that Gribler was her mother’s maiden, not married, name. Katharina Margaretha is also noted as the wife of Joh. Conrad Gos, bricklayer assistant who emigrated. She died of weakness of old age.

Katharina Margaretha had 5 children. Her husband, Johann Conrad left for Russia in 1817 where he died before the 1823 birth of Katharina’s last child, Jakob Freidrich Gos in Beutelsbach. Jakob Freidrich’s birth record is shown below.

Gos, Jakob Freidrich birth

Jacob Freiderich died in the poorhouse of emaciation and “wasting” in 1857, according to the church record below, which according to Tom, means he had tuberculosis. His occupation was that of a hafner (potter). He died the year before his mother.

Lenz, Jakob Freidrich death

It was initially unclear to me whether Jakob Freidrich was the son of Johann Conrad Goss, perhaps home for a visit, or the son of a different father. However, Tom translated the original records and answered that question, although it’s not exactly forthright.

Jakob Freidrich Gos’s baptismal record states:

Child’s parents: Katharina Margaretha, the late Konrad Gos, citizen and brickmaker, from here surviving widow.

The father according to the record extracts, noch ………..16 January 1824.

According to Tom, Jakob Friedrich Gos was considered illegitimate. His birth entry indicates his father was deceased and his death entry call him Jakob Friedrich Lenz, not Gos.

This is highly suggestive that Katharina Margaretha, while either married or a widow, conceived Jakob Freidrich and perhaps the clergy didn’t quite know what to say. Maybe the village knew Konrad Gos was dead, but didn’t know exactly when he died – and Katherina Margaretha wasn’t telling. Maybe the presumption of illegitimacy was not enough to pronounce Jakob Freidrich illegitimate at his birth.

However, the recording clerk or minister when Jakob Freidrich died 33 years later seemed to have no problem making that distinction by reverting him to his mother’s maiden name and labeling him “spurious,” meaning illegitimate.

In Tom’s words, “his father is clearly a mystery. If the child’s father acknowledged the birth at the time of his baptism or even later (in writing or as an affirmation to the minister), then the child would be considered legitimate. This was not done in this case as far as I can determine.”

We’ll never know for sure, because Jakob Freidrich Gos or Lenz never married, so never had children, at least none that we know about. If he had produced sons, we would have the possibility of Y DNA testing to see if his sons’ direct male descendants match Gos men or men by some other surname. Katharina Margaretha’s secret, if in fact it was a secret at all, has already gone to the grave. In a small village, there may have been very few true secrets.

While Katharina Margaretha was probably a bit scandalous as a widow bearing a child, we always have to consider the possibility that the conception wasn’t consensual and she may not have been the merry widow at all, but a victim. That would also be one reason the father would never have acknowledged the child.

Jakob Freidrich may never have been healthy, and Katharina Margaretha was apparently left to raise him alone. There was no happy ending to this story.

  • Johanna was born June 22, 1788 (although the Beutelsbach history information says July 2) and died October 10, 1788 in Beutelsbach.

Lenz, Johanna birth

Johanna’s birth record is shown above, and her death entry in the church book, below. Her mother only got to love her, in this world anyway, for three and a half months.

Lenz, Johanna death

  • Christina born January 1, 1793, died “8-13” but no year given. The Beutelsbach history information says “probably 1793,” but as it turns out, this was incorrect.

Lenz, Christina birth

Tom found Christina’s actual death record, shown below, on August 13, 1872 in Beutelsbach of cholera nostras, an acute bacterial disease caused by drinking fecally contaminated water.

There were cholera epidemics in Germany in both 1871 and 1873. The 1873 episode was noted as the worst cholera epidemic Germany had ever suffered. No cholera was listed in Germany for 1872, although obviously it was still lurking and was found in both Russia and Hungary in 1872. It’s only 400 miles from Beutelsbach to the border with Hungary, so that’s about the distance from Raleigh, NC to Washington, DC, an easy half day drive today.

Lenz, Christina death

Of Maria Margaretha and Jakob’s nine children:

  • 3 children, 2 boys and 1 girl, died as children at 2 months, 3 months and 8 years of age
  • 2 died as adults, but before their parents, having never married
  • 2 married and had children
  • The son who had children immigrated to America in 1817
  • The husband of the daughter who had children left for Russia in 1817
  • 2 daughters lived to adulthood but never married
  • Only 4 children outlived their parents
  • There were no sons left in Germany to care for either their aging mother or unmarried sisters upon the parents’ deaths
  • Two of Maria Margaretha’s sons were named Jakob. A third was named Philipp Jakob and was probably called Jakob. No confusion there!

It’s not terribly unusual in German records to name a second child the name of a child that died, but I still find that custom a bit disconcerting. In my very 20th Century American way of thinking, each child needs their own name so that you can remember and honor them properly.  How do you differentiate the first child Jakob who died from the second child Jakob who lived?  There were a total of 5 Jakobs in this family; grandfather, father, son who died, son who lived, son Philipp Jakob who would have been called Jakob, who also died, but after the second Jakob was born.  In other words, for a few years, they had two sons who would have been called Jakob.

When you speak about Jakob Lenz, for example, do you speak about the one who was born and died at just over 6 weeks of age in 1775 as “the first Jakob,” His father might have been referred to that way, or even his grandfather who was also Johann Jakob Lenz. Or do you refer to that first child as “the dead baby Jakob,” or do you just never refer to that child that passed? Unlike stillborn children or those who died shortly after death, the first Jakob survived for more than 6 weeks. Not in this family, but I have seen even a third child given that same identical name if the second child died. In this case, I suspect they wanted to have a child named Jakob after his father, and grandfather.

It’s somehow ironic that of 9 births recorded in the church records, only two of Margaretha’s children would give her grandchildren. One of those, Jacob left in 1817 for America, taking his four living children of course, who would have been ages 11, 8, 3 and 6 months old. Maria Margaretha never knew the rest of his children, born in America, and youngest two born in Germany would not have remembered their grandmother.

In 1775, Maria Margaretha buried her second-born child at about 6 weeks of age, in 1781 she buried her mother, then in 1788, she buried a child three months old. The next year, in 1789, another child died just before their 8th birthday. That must have been particularly difficult, because after infancy, you feel somewhat safe that they will survive.

Other than friends and distant family who lived in the village, Maria Margaretha had a reprieve for a few years, but the family deaths began again in October 1813 when her adult son, born in 1779 died of pneumonia.

Maria Margaretha would have stood by the small grave of her grandchild, Johannes, when they buried him five months later, on March 9th, 1814, a baby of 2 years and 3 months old, nearly the same age as one of her own children when she buried them. Another child she loved and lost.

A third grandchild, Elizabeth Katharina Lenz, died on the ship en route to America. In many ways, when Maria Margaretha kissed and hugged her grandchildren goodbye for the last time in the winter of 1817, they would have been functionally dead to her, given that she would never see them again. But receiving the letter that told of Elizabeth’s death, at age 4 or so, would have been devastating news. Maria Margaretha thought she was sending Elizabeth off to a new, better, life, not to a watery grave.

After son Jakob left for America in the later winter or early spring of 1817, he became shipwrecked in Norway in the fall after nearly starving to death on the high seas, and was stranded in Bergen, Norway for nearly another year. Surely, if Jakob was able to get a letter to Germany, Margaretha would have known about his predicament and been worried sick. Jakob and family managed to get themselves on another ship a year later, only to nearly perish on that voyage as well, and then had to sell themselves into indentured servitude to pay for their second passage after arrival in America.

Maybe Margaretha didn’t know those details. Maybe she did, afterwards, and was simply glad they were alive. Where there is life, there is hope. There were other Beutelsbach residents on those ill-fated ships as well, so Margaretha wasn’t alone in her grief.

In September of 1817, while Jakob’s ship was floundering on the high seas, Maria Margaretha buried another child, Katharina Barbara, who died of epilepsy at age 44. I have read accounts of people who died of increasingly worsening epileptic seizures and the reports are horrific. A small part of their brain is destroyed with each seizure and the damage is cumulative over the years, until they are often childlike, then infantile, as adults, ravaged by seizures they dread, terribly, can often feel beginning, and can do nothing to control. Maria Margaretha, after caring for her firstborn for 44 years, may have thanked God for taking her “home” so that she didn’t have to worry about if and how Katharina Barbara would be cared for after Maria Margaretha herself passed over. Maria Margaretha must have been keenly aware of her own mortality.

If Maria Margaretha believed in literal “Heaven,” she would have taken comfort in knowing that she would see her child again, on the other side of the pearly gates and Katharina Barbara would be “whole” in Heaven. That is probably what Maria Margaretha wanted more desperately than anything else in her life. But it was not to be in this world.

I can only imagine the horror Maria Margaretha felt to see her child convulse for the first time, and the second, and the third…for 44 long years. Maria Margaretha obviously took very good care of Katharina Barbara or she would never have lived for those 44 years.

Maria Margaretha’s other child who married and gave her grandchildren, her and her mother’s namesake, Katharina Margaretha, married on April 21, 1807 to Johann Conrad Gos. Katharina Margaretha had children in 1808 and 1812, but then in 1814, the third child died 12 days after birth, just before Christmas, on December 19th. This was the second grandchild that Maria Margaretha buried in 1814 with three burials of children and grandchildren in just over a year.  I have a feeling there was no joy in that Christmas season.

A fourth grandchild was born to Katharina Margaretha in 1817, the same year that her husband immigrated to Russia, leaving Katharina Margaretha and the children behind. This is an odd situation. We don’t know if Katharina Margaretha refused to leave for Russia, so he went without her. We don’t know if she planned to join him later, then didn’t. Did her pregnancy interfere? Did he go for work and perish? Did he return to visit in 1822, hence the conception of Jakob Freidrich?

What we do know is that Katharina Margaretha had another son, Jakob Freidrich, on February 19, 1823, according to the church records, whose surname was Gos at his baptism. She is mentioned as a widow, although the baptism didn’t take place until 1824. However, Jakob Freidrich’s death record shows him as illegitimate and with the surname of Lenz.

On July 2, 1821, Maria Margaetha’s husband, Jakob Lenz died of a fever typically found in people with tuberculosis. In other words, she likely had to take care of Jakob for weeks or months before his death. Maria Margaretha would have been 73 years old, no spring chicken herself, that’s for sure. Perhaps her daughters who never married and lived at home helped their mother.

On July 5, 1823, Maria Margaretha died – two years and 3 days after her husband, Jakob.

Grubler, Maria Margaretha death

Her death record in the church book, above, translates as follows:

Page 25.
Entry 22.
Maria Margarethe Lentz,
Born here 4 May 1748
Evangelical
Parents: the late Johann Georg Grubler, citizen and vinedresser here and Katharina nee Nopp.
Wife of the late Jakob Lentz, citizen and vinedresser here.
Age: 75y2m
Cause of Death: Dropsy or Edema
Place and Time of Death: here, 5 July 1823 at 3 pm
Place and Date of Burial: here, 7 July 1823 at 10 am
Folio 421 (Family Register)
Ist hier geschult und aufgezogen worden. Has been schooled and raised here.

They even tell us what time she died and what time she was buried.  Gotta love those precise Germans.

Dropsy is an old term for edema, which means the collection of fluid in the cavities of the body. Often, this is a symptom of congestive heart failure. People with pulmonary edema often pass away of pneumonia. I hope she died quickly and in her sleep without suffering so that she could see her children, grandchildren, husband and parents once again.

Maria Margaretha’s son, Jakob, was in America. Her daughter Maria Magdalena never married and didn’t die until 1849, so she must have been living at home with her mother, as was her daughter Christina who died in 1872. Perhaps the third daughter, Katharine Margaretha, whose husband left in 1817 and subsequently died, lived in the family home as well, along with her children and infant son born February 19, 1823, just under 5 months before her mother would pass away.

I have to wonder, who took care of these 4 women after Jakob Lenz died in 1821, and the three adult daughters after Maria Margaretha died in 1823? How did they earn money to survive? Did they become charity cases? Their death records don’t mention the poor house.

I’m sure friends attended Maria Margaretha’s funeral, but only three children and four grandchildren stood by her grave. That a very, very low number for a woman born in the mid-1700s in Germany. Of course, Maria Margaretha buried 3 offspring as children, two as adults, waved goodbye to one who emigrated to America and cared for 2 daughters who never married and outlived her. That only leaves one child in Germany having children among 9 who were born.

Maria Margaretha’s DNA

As hard as it is to believe, given the children that Maria Margaretha had, there is only one daughter who had children, and of those children, only one granddaughter. The church records tell us that Friederika Gos was born on January 12, 1817 in Beutelsbach and the Beutelsbach records indicate that she died after 1842 in Steinreinach. We don’t know if she married.

If she married and had daughters, she would have passed Maria Margaretha’s mitochondrial DNA on to them. If that daughter has descendants today who descend from her through all daughters, they would carry Maria Margaretha’s mitochondrial DNA.

You can see how the different kinds of DNA are passed to offspring in this short article.

If one of those descendants, through all daughters, took the mitochondrial DNA test, we could discover additional history for Maria Margaretha Grubler Lenz.

Mitochondrial DNA is passed unmixed with the father’s DNA, so it reaches back in time relatively unchanged, except for an occasional mutation, and we can tell a great deal about population migration and where our ancestors came from. The story of our ancestors is written in our DNA, and the story of Maria Margaretha’s matrilineal ancestors is written in her mitochondrial DNA, if it still exists in descedants today.

If someone does descend from Maria Margaretha through all females to the current generation, which can be a male, I have a DNA testing scholarship available for that person.

I hope that the final chapter for Maria Margaretha has not been written.

In addition to mitochondrial DNA, current descendants could well carry part of Maria Margaretha’s autosomal DNA – passed to her from both of her parents and representing her ancestors, which of course, are our ancestors too.

It’s possible that if someone descended from Maria Margaretha through any child (not just females) would match other descendants today autosomally. I would be fourth cousins with someone in my same generation descended from Maria Margaretha’s daughter, Katherina Margaretha. Some people who are 4th cousins don’t carry any of the same autosomal DNA of their common ancestor, but some do.

I would be third cousins with anyone descended from Jacob Lentz, Maria Margaretha’s son, through a child other than Margaret Lentz (also my ancestor). Third cousins share more DNA than 4th cousins, and I do match two Lentz third cousins.

If anyone else descends from Maria Margaretha Grubler/Gribler or Jakob Lenz, or these lines from Beutelsbach, I’d love to make your acquaintance.

Summary

I’m sure there were moments of great joy in Maria Margaretha’s life. Some of those are recorded as her marriage, her children’s marriages and the births of her children in the church records. Other than that, we don’t know what was joyful in Maria Margaretha’s life and made her smile. What did she like to do? Her favorite food? I wish we knew.

Great griefs and sadness are recorded in those ancient church books as well – the saddest of days were when parents, your spouse and children passed to the other side.

Aside from what is recorded in the church records, we know that beginning in 1803, the Napoleonic Wars spread fear, turbulence and social strife throughout Europe.

In 1816, following the eruption of Mt. Tambora in 1815 in Indonesia, the atmosphere was so full of particulate matter that 1816 was known as “the year without a summer” when the weather was so cold that crops failed throughout Europe and America. Some people starved. Harvests failed, including grapes. Prices skyrocket and riots for food ensued. This was not a good time to be alive and it probably seemed like the Biblical end of the world. Maria Margaretha was taking care of an adult epileptic daughter who clearly would never be able to take care of herself. Maria Margaretha must have worried increasingly about her daughter as she herself aged. Providence would soon step in and take care of that question, but what a grief-filled solution. There was no good outcome possible – only bad and worse.

Life was difficult and sometimes devastating for the last 20 years or so of Maria Margaretha’s life. However, she persevered.

In my mind’s eye, I can see her marching forward, through whatever she had to march through, scratched up, bleeding, perhaps very thin, a tearstained face, but head held high and still marching forward through whatever adversity fate served up next. That is the picture I will always hold of Maria Margaretha Grubler, a woman of steel resolve.