Concepts – Relationship Predictions

One of the ways people utilize autosomal DNA for genealogical matching is by looking for common segments of DNA that match with known, or unknown, relatives.  When the relationship to the person is unknown, we attempt to utilize how much DNA we share with that person as a predictor of how, or at what level, we’re related to them – so in essence where or how far back we might look in our tree for a common ancestor.

Until recently, the best estimate we had in terms of how much DNA someone of a particular relationship (like first cousin) could be expected to share both in terms of percentages and also cMs (centiMorgans) of DNA was the table on the ISOGG wiki page.  Often, these expected averages didn’t mesh well with what the community was seeing in reality.

Recently, Blaine Bettinger’s crowdsourced Shared cM Project reported the averages for each relationship level, plus the range represented from lowest to highest in a project where more than 10,000 people participated by providing match information.

Additionally, before publication, Blaine worked with a statistician to remove outliers in each category that might represent data entry errors, etc. Not only did Blaine write a nice blog article about this latest data release, he also wrote a corresponding paper that is downloadable that includes tables and histograms not in his blog.

I am constantly looking between the two sources, meaning the ISOGG table and Blaine’s paper, so as an effort in self-preservation, I combined the information I use routinely from the two tables – and did some analysis in the process.  Let’s take a look.

The Combined Expected cM and Actual Shared cM Chart

On the chart below, the two yellow headed columns are the Expected Shared cMs from the ISOGG table and Blaine’s Shared cM Average – which is the average amount of DNA that was actually found. These, along with the percent of shared DNA are the columns I use most often, followed by Blaine’s minimum and maximum which are the ranges of matching DNA found for each category.  As it turns out, the range is incredibly important – perhaps more important than the averages expected or reported – because the ranges are what we actually see in real life.

I’ve also included the number of respondents, because categories with a larger number of respondents are more likely to be more accurate than categories with only a few, like great-great-aunt/uncle with only 6.

It’s interesting that the greatest number of respondents fell into the aunts/uncles niece/nephew category with second cousins once removed a very close contender.

These were followed by the next closest categories being, in order; first cousins, second cousins, first cousins once removed, second cousins once removed and third cousins.

Note:  If you downloaded this chart on August 4, 2016, there was an error in the maximum number of first cousins trice removed.  On August 5, 2016, it was corrected to read 413.

Expected vs shared cM 4

You can see that in reality, all categories except two produced larger than the expected cM value. One category was equal and one was smaller (yes I checked to be sure I hadn’t transcribed incorrectly). Actual numbers with higher values are peach colored, lower is green and white is equal.

Most averages aren’t dramatically different for close relationships, but as you move further out, the difference in the averages is significantly greater.  Beginning with third cousins once removed, and every category below that in the chart, the actual average is more than twice that of the expected average.  In addition, the ranges for all categories are wider than expected, especially the further out you go in terms of relationships.

We often wonder why the relationship predictions, especially beyond first or second cousins vary so widely at the testing companies and GedMatch. In the chart above, you can see that beyond first cousins, the ranges begin to overlap.

Ranges of the same relationship degree should share the same percentages and theoretically, the same amounts of DNA, but they don’t. You can see that the cells marked in red are all 4th degree relatives.  However, half first cousins show a maximum of 580, with the two following rows showing 704 and 580 – all 4th degree relatives. There’s a pretty significant difference between 580 and 704.

Through 5th degree relatives, everyone matched at some level, meaning the minimum is above zero, but beginning with 6th degree relatives, row highlighted in yellow, some people did not match relatives at that level, meaning the minimum is zero.

In the last 4 rows on the chart, 15th, 16th and 17th degree relatives, marked with light aqua, where academically we “should” share 0% of our DNA, we see that the observed average is from 7 to 11 cM and the range is up to 29 cM.

An example of why predictions are so difficult is that if you are on the high end of the 4th cousins range, a 9th degree relative with 91 shared cMs of DNA, you are also right at the average between 6th and 7th degree relatives which fall into the half second cousin or third cousin range.

Without relationship knowledge, the vendor, based on averages, is going to call this relationship a 2nd or 3rd cousin, when in reality, it’s a 4th cousin. Most vendor relationship predictions are based on a combination of total shared cMs and longest block, but still, it’s easy to be outside the norm.  In other words, not only does one size not fit all, it probably doesn’t fit most.

Graphs

For me, graphs help make information understandable because I can see the visual comparison.

These overlapping ranges are much easier to visualize using charts.  Please note that you can click on any image for a larger view.

Expected full range 4

The values and ranges for 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree relatives are so much larger than more distant relatives, that you can’t effectively see the information for more distant relatives, so I’ve broken the charts apart, below.

Expected to third degree

This first chart, above, shows third degree relatives and closer.  Note that the purple maximum for aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews is larger than the minimum for full siblings and greater than the red average or blue expected for half-siblings.

expected 4th to 17th 4

This second chart shows the more distant relationships, meaning 4th degree through 17th degree relatives, but the more distant relationships are still difficult to see, so let’s switch to bar charts and smaller groups.

Expected stacked to third

This first bar chart includes parent/child through first cousins relationships, or 1st through 3rd degree relatives. You can see that the first cousin maximum range (purple) overlaps the aunt/uncle, grandparents and half-sibling minimum ranges (green.) Half sibling max and full sibling minimum are very close.

Expected 4th to 17th stacked 4

The balance of relationships are a bit small to view in one chart, but the ranges do overlap significantly.  Unfortunately, Excel does us the favor of skipping some labels on the left side of the chart.

Expected 4th to 17th no legend 4

Removing the legend helps a bit, but not much.  Please refer to the color legend in the same graph above.  I’ve further divided the groups below.

Expected 4th to 9th 4

The chart above shows 4th degree to 9th degree relatives, meaning great-great-aunts or uncles through 4th cousins.

expected 4th to 9th no legend 4

The same chart, above, with the legend removed to allow for more viewing space.  You’ll notice that at the half second cousins level, and more distant, the green minimum disappears, which means that some people have no matches, so the minimum cM shared is zero for some people with this relationship level.  However, based on the average and maximum, many people do share DNA with people at that relationship level.

Expected 7th to 17th 4

The chart above begins with 7th degree relatives, half second cousins, where you share less than 1% of your DNA.

In many cases, the purple maximum range for one relationship category overlaps Blaine’s average and the expected values for other categories.  For example, in the chart below, you can see that the maximum purple bar for the various 5th cousin ranges is higher than the third cousin, twice removed red shared cM average, and significantly higher than the blue expected shared cM value.  In fact, the 6th cousin purple max is nearly the same as the blue expected cM for third cousins once removed.  Note that Excel showed only every other category on the left hand axis, so you’ll need to refer to the actual data chart from time to time.

expected 7th to 17th no legend

I’ve removed the legend again so you can see the actual stacked ranges more clearly.  All of the 7th degree relatives have a minimum of zero, so there is no green bar.  Furthermore, at 5th cousins twice removed, the expected shared cMs drops to below 1, so the blue bar is nearly indistinguishable.

expected 9th to 17th

This last chart shows the smallest group, 9th through 17th degrees, or 4th through 8th cousins.

expected 9th to 17th no legend

On this final chart, we clearly see that Blaine’s actual red shared cMs and the purple maximum are significantly more pronounced than the blue expected shared cMs.  Some people share no DNA at this level, which is to be expected, but a non-trivial number of people share significantly more than is mathematically expected.  There are no absolutes.

Summary

DNA is not always inherited in the fashion or amount expected, and that wide variance is why we see what people believe are “false positive” relationship predictions. In reality, the best the vendors can do is to work with the averages.  This also explains why it’s so difficult for us to estimate or determine how a person might be connected based just on the relationship or generational prediction.  It’s just that, a prediction based on averages which may or may not reflect reality.

There’s a lot we don’t know yet about inheritance – why certain segments are passed on, often intact, sometimes for many generations, and some segments are not.  We don’t know how segments are “selected” for inheritance and we don’t yet know why some segments appear to be “sticky” meaning they show up more in descendants than other segments.

Close relationships are relatively easy, or easier, to predict, at least by relationship degree, but further distant ones are almost impossible to predict accurately based on either academic inheritance models or Blaine’s crowdsourced average cM information.

Here’s a clean copy of the combined chart for your use.

Note:  If you downloaded this chart on August 4, 2016, there was an error in the maximum number of first cousins trice removed.  On August 5, 2016, it was corrected to read 413.

Expected vs shared clean 4

Additional Relatives Added to Phased Family Matches at Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA has been rolling out updates and upgrades fast and furious.

On July 7th, Family Tree DNA released Phased Family Matches which included phasing to people linked to your tree who have DNA tested who are related to you.  These phased matches allow Family Tree DNA to assign matches to maternal or paternal buckets, or both.  The people that could be utilized for this phased matching were as follows:

  • Parent(s)
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • First Cousins
  • Grandparents

Of course, because everyone wants the most people possible in their assigned parental buckets, the first clamor was for the addition of:

  • Half siblings
  • Half “other relatives” such as aunts, uncles, first cousins, etc.
  • Second Cousins
  • Third Cousins

Family Tree DNA said that there would be additional new developments shortly, and exactly 20 days later, they quietly rolled updated capabilities that includes matching to…..you guess it….all of the above, plus more, including:

  • Great-great-grandparents
  • Great-grandparents
  • Grand uncles
  • Grand aunts
  • Great-grandaunts
  • Great-granduncles

I’m certainly envious of anyone who can test their great-grandmother – although my grandchildren have their great-grandmother, grandmother and both parents in the system.

In my case, before this change, the only relative that I had in the system that originally qualified was my mother. I was very excited to have people in my maternal bucket and was wishing for people in my paternal bucket. I do have several cousins who have tested on my paternal side, but none as close as 1st cousins.

Imagine my delight when I signed on to my account and discovered 359 individuals in my paternal bucket and one in both, in addition to my 256 maternal phased matches.

Both Buckets

These 359 phased paternal matches come from the combination of the following 8 individuals that have tested and I had previouisly linked to me in my tree:

  • Half sister’s granddaughter
  • Two first cousins once removed
  • One first cousin twice removed
  • One second cousin
  • One second cousin once removed
  • Two third cousins

Of course, now I’m searching through my DNA matches to see if I have anyone else who qualifies that has tested.

And I’m thinking about any other cousins that would benefit my phased parental bucket assignments if I were to be able to convince them to test.

I unlinked and relinked a few people to see how many people were added to the buckets because of them.

The second cousin once removed added 12 new people. Yet, one of the third cousins added 82, so you really never know. Some of the people who might have been added to a bucket by the second cousin may have already been added to the parental bucket by an earlier match.

Regardless, the more people linked to your tree from third cousins closer, the better your chances for having people assigned to maternal and paternal sides of your tree, even without having your parents.

Keep linking people in your tree when you know where and how they connect to you – regardless of where they are located in your tree.  You never know how that may benefit you – which morning you may wake up and find additional information or more people in your buckets.  What a great surprise!!!

This is a pretty amazing feat if you think about it, given that just a few years ago autosomal testing wasn’t available at all, and even today, no other vendor does phased matching, assigning individuals to maternal or paternal buckets utilizing parents and other relatives when parents aren’t available.

Catharina Schaeffer (c1775-c1826) and the Invisible Hand of Providence, 52 Ancestors #127

Catharina Schaeffer was born about 1774 to Johann Nicholas Schaeffer and Susanna DeTurk in Berks County, Pennsylvania. While many church records still exist and are available for the genealogist, it appears that none of Nicholas Schaeffer’s children are found in the existing records – at least none that I’ve been able to find.

Although we do have Catharina’s father’s estate documents, there is no final distribution that includes Catharina by her married name, nor a mention of her husband, Peter Gephart.  In fact, there is no final distribution in that estate packet at all.

Catharina didn’t marry until 1799, half way through the estate settlement, so it’s not like she is absent in something where she should be present. However, given this tiny shred of ambiguity, I was very pleased to have autosomal DNA matches to descendants of Catharina’s parents and Schaeffer grandparents through other children.

Catharina’s father, Johann Nicholas Schaeffer, died on November 2, 1796, according to his estate documents.

A petition filed on April 3, 1798 relative to real estate lists Nicholas’s children, as follows:

John Schaeffer, Esther wife of Jacob Miller, Catharine, Daniel, Susanna, Mary, Elizabeth and Jacob, the 4 last of whom are minors. Nicholas’s widow is noted as Susanna.

Catherine is the anglicized version of the German Catharina.  The one document where she signs her name with an X, her name is given as Catharina so that is the name I’m using.

The 1798 document from her father’s estate tells us that Catharina is at least 21 years old, meaning she was born before April 3, 1777. Furthermore, I suspect that these children are listed in age order, given that we know from other estate documents that John is the eldest (born on May 30, 1771) and we know from this document that the youngest are listed last.

If the children were born every 2 years, and none died, then the 4 youngest would have been roughly 19, 17, 15 and 13. By inference Daniel would have been 21 and Catherina 23.   So we can comfortably say that Catherina was born about 1775 and unquestionably between 1773 and 1777, even if the middle three children are listed out of order.

Initially, Susanna, Nicholas’s widow, is awarded executorship, but she petitions the court to find another executor, at which point Valentine Gephart/Gebhart is appointed.

Nicholas’ estate mentions several Gephart men both in the list of accounts and at the estate sale, so these families were closely affiliated and probably near neighbors.

Catharina Schaeffer married Johann Peter Gephart Jr., known as Peter, on March 24, 1799 in Christ Lutheran Church in Berks County, known today as Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Catharina Schaeffer Christ Lutheran

The church, built in 1743, is still functioning today and this beautiful photo is from their Facebook page. I would like to think that Catherina’s memories of this church were glowing and beautiful, full of the freshness and hope of new love.  That chapter in her life wouldn’t last long.

Catharina Schaeffer Christ Lutheran2

Peter was born on June 10, 1771 and was the son of Johann Peter Gebhart and Eva, last name unknown.

On November 2, 1799, Catharina had daughter Elizabeth Gephart followed by son, John Gephart born on February 26, 1801.

It’s likely that Catherina had a child that was born and died in 1803, or perhaps the child didn’t die until 1804 sometime. It would be terribly unusual for a woman to not become pregnant at that age from 1802 through December 1804 without having a child in-between those dates. According to Peter’s estate papers and later guardianship records, there was no child born, that lived, after 1801. Neither was Catherina pregnant when Peter died in December 1804.

The Western Fever

According to research by Kierby Stetler and Gene Mozley:

In the year 1803, four men from Tulpehocken Twp., Berks County, went to Ohio to see the country and if they liked it, planned to buy some property and move their families onto it. They found some land they liked about 60 miles east of Cincinnati which was owned by a man in Virginia. They met with the owners’ agent in Ohio and contracted to purchase 1000 acres, then started for Virginia to close the deal with the owner. However, by the time they arrived at the man’s residence, he had died. Disappointed and exhausted from the trip, they returned to their homes in Berks County.

They gave such glowing accounts of the State of Ohio that the “western ern fever” became an epidemic in the neighborhood. As a result, 24 families decided to sell out and move to Ohio the following spring. A few in the meantime had moved to Center Co, PA but arrangements to join the group were made with them by letter. It was agreed that all would start as such a time as to meet in Pittsburgh on or about the same day. In this group from Berks County were our George Stettler, his children and grandchildren. George was nearly 65 years of age at this time.

The Stettler family would be Catharina and Peter Gephart’s neighbor to the south, in Montgomery County, Ohio.

In 1804, as one of the group of 24 families from Berks County, Catharina and Peter Gephart, along with their 2 young children joined the wagon train and made their way from Berks County, Pennsylvania to Montgomery County, Ohio.

Catharina Schaeffer Berks to Montgomery

The distance between Maiden Creek Township in Berks County and Miamisburg, in Montgomery County, near Peter Gephart’s land, is about 513 miles, which equated to about 51 days in a wagon. I would have been a long and tiresome journey, that’s for sure. However, there was a better route.  The History of German Township, Montgomery County, Ohio tells us more:

The following are the names of those heads of families who came to this valley from Pennsylvania in the 1804 colony, some of whom, however, settled outside the present limits of German Township: Philip Gunckel, Christopher, John and William Emerick (who were brothers), George Kiester, Jacob Bauer, George Moyer, John Gunckel (who subsequently returned to Pennsylvania), John and Christopher Shuppert. Peter Gebhart, George Stettler and his five sons, William, Henry, Daniel. George and Jacob, John Barlet, Abraham Puntius and George Kern (who came with them as far as Cincinnati, where he remained two years, coming to this township in 1806). There were twenty-four families of them when they started from Pennsylvania, but they did not all get to the Twin Valley. Some dropped off on their way hither and settled elsewhere, while others remained so short a time that they cannot be claimed as pioneers of this valley. The names of all such have been omitted.

We can see from the above list that the 24 dwindled to 19, and then to 18 when one family returned to Pennsylvania, then to 17 with the death of Peter Gephart. The following year, in 1805, another group arrived that included Valentine Gephart, among others.

There is actually a very important clue in the History of German Township information, and that is that George Kern came as far as Cincinnati. This tells us that these pioneers only came part way by wagon, likely as far as Pittsburg, where they purchased rafts and floated downriver to Cincinnati. Had they come overland, they would not have dropped south to Cincinnati, as it would have been out of the way.

From Cincinnati, they would have headed north to what is now Montgomery County.

It’s “only” 270 miles to Pittsburg, or 27 days in a wagon, from Berk’s County.

Catharina Schaeffer Berks to Pittsburgh

From Pittsburg, the caravan of German settlers would have floated down the Ohio from Pittsburg to Cincinnati on a flatboat.

flatboat

In Cincinnati they would have unloaded the flatboat and purchased or hired wagons once again in order to head for Montgomery County. It’s only 50 miles or so from Cincinnati to Miamisburg, in Miami Township, only a mile or so from where Catharina and Peter Gephart would settle, beside the Stettlers.

Catharina Schaeffer Cincy to Montgomery

This “Miami Township” article by Jacob Zimmer, probably written in the 1880s, given that John Gephart died in 1887, tells us more:

It was in the spring or summer of 1804, that John Shupert, wife and six children, Christopher, Frederick, Jacob, Eva, Peggy and Tena, came from Berks County, Penn., locating about one mile southwest of “Hole’s Station,” where he and wife lived until death. Christopher was married and had one son, John, when the family located here, the latter of whom is now residing in the township. In the same colony from Berks County, Penn., came Peter Gebhart, wife and two children, John and Elizabeth, settling a short distance southwest of the station, where Peter died the same year. His son, John, now a very old man, is still a resident of Miami Township. Most of this colony from Berks County settled in German Township.

Hole’s Station became Miamisburg in 1818.

Another account of the 1804 journey is given in the book “Twin Valley” b J. P. Hentz, published in 1883:

They set out on their westward journey in the spring of 1804. Such a journey was at that time no small undertaking. It required many weeks for its accomplishment and was attended by no small degree of danger and hardship. The goods, women and children had to be conveyed by wagon over rough mountain roads. The country through which the emigrants had to pass was yet but thinly settled; wild beasts such as wolves, bears and panthers were still abounding in the forests; and Indians, more savage than savage brutes, were still lurking in forest and mountain fastness. At night they usually encamped by some stream, and whilst one party laid down to sleep, another kept watch around the encampment. Exposure and malaria often caused serious illness, and not unfrequently one fell victim to disease and was buried by the wayside. Our friends, on their way through Pennsylvania experienced many of these evils; they arrived however, at the time agreed upon in Pittsburgh without having met with any serious accident. Here they engaged river boats, on which they put their chattels and families, and then paddled down the Ohio River. Cincinnati was their destination by water. After a trip of about a week they landed at the latter place. This event occurred on the 20th day of June, 1804. From Cincinnati they went to New Reading, a hamlet not far distant where they arrived a fortnight, considering what next to do or where to next to direct their steps. A few of them found employment here and remained, but to the majority this did not seem as their Canaan.

They again took up their line of march, this time their course lay northward. They had heard of the Miami Valley and desired to locate in it, but they had no definite objective point in view, trusting rather to fortune and the guiding hand of Providence. Some distance north of Cincinnati they entered this Valley and were delighted with the country. It was so very different from the rugged mountain country which they had left in Pennsylvania. No mountains and rocks were to be seen here. The forests were much taller, the soil was more productive and the surface much more level than in the country from which they came. They passed over many an attractive spot where they might have located, but they moved on, doubtlessly prompted and guided by the invisible hand of Providence, until they reached the vicinity of the present site of Miamisburg. Here lived a wealthy farmer, whose name was Nutz, who spoke German. They were glad to meet a gentleman who spoke their own tongue. With him they stopped to rest and refresh themselves and after forming his acquaintance and finding him a genial and kindhearted man, they concluded to encamp awhile on his farm. It was now midsummer and the weather being warm and pleasant, they took up abode in the woods where they lived in wagons and temporary huts, for about two weeks.

A Mr. Philip Gunckel, being a man of superior intelligence and the only person among them who spoke the English language with any degree of fluency was for these reasons looked upon as a leader of the group. He searched the area looking for a proper location to build a mill, as he was by occupation a miller, “and at last found the object of which he was in search on Big Twin Creek, a branch of the Miami River. The precise point chosen by Mr. Gunckel was about 6 miles from the mouth of this stream, now within the corporate limits of Germantown. When he made known his decision to his companions, they all concluded to settle near around him. Upon this the encampment on the Nutz farm was at once broken up, the immigrants forded the Miami River, crossed over to the western bank ascended the steep bluffs adjoining and then traveled on in the direction of the Twin creek. And here, by the side of this stream, they rested at the end of their long and wearisome journey. Here now was their future home.”

Before winter set in, they had secured land and erected some sort of dwellings. The first winter was a long and lonely one. They had harvested no crops the previous year, nor had they earned anything with which to procure the necessaries of life, having spent nearly the whole summer in their journey. Provisions, even if they had the means would have been difficult to procure, as the settlers were but few and had just begun to clear away the forest, and did not raise more than their own wants required. Game was plenty, however. They did not starve during this winter, but they were obliged to live on a small allowance.

Early the following spring, they went to work to clear away the trees, turn up the soil and sow and plant. Their hardest work such as clearing, log-rolling buildings and harvesting was mostly done by crowds, collected together for the purpose from the entire settlement. They made, as they called it, a frolic of it; that is they united into a sort of one-family arrangement, and did their work by succession, first on one place, then on a second and third, etc., until they had made the round and had got through with all. They continued this habit of mutual assistance for many years and great harmony and good feeling prevailed among them.

Religiously, they were either Lutherans or Reformeds, and as in those days it used to be said that all the difference between the denominations was that in the Lord’s Prayer, the one said, “Vater Unser,” and the other said “Unser Vater.”

Unser Vater translates to “Our Father.”

Catharina’s husband Peter Gephart along with George Moyer filed a joint land claim after their arrival in 1804 and agreed upon how they would divide the land.

Widowed

By December 1804, Peter was dead and Catharina, about age 30, was left in Ohio just months after arriving with 2 small children and few resources.  Losing a husband is tragic, but losing your husband on the frontier just months after arrival and before becoming established, with no food or resources is a disaster. It’s a good thing there was a group of settlers, even though there were only 17 families, otherwise Catharina and her children might not have survived that initial winter.  They obviously shared their food with Catharina and her children. By the winter of 1805, Catharina had remarried.

Were it not for the fact that Catharina was widowed, we would have little information about her life. For that matter, were it not for the fact that she was widowed, she would not be my ancestor.

Daniel Miller was appointed by the court to be the executor of Peter Gephart’s estate. We don’t know why, especially given that Catharina was Lutheran and Daniel was Brethren, but regardless of why, it was a fortuitous turn of events. It could possibly have been because Daniel also spoke German, although so did the rest of the Berks County group, although perhaps the Berk’s county group was not yet considered “established” or could not post the required bond. Furthermore, Daniel Miller may have spoken English as well, an important asset in dealing with the court. Daniel was also an Elder in the Brethren Church, so certainly considered to be a respectable man. And he lived close by.

Daniel’s son, David Miller, was 5 or 6 years younger than Catharina and either unmarried or a widower himself. I’d wager a bet that David set about helping Catharina with clearing her land and farm chores. After all, Catharina had a 3 and 5 year old child and couldn’t leave them alone to go out to chop trees and work the fields.

Catharina Remarries

One thing led to another, and well, let’s say that human nature, being what it is, Catharina became pregnant in September of 1805, followed by Catharina and David’s marriage in Warren County, Ohio on December 13, 1805. Their first child, David B. Miller, was born the following June.   In a small, conservative, community, that must have been somewhat of a scandal, because it’s not like no one would notice. Furthermore, while they were both German, they were religiously “mixed,” she being Lutheran and he being Brethren. That probably didn’t go over well with either group. However, it’s not like there were other Lutherans to choose from in terms of a spouse – the community was quite small, so maybe marrying a German was “the best” they could hope for at that time and both communities were more tolerant than they might otherwise have been.  At least, I hope so.

Subsequently, David Miller was appointed guardian for Catharina’s two children, a very common event for a step-father. This guardianship would have been in relation to the land and any other resources that the children would stand to inherit from their father’s estate when they came of age, in 1820 and 1822, respectively.

The 1806 guardianship order records Elizabeth Gephart as being age 8 and John is noted as being age 5.

Probably about this time, Catharina would have converted to being Brethren from Lutheran. We know that David Miller remained a Brethren, as he would have been dismissed from the church had Catherina not converted. Whether she truly converted, or did so in name only to keep peace in the household and larger community, we’ll never know. One hint might be if we could determine whether or not her Gephart children were Brethren. If they were, she was. If they weren’t, then it’s unlikely that she converted in more than name only.

Given that Catharina’s son, John, is buried in the Stettler (Lutheran) Cemetery just down the road half a mile from Peter Gephart’s land and Elizabeth Gephart Hipple is buried in a non-Brethren Cemetery in Miamisburg, it’s unlikely that either child was Brethren. So, I’d wager that Catharina was technically Brethren, in name if not entirely in spirit.

In 1810, Daniel Miller as executor of Peter Gephart’s estate, Catherina Miller as his former wife and the mother of his 2 children, and David Miller as her current husband and guardian of her children petition the Montgomery County court and tell the court how Peter and George Moyer divided the land they patented together.

I wondered why this was done in 1810, and not before, or not later, for that matter. It turns out that the patent was applied for earlier, but not actually issued until October 1809 and then it was issued in the names of George Moyer and Peter Gephart’s two minor children, precipitating the need for a court order to sign deeds.

Catharina Schaeffer land patent

Montgomery Count court note on page 341 reflect the following:

May term 1810– Daniel Miller and Katharine Miller (late Katherine Gephart) with the consent of her husband David Miller administrators of the estate of Peter Gephart [state] that Peter together with George Moyer were [in] possession of 2 tracts of land as tenants in common in Township 2 range 5, section 9 and fraction of 10…land sold to Daniel Mannbeck, land sold to Christopher Shuppert…land sold to John Shuppert…to Miami River…corner George Moyer’s land…425 acres (Moyers share was 447 acres). Peter surveyed in his lifetime…sold quietly to George Jeaceable. Request to execute deed. Elizabeth and John Gephart are Peter and Catharina’s children. Daniel Miller, David Miller and Catharina Gephart sign.

This land is located on both sides of S. Union Road between Upper Miamisburg Road and Lower Miamisburg Road. Union Road divides sections 9 and 10.

Catharina Schaeffer land

Peter Gebhart/Gephart and George Möyer’s property ran between modern-day Upper Miamisburg Road and Lower Miamisburg Road from Jamaica Road east to the Great Miami River, across the river from Miamisburg. An irregular strip comprising a northern third of nearly 448 acres was allotted to George Moyer. Peter Gephart was allotted the middle third of over 445 acres. The southern third was arranged to be sold to Johannes “John” Shuppert (Shüppart), Christopher Shuppert, and Daniel Mannbeck, in three 106-3/8-acre parcels for $200 each, but Peter Gephart died prior to concluding the transactions, hence the petition to the court to complete the transactions as administrators of Gebhart’s estate.

Christopher and Hannah Shuppert sold their tract, the south-central tract, to Peter’s cousin, Heinrich “Henry” Gebhart, Sr., for $300 later in 1810.

Catharina Schaeffer land close

The middle third is shown above, probably the area roughly demarcated by the brown field to the right of Union Road, if you drew lines east and west on the top and bottom of the field east to the Miami River and west to Jamaica Road. In fact, you can see the field lines, which likely followed the property lines, although the tract was irregularly shaped.

Catharina Schaeffer mound drawing

Interestingly, the Miamisburg Indian mound, attributed to the Adena culture, is located less than a mile away from the Schaeffer land. This would have been a familiar sight to Catharina. While cleared today, shown in a Google street view today, the area would originally have been forested as depicted in the drawing above.

Catharina Schaeffer mound today

1811 – A Year of Change

In 1811, Catharina served as executor for the estate of Peter’s uncle, Valentine Gebhart (1751-1810). This may have been the same Valentine Gephart that served as Catherina’s father’s estate executor, which would explain how Catharine met Peter. It’s unusual that Catharina was chosen to serve as Valentine’s executor. Perhaps she had a particularly close relationship with Valentine. Catharina and Peter’s cousin, Philip Gebhart sold three 160-acres tracts in Township 3, Range 5 East, Section 2 (Jefferson Township) around the town of Drexel. To me, Catharine settling the estate and affairs of Valentine feels like life coming full circle.  Valentine probably functioned somewhat as a parental or favorite uncle role for Catharina.

Catharina’s mother died back in Pennsylvania on September 26, 1811. That sad news would have arrived by letter with the next courier coming to Ohio. It’s hard to imagine not being able to be with your mother at the end to comfort her, and to bury her once she had passed over. There was no closure, no life celebration, only the sad news and grieving alone or with anyone in the group who would have known her mother and shared Catharina’s sadness. To the best of my knowledge, none of Catharina’s siblings settled in Ohio, so other than Peter Gephart’s relative, Valentine, who arrived in 1805, Catharina was without family.

Fortunately, David Miller’s father, Daniel, lived just a couple miles away, so Catharina married into a new Brethren family when she married David.

Life on the Farm

Catharina’s life probably calmed down substantially and began to run much more smoothly after her marriage to David Miller, settling into the seasonal rhythmic routine of sew and reap, cooking and laundry, church on Sundays, marriages, births and burials in the churchyard. That never ending cycle.

From 1806 to 1818, Catharina had 7 children, so she was perpetually busy with 9 children and a husband to look after.

David Miller farmed the land that Peter Gephart owned, probably on behalf of the “orphans,” his step-children, and his wife’s share.

David Miller 1810 tax Montgomery

The 1810 tax list of Miller men shows David paying taxes on land in that same location, and the 1814 tax list is even more specific.

David Miller 1814 Montgomery tax list

On this list, the last column indicates the individual who entered the land, meaning the original grantee. The land David is farming is listed as Moyer and Gephart – confirming that indeed, David is farming the Peter Gephart land.  The second David Miller entry in Randolph Township is David’s uncle.  Millers and Brethren Millers in particular are often very difficult to unravel, so it’s fortuitous that our David Miller did indeed farm Catherina’s land – because the location and land identifies the family uniquely.

That farming arrangement would work fine, until Elizabeth and John came of age, which happened in 1820 and 1823, respectively. At that time, the part of Peter’s land that was not Catharina’s dower right, typically one third of the value of the estate, would have become the property of the children, or would have been sold and the proceeds divided between the children.

That would leave David only to farm one third of the land, if that much, because the house would have been considered in that valuation as well, so the total acreage allotted to Catharina would have been less than one third of the total.

The 1820 census schedule in German Township, Montgomery County, shows us David Miller living beside John Gephart, his step-son.

David Miller has the following household members:

  • Male 0-10 Samuel Miller b 1816
  • Male 0-10 John David born 1812
  • Male 10-16 David B. b 1806
  • Male 26-45 David (the father)
  • Male 45+
  • Female 0-10 Lydia Miller b 1818 or Catharine b 1814
  • Female 10-16 Mary b 1809 or Elizabeth b 1808
  • Female 16-24 Susan b 1802 or Esther
  • Female to 45 Catharina (the mother)

It looks like spaces for 3 daughters are missing, unless Esther has already married.

In 1822, David Miller’s father, Daniel dies. Apparently Peter Gephart’s estate has not yet been finalized, and David Miller along with Catharina both sign a receipt that was found in Daniel Miller’s estate papers.

David Miller 1823 receipt

This one “signature” of Catharina is her only known signature, and it appears that she cannot read and write. Obtaining Valentine Gephart’s estate packet might yield additional information about Catharina and additional signatures of hers as well.

Sadly, Catharina died about 1826, at about age 51, leaving 9 children in total, 7 of which had been born to Catharina and David Miller. Their youngest known child was born in 1818, when Catharina would have been about 44.

For a long time, for some reason, it was assumed that Catharine died in childbirth in 1826 – probably because so many women did. Now, based on her father’s estate records being located, we know that it’s very unlikely that Catharine died in childbirth in 1826, because she would have been roughly age 51, give or take a year. Given that her last child was born in 1818, this reinforces her birth year as about 1775 and reduces the probability that she died in childbirth 8 years later.

Burial

I wish we knew where Catharina was buried, but we don’t.

We can speculate a bit, based on what we know of the history of the area.

David may have buried Catharina near Peter Gephart. Of course, we don’t know where Peter is buried either, but the Gebhart cemetery was in use quite early – at least by 1815 and probably earlier. However, since Peter died so soon after arrival, it’s questionable whether a burial ground had been established in the location that would become the Gephart Church at that time.

David could have buried Catharina in a Brethren Cemetery, and if that is the case, it is likely Happy Corners, then known as Lower Stillwater, although that church was several miles away, in Randolph Township.

David could also have buried Catharina in the old cemetery on the land his father, Daniel owned up through 1815, which was only a couple miles away. It’s possible that if Catharine and David lost any children, they would have been buried there as well. However, since the Miller family no longer owned this land in 1826, this location is questionable as well.

David could have buried Catharina in the Old Lutheran Cemetery in present day Germantown. The cemetery was in use by this time.

David could have buried her in the Schaeffer Cemetery in German Township, although that’s probably not terribly likely either.  It is unclear if and how Catharina would have been related to these Schaeffers.

A Miami Township map drawn in 2001 and copyrighted by Tom Midlam shows an unnamed cemetery on the northern part of section 10 of Miami Township which is the land owned by Moyer and Gephart. If the cemetery “cross” is located accurately, it would appear to be on the Moyer land. This cemetery is not named on the map, nor is it in the Miami County Cemetery Index. Given that information, it’s clear that this cemetery is an old family cemetery about which little information is available.

The area today is wooded, although it was likely cleared at one time. If Catharina was buried here, and the cross on Tom’s map is accurate, the cemetery would have been someplace in the forested area bordered on the northwest by Upper Miamisburg Road and South Union Road, at roughly the arrow below.

Catharina Schaeffer poss cemetery

It’s also possible that Catharina was buried in the Stettler Cemetery, located about a mile to the south of where they lived. The Stettler Lutheran Church was formed when the Berks County group settled in the area and it’s also where Catharina’s son, John, is buried as well.

Catharina Schaeffer Stettler

Hill Grove, where Catharina’s daughter Elizabeth is buried wasn’t established until 1863, so we know Catharina’s not there.

My gut feel would be that either Catharina was buried in the cemetery on the land just north of theirs that was presumably in George Moyer’s portion of the tract, or that she is buried in the Stettler Cemetery, because it was close by and her son is buried there as well. We know that the Stettler church was established very early and the residents would have had to establish a group burying ground as well, with perhaps Peter Gephart being the first – especially if the Gephart church wasn’t established yet.

One thing is for sure – wherever Catharina’s final resting place, it was a very sad day with a long line of stair-stepped children, ages 8 to 27, weeping for their mother.

The Early Churches

The Stettler Family tells about establishing the Stettler Church on the land owned by George Stettler who died in 1815 and is buried in the cemetery at the Stettler Church. This is also where John Gephart was buried in 1887.

There were two church congregations established early, the Lutherans and the Reformeds, commonly referred to as the Gebhardt Church and the Stettler Church, respectively. The land for the Reformed church was donated by the Stettler family in 1808.

The Stettler church is located just a mile south of the land owned by Peter and Catharine Gephart, as shown on the map above.

The Gebhart Church and cemetery is located East of Miamisburg, about 4 miles, and across the Miami River, from where Catharina and David lived.

Catharina Schaeffer Gephart church

There are marked burials here as early as 1833, and likely burials long before that.

It’s possible that Peter Gephart may have been the first burial at the Gephart Church in 1804.

Interestingly enough, according to the History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio, Vol 1, the two churches shared a minister from 1808 until 1813. Lutherans living in Miamisburg declined to join either church, saying that the distance to Gephart Church was too great and the roads too bad, and that they were too poor to be ferried across the Miami River to the west side to attend the Stettler Church.

Catharina’s children with Peter Gephart:

Elizabeth Gebhart/Gephart was born November 2, 1799 in Berk’s County and died on August 29, 1884 in Miamisburg, Montgomery County, Ohio. Elizabeth married William Hipple on April 7, 1820 in Montgomery County, Ohio. She is buried in the Hill Grove Cemetery in Miamisburg, just a couple miles from where she grew up in Miami Township.

Catharina Schaeffer Elizabeth Hipple

Elizabeth Gephart and William Hipple had the following children:

  • Catharine Hipple (1821-1887) married Frederick Kolling (Colling) in 1842 and had 4 sons and one daughter, Mary Kolling/Colling.
  • John William Hipple born October 5, 1822 and died November 20, 1893. He married Elizabeth Sherrits and they had 9 children.
  • Sarah (Salone) Hipple (1824-1916) married John Tobias in 1846 and John Coleman in 1856. She had 2 sons and 3 daughters, Clara Elizabeth, Mary Hannah and Hallie Sue Coleman.
  • Caroline Hipple (1828-1865) married Isaac Weidner and had 2 sons and daughter Amelia Aurora Weidner.
  • Clinton Hipple (1830-1910) married Magdalena Tobias in 1849, Eliza Jane Stettler in 1852 and Catharine Stettler Shade in 1874. He had 14 children between all three wives.
  • Jeremiah Hipple born in June 1834, married Matilda Tobias in 1849 and had 7 children.
  • Rebecca Hipple (1826-1914) married William Roark and had 3 boys and two girls, Laura Jane and Ellen Roark. Rebecca later married Leonard John Dangler.
  • Elizabeth Hipple was born in January 1839, married John Beck and had no children.

John Gebhart/Gephart was born on February 26, 1801 and died on January 19, 1887 in Miami Township, Montgomery County, Ohio. He is reportedly buried in the Stettler Cemetery, according to the family, although he doesn’t seem to have a marker. There are many unmarked graves.

Catharina Schaeffer John Gephart

John Gephart married Julia Ann Brosius in 1819. They had at least three children and probably more. This line is not well researched.

  • Jacob Gebhart (1820-1902) married Sidney Ann Medlar and had 2 children.
  • Peter P. Gebhart (1821-1856) married Sarah Shupert and had 5 children
  • Magdalena Gephart (1823-1889) married George Schmidt Gebhart and had 17 children
  • William Gebhart (1825-1891) married Mary Ann Bebhart and had 8 children.
  • Margaret Gephart born in 1827 married Isaac Loy and died Nov. 23, 1900, age 73 years 6 months 17 days in Greenfield, Hancock County, Indiana. Margaret and Isaac had 9 children.
  • Philip Gebhart (1829-1920)
  • John Gebhart (1832-1904) married Elizabeth Kauffman and had 3 children
  • Sarah Gephart born December 20, 1836 married Jacob Loy, died on June 1, 1913 in Pendleton, Indiana and had 7 children.
  • Henry Gebhart (1837-1907)
  • George B. Gebhart (1839-1907) married Nancy Cramer and had 5 children.
  • Susan Catherine Gebhart (1843-1913) married George Washington Burnett and had 5 children

Indeterminate Children

David Miller had two daughters whose mother is unidentified. We do have an avenue to determine whether their mother was Catharina Schaeffer or a previous, albeit unknown, wife. If a descendant of Esther or Susan Miller through all females from Esther/Susan to the tester, took a mitochondrial DNA test, we could compare it against a mitochondrial DNA test of a descendant of Catherina through all females descended from known daughters. If their mitochondrial DNA matches, they share the same direct maternal ancestor. If not, they don’t. Easy as pie. In the current generation, the tester can be a male but he must descend through all females.

Women contribute their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only the females pass it on. So everyone in the world carries their mother’s mitochondrial DNA that is passed to them directly from the matrilineal line, unmixed with any DNA from the father’s side.

I have a testing scholarship for anyone who descends from Catherina’s known daughters through all females to the current generation. I have bolded the candidate lineages for testing, above and below, through Catherina’s daughters.

The two indeterminate daughters are:

Esther Miller Lear/Leer was deceased at the time that her father David Miller’s estate was distributed in Elkhart County, Indiana beginning in 1853.

If Esther is Catharina’s daughter, she was likely named for Catharine’s sister, Esther Schaeffer. Esther is also a Biblical name.

We don’t know Esther’s birthdate, but one researcher shows her marriage to Abraham Lear (also spelled Leer) on December 30, 1824 and names their source as a DAR record.

We do know that Esther was married before 1827 based on her children’s ages. Unfortunately, these dates do little to narrow the range of her birth from “before 1806” to “after 1806” which is the dividing line in the sand that makes a difference in terms of the identity of her mother.

Esther Miller and Abraham Lear/Leer had the following children:

  • Elizabeth Lear was born December of 1827 and died in August 16, 1913 in Holmesville, Gage Co., Nebraska. Her descendants show her birth date as December 5, 1825. She married Samuel Irvin in Elkhart County on May 11, 1845 and had 8 children including daughters Hilinda and Hettie Irvin.
  • Susan Lear was born April 12, 1832 in Elkhart County, Indiana and died on June 5, 1907 in North Liberty, St. Joseph County, Indiana. She married Israel Irvin on April 23, 1852 in Elkhart County and had 7 children including daughters Mary Catherine, Matilda Jane and Dora Irvin.
  • John W. Lear born in 1838. He married Samantha E. Shafer on September 18, 1872 in Elkhart County, Indiana. They had two children.
  • Sarah Lear born in October 1840 (census indicated both 1840 and 1843 at different times) and died after 1910 in Marion County, Kansas. She married Israel Eliphet B. Riggle on October 2, 1862 in Elkhart County. They had 3 children including daughter Arvilla A. Riggle.
  • Mary Lear was born probably about 1827 and died about 1850. She married John Liveringhouse on November 7, 1847 and had two children, William and Eliza Liveringhouse.
  • Catherine Lear married Isaac Shively on December 26, 1852 in Elkhart County and died in 1886 in Allen County, Kansas. She had 8 childreni ncluding 2 daughters, Mary Alice and Sarah Shively.
  • Hetty Lear married Henry Stutsman on April 30, 1857. They moved to Douglas County, Kansas and had 6 children, including 2 daughter, Mary and Martha Stutzman.

Susan Miller was born June 5, 1802 and married Adam Whitehead on February 17,1825 in Montgomery County, Ohio. She died on July 17, 1876 and is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery in Elkhart County, Indiana. Her birth is calculated from her age on the tombstone. If Susan is Catharina’s daughter, she would have been named for Catharina’s mother and sister, Susanna DeTurk and Susanna Schaeffer.

Susan Miller and Adam Whitehead had the following children:

  • Mary Ann Whitehead (1828-1916) married Samuel R. Miller in 1847 and had 7 children including four daughters, Susan, Eva, Mary Jane and Sarah A. Miller.
  • Elizabeth Whitehead (1829-1853) married Jacob Riggles and apparently had no children that survived.
  • Esther Whitehead (1831-1910) married Daniel Shively in 1852 and had 3 children including 1 daughter, Susan Shively who lived to adulthood.
  • John M. Whitehead (1833-1912) married Sarah Smith and had 6 children.
  • Susana Whitehead (1836-1916) married Jacob B. Riggle and had 8 children, including 3 daughters, Catherine, Mary V. and Etta Riggle.
  • Catherine Whitehead (1838-1919) married John Riggle in 1855 and had 3 children, including Lillian J. and Luna May Riggle.
  • Margaret Whitehead (1841-1851)

Catharina’s Children with David Miller

David B. Miller was born June 3, 1806 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died on September 26, 1881 in Elkhart County, Indiana and is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery that is located on his father, David Miller’s, land. David B. Miller’s stone is 4 sided, with wife Christina buried on one side.

David Miller son David stone

Two of their children are memorialized on one side. The third side is David and the fourth side is an inscription.

David Miller son David closeup

David B. Miller would have been named for his father. No one seems to have any record of what the middle B. stands for.

David B. Miller married Christina Brumbaugh before coming to Elkhart County and had 11 children.

  • Catherine Miller who died before 1893
  • William Miller born November 2, 1831, died November 4, 1831, buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.
  • Jacob Miller (1832-1902) married Catherine Whitehead in 1855 and had 4 children, then married Catherine Harshman in 1871 and had 3 more children.
  • Mary Miller (1835-1893) married Joseph B. Peffley in 1853. She died in 1893 in Manuel, Brazoria, Texas and had 9 children.
  • Eve Miller born July 1836, died April 2, 1838, buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.
  • John B. Miller (1839-1897), buried at Baintertown and was living with his parents in 1880 and was a physician.
  • Michael M. Miller born December 1842 in Elkhart County, died Sept 5, 1854 and is buried in Baintertown.
  • Elizabeth “Betsy” Miller (1844-1925) married Samuel Pagen/Pagin, a physician, in 1899, had no children according to the 1900 census and is buried in Baintertown.
  • Daniel C. Miller (1847-1931) married Mary ? in 1885 and had no children according to the 1900 census. He then married Mary Kintigh in 1913 as a widower and is buried in Baintertown.
  • Susannah Miller (1849-1948) married Josiah Rohrer in 1870 and had 4 children.

Elizabeth Miller was born on April 6, 1808 in Montgomery County, Ohio, died on January 16, 1891 in Elkhart County, Indiana and is buried at Baintertown. She would have been named for Catharina’s sister, Elizabeth Schaeffer.

Elizabeth married Michael Haney in 1827 in Montgomery County, Ohio. They patented land very near David Miller in Elkhart County and had 5 children.

  • Matilda Haney (1834-1934) married John W. Baker in 1853. It appears that she died in Washington State.  Children are unknown.
  • Elizabeth R. Haney (1836-1900) married George Washington Alford and had 9 children including daughters, Eva, Jeanetta and Idealla Alford.
  • Joseph Beane Haney (1838-1920) married Lucinda Whitehead and had 5 children.
  • Mary “Molly” J. Haney (1844-1922) married Allen D. Gilkinson.  Children are unknown.
  • John Michael Haney (1847-1849)

Mary Miller was born in 1809 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Jeremiah Bright on January 31, 1828 in Montgomery County, Ohio. Mary would have been named for Catharina’s sister, Mary Schaeffer.

According to the Elkhart County Pictorial and Biographical Memoirs, Mary and Jeremiah had five children, but I found evidence of 7 including two children who died young:

  • David Miller Bright (1829-1905) married Elizabeth Rinehart, died in Leelenau County, Michigan and had 9 children.
  • George W. Bright (1830-1852)
  • John Bright (1831-1928), died in Fairfield, Ohio.
  • Mary Bright (1833-1911) married John Garner Hall in and had one daughter, Sarah Jane Hall. Mary then married Jacob Alva Aurand and had 7 children including Mary Ellen Aurand.
  • William Bright (1835-1917) married Catherine Wagner and had 5 children.
  • Susannah Bright (1837-1838)
  • Daniel Bright (1838-1840)

Mary then married Christian Stouder on September 11, 1842 in Elkhart County and had four more children:

  • Lydia Stouder (1843-1893) married Samuel Neff in 1883 and had 6 children including Mary Alice, Anne and Desaline Neff.
  • Christian Stouder (1845-1927) married Elizabeth Hohbein and her sister, Catherine Hohbein and had 6 children between the two wives.
  • Samuel H. Stouder (1850-1891) married Margaret Rummell and had 5 children.
  • Unknown 4th child

David Miller daughter Mary Stouder stone

Mary died on October 22, 1863 and is buried at Union Center Cemetery, although her birth and death information was apparently never inscribed on her stone.

John David Miller was born April 6, 1812 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married Mary Baker there on January 24, 1832. They came to Elkhart County with or near the same time as David Miller. Perhaps John David is named for both Catharina’s father, Johann Nicholas Schaeffer and David Miller, his father.

Mary Baker and John David Miller had 10 children:

  • John Miller – died as a child
  • Catherine Miller – died as a child
  • Samuel Miller – died as a child
  • Unknown child
  • Hester Ann Miller (1833-1917 married Jonas Shively and had 8 children.
  • David B. Miller (1838-1922) married Susan Smith and had 9 children.
  • Mary Ann Miller (1841-1915) married Michael Treesh and had 7 children.
  • Aaron B. Miller (1843-1923) married Sarah Myers and had 5 children.
  • Matilda A. Miller (1844-1935) married John Dubbs and had 6 children.
  • Martha Jane Miller (1847-1935) married David Blough and had 7 children.
  • George Washington Miller (1851-1917) married Lydia Miller and had 6 children.

John David Miller married second to Margaret Elizabeth Lentz, widow of Valentine Whitehead. They had four children:

  • Evaline Louise Miller (1857-1939) married Hiram Ferverda and had 11 children.
  • Ira J. Miller (1859-1948) married Rebecca Rodibaugh and had 2 children.
  • Perry Miller (1862-1906) married Mary Jane Lauer and had 4 children.

Photo of John David Miller with Margaret and 5 of his children.

john david miller family

Catherine Miller was born March 17, 1813 and died September 24, 1876 and is buried at Baintertown. She was named for her mother.

Catherine married Conrad Brumbaugh in 1833 in Elkhart County and they had five children.

  • John W. Brumbaugh (1835-1910) married Sarah Peffley and had 9 children. He then married Mary Kintigh and had 2 additional children.
  • Lydia Brumbaugh (1838-1856)
  • Eve Brumbaugh (1840-1891) married Daniel Riggle in 1857 and had 12 children, including daughters Laura Ann, Anna J., Sarah Lilie, Jennie and Kittie Riggle.
  • Sarah A. Brumbaugh born about 1846, died after 1860.
  • Joseph Brumbaugh (1856-1921) married Ellen Martha Hissong in 1889 and had two children who both died young.

Samuel B. Miller was born in 1816 and married Rose Ann Bowser. He died March 1, 1877 and is buried at Baintertown. They had seven children:

  • Emanuel Miller (1838-1921) married Nancy Maurer and had 8 children.
  • Mary J. Miller born (1840-1920) married James Alford in1857 and had 3 children.
  • William H. Miller (1841-1915) married Delilah J. Alford in 1868 and had 5 children. He then married and Matilda J. Wahmeyer in 1898.
  • Desaline Miller born (1845-1904) married Gustavoius Alonzo Latta in 1870, died of strangulation according to her death certificate, no children reported in the 1900 census.
  • Albert J. Miller born (1846-1924) married Elizabeth Ulery and had 2 children.
  • Charles C. Miller born (1847-1910) married Sarah and had two children.
  • Cephus Miller born 1850, died after 1860.

Lydia Miller was born about 1818 in Montgomery County, Ohio and married John (Jonathan) Collier, also spelled Colyar, on September 18, 1834 in Elkhart County. She died about 1876. They had seven children:

  • David Colyar born in 1837, died in 1916 in Kapowsin, Pierce County, Washington married Susanna and had 2 children
  • Elizabeth Colyar (1838-1920), married Jesse Whitman and had one child, a son.  She died in Lone Star, Douglas County, Kansas.
  • Susan Louise Colyar (1839-1917) married George Jacob Hardtarfer and had 9 children including Lydia, Mary Louise, Minnie Bell and Ida Lenora Hardtarfer. Susan died in Douglas County, Kansas.
  • Mary Colyar born in 1842.
  • John Colyar (1845-1932) married Sarah Josephine Belden and had two children
  • Catherine Colyar born in 1848.
  • Louisa Emaline Adaline Colyar born in 1855.

Catherina Schaeffer’s Mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondrial DNA can provide us with an additional chapter in the life of Catherina Schaeffer Gephart Miller and her ancestors, taking us further back in time. Because mitochondrial DNA does not recombine with the father’s DNA, it’s passed intact from mother to child, but only female children pass it on.  On the pedigree chart below, you can see that the red circles are the path the mitochondrial DNA is passed down to a brother and sister, both of whom will carry the matrilineal line’s mitochondrial DNA, but only the sister will pass it on.  The brother’s children will carry their mother’s mitochondrial DNA.

yline mtdna

In order to view Catherina’s mitochondrial DNA, we have to find someone descended from Catherina through all females to the current generation. In the current generation, the tester can be male, so long as he descends through all females from Catherina.

I have bolded female candidates in her list of children and grandchildren.

I have a DNA testing scholarship for someone who descends from Catherina Schaeffer through all females to the current generation.

Summary

I’m sure that Catharina didn’t mean to live such an adventurous live. Her life probably didn’t start out that way either. From the time she was born in Berks County, Pennsylvania, until she left in 1804 on the wagon train, there’s a good possibility she was never more than a few miles away from home – maybe never even in another county.

That all changed in the spring of 1804 when she set forth on the adventure of a lifetime. By the end of 1804, Catharina’s life had changed entirely – and not in a good way.

The trip to Ohio must have been exhausting, and perhaps exhilarating too. I can’t imagine being on a flatboat with two young children. I would be constantly terrified that one of them would escape from my clutches and perish in a watery grave. Flatboats didn’t have guardrails. The only protection you had in that day and age was common sense and a dose of good luck thrown into the mix.

In general, the group knew where they were going, but not specifically. They knew they were going to Cincinnati, but beyond that, they were waiting on Divine Guidance to give them a sign. Flying by the seat of your pants, or in this case, riding in a wagon directed by the invisible hand of Providence must have been a bit disconcerting for Catharina. Maybe she just didn’t think of the danger. Maybe she didn’t understand the scope of the danger. Maybe she just gritted her teeth and clenched her jaw…and prayed for deliverance.

Regardless, not long after Catharina thought she can literally come through the Valley of the Shadow of Death unscathed and was finally safe, the danger became intensely real when Peter died before year end, leaving her on the frontier to fend for herself. I surely have to wonder how he died. He was a young man. Maybe he stood in the wrong place felling trees, or maybe there was some other type of accident.

A year later, in December 1805, Catharina was remarried and pregnant with her third child. On the frontier, an expeditious marriage was best for everyone. Being single meant survival was in jeopardy. Being a single mother was even worse. The answer was to join forces with another through the bonds of matrimony – and the sooner the better. Catharina did what she needed to do.

Catharina must have been somewhat of a renegade woman to be appointed as the executor of the estate of Valentine Gephart in 1811. The court obviously thought her capable, even though it was a very unusual move.

Catharina had small children in her life, sometimes several, from a few months after her original marriage in 1799 until her death in 1826. Her youngest child then was about 8 years old, but about the time that her own children were no longer toddlers, Catharina’s oldest children began blessing her with grandchildren. This could well have been the highlight of her life. Her golden years, so to speak, but they didn’t last long and there weren’t entirely golden either.

The blank spaces in-between known children’s birth years testifies to the 4 grandchildren Catharina likely buried. Two of those grandchildren were also probably born in 1826, which makes me wonder if there was some type of illness within the community that may have claimed Catharine’s life as well as two or more of her grandchildren.

It also appears that Esther Miller who married Abraham Lear and Susan Miller who married Adam Whitehead also lost children in or about 1826 as well. Esther may have lost two children. It wouldn’t have mattered if Esther and Susan were Catharina’s children or step-children, she raised them from the time they were toddlers one way or the other, and their children were assuredly her grandchildren as well.

If 1804 was tragic, 1826 was a grief filled year for the Miller and Gephart families as well, losing Catharine and four or five grandchildren in that timeframe in addition.

At the time of Catharina’s death she had 4 living grandchildren, three from daughter Elizabeth and one from son John. Additionally, it appears that Esther and Susan would have had three between them in the same time period, if they didn’t pass away at or immediately after birth. Catharina’s grandchildren fit right in at the end of her own stair-stepped children. There were always babies in her household, I’m sure. Laughing, giggling, lifting the spirits of the adults. There is nothing so infectious as a baby’s laughter.

Although Catharina didn’t know them, eventually she would have at least 78 grandchildren and 14 step-grandchildren through Susan and Esther, if they weren’t her biological grandchildren.

Get ready for a shocker here, because Catharina had more than 300 great-grandchildren and another 63 either step-great-grandchildren or bio ones, if Susan and Esther were her daughters. Wouldn’t Catharina, who only knew 4 of her grandchildren, briefly, be surprised. It’s sad that her grandchildren never knew her with her undauntable pioneer spirit.

As I reflect on Catharina’s life, I’m struck by both the tragedy and the tenacity that tragedy must have built in the young Pennsylvania Dutch wife in a foreign wilderness who didn’t even speak English. Whatever she had to do, she did it. Adversity separates those who would fail from those who would succeed, but success doesn’t mitigate either sorrow or fear, both of which had to be present on the Ohio frontier on a daily basis as she looked at her two children and wondered what would happen to them.

I’m sure Catharina wondered if she had made the wrong decision leaving Pennsylvania, whether they had let their heads full of dreams of the land tempt them into harm’s way, and whether she should go back to Pennsylvania and return home to her mother. Going back wasn’t nearly as easy as traveling westward, because there was no river to float down – the entire trip was by wagon. Men who went back typically just rode a horse, which was far faster but not an option for a woman with two children. For whatever the circumstances the future would bring, Catherina was firmly planted on the land above the bluffs near the Miami River here she would create a new life on the frontier, with a new husband, and build a family that would lay the foundation for the future of hundreds of her descendants.

Perhaps Catharina coped with tragedy by letting that “Invisible Hand of Providence” guide and comfort her not just during the trip to Montgomery County, but throughout her life and ultimately, through the experience of death.

Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA

The introduction of the Phased Family Finder Matches has added a new way to view autosomal DNA results at Family Tree DNA and a powerful new tool to the genealogists toolbox.

The Phased Family Finder Matches are the 9th tool provided for autosomal test results by Family Tree DNA. Did you know where were 9?

Each of the different methodologies provides us with information in a unique way to assist in our relentless search for cousins, ancestors and our quests to break down brick walls.

That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that sometimes options are confusing, so I’d like to review each tool for viewing autosomal match information, including:

  • When to use each tool
  • How to use each tool
  • What the results mean to you
  • The unique benefits of each tool
  • The cautions and things you need to know about each tool including what they are not

The tools are:

  1. Regular Matching
  2. ICW (In Common With)
  3. Not ICW (Not In Common With)
  4. The Matrix
  5. Chromosome Browser
  6. Phased Family Matching
  7. Combined Advanced Matching
  8. MyOrigins Matching
  9. Spreadsheet Matching

You Have Options

Family Tree DNA provides their clients with options, for which I am eternally grateful. I don’t want any company deciding for me which matches are and are not important based on population phasing (as opposed to parental phasing), and then removing matches they feel are unimportant. For people who are not fully endogamous, but have endogamous lines, matches to those lines, which are valid matches, tend to get stripped away when a company employs population based phasing – and once those matches are gone, there is no recovery unless your match happens to transfer their results to either Family Tree DNA or GedMatch.

The great news is that the latest new option, Phased Family Matching, is focused on making easy visual comparisons of high quality parental matches which is especially useful for those who don’t want to dig deeply.

There are good options for everyone at all ranges of expertise, from beginners to those who like to work with spreadsheets and extract every teensy bit of information.

So let’s take a look at all of your matching options at Family Tree DNA. If you’re not taking advantage of all of them, you’re missing out. Each option is unique and offers something the other options don’t offer.

In case you’re curious, I’ll be bouncing back and forth between my kit, my mother’s kit and another family member’s kit because, based on their matches utilizing the various tools, different kits illustrate different points better.

Also, please note that you can click on any image to see a larger version.

Selecting Options

FF9 options

Your selection options for Family Finder are available on both your Dashboard page under the Family Finder heading, right in the middle of the page, and the dropdown myFTDNA menu, on the upper left, also under Family Finder.

Ok, let’s get started. 

#1 – Regular Matching

By regular matching, I’m referring to the matches you see when you click on the “Matches” tab on your main screen under Family Finder or in the dropdown box.

FF9 regular matching

Everyone uses this tool, but not everyone knows about the finer points of various options provided.

There’s a lot of information here folks. Are you systematically using this information to its full advantage?

Your matches are displayed in the highest match first order. All of the information we utilize regularly (or should) is present, including:

  • Relationship Range
  • Match Date
  • Shared CentiMorgans
  • Longest (shared) Block
  • X-Match
  • Known Relationship
  • Ancestral Surnames (double click to see entire list)
  • Notes
  • E-mail envelope icon
  • Family Tree
  • Parental “side” icon

The Expansion “+” at the right side of each match, shown below, shows us:

  • Tests Taken
  • mtDNA haplogroup
  • Y haplogroup

Clicking on your match’s profile (their picture) provides additional information, if they have provided that information:

  • Most distant maternal ancestor
  • Most distant paternal ancestor
  • Additional information in the “about me” field, sometimes including a website link

On the match page, you can search for matches either by their full name, first name, last name or click on the “Advanced Search” to search for ancestral surname. These search boxes can be found at the top right.

FF9 advanced search

The Advanced Search feature, underneath the search boxes at right, also provides you with the option of combining search criteria, by opening two drop down boxes at the top left of the screen.

FF9 search combo

Let’s say I want to see all of my matches on the X chromosome. I make that selection and the only people displayed as matches are those whom I match on the X chromosome.

You can see that in this case, there are 280 matches. If I have any Phased Family Matches, then you will see how many X matches I have on those tabs too.

The first selection box works in combination with the second selection box.

FF9 search combo 2

Now, let’s say I want to sort in Longest Block Order. That section sorts and displays the people who match me on the X chromosome in Longest Block Order.

FF9 longest block

Prerequisites

  • Take the Family Finder test or transfer your results from either 23andMe (V3 only) or Ancestry (V1 only, currently.)
  • Match must be over the matching threshold of 9cM if shared cM are less than 20, or, the longest block must be at least 7.69 cM if the total shared cM is 20 or greater.

Power Features

  • The ability to customize your view by combining search, match and sort criteria.

Cautions

  • It’s easy to forget that you’re ONLY working with X matches, for example, once you sort, and not all of your matches. Note the Reset Filter button above your matches which clears all of the sort and search criteria. Always reset, just to be on the safe side, before you initiate another sort.

FF9 reset filter

  • Please note that the search boxes and logic are in the process of being redesigned, per a conversation Michael Davila, Director of Product Development, on 7-20-2016. Currently, if you search for the name “Donald,” for example, and then do an “in common with” match to someone on the Donald match list, you’ll only see those individuals who are in common with “Donald,” meaning anyone without “Donald” as one of their names won’t show as a match. The logic will be revised shortly so that you will see everyone “in common with,” not just “Donald.” Just be aware of this today and don’t do an ICW with someone you’ve searched for in the search box until this is revised.

#2 – In Common With (ICW)

You can select anyone from your match list to see who you match in common with them.

This is an important feature because it gives me a very good clue as to who else may match me on that same genealogical line.

For example, cousin Donald is related on the paternal line. I can select Donald by clicking the box to the left of his profile which highlights his row in yellow. I can then select what I want to do with Don’s match.

FF9 ICW

You will see that Don is selected in the match selection box on the lower left, and the options for what I can do with Don are above the matches. Those options are:

  • Chromosome Browser
  • In Common With
  • Not in Common With

Let’s select “In Common With.”

Now, the matches displayed will ONLY be those that I match in common with Don, meaning that Donald and I both match these people.

FF9 ICW matches

As you can see, I’m displaying my matches in common with Don in longest block order. You can click on any of the header columns to display in reverse order.

There are a total of 82 matches in common with Don and of those, 50 are paternally assigned. We’ll talk about how parental “side” assignments happen in a minute.

Prerequisites

  • None

Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches warrant further inspection and may (or may not) be from a common genealogical line.

Cautions

  • An ICW match does NOT mean that the matching individual IS from the same common line – only genealogical research can provide that information.
  • An ICW matches does NOT mean that these three people, you, your match and someone who matches both of you is triangulated – meaning matching on the same segment. Only individual matching with each other provides that information.
  • It’s easy to forget that you’re not working with your entire match list, but a subset. You can see that Donald’s name appears in the box at the upper left, along with the function you performed (ICW) and the display order if you’ve selected any options from the second box.

# 3 – Not In Common With

Now, let’s say I want to see all of my X matches that are not in common with my mother, who is in the data base, which of course suggests that they are either on my father’s side or identical by chance. My father is not in the data base, and given that he died in 1963, there is no chance of testing him.

Keep in mind though that because X matches aren’t displayed unless you have another qualifying autosomal segment, that they are more likely to be valid matches than if they were displayed without another matching segment that qualifies as a match.

For those who don’t know, X matches have a unique inheritance pattern which can yield great clues as to which side of your tree (if you’re a male), and which ancestors on various sides of your tree X matches MUST come from (males and females both.) I wrote about this here, along with some tools to help you work with X matches.

To utilize the “Not In Common With” feature, I would select my mother and then select the “Not In Common With” option, above the matches.

FF9 NICW

I would then sort the results to see the X matches by clicking on the top of the column for X-Match – or by any other column that I wanted to see.

FF9 NICW X

I have one very interesting not in common with match – and that’s with a Miller male that I would have assumed, based on the surname, was a match from my mother’s side. He’s obviously not, at least based on that X match. No assuming allowed!

Prerequisites

  • None

Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches warrant further inspection and may be from a common genealogical line – or are NOT in common with a particular person.

Cautions

  • Be sure to understand that “not in common with” means that you, the person you match and the list of people shown as a result of the “Not ICW” do not all match each other.  You DO match the person on your match list, but the list of “not in common with” matches are the people who DON’T match both of you.  Not in common with is the opposite of “in common with” where your match list does match you and the person you’re matching in common with.
  • The X and other chromosome matches may be inherited from different ancestors. Every matching segment needs to be analyzed separately.

#4 – The Matrix

Let’s say that I have a list of matches, perhaps a list of individuals that I found doing an ICW with my cousin, and I wonder if these people match each other. I can utilize the Matrix grid to see.

Going back to the ICW list with cousin Donald, let’s see if some of those people match each other on the Matrix.

Let’s pick 5 people.

I’m selecting Cheryl, Rex, Charles, Doug and Harold.

Margaret Lentz chart

I’m making these particular selections because I know that all of these people, except Harold, are related to my mother, Barbara, shown on the bottom row of the chart above.  This chart, borrowed from another article (William is not in this comparison), shows how Cheryl, Rex, Charles and Barbara who have all DNA tested are related to each other.  Some are related through the Miller line, some through the dual Lentz/Miller line, and some just from the Lentz line.  Doug is related through the Miller line only, and at least 4 generations upstream. Doug may also be related through multiple lines, but is not descended from the Lentz line.

The people I’ve selected for the matrix are not all related to each other, and they don’t all share one common ancestral line.

Harold is a wild card – I have no idea how he is related or who he is related to, so let’s see what we can determine.

FF9 Matrix choices

As you make selections on the Matrix page, up to 10 selections are added to the grid.

FF9 Matrix grid

You can see that Charles matches Cheryl and Harold.

You can see that Rex matches Charles and Cheryl and Harold.

You can see that Doug matches only Cheryl, but this isn’t surprising as the common line between Doug and the known cousins is at least 4 generations further back in time on the Miller line.

The known relationship are:

  • Don and Cheryl are siblings, descended from the Lentz/Miller.
  • Rex is a known cousin on the Miller/Lentz line
  • Charles is a known cousin on the Lentz line only
  • Doug is a known cousin on the Miller line only

Let me tell you what these matches indicate to me.

Given that Harold matches Rex and Charles and Cheryl, IF and that’s a very big IF, he descends from the same lines, then he would be related to both sides of this family, meaning both the Miller and Lentz lines.

  • He could be a downstream cousin after the Lentz and Miller lines married, meaning a descendant of Margaret Lentz and John David Miller, or other Miller/Lentz couples
  • He could be independently related to both lines upstream. They did intermarry.
  • He could be related to Charles or Rex through an entirely separate line that has nothing to do with Lentz or Miller.

So I have no exact answer, but this does tell me where to look. Maybe I could find additional known Lentz or Miller line descendants to add to the Matrix which would provide additional information.

Prerequisites

  • None

Power Features

  • Can see at a glance which matches match each other as well.

Cautions

  • Matrix matches do NOT mean that these individuals match on the same segments, it just means they do match on some segment. A matrix match is not triangulation.
  • Matrix matches can easily be from different lines to different ancestors. For example, Harold could match each one of three individuals that he matches on different ancestral lines that have nothing to do with their common Lentz or Miller line.

#5 – Chromosome Browser

I want to know if the 5 individuals that I selected to compare in the Matrix match me on any of the same segments.

I’m going back to my ICW list with cousin Donald.

I’ve selected my 5 individuals by clicking the box to the left of their profiles, and I’m going to select the chromosome browser.

FF9 chromosome browser choices

The chromosome browser shows you where these individuals match you.

Overlapping segments mean the people who overlap all match you on that segment, but overlapping segments do NOT mean they also match each other on these same segments.

Translated, this means they could be matching you on different sides of your family or are identical by chance. Remember, you have two sides to your chromosome, a Mom’s side and a Dad’s side, which are intermingled, and some people will match you by chance. You can read more about this here.

The chromosome browser shows you THAT they match you – it doesn’t tell you HOW they match you or if they match each other.

FF9 chromosome browser view2

The default view shows matches of 5cM or greater. You can select different thresholds at the top of the comparison list.

You’ll notice that all 5 of these people match me, but that only two of them match me on overlapping segments, on chromosome 3. Among those 5 people, only those who match me on the same segments have the opportunity to triangulate.

This gives you the opportunity to ask those two individuals if they also match each other on this same chromosome. In this case, I have access to both of those kits, and I can tell you that they do match each other on those segments, so they do triangulate mathematically. Since I know the common ancestor between myself, Cheryl and Rex, I can assign this segment to John David Miller and Margaret Lentz. That, of course, is the goal of autosomal matching – to identify the common ancestor of the individuals who match.

You also have the option to download the results of this chromosome browser match into a spreadsheet. That’s the left-most download option at the top of the chromosomes. We’ll talk about how to utilize spreadsheets last.

The middle option, “view in a table” shows you these results, one pair of individuals at a time, in a table.

This is me compared to Rex. You will have a separate table for each one of the individuals as compared to you. You switch between them at the bottom right.

FF9 chromosome browser table2

The last download option at the furthest right is for your entire list of matches and where they match you on your chromosomes.

Prerequisites

  • None

Power Features

  • Can visually see where individuals and multiple people match you on your chromosomes, and where they overlap which suggests they may triangulate.

Cautions

  • When two people match you on the same chromosome segment, this does not mean that they also match each other on that segment. Matching on overlapping segments is not triangulation, although it’s the first step to triangulation.
  • For triangulation, you will need to contact your matches to determine if they also match each other on the same segment where they both match you. You may also be able to deduce some family matching based on other known individuals from the same line that you also match on that same segment, if your match matches them on that segment too.
  • The chromosome browser is limited to 5 people at a time, compared to you. By utilizing spreadsheet matching, you can see all of your matches on a particular segment, together.

#6 – Phased Family Matching

Phased Family Matching is the newest tool introduced by Family Tree DNA. I wrote about it here. The icons assigned to matches make it easy to see at a glance which side of your family, maternal or paternal, or both, a match derives from.

ff9 parental iconPhased Family Matching allows you to link the DNA results of qualified relatives to your tree and by doing so, Family Tree DNA assigns matches to maternal or paternal buckets, or sometimes, both, as shown in the icon above.

This phased matching utilizes both parental phasing in addition to a slightly higher threshold to assure that the matches they assign to parental sides can be done so with confidence. In order to be assigned a maternal or paternal icon, your match must match you and your qualifying relative at 9cM or greater on at least one of the same segments over the matching threshold. This is different than an ICW match, which only tells you that you do match, not how you match or that it’s on the same segment.

Qualifying relatives, at this time, are parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and first cousins. Additional relatives are planned in the near future.

Icons are ONLY placed based on phased match results that meet the criteria.

These icons are important because they indicate which side of your family a match is from with a great deal of precision and confidence – beyond that of regular matching.

This is best illustrated by an example.

Phased FF2

In this example, this individual has their father and mother both in the system. You can see that their father’s side is assigned a blue icon and their mother’s side is assigned a pink (red) icon. This means they match this person on only one side of their family.  A purple icon with both a male and female image means that this person is related to you on both sides of your family.  Full siblings, when both parents are in the system to phase against, would receive both icons.

This sibling is showing as matching them on both sides of their family, because both parents are available for phasing.

If only one parent was available, the father, for example, then the sibling would only shows the paternal icon. The maternal icon is NOT added by inference. In Phased Family Matching, nothing is added by inference – only by exact allele by allele matching on the same segment – which is the definition of parentally phased matching.

These icons are ONLY added as a result of a high quality phased matches at or above the phased match threshold of 9cM.

You can read more about the Family Matching System in the Family Tree DNA Learning Center, here.

Prerequisites

  • You must have tested (or transferred a kit) for a qualifying relative. At this time qualifying relatives parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and first cousins.
  • You must have uploaded a GEDCOM file or created a tree.
  • You must link the DNA of qualifying kits to that person your tree. I provided instructions for how to do this in this article.
  • You must match at the normal matching threshold to be on the match list, AND then match at or above the Phased Family Match threshold in the way described to be assigned an icon.
  • You must match on at least one full segment at or above 9cM.

Power Features

  • Can visually see which side of your family an individual is related to. You can be confident this match is by descent because they are phased to your parent or qualifying family member.

Cautions

  • If someone does not have an icon assigned, it does NOT mean they are not related on that particular side of the family. It only means that the match is not strong enough to generate an icon.
  • If someone DOES match on a particular side of the family, you will still need to do additional matching and genealogy work to determine which ancestor they descend from.
  • If someone is assigned to one side of your family, it does NOT preclude the possibility that they have a smaller or weaker match to your other side of the family.
  • If you upload a new Gedcom file after linking DNA to people in your tree, you will overwrite your DNA links and will have to relink individuals.
  • Having an icon assigned indicates mathematical triangulation for the person who tested, their parents or close relative against whom they were phased and their match with the icon.  However, technically, it’s not triangulation in cases where very close relatives are involved.  For example, parents, aunts, uncles and siblings are too closely related to be considered the third leg of the triangulation stool.  First cousins, however, in my opinion, could be considered the third leg of the three needed for triangulation.  Of course when triangulation is involved, more than three is always better – the more the merrier and the more certain you can be that you have identified the correct ancestor, ancestral couple, or ancestral line to assign that particular triangulated segment to.

# 7 – Combined Advanced Matching

One of the comparison tools often missed by people is Combined Advanced Matching.

Combined matching is available through the “Tools and Apps” button, then select “Advanced Matching.”

Advanced Matching allows you to select various options in combination with each other.

For example, one of my favorites is to compare people within a project.

You can do this a number of ways.

In the case of my mother, I’ll select everyone she matches on the Family Finder test in the Miller-Brethren project. This is a very focused project with the goal of sorting the Miller families who were of the Brethren faith.

FF9 combined matching

You can see that she has several matches in that project.

You can select a variety of combinations, including any level of Y or mtDNA testing, Family Finder, X matching, projects and “last name begins with.”

One of the ways I utilize this feature often is within a surname project, for males in particular, I select one Y level of matching at a time, combined with Family Finder, “show only people I match on all tests” and then the project name. This is a quick way to determine whether someone matches someone on Family Finder that is also in a particular surname project. And when your surname is Smith, this tool is extremely valuable. This provides a least a hint as to the possible distance to a common ancestor between individuals.

Another favorite way to utilize this feature is for non-surname projects like the American Indian project. This is perfect for people who are hunting for others with Native roots that they match – and you can see their Y and mtDNA haplogroups as a bonus!

Prerequisites

  • Must have joined the particular project if you want to use the project match feature within that project.

Power Features

  • The ability to combine matching criteria across products.
  • The ability to match within projects.
  • The ability to specify partial surnames.

Cautions

  • If you match someone on both Family Finder and either Y or mtDNA haplogroups, this does NOT mean that your common Family Finder ancestor is on that haplogroup line. It might be a good place to begin looking. Check to see if you match on the Y or mtDNA products as well.
  • All matches have their haplogroup displayed, not just IF you also match that haplogroup, unless you’ve specified the Y or mtDNA options and then you would only see the people you match which would be in the same major haplogroup, although not always the same subgroup because not everyone tests at the same level.
  • Not all surname project administrators allow people who do not carry that surname in the present generation to join their projects.

# 8 – MyOrigins Matching

One tool missed by many is the MyOrigins matching by ethnicity. For many, especially if you have all European, for example, this tool isn’t terribly useful, but if you are of mixed heritage, this tool can be a wonderful source of information.

Your matches (who have authorized this type of matching) will be displayed, showing only if they match you on your major world categories.  Only your matching categories will show.  For example, if my match, Frances, also has African heritage and I do not, I won’t see Frances’s African percentage and vice versa.

FF9 myOrigins

In this example, the person who tested falls into the major categories of European and Middle Eastern. Their matches who fall into either of these same categories will be displayed in the Shared Origins box. You may not be terribly excited about this – unless you are mixed African, Asian, European and Native American – and you have “lost ancestors” you can’t find. In that case, you may be very excited to contact other matches with the same ethnic heritage.

When you first open your myOrigins page, you will be greeted with a choice to opt in (by clicking) or to opt out (by doing nothing) of allowing your ethnic matches to view the same ethnic groups you carry. Your matches will not be able to see your ethnic groups that they don’t have in common with you.

FF9 myorigins opt in

You can also access those options to view or change by clicking on Account Settings, Privacy and Sharing, and then you can view or change your selection under “My DNA Results.”

FF9 myorigins security

Prerequisites

  • Must authorize Shared Origins matching.

Power Features

  • The ability to discern who among your matches shares a particular ethnicity, and to what degree.

Cautions

  • Just because you share a particular ethnicity does NOT mean you match on the shared ethnic line. Your common ancestor with that person may be on an entirely unrelated line.

# 9 – Spreadsheet Matching

Family Tree DNA offers you the ability to download your entire list of matches, including the specific segments where your matches match you, to a spreadsheet.

This is the granddaddy of the tools and it’s a tool used by all serious genetic genealogists. It’s requires the most investment from you both in terms of understanding and work, but it also yields the most information.

The power of spreadsheet comparisons isn’t in the 5 people I pushed through to the chromosome browser, in and of themselves, but in the power of looking at the locations where all of your matches match you and known relatives on particular segments.

Utilizing the chromosome browser, we saw that chromosome 3 had an overlap match between Rex (green) and Cheryl (blue) as compared to my mother (background chromosome.)

FF9 chr 3

We see that same overlap between Cheryl and Rex when we download the match spreadsheet for those 5 people.

However, when we download all of my mother’s matches, we have a much more powerful view of that segment, below. The 2 segments we saw overlapping on the chromosome browser are shown in green. All of these people colored pink match my mother on some part of the 37cM segment she shares with Rex.

FF9 spreadsheet match

This small part of my master spreadsheet combines my own results, rows in white, with those of my mother, rows in pink.

In this case, I only match one of these individuals that mother also matches on the same segment – Rex. That’s fine. It just means that I didn’t receive the rest of that DNA from mother – meaning the portions of the segments that match Sam, Cheryl, Don, Christina and Sharon.

On the first two rows, I did receive part of that DNA from mother, 7.64 of the 37cMs that Rex matches to Mom at a threshold of 5cM.

We know that Cheryl, Don and Rex all share a common ancestor on mother’s father’s side three generations removed – meaning John David Miller and Margaret Lentz. By looking at Cheryl, Don and Rex’s matches as well, I know that several of her matches do triangulate with Cheryl, Don and/or Rex.

What I didn’t know was how Christina fit into the picture. She is a new match. Before the new Phased Family Matching, I would have had to go into each account, those of Rex, Cheryl and Don, all of which I manage, to be sure that Christina matched all of them individually in addition to Mom’s kit.

I don’t have to do that now, because I can utilize the phased Family Matching instead. The addition of the Family Matching tool has taken this from three additional steps, assuming I have access to all kits, which most people don’t, to one quick definitive step.

Cheryl and Don are both mother’s first cousins, so matches can be phased against them. I have linked both of them to mother’s kit so she how has several individuals who are phased to Don and Cheryl which generate paternal icons since Don and Cheryl are related to mother on her father’s side.

Now, instead of looking at all of the accounts individually, my first step is to see if Christina has a paternal icon, which, in this case, means she phased against either Don and/or Cheryl since those are the only two people linked to mother who qualify for phasing, today.

FF9 parental phased match

Look, Christina does have a paternal icon, so I can add “Dad” into the side column for Christine in the spreadsheet for mother’s matches AND I know Christina triangulates to Mom and either Cheryl or Don, which ever cousin she phased against.

FF9 Christina chr 3

I can see which cousin she phased against by looking at the chromosome browser and comparing mother against Cheryl, Don and Christina.  As it turns out, Christina, in green, above, phased against both Cheryl and Don whose results are in orange and blue.

It’s a great day in the neighborhood to be able to use these tools together.

Prerequisites

  • Must download matches spreadsheet through the chromosome browser, adding new matches to your spreadsheet as they occur.
  • Must have a familiarity with Excel or another spreadsheet.
  • Must learn about matching, match groups and triangulation.

Power Features

  • The ability to control the threshold you wish to work with. For matches over the match threshold, Family Tree DNA provides all segment matches to 1cM with a total of 500 SNPs.
  • The ability to see trends and groups together.
  • The ability to view kits from all of your matches for more powerful matching.
  • The ability to combine your results with those of a parent (or sibling if parents not available) to see joint matching where it occurs.

Cautions

  • There is a comparatively steep learning curve if you’re not familiar with using spreadsheets, but it’s well worth the effort if you are serious about proving ancestors through triangulation.

Summary

I’m extremely grateful for the full complement of tools available at Family Tree DNA.

They provide a range of solutions for users at all levels – people who just want to view their ethnicity or to utilize matches at the vendor site as well as those who want tools like a chromosome browser, projects, ICW, not ICW, the Matrix, ethnicity matching, combined advanced matching and chromosome browser downloads for those of us who want actual irrefutable proof.  No one has to use the more advanced tools, but they are there for those of us who want to utilize them.

I’m sorry, I’m not from Missouri, but I still want to see it for myself. I don’t want any vendor taking the “trust me” approach or doing me any favors by stripping out my data. I’m glad that Family Tree DNA gives us multiple options and doesn’t make one size fit all by using a large hammer and chisel.

The easier, more flexible and informative Family Tree DNA makes the tools, the easier it will be to convince people to test or download their data from other vendors. The more testers, the better our opportunity to find those elusive matches and through them, ancestors.

The Concepts Series

I’ve been writing a “Concepts” series of articles. Recent articles have been about how to utilize and work with autosomal matches on a spreadsheet.

You might want to read these Concepts articles if you’re serious about working with autosomal DNA.

Concepts – How Your Autosomal DNA Identifies Your Ancestors

Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance

Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs and Pickin’ Crab

Concepts – Parental Phasing

Concepts – Downloading Autosomal Data from Family Tree DNA

Concepts – Managing Autosomal DNA Matches – Step 1 – Assigning Parental Sides

Please join me shortly for the next Concepts article – Step 2 – Who’s Related to Whom?

In the meantime:

  • Make full use of the autosomal tools available at Family Tree DNA.
  • Test additional relatives meaning parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, half-siblings, siblings, any cousin you can identify and talk into testing.
  • Take test kits to family reunions and holiday gatherings. No, I’m not kidding.
  • Don’t forget Y or mtDNA which can provide valuable tools to identify which line you might have in common, or to quickly eliminate some lines that you don’t have in common. Some cousins will carry valuable Y or mtDNA of your direct ancestral lines – and that DNA is full of valuable and unique information as well.
  • Link the DNA kits of those individuals you know to their place in your tree.
  • Transfer family kits from other vendors.

The more relatives you can identify and link in the system, the better your chances for meaningful matches, confirming ancestral relations, and solving puzzles.

Have fun!!!

Family Tree DNA Introduces Phased Family Finder Matches

Family Tree DNA has released a first of its kind tool that sorts your matches into parental buckets by utilizing tests performed on parents and close relatives.

Phased FF2

On your matches page, if your parents or other close relatives have tested, and their tests are linked on your tree, your matches will be grouped into maternal or paternal buckets, or both, utilizing a proprietary matching and phasing algorithm.  You can see the appropriate bucket icon beside the match photo, as well as new tabs at the top to allow you to view your paternal, maternal or matches to both parents.

If your parents haven’t tested, or aren’t linked, your maternal, paternal and both tabs at the top of your page will reflect “0” and they won’t be relevant to you.  However, if your parents or other close relatives have tested, your tab, after processing, will show the number of individuals that fall into maternal, paternal or both match buckets.  Close relatives, at this point, are defined as parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents and first cousins.

This is not just a sorting of matches, based on names of who matches you and a parent, like the “In Common With” tool, but true parental phasing. Each person deposited into a maternal or paternal bucket as a match must match you and your parent or otherwise designated individual in a prescribed way including:

  • On the same segment
  • At a specific threshold

The Phasing Threshold is Higher

The threshold to be indicated as a maternal or paternal match is higher than the normal matching threshold – so some people who do match you and a parent won’t be assigned to a bucket.

Why?

Acting conservatively, Family Tree DNA wants to be positive that this person really does fall into that bucket. You’ll notice that the example individual has 3 people that match both parents. At a lower threshold, there were a lot more dual matches when the product was in testing. At higher threshold levels, people tend to distinctly fall into one bucket or the other in non-endogamous populations. It was actually surprising how many people do legitimately match both parents.

So, to be clear, there are two thresholds in play here:

You will notice that some people who do match both you and a parent do not have a maternal or paternal indicator. That does NOT mean they don’t match you and a parent, but it does mean that the match was at a lower level, or not on the same segment, so Family Tree DNA feels that they can’t positively be assigned to a bucket. That doesn’t mean you should disregard them, but you probably should utilize the stronger matches first and scrutinize non-assigned matches closely by downloading your Chromosome Browser results.

Roughly 10-15 percent of your matches tend to be identical by either chance or population, and that percentage is higher in endogamous groups.  The dual thresholds are meant to minimize those ambiguous matches, yet leave them on your match list for you to analyze.  This is the best approach that provides an intuitive easy visual for those who want that type of approach, but allowing thorough analysis for those who prefer that methodology.  Personally, I like using them together.  The buckets are an easy way to quickly see which side your strongest matches are assigned to.  Given the dual threshold approach, the fact that a match is assigned to a bucket immediately indicates the strength of the match – so it’s a quick and easy gauge.

ICW is Improved

Additionally, you can now utilize the ICW (In Common With) tool, which has moved to the top of the match list, by clicking on the check on the left of the match and then clicking on either “In Common With” or “Not In Common With” to see who else matches, or doesn’t.

You may be very surprised to see that your “in common with” list for a match from your father’s side also includes people from your mother’s side. This is, of course, a red flag as to the validity of that particular paternal ICW match – and it’s so easy to spot now with the parental icons.

Please note that if you utilize the ICW tool when you are on your “All” tab, you will see all ICW matches, but if you are on the paternal, maternal or both tab, and utilize the ICW tool, you will ONLY see people that are ICW on that side of your tree.

So, for example, John Doe, a paternal cousin, matches me and my father and has the blue paternal icon assigned. On my “All” tab, utilizing he ICW tool, I see that John Doe and I have two matches in common. One of those matches is from my father’s side and one from my mothers. It’s easy to see looking at the blue and red icons. Now, if I go to my “Paternal” tab and then perform the ICW comparison with John Doe, ONLY the ICW match from the paternal side will show. You need to be cognizant of where you are on the tabs in terms of what the ICW tool matches mean.

Eligibility

In order for an individual to be eligible for maternal or paternal matching, they must have linked themselves to their parent or other close relative on their tree, not only in terms of name, but in terms of having DNA tested. In other words, the individual on your tree has to be linked to a tested individual in the system.

The Family Tree DNA Learning Center shows how to do this here. Please read this information in the Matches Section before linking people to learn about link hints.

Phased FF link hint

In some cases, if names are different, you won’t have a link hint. For example, my mother is in my tree with her maiden name, but she tested under her married name, so I didn’t have a link hint.  Link hints only work when Family Tree DNA can recognize the same names.  When I linked the two, meaning my mother’s kit to her name in my tree, the software changed her name to the name on her test kit.  So, I’ll be changing the name on her test kit to her maiden name:)

Phased FF4

By going to your tree and clicking on DNA matches in the upper left hand corner, you will see a list of your matches and you can select an individual and drag them to the same person in your tree. In this case, I’ve already done that with my mother, so the link is blue and I see the “already in your tree” message, but if that person wasn’t linked, the link wouldn’t show and I would see a “click and drag to your tree” message instead.

Phased FF3

Not Just Parents

In my case, my mother has tested, but my father is long deceased, so there is no testing for him. If I have uncles or even 1st cousins, I can link them to the paternal side of my tree and if matches match both me and my paternal family member utilizing the phasing criteria, they will be displayed as paternal matches.

Summary

This is a great new tool and the first of its kind in the industry that is actually performing parental phasing as well as utilizing other family members to replace missing parents.

Family Tree DNA has been preparing for this release for some time behind the scenes with the recently revamped tree user interface and the matching update released a month or so ago. This is very exciting, especially for people who want to see at a glance without having to download a chromosome browser spreadsheet who is maternal and paternal.

Additionally, the new software allows us to link people tested to our tree. In my case, I had an ancestor only tree, so I’ve been busy expanding my paternal side of the tree to accommodate all of those cousins I’ve recruited to test because I want those easy-to-see paternal buckets and I can’t test my father.

Family Tree DNA isn’t done either, so do expand your tree and link all of the people of KNOWN heritage, meaning known cousins, who have tested, to take full advantage of this new phasing feature and in preparation for future developments yet to come!

Woohoo!!!  Good job Family Tree DNA!

John David Miller (1812-1902), Never In His Wildest Dreams, 52 Ancestors #125

John David Miller was born April 6, 1812 in Montgomery County, Ohio to David Miller and Catharina Schaeffer.

Catharina, his mother, was a widow with two children when she married David Miller on December 13, 1805.

Between their marriage and Catharina’s death in about 1826, she bore 9 children. She died when John David was just 14 or so, a difficult age for a boy made even more difficult by his mother’s passing.

John David’s father married a woman named Elizabeth before leaving for Elkhart County, Indiana four years later, in 1830. Elizabeth died in 1838 in Elkhart County and John David’s father remarried again to Martha Drake in June of 1839, having 3 more children. We have this late marriage to thank for the long drawn out estate settlement which provides us with a great amount of information, including lists of David’s children and in some cases, grandchildren.

David’s son, John David Miller married Mary Baker on January 24, 1832 in Montgomery County when he was about 20.  They applied for the license 10 days earlier, with her father registering “no objection.”

John David Miller Mary Baker marriage

Oral history tells us that John David went to Elkhart County, then back to Montgomery County to marry his sweetheart and brought her back to Elkhart County. Some honeymoon, bouncing around in a wagon, but as a love-struck newlywed, who cares!

Their first child, Hester, was born on May 26, 1833, and her death certificate says she was born in Ohio, but the 1850 census says she was born in Indiana. It’s believed that by 1832, John David was in Elkhart County, Indiana.  The 1892 Elkhart County plat map, created when John David was still living, stated that he was born in 1812 and came to Jackson Township in 1832. It’s likely that John David Miller and possibly his bride joined the Cripe wagon train headed north during the winter of 1831/1832.

When the wagon train first arrived in Elkhart County, the extended family would have lived together initially, constructing a log cabin. The oral history tells us that they didn’t have time to construct a cabin that first winter, and they constructed a lean-to and covered the door with skins and fabric. That’s was probably the longest winter of their lives! Northern Indiana winters are miserable and bitterly cold. The Indians still lived there and helped the settlers survive.

The first several years, the family would have worked together to clear lands and farm what they could. Clearing and farming were full time jobs. John David and his bride likely lived with his father and family during this time.

In the 1840 census, we find the Brethren families grouped together. We know that David Miller owned land and was living on land where the Baintertown Cemetery is located today, his wife, Elizabeth, being the first (marked) burial in 1838.

In order, on the 1840 census, we find:

  • William S. Baker
  • Elias Baker
  • Samuel B. Miller
  • Adam Mock
  • Jacob Stutzman
  • John Miller
  • David Miller
  • Conrad Broombaugh

David Miller is shown age 30-40 and John Miller is shown age 20-30. John David would have been 28. His brother, David, would have been age 34.

Their father, David, was shown on a different page because his land was in a different township, although only a couple miles away.

The 1840 census shows John David with 4 children. We can fit known children into slots as follows:

  • Male age 5-10 (born 1830-1835) Samuel died before 1850
  • Male under 5 (born 1835-1840) David B. Miller born 1838
  • Male under 5 (born 1835-1840) John N. died before 1850
  • Female under 5 (born 1835-1840) Hester born 1833?

There is another female child who was born and died between census years, Catherine. If Catherine is the female under 5, then where was Hester who appears to be missing from the census?

The binding factor between these families listed together on the 1840 census is that they were Brethren. The reason they were attracted to Elkhart County was the availability of land grants. The land in Montgomery County was already taken. The relationship between the Miller, Mock and Stutzman families reaches back 4 generations to Johann Michael Mueller, the immigrant, in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Land

John David’s father, David, applied for and obtained several land grants. This particular grant below, applied for in 1832, would become the land of his sons John David Miller and David B. Miller when he sold it to them in 1841 for $100 each for half of the quarter section (80 acres) each.

JDM David Miller land grant

David, John David’s father, signed the receipt below.

JDM David Miller receipt

John David Miller may have applied for some land patents himself, and subsequently sold them, probably to raise funds. There are many John Miller’s in Elkhart County so differentiating them without middle initials is troublesome.

John David Miller and David B. Miller had very likely been clearing and working this land since 1832 when their father obtained it as a grant.

John cleared the land and built a log cabin which still stands under a portion of the house that remains today.  The cabin is the center section, shown below.

Margaret Lentz home

I always wondered why this house is turned sideways, then I looked closely at the plat maps and realized that the road, 142, that now runs east and west behind the house at one time curved and went in front of the house, so the house wasn’t sideways when it was built and it sat on the north side of the road.

JDM closeup of map section

Today, it sits on the south side of road 142. The current driveway was the original road.

JDM satellite 2

It makes me wonder, which came first, John David’s log cabin or the road, which was then likely no more than a wide path.

JDM farm

Turkey Creek runs along and through David’s land, shown below hidden behind the trees. This area is still relatively wet and densely forested.

Turkey Ck

Creeks in pioneer times were the lifeblood of the community, assuring fresh water for people and livestock in addition to being the early highways.  Land creekside went first – although the land along Turkey Creek is low and wet, even yet today.

This aerial view shows the very green Y intersection between Turkey Creek, the treed area on the left, and the Elkhart River, which runs on the east side of the map.  John David’s house is marked with a small grey pin at the intersection of 142 and 21.  You can see the extent of the forestation along the creek and river.

JDM aerial

Lots of floodplain probably meant that John David’s house and fields never flooded.

JDM turkey creek 3

This is Turkey Creek from the bridge on 142, today, above, looking at the portion on John David’s land.

JDM Turkey Creek 2

This part looking north is a little brighter and more cheerful.  Looking at this dense forest, you can understand why the pioneers had issues with malarial diseases.  There are backwaters and swamps green with algae less than a mile north.  Mosquito heaven.

JDM turkey looking at John's land

On the Turkey Creek bridge, looking at John David’s land on the left.

Oral history states that the Native people helped the family pick good land.  If that’s true, we are indebted to them.  It’s a decision that in time, they surely came to regret – not necessarily in terms of the Miller family personally – but in more general terms.  They not only became overrun by successive waves of settlers, they were forced off of their lands.

John David’s Father’s Death

John David’s father, David, died on December 1, 1851 without a will. At the time of his death, he had a wife and small children, after a 4th marriage to a younger widow woman 20 years his junior in 1839. Their last child was born in 1845, just 6 years before David’s death.

Clearly David’s death was unexpected, even though he was 70 years of age, or he probably would have executed a will given that he had children by at least 2 wives, 3 of which were minors.

John David Miller was not his father’s executor, thankfully. David’s estate was not to settle smoothly. Initially Adam Whitehead, husband of David’s eldest living sister, Susan, was the estate administrator.

Then something very un-Brethren-like happened. In 1855, all of David’s heirs, including John David Miller, sued Adam Whitehead and Susan. Brethren simply did not “take someone to law,” let alone a relative, and would try absolutely everything else to resolve a situation. This is the first lawsuit I know of being filed in America in the Miller lines. That’s pretty amazing, given that David’s heirs are 4 generations downstream from the original immigrant.

Court was a last resort – and often Brethren would let a wrong “stand” rather than taking an oppositional position, through law or otherwise.  Often, the church got involved to help straighten things out. Therefore this lawsuit is shocking to say the least – and apparently all of David’s heirs uniformly agreed, as they are all represented by the suit. That’s even more shocking and probably speaks to the gravity of the situation at hand.  The fact that the lawsuit wasn’t file until nearly 4 years after David’s death suggests this was a measure of last resort.

Based on the court document filed by the plaintiffs, Adam Whitehead had taken possession of all of David Miller’s lands by right of descent, which apparently meant because he was married to the eldest child (or at least eldest living child.)

This must have been a very difficult situation, because Adam taking possession of David’s lands would have excluded Martha Miller, David’s widow, and David’s three minor children from the proceeds of his estate or utilizing his land. While the older children wanted their share, I’m sure, the widow and her three minor children depended on that land and his estate to live.

The court agreed with the plaintiffs and ordered that Martha be awarded one third of David’s estate as her dower right and the rest to be divided evenly between his 12 children.

David’s son, Samuel, then became the executor. David’s estate settlement dragged on for 13 years, the last distribution made in 1864 when his final living child reached the age of majority.

John David signed three receipts during the long probate of his father’s estate, one each in 1854, 1855 and 1857 when he accepted a final $100 as his share of his father’s estate. His signatures are shown below.

JDM estate receipt

JDM 1855 estate receipt

JDM estate receipt 2

Never in his wildest dreams would David have expected the family to be split in this manner. This is the kind of rift that never heals. Estates, then and now, bring out the worst in people. 

Widower and Remarriage

John David Miller’s wife, Mary Baker, died on March 12, 1855, leaving John with a houseful of kids and no mother.  She was buried in the Baintertown Cemetery, on David Miller’s original land.  Her headstone was nearly unreadable when I visited several years ago.

Mary Baker Miller

A year later on March 30, 1856, John David married a Brethren widow, Margaret Lentz Whitehead, who also had 5 young children.

Margaret Lentz John David Miller marriage

Margaret was born Dec. 21, 1822 in Pennsylvania to Jacob Lentz and Johanna Fredericka Reuhle, both born in Germany. Margaret moved with her parents in the early 1830s to Montgomery County where she subsequently married Valentine Whitehead and joined the northward migration to Elkhart County where she had lived for nearly a decade before Valentine’s death in 1851.

When they married, John David Miller had 7 living children although Hester had just recently married the boy next door. Margaret had 5 children, What a busy household they must have had with 11 children.

Margaret Lentz blended family

John David Miller and Margaret had 4 more children, only 3 of whom survived; Evaline Louise (my great-grandmother, Ira J. (Rex Miller’s grandfather) and Perry Miller. The name of the child who died, probably in 1861, is unknown.

Church

About the time John David married Margaret, the Brethren built the Whitehead Church. It was the second Brethren church to be built in Indiana, and the only church in this vicinity. Prior to this, services were held in the homes and barns of members, with people traveling significant distances and sometimes staying overnight to attend.

Both John David and Margaret probably held church services at their homes when it was their turn – so they would have been well acquainted.

In the 1850s, land was donated by the Whitehead family for the church. The congregation would have had an old-fashioned “barn-raising” except in this case, it would have been a church raising. Margaret’s husband, Valentine, was buried across the road in 1851, so you can rest assured that Margaret and John David both participated in the building of the Whitehead church, later to be known as Maple Grove.

Of course, John David would have participated with the other men, constructing the building, and Margaret would have participated with the other women preparing food for the hungry crew.

In 2015, cousin Keith Lentz visited the now much more modern Maple Grove Church, the former Whitehead Church, attending services, and was kind enough to provide me with two pictures of the original church.

JDM whitehead church

The photo above is from a Brethren source, and the one below Keith took of a picture hanging inside the current church, in the old section. I suspect the top photo is older, based on the railings, but the building probably looked much like it did originally for a very long time.

JDM whitehead church 2

It does my heart good to know that John’s handiwork still remains in the present day church that retains the original posts, rafters and beams. The church members told Keith that the original building was raised in 1856, but the “History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana” published in 1917 says the original building was built in 1851.

In these photos taken by Keith, you can see the original part of the building to the right of the main entrance today.

JDM Maple Grove

The Maple Grove church stands directly across from the Whitehead Cemetery.

JDM whitehead cem

Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller wasn’t the only one with a tie to the Whitehead family or eventually to the Whitehead Cemetery. John David Miller’s sister, Susan, married Adam Whitehead in 1825 in Montgomery County. Adam Whitehead was one of the 9 Whitehead adult children who settled in Elkhart County with their father. Susan died in 1876 and is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery, across from the church.

When John David Miller died in 1902, he was a member of the Union Center church. He would have literally had to go past the Whitehead Church to attend Union Center which was located significantly further south. The Whitehead Church is 1.6 miles from John David’s farm and Union Center is a total of 7.7 miles distant.

JDM map to union

Something must have happened to cause that switch.

That something was very likely the ruckus that occurred after David Miller’s death, and the subsequent lawsuit. Making the situation even more awkward, in 1856, the year after the lawsuit was filed, John David married Margaret Lentz Whitehead, the widow of Valentine Whitehead.

The Millers may have been shunned in the Whitehead church for filing suit. Margaret may have been shunned for marrying John David Miller. One way or another, I’m sure it was uncomfortable for the Millers to attend the same church with the Whitehead clan during and probably after this time. Given that Susan is buried in the Whitehead Cemetery, it’s clear where her allegiance fell.

Union Center Church 1920

The Union Center Church was gracious enough to send me the photo of the church taken in 1920.  The indicated that their history says the church was build in 1866.

John David Miller’s switch to Union Center Brethren Church unquestionably occurred sometime before 1876 when John David’s daughter, Evaline married Hiram Ferverda. The Ferverda family lived south of the Union Center Church and were also Brethren. Evaline would have met Hiram at church functions. It would have been unlikely for her to meet him otherwise and have the ability to court, as the two families lived 10 miles or so apart. In essence, had it not been for that change of churches, my great-grandfather would not be my great-grandfather, and I would not be me today. You never know where those forks in the road will lead and how they will affect not only you but your children and descendants in perpetuity.

Union Center Brethren Church was organized in 1859 and had been meeting in homes since 1838 when it was administratively cut off from the Turkey Creek congregation which subsequently built the Whitehead Church. John David probably helped to build Union Center in 1859 too.

The book “History of the Church of the Brethren in Indiana” written in 1917 by Otto Winger tells us that:

In 1879 John R. Miller was called to the ministry at Union Center and was a cousin of Elder Alex. Miller, both of them being grandchildren of Elder John Miller, one of the first preachers of Elkhart County.

John Miller, the preacher, was called to the ministry in the Wolf Creek church in Montgomery County, Ohio. In 1835 he located on Elkhart Prairie, southeast of Goshen. He was an active colaborer of Elder Daniel Cripe, and did his share of the evangelistic work in those early days. He finally located in the Yellow Creek church, seven miles southwest of Goshen, where he died in 1856.

John Miller, the preacher, was the son of Daniel Miller and Elizabeth Ulrich. He married his first cousin, Ester Miller. John Miller, the preacher, was the Uncle of our John David Miller, being his father’s brother. John David Miller was likely named for his uncle John and his father David. John David’s father, David, died in 1851, John David’s wife died in 1855 and his uncle, John, died in 1856. In 1854, John David buried his daughter, Hester’s first child. Between deaths and the lawsuit, John David had a very rough few years.

The Lay of the Land

Cousin Keith did a significant amount of work on the Whitehead family and locating their land during his 2015 visit. He provided this map showing the approximate locations of the various homesteads.

Margaret Lentz Keith map

You’ll notice that Adam Whitehead and Susan Miller’s land was very close to that of John David Miller, shown on the composite map below. I can only imagine how awkward that became after the lawsuit.

Margaret Lentz Jackson Twp map

On this map, Valentine Whitehead’s land is the arrow at the bottom.  John David’s father’s land and the Baintertown Cemetery is the top arrow.  The arrow below that at 142 and 21 is John David’s home and the arrow below that on 46 is the Whitehead Church

On this 1874 plat map, you can see the exact location of John David’s land and his brother, David Baker Miller’s, as well. The Adam Whitehead land is the J. M. Whitehead land in 1874.  John M. Whitehead was the son of Adam Whitehead and Susan Miller.

Margaret Lentz 1874 Jackson Twp map

The colored legend on the 1874 map is:

  • Orange – David Miller’s lands (except his homeplace not shown on this map)
  • Green – David’s land sold to family members
  • Green dash – John David Miller and David B. Miller, David’s son’s lands

Messages in the Census

By 1850, we find the following families, in the census, in order:

  • Solomon Conrad
  • David B. Miller
  • Jacob Stutzman
  • Michael Haney
  • John D. Miller
  • Susannah Shively

Two of John David’s children/step-children would marry neighbors.

Jonas Shively is age 25, a carpenter and living with his widowed mother, right next to John David Miller. In 1851, Hester Miller married Jonas Shively, the boy next door. In 1860, John David’s second wife’s daughter, Lucinda Whitehead would marry Joseph Haney, son of Michael Haney. The Brethren generally did not marry outside their faith. If they did, one person or the other converted. There were no religiously “mixed” families at that time.

JDM 1850 census

The 1850 census shows us that two of the 4 children shown in 1840 have died. They are assuredly buried in the Miller, now Baintertown or Rodibaugh Cemetery, but their tiny graves are unmarked.

jdm 1860 census

The 1860 census goes hand in hand with the 1874 plat map and shows the following families, John’s neighbors, in order:

  • Michael Haney
  • Conrad Broombaugh
  • Solomon Conrad
  • John Banta
  • George Hanna?
  • David Rodibaugh
  • Daniel Shively
  • John D. Miller (with wife Margaret Lentz Whitehead)
  • David B. Miller
  • Adam Whitehead (with wife Susanna Miller) listed just below David B. Miller in the census schedule above

John David would bury his own child in 1861, likely in the Baintertown Cemetery in an unmarked grave, probably near his father and the 3 children he buried between 1832 and 1855.  If he and Margaret named this child, that information has not filtered down to us today.

John David’s daughter, Mary Ann Treesh’s daughter Chloe also was born and died in 1861, and is also likely buried at Baintertown.  Those babies are likely buried side by side near David Miller.

By the 1870 census, John David and Margaret were done having children. Their last child was born a few months before Margaret turned 40, in 1862, when John David was 49 years old. John David was a grandfather, several times over, before his last child was born. The span of years between his oldest child born in 1833 and youngest born in 1862 was 29 years. I can’t even imagine having young children in a household for more than 30 years straight – literally John David’s entire adult life.

Margaret Lentz 1870 census

As we look at the various census records, we see John David’s family shrink as they reach adulthood, marry and “set up housekeeping” on their own.

Margaret Lentz 1880 census

Ira was the last child to marry, in 1885.

By 1900, John David Miller and Margaret are living alone. It must have been quiet in that house, for the first time ever. Maybe too quiet, although I’m sure there were grandchildren in and out regularly, probably slamming screen doors.

Margaret Lentz 1900 census

This picture of John David and Margaret was probably taken between 1890 and 1900. John David looks to be in his 70s or 80s.

Margaret Lentz outside home2

John David Passes Over

I always view elderly ancestors as something of a miracle or akin to winning the lottery given that they lived in an age before modern medicine and in particular, before antibiotics. Living past childhood put you in the lucky half, and living to be elderly by any measure made you unique.

Unlike his father, John David did have a will, but he didn’t write his will until 1897, when he was 85 years old. Perhaps John was an optimist as well. People in earlier times didn’t write a will until they felt like they might need one, which is why so many people died intestate. They didn’t expect death to visit when it did.

John David Miller died on February 10, 1902.

John David Miller’s death certificate says that he was born in Pennsylvania in 1812, that he died in Jackson Twp, age 89, married, of senile gangrene, was buried in Baintertown and the funeral director was C.B. Stiver.

The informant was Perry Miller, John’s youngest child who was born in 1862, more than a decade after his grandfather, David, had died. Still, one would think he would have remembered his grandfather’s name, but he didn’t. Additionally, John David was born in Ohio, not Pennsylvania. Death certificates are often notoriously incorrect about anything to do with past history. People providing the information are very clearly stressed, if they ever knew the correct information.

JDM death cert

The Baintertown Cemetery is also known as the Rodibaugh Cemetery. David, his first wife Mary and second wife Margaret are buried on the North side of Co Rd 29 right off St Rd 15 in the community known as Baintertown. From 15, turn east at Co Rd 29, cross the RR tracks, then look on the left where the cemetery is obvious. The marker is at the end of the little cemetery road on the right.

JDM Baintertown map

On the map above from the Elkhart County Cemetery book, I have drawn the location of John David’s grave, near the north end of the cemetery, his father David’s grave to the right and his brother David B. Miller’s grave for reference. The Baintertown Cemetery is full of Millers and is located on the original David Miller land. Ironic that Perry couldn’t remember David’s name, but his parents are buried on David’s original land and within sight of David’s own marker.

JDM headstone

John David’s headstone cost $100

JDM headstone receipt

Apparently John David wasn’t buried in his own clothes, as a receipt submitted to the estate by the undertakers lists a casket for $95, a vault for $15 and a robe for $7.

John David had three different obituaries – a genealogists dream come true.

His first obituary appeared on February 10, 1902, a Monday, the day that he died, and reads as follows:

Aged Pioneer Dead

John B. Miller, Nearly 90 Years, Succumbed Today

John B. Miller, one of the oldest citizens of Jackson township who would have been 90 years old April 6th next, died at 2 o-clock this afternoon at his home 2.5 miles northwest of New Paris of senile gangrene, having been ill the past six months. For about seventy years he had resided on the farm where he died having entered the homestead originally from the government. He has since been one of the stalwart and highly esteemed citizens of his community. For many years he has been a prominent and influential member of the German Baptist church. He is survived by his aged wife and ten children. The children are; Aaron, David B of this county; Mrs. John Dubbs of Warsaw, Mrs Michael Tresch of Syracuse, Mrs. David B. Blough, east of Milford, D.W. Miller and Mrs. Jonas Shively of Goshen, Ira J. Miller, east of New Paris, Harry A Miller west of Waterford, and Mrs. Hiram Ferverda east of Leesburg. The funeral arrangements are not yet made.

A second obituary in the Goshen Democrat reads:

John B. Miller aged nearly 90 and one of the oldest residents of Jackson Twp. died yesterday afternoon at his home 2.5 miles NW of New Paris. He was a member of the German Baptist church and is survived by 10 children including DW Miller and Mrs. Jonas Shively of Goshen. The funeral will take place at his house Wednesday morning at 10 and interment at Baintertown Cemetery.

The third obituary is from the Brethren publication, Gospel Messenger:

Miller, Bro John D. died Feb. 10, 1902, in the Union Center congregation, Ind., aged 89 years, 10 months and 4 days. He was born in Montgomery County, Ohio, April 6, 1812, married to Mary Baker in 1831, moved to Elkhart County, Ind., took up a government claim which he still occupied at his death. To this union were born 10 children, seven yet living. His wife died May 11, 1855. He was married again to Margaret E. Whitehead March 29, 1857. There were born to this union four children, three of whom are yet living. He leaves a wife and ten children. He was a devoted brother nearly sixty-five years. Services by brethren M. E. Eisenhour and Henry Neff.

Senile gangrene is a form of gangrene occurring particularly in old people, and caused usually by insufficient blood supply due to degeneration of the walls of the smaller arteries. However, we know from a suit filed before John David’s death that he had dementia, by whatever medical diagnosis you call it, and it was apparently affecting his cognitive ability.

There are two things that strike me about these obituaries. First, the Brethren obituary says that he was a “devoted brother nearly 65 years,” putting the date at 1837 or so. However, we know that John David was raised Brethren, so I find this comment a bit strange. Perhaps they were referencing the “official” formation of the church in Elkhart County which occurred in 1838.

Secondly, John David’s funeral was at home, not at the church. However, looking at the map, it does seem futile to take him 7 or 8 miles south, only to bring him back past his house and another 2 or 3 miles northeast to the Baintertown cemetery – so this makes a lot of practical sense. However, in light of the rift in the family, with at least one of his siblings and the battle brewing between his own children, that funeral must have been “interesting” to say the least.  I wonder if everyone attended.

Again, never in his wildest dreams…

The Battle Begins

The battle over John David’s property began before he died.

John David Miller wrote his will in 1897, but in 1901, before his death, his son David B. Miller (by first wife Mary Baker) filed an injunction in court asking for a guardian to be provided for his father who, in his words, “had a substantial estate and could no longer manage his affairs.” I can only imagine what a ruckus this must have caused within the family. There had to be some event or situation arise to cause this level of concern. Given the suit after John David’s death, I suspect that the concern might have been a result of how close John David had become to his wife, Margaret’s great nephew, Edward E. Whitehead, the grandson of her first husband’s brother, Peter Whitehead. However, before the case was heard, John David Miller died.

His will was written as follows:

I, John D. Miller of Elkhart County Indiana, do make and publish this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills by me at any time made.

Item 1 – I give and devise unto my wife the farm of 160 acres in Elkhart county on which we now live, together with all the personal property thereon, to her during her life, to use as maybe necessary for her support and comfortable maintenance and also all money I may have on hand at the time of my death except so much as maybe necessary for the payment of the expenses of my last sickness and burial.

Item 2 – After my wife’s death all of the property then remaining shall be sold and after payment of debts and expenses of the administration of the estate, the proceeds shall be divided into three equal parts. Out of one third part there shall be paid to my wife’s nephew Edward Whitehead $300 and the remainder thereof shall be divided equally between the three children of myself and my said wife, viz: Ira Miller, Louisa Fervedy and Perry Miller. The remaining 2/3 portion shall be divided into 10 parts of which one part shall be paid to each of my ten children, viz: Esther Shively, David Miller, Mary Ann Tresh, Aaron Miller, Jane Blough, Matilda Dubs, Washington Miller, Ira Miller, Louisa Fervedy and Perry Miller, or if either of these is dead the share of such ones shall be paid to his or her heirs at law.

Item 3 – I hereby nominate and appoint Alonzo Rodabaugh executor of this my will.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 29th day of April 1897.   Signed John D. Miller

Signed by John D. Miller as his last will and testament in our presence and signed by us in his presence and in the presence of each other. Margaret Ellen Gowing, Wilbur L Stonex. (recorded in will book page 67).

However, things don’t always work out as intended. By law, Margaret had the right to one third of his estate as her dower. She elected to take her one third as indicated by the following widow’s election.

Widow’s election recorded on page 111.

The undersigned widow of John D. Miller decd late of Elkhart County Indiana who died testate and whose last will and testament has been duly admitted to probate and record in the Elkhart Circuit Court hereby make election as such widow to hold and retain her right of dower in the personal estate of said decedent and to hold and retain her right to one third of the lands of which her husband died testate notwithstanding the terms of the said will, and she refuses to accept any devise or provision whatever made by said will in her favor, for, or in lieu of her said statutory right as widow in and to the personal property and real estate of said decedent.

Margaret (x her mark) E. Miller

Signed May 12, 1902

John David’s estate was controversial, to say the least, and eventually the bank was appointed the estate’s administrator, although Perry, John David’s youngest son, submitted paperwork for administration initially. Perry, however, was having issues of his own at home. His daughter Maud was suffering from tuberculosis which would claim her life the following year within days of his mother, Margaret’s death.

Perry, along with Margaret’s nephew, Edward E. Whitehead had done a great deal in the years before John’s death to help the elderly couple and had never been reimbursed for their efforts or expenses. They submitted receipts to the estate and those charges were disputed by the older set of children by Mary Baker. There was obviously a great deal of resentment between the two sets of children, if not before, from this point forward.

Finally, in the end, Washington Miller refused to contribute $10 of his portion of the estate for his father’s tombstone. Edward Whitehead, the nephew, paid Washington Miller’s share. That is surely the last, final insult one could inflict on a parent and an ugly legacy to leave behind. Edward Whitehead obviously cared a great deal for John David Miller.

JDM george refusal

The inventory for John David’s estate is as follows, and the widow took everything except the wheat, rye and corn against her 1/3 dower.  She needed household items to live.

Number Items Appraised Value
1 Jewell oak heating stove 4.00
1 Eight day clock .25
1 Sewing machine .05
4 Rocking chairs 1.50
1 Bedstead and spring 1.25
1 Old rag carpet 25 yards .50
1 Bureau 1.00
1 Stand .10
1 Bedstead .05
1 Bedspring and bedding 2.00
1 Rag carpet 15 yards .50
1 Ingrain carpet 15 yards .50
12 Winsor chairs 1.50
1 Dining table .25
1 Cupboard .50
1 Dough tray .25
1 Kitchen sinc .10
1 Hanging lamp .25
1 Pantry safe .50
1 Churn .05
1 Milch trough 1.25
15 Milch crocks .45
1 Lounge .05
1 110 lb lard 11.00
1 Cooking stove and furniture .50
1 Cross cut saw and brush cythe .05
1 Bucksaw .10
1 Log chain .05
1 Horse 3.00
1 Cow 30.00
1 Ladder and maul 1.25
1 Wheelbarrow and ax .75
1 Spring seat .25
30 Chickens 7.50
30 Acres growing wheat land lord ½ 150.00
32 Acres rye landlords 2/5 40.00
66 Bushels corn 38.34
1 Small looking glass .05
A few Old dishes, spoons, knives and forks 1.00
20 Bushels corn in crib 9.00
Total 309.69

Controversial estates are boons for the genealogist because so much is recorded.

For example, there is a statement in the estate packet that Aaron Miller owed the estate for several items that he “took” or “got” in 1896 and 1898, including a Hoosier Bell Corn Plow that was new in 1895 and he took in 1896, a set of double harnesses and a Champion self rake machine that he took in 1898. This suggests that John David was no longer farming for himself at this time. He would have been 84 in 1896. What is remarkable is that this also suggests he did farm until that time, because he reportedly bought the plow new in 1895.

However, Aaron’s story differed and he filed a petition that stated that the rake machine was very old, given to him by his father to cut 10 acres of clover on his place, has never been used since and is of no value.

Aaron continues to say that the harnesses he bought of his father and paid in full and that the corn plow was old, out of date, and not being in manufacture, cannot be repaired. He bought if of his father for $5. That differs quite a bit from the claim that the plow was new in 1895 and Aaron took it in 1896.

John David signed a receipt in 1899 stating that Edward Whitehead had provided services to John David and his wife that were of a value of $1000. That is a significant amount at that time.

JDM Whitehead receipt

Edward Whitehead filed this receipt signed by John David Miller in 1899 against his estate. I’m sure that was the intention when John signed the document given that his entire household inventory didn’t come to half that amount and he only had $30 “cash on hand” at his death. John David’s son, Ira, signed the receipt.

JDM Whitehead official doc

The executor would not honor this receipt based upon the complaints of Mary Baker’s children. Ira, Perry and Evaline, John David’s 3 youngest children, and his widow all signed a document stating that this receipt was itself valid and for valid work – even knowing that would reduce their share of the estate. Witnesses were subpoenaed and expenses incurred against the estate in order for the court to hear the testimony and determine that indeed, this was a valid charge against the estate. Unfortunately, we don’t have that testimony today, but I would love to have been a mouse in that courtroom.  I’m surprised this story didn’t filter down to my mother’s generation.  John David was her great-grandfather and mother knew Evaline, her grandmother, quite well.

In addition to the $1000 note, Edward Whitehead also submitted a list of expenses he incurred providing services beginning August 21, 1901 and continuing through April 5th 1902.

JDM Whitehead list

From this list and other receipts, we garner quite a bit of interesting information about John David’s life.

Their rooms were painted and wallpapered and they had screens in their windows. They had window shades, a pump inside and a water tank. Now that indeed WAS a luxury. I remember my grandmother, John David’s granddaughter, having the same arrangement some 55 or 60 years later.

The biggest difference between 1902 and 1960 was that my grandmother had a brand spanking new inside bathroom, and electricity. No more outhouse like John David would have had and no more sponge baths. Those outhouses were miserably cold in the winter and just as miserably hot and STINKY in the summer.

A very surprising entry was the gin and alcohol. Apparently, John David drank at least some, or perhaps this was considered medicinal. If it made him feel better, it was medicinal. There was little else they could do for him.

John David may not have had a buggy anymore, although there was one horse listed in his estate, but he had a buggy shed.

He also had a hair mattress, which would have been horsehair, considered a luxury and certainly a step up from a straw mattress. I wonder if this was purchased to attempt to make him more comfortable in his final days.

We know John David was ill for several months before his death, because the last entry is for care and nursing for just over 5 months before he died. His obituary also mentions that he had been ill for about 6 months. The last six months of his life were probably pretty miserable.

This receipt is for an additional $1104 against the estate.

At his death, according to estate paperwork, John David owned the north half of the SE quarter of section 5 and the west half of the SW quarter of section 5, both in township 35 north, range 6 East containing a total of 160 acres.

JDM quadrant

On the 1874 plat map above, the north half of the SE quarter is the top box shaded green, which was John David’s original land. The west half of the SW quarter is the land labeled C. Peffly. Obviously John David purchased this land sometime between 1874 and 1902.

JDM sale of land

John David’s total estate was valued at $4969.88 with the sale of his real estate counting for $4483.34 of the total according to the final account provided to the court in March of 1903.

Perry Miller also submitted a list of expenses beginning in 1884 which would have been when his father was 72.

JDM Perry Miller list

From these various sources, we know that John David had hogs and chickens and obviously, blackberries which had to be picked. He raised corn, wheat, rye, hay, potatoes and clover and heated with coal, probably in addition to wood. A bill was also submitted by Joseph Peffley for pruning grapes and fruit trees.

Perry had to obtain a judgement to collect these funds as well, according to the final estate distribution where Perry’s bill is listed as “on judgement.” Apparently Aaron B. Miller also had to obtain a judgment for 30.49. This was obviously a very difficult estate to settle with a great deal of contention.

Seven of John David’s children hired a separate attorney, Warren Berkey, to collect their portion of the estate: George Washington Miller, David B. Miller, Aaron B. Miller, Jane Blough, Hester Shively, Mary Ann Treesh and Matilda Dubbs. Her nickname, Tilda was lined through. This looks like the battle lines were drawn – the children of the first marriage vs the children of the second marriage, his widow Margaret and Edward Whitehead.  What a sad situation.

A different attorney, Lou Vail worked on the estate as the executor for Elkhart County Loan and Trust and submitted his bill. It’s from this document that we discover there were indeed 2 trials. We already knew that Edward Whitehead had to sue to have his receipts honored in Elkhart County. The second trial was Joseph B. Haney vs Miller in Kosciusko County.

JDM lawyer bill

Interestingly enough, according to court documents, in 1890 or 1891 John David gave each of his children “the sum of $1000 and at that said time settled in full with each of his said heirs and treated the husbands of each of his daughters as such heirs.”

That’s a lot of money – $10,000 in total.  For that time, John David was a wealthy man, but you would never have guessed.  He clearly lived very simply is a very Brethren manner.

There were several distributions to John David’s heirs. I am struck by how much better off everyone would have been to get along. Instead, John David’s older children contested the will which drove up the settlement costs, caused Margaret to petition the court for her one third share instead of leaving it in the estate to be divided by all heirs later which decreased older children’s share.  Contesting the will also incurred attorney bills that were paid out of the estate before their share, along with their own attorney who was paid out of their share before they saw a penny.  All in all, it turned out to be a very bad idea, on multiple levels

Here’s an example of the estate distribution according to John David’s will versus what happened, presuming he had an estate valued at $10,000.

JDM hypothetical settlement

Of course, George Washington Miller received $10 more than the rest of the heirs because he declined to contribute $10 for his father’s headstone. The actual distribution to the heirs looked to be significantly more than this, although I’m not quite sure where all the money came from. The estate is a bit disjoint and many documents don’t have dates so it’s impossible to reconcile.

John David would have been mortified that his will was not honored and that his son refused to pay $10 towards his marker.  That, probably more than anything, would have been hurtful.

Never in his wildest dreams….

John David Miller’s Children

John David Miller had 7 living children from his first marriage and 3 from his second. He also had 3 additional children from his first marriage and one from his second that did not survive. I was given the names of 3 children that “died young” for John David Miller, with no additional information. Those three children were John N. Miller, Catherine Miller and Samuel Miller. There are gaps in the surviving children’s births along with children in the 1840 census not found later that are suggestive of deaths.

There were no children born between 1833 and 1838, which suggests at least two deaths. There is also a gap between 1847 and 1851, suggestive of another child. Lastly, there were no children born after 1851 when Mary would have been 39 years old. She died in 1855, so it’s certainly possible that she lost a child in 1853 and perhaps died in childbirth in 1855.

Unfortunately, unless a Bible survives, there are no records of children who died before a census could at least record a brief existence on earth. Before the 1850 census, no names were recorded except for the head of household. All we know about those children who died between 1840 and 1850 is that they lived and their approximate age.

None of the graves of the Miller children who died have markers – assuming they are buried in the Baintertown Cemetery, which is the only location that makes sense – given that it was on David’s father’s land and that is where all of the early Millers are buried – including John David and both wives.

Elizabeth Miller, the wife of John David’s father, David, is the earliest marked grave, dating from 1838.  That marker wasn’t placed until David’s father died in 1851.  Elizabeth and David’s Miller’s graves are back towards the west side, and have a lot of “space” around them, suggesting unmarked graves.  I suspect this is where John David’s children are buried.

David Miller grouping

Unfortunately, this is all we can do to remember them.  Anonymous children in forgotten graves.

rje camera january 2004 021

This photo is of John David Miller with his second wife, Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller and 5 of his children.

john david miller family

Most of what we know about John David Miller comes from documents.  We have very little information about him as a person.

Cousin Rex told me a story about John David Miller. A man from Ohio came and challenged him to a fight. The man said that he heard that John David was the best fighter in the county, and John said he reckoned that he was. They went out in the field and went to it and finally, the man from Ohio conceded that indeed, John David was the best fighter. I told Rex that didn’t seem very Brethren-like, and he agreed, but said that John David didn’t take any gaff off of anyone, that he was very spunky.

John David Miller’s children with Mary Baker

Hester (Esther) Ann Miller was born May 26, 1833, reportedly in Ohio and died on February 27, 1917 in Elkhart County of stomach cancer. She is buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Goshen. The 1850 census says she was born in Indiana, so this document may be incorrect.

JDm Hester Miller Shively death cert

Hester married Jonas Shively June 4th 1852 and had 8 children, 5 of them living in 1900:

  • Thomas E. Shively (1854-1854)
  • Amanda Shively (1858-1934) married Benjamin Berryman who died in 1880. She never remarried.
  • Reuben Shively (1860-1929) married Vicie Homan, wife’s name Lillie on death certificate
  • Alonzo Shively (1862-1933) married Daisy Wrightsman
  • Lydia Shively (1864-1865)
  • Joseph Shively (1866-1928) married Emma Larir
  • Mary Ellen Shively (1872-? ) married Alvin J. Stutzman
  • One child unaccounted for

David B. Miller was born August 18, 1838 in Elkhart County and died Sept. 25, 1922 of a chronic kidney inflammation and bronchitis. He is buried at Baintertown.

JDM David B Miller death cert

David B. Miller married Susan Smith on October 21, 1858. They had 9 children, 8 living in 1900, all born in Elkhart County.

  • Aaron Miller (1859-?) married Amanda Mason
  • John Melvin Miller (1861-1936) married Katherine Werner
  • Samson Miller (1864-1937) married Mary Werner
  • Mary Ann Miller (1867-1957) married William Sinning
  • Milton Miller (1868-1943) married Alice Yoder
  • Matilda Miller (1870-1926) married Ulysses Grant and Dora Carrier
  • Lydia Miller (1872-1953) married Orrin Whitehead
  • Amanda Miller (1874-1922 ) married David Saunders
  • One child unaccounted for

The following photo is of David B. Miller, son of John David Miller, with his family.

JDM David Miller family

Above – back row left to right – Milt Miller, Aaron Miller, Matilda Miller Grant, Samuel Miller, John Miller. Front row – Lydia Miller Whitehead, the mother Susan Smith Miller, Maude Miller, father David B. (probably Baker) Miller, Mary Ann Miller Sinning.

Mary Ann Miller born May 1, 1841 in Elkhart County and died on Sept 5, 1916, of double pneumonia.

JDM Mary Ann Treesh death cert

Mary Ann is buried at Baintertown.

JDM Treesh stone

Mary Ann married Michael Treesh on Dec. 23, 1858 and had 7 children, 4 living according to the 1900 census:

  • Aaron Treesh (1859-1928) married Ida Wyland
  • Chloe Ann Treesh (1861-1861)
  • Amanda (1865-1952) married Milton Stiver, then in 1917 to Melvin. D. Neff
  • Reuben (1868-1897) married Winnie Traster
  • John Milton (1875-1940) wife was Chloe at his death
  • Levi I. (1882-after 1900)
  • Michael Guy Treesh (1886-1886)

Aaron B. Miller was born in March 1, 1843 and died on February 20, 1923 in Cook County, Illinois. He is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery.

JDM Aaron stone

He married Sarah Ellen Myers on September 4, 1864 and had 5 children, all living according to the 1900 census:

  • Charles I. Miller (1866-1947)
  • Clara E. Miller (1869-after 1880)
  • Ida Miller (1871-1906)
  • Alonzo A. Miller (1875-1903) unmarried
  • Emry (Emery J.) Miller (1878- ) married in 1907 in Kalamazoo, MI to Louise Lathrop

Matilda A., also known as Tilda and Tillie Miller was born in May 26, 1844 in Elkhart County and died on February 6, 1939 in Kosciusko, County of a stroke.

JDM Matilda Miller Dubbs death cert

Matilda is buried in the Salem Cemetery.

JDM Dubbs stone

Matilda married John Dubbs on February 14, 1861 in Elkhart County.

JDm Matilda Dubbs

Matilda had the following children:

  • William Benson Dubbs (1862-1944 ) married Sarah “Dessie” Lentz, sister of Moses Lentz.
  • Margaret Amana “Emma” Dubbs (1864-1947) married Moses F. Lentz
  • Chloe Dubbs (1866-1942) married Jacob B. Neff
  • Mary Dubbs (1870-1929) married William Oldfield Scott
  • Franklin Dubbs (1873-1931) married Leora Myra Messnard
  • Charles Augustus Dubbs (1876-1939) married Maude V. Beegle

Martha Jane Miller was born March 26, 1847 in Elkhart County and died March 2, 1935 in Kosciusko County of myocarditis with heart failure and bronchitis.

JDM Martha Jane Blough death cert

Martha Jane is buried in the Salem Cemetery in Kosciusko County.

She married David Blough September 17, 1866 and had 7 children, all living according to the 1900 census:

  • Noma “Neoma” Ellen Blough (1867-1954) married William Melvin Tom
  • Charley Blough (1869-after 1900)
  • Hattie D. Blough (1872-1954) married Chester Juntz
  • Jesse Calvin Blough (1874-1936) married Lena Gibson
  • Albert “Birt” Blough (1877-1905) married Ora ?
  • Lulu Blough (1879-1966) married Milo Maloy
  • Mary “May” M. Blough (1886-1969) married Homer Lewis but had the surname Jontz on her death certificate

JDM Martha Jane Blough

Martha Jane Miller Blough with her hand on John David’s shoulder.

George Washington Miller was born Feb. 20, 1851 and died on March 11, 1917, both in Elkhart County. He is buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Goshen, Indiana, but I don’t find him listed in that cemetery, or anyplace in Elkhart County, on FindAGrave.

JDM George Washington Miller death cert

George Washington was not wearing a beard and my not have been Brethren.

JDM George Washington Miller

George Washington, who I believe was called “Wash,” married Lydia Miller on May 25, 1871 and they had 6 children, 5 living as of the 1900 census.

  • May Miller (1873-before 1900)
  • Eunice Miller (1874-1944) never married
  • Ada (1876-before 1900)
  • Gertrude (1880-1965) married Howard W. Neff
  • Myrtle (1884-1958) never married
  • One additional child died before 1900.

John David Miller’s Children with Margaret Lentz

Evaline Louise Miller was born March 29, 1857 in Elkhart County and died on December 20, 1939 in Leesburg, Kosciusko County of a kidney infection followed by heart failure.

Margaret Lentz Evaline Miller Ferverda death

Evaline is buried in the New Salem Cemetery in Milford, Kosciusko County, Indiana.

Hiram and Eva Ferverda stone

Evaline, or Evy as she was called, married Hiram B. Ferverda on March 10, 1876 in Goshen, Indiana and had the following children.

  • Ira Otto Ferverda (1877-1950) married Ada Pearl Frederickson
  • Edith Estella Ferverda (1879-1955) married Tom Dye
  • Irvin Guy Ferverda (1881-1933) married Jessie Hartman
  • John Whitney Ferverda (1882-1962) married Edith Barbara Lore
  • Elizabeth Gertrude Ferverda (1884-1966) married Louis Hartman
  • Chloe Evaline Ferverda (1886-1984) married Rolland V. Robinson
  • Ray Edward Ferverda (1891-1975) married Grace P. Driver
  • Roscoe H. Ferverda (1893-1978) married Effie Ringo and Ruby Mae Teeter.
  • George Miller Ferverda (1895-1970) married Lois Glant and Elizabeth Haas.
  • Donald D. Ferverda (1899-1937) married Agnes Ruple
  • Margaret Ferverda (1902-1984) married Chester H. Glant

Grandma Evaline Miller Ferverda

This photo was taken during WWI when Evaline had three sons serving in the military based on the three stars in the window. This was decidedly un-Brethren behavior, although Evaline was indeed Brethren. Mother remembered her wearing her white prayer bonnet.

Ira J. Miller was born July 26, 1859 in Elkhart County and died December 17, 1948 of heart disease. He is buried in the Baintertown Cemetery. Ira married Rebecca Jane Rodibaugh in 1885 according to the 1900 census and had 2 children, both living as of the 1900 census:

  • Orba O. Miller (1873-after 1900) age given as 16 in 1900 census
  • Everett E. Miller (1897-1991 ) married Mamie Smoker

Everett’s son, Rex, conveyed the story that Perry Miller died of an appendicitis at age 18. Perry did not die at 18, but given that Orba Miller disappears after the 1900 census, I’d bet Orba is the person who died at 18. Orba would have been Perry’s nephew and Rex’s father’s brother.

Rex tells us that Orba and Ira attended the Baintertown school, a one room schoolhouse, eventually abandoned and located on Rex’s land.  He fixed it up as a barn and still continued to utilize the building.

Margaret Lentz Ira Miller

Ira Miller and Rebecca Rodibaugh.

Perry A. Miller was born June 25, 1862 in Elkhart County, Indiana and died Dec. 22, 1906 of a twisted bowel that resulted in a bowel obstruction. This could well have been the genesis of Rex’s information that he died of appendicitis. Perry is buried in the Violett Cemetery.

Margaret Lentz Perry Miller stone

Perry was married to Mary Jane Lauer on October 2, 1881 and had 4 children, 3 living as of the 1900 census:

  • Maud Miller (1882-1905)
  • Purl A. Miller (1885-1960) married Adeline B. Schrock
  • Ottie Miller (1889-after 1900)
  • One child unaccounted for

Counting the Uncounted

The 1900 census provides us with two very useful pieces of information. Column 11 is titled “Mother of how many children” and column 12 is titled “Number of these children living.” I must say that census day was probably a sad day for most women, being reminded of the children who has passed before them. And yes, most women who had been married had lost children.  Those few who hadn’t had siblings and friends who lost children.  Losing up to half your children was the norm, not the exception.

For genealogists, this allows us to do two things.

First, on a personal level, it allows us to identify how many children our ancestors had that died. Often, they weren’t recorded and are entirely unknown to us today, even just 116 years distant.

Second, on a more global level, it allows us to get a picture of what was “typical” before the widespread advent of birth control and before the introduction of antibiotics, both of which have dramatically tipped the scales toward smaller families with most children surviving. What was common and expected at that time, to some extent, is now very unusual and a crisis when a child is lost.

John David’s children’s 1900 census entries are reflected below, allowing us to count the previously uncountable.

Name Total Children Living Children Deceased Children
Hester 8 5 3
David 9 8 1
Mary Ann 7 4 3
Aaron 5 5 0
Matilda* 9? 6 3?
Mary Jane 7 7 0
George W. 6 5 1
Evaline 11 11 0
Ira 2 2 0
Perry 4 3 1
Total 68 56 12

Some children passed not long after the 1900 census. At least two more died within the next 5 years.

*The 1900 census for Matilda was incorrect, as it lists only one child for her. She had one child left at home, but we know from census and other documents that she, did, indeed have six living children. Her deceased child count is based on “gaps” between children of approximately 4 years.

Very few of the graves of the deceased children are marked, probably speaking more to the economic conditions than to how the parents felt. They may have been marked with wooden crosses at the time they were buried. The general feeling was that, other than the parents, no one would need to find the grave.  The parents would never forget the location and didn’t need a marker to find the stone. After the parents were gone, no one would care, so no marker needed.

John David lost 4 of 14 children himself. Of his 10 surviving children, above, he had a total of 68 grandchildren, 56 of which were still living in 1900, as was he.

Conversely, this also means that John David buried 12 grandchildren, plus his own 4. His daughter, Hester (also recorded as Esther) married in 1852, so John David buried 12 grandchildren in 48 years, plus 4 children of his own. That’s approximately one death every 4 years, although death wasn’t always spaced out in convenient increments – as if death is ever convenient. For example, one of his children, Perry, lost a child and his mother, Margaret, within a month of each other and two of John David’s children lost children the same year they lost him. Death, then, was a more accepted part of life than it is today. I wonder if the sheer quantity made one a bit immune.

If these rough numbers are applicable to John David’s siblings as well, then John David was attending at least 2 funerals a year, if not more, for children…and that’s in addition to adults – and just for his immediate family without factoring in the rest of the church.

Going to the graveyard was a somber event far too familiar to our ancestors. When you look at the magnitude of the deaths within a community, even a relatively small community, it’s no wonder only adult burials were permanently marked, and only some of those. A child’s tombstone before 1900 was very, very rare.     

John David Miller’s Autosomal DNA

In the article about Margaret Lentz Whitehead Miller, we utilized two Lentz men for autosomal DNA comparison to find snippets of Margaret’s DNA in her descendants. Let’s do the same thing with John David Miller, utilizing individuals who descend only from the Miller line upstream of John David. Any DNA they share with descendants of John David Miller and Margaret Lentz must be Miller DNA and not Lentz DNA.

I did an experiment called “Just One Cousin” some time back to illustrate the magnitude of genetic genealogy information that one can indeed obtain from having “just one cousin” in the data base. However, in my case, that one cousin was actually two, Cheryl and her brother, Don, both descendants of John David Miller and Margaret Lentz Miller through daughter Evaline who married Hiram Ferverda.

In “Just One Cousin,” I was trying to find all of the people who match Cheryl, Don and my mother, so that could potentially include some folks who are also descended from Lentz ancestors. What we’ll do in this article is to limit the people we’re comparing against to those who are known to be Miller only descendants, who share a common paternal ancestor with John David Miller.

We will use the same 4 descendants of John David Miller and Margaret Lentz for our comparison group of descendants from our family line.

How is Everyone Related?

Rex Miller, our cousin, matches 4 other Miller men utilizing Y DNA who have also taken the Family Finder test. This Y DNA match confirms that indeed, these individuals do share a common Miller ancestor. These men also have their genealogy proven back to Michael Miller, the immigrant, so they are excellent candidates for autosomal comparison.

JDM DNA pedigree

The men in green will be compared to all 4 individuals in the bottom row of the pink box, descended from John David Miller, to determine which of their DNA came from John David Miller as opposed to Margaret Lentz. The common ancestor is Philip Jacob Miller and wife, Magdalena.

The two men in red, JM and RM can’t be utilized in this comparison, even though their Y DNA matches Rex.

Unfortunately, JM and RM don’t match any of the individuals in the pink box, so son Lodowich’s line is not represented.

Here is how the green and red Miller men are related to the testers in the pink box descended from John David Miller.

JDM relationship chart

The relationships are somewhat distant, more distant than the third cousin Lentz relationships in Margaret Lentz’s article, so not all of the Miller men match the individuals in the pink box.

Given that 4th cousins aren’t “supposed” to match, although they often do, why do both of these 4th cousins match almost everyone in the pink group? Note the yellow boxes in the pedigree chart above where one man in each line married a Miller cousin. That gives that generation a double dose of Miller DNA, which has obviously carried down to the present, giving RWM and HM more Miller DNA than they would have otherwise. Still everyone doesn’t match everyone.

RWM matches Cheryl, but not Don, who are siblings, which illustrates why it’s so important to test your siblings if your parents aren’t available.

At Family Tree DNA, I compared all 4 of our pink individuals to both RWM and HM. The chromosome browser below shows the matches of our 4 John David descendants to HM.

JDM chromosome browser

  • Rex = orange
  • Barbara = blue
  • Don = green
  • Cheryl = pink

I downloaded their matching segment data and after removing the segments under 3cM, we’re left with the matches, below.

JDM match chart

Sorting in chromosome order shows us 4 red/pink (so you can tell where they start and stop) match groups, above. Keep in mind that all of these segments are indeed Miller segments (or identical by chance), because we know the common ancestor and that there are no other known common ancestors.  Please note the word “known,” because it’s important.

The 4 groups colored red and pink are match groups where 3 individuals or more match on the same segment.  These are not (yet) triangulation groups and we can’t assume, although it’s tempting.  Assume will get you every time!

Some, chromosomes 4 (red) and 12, match on smaller segments, but look at the yellow rows. Those are very robust segments that very likely have been passed down from Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena, our common ancestors.

I went back to the chromosome browser and confirmed that yes, indeed, these red segment match groups do triangulate, meaning all of the matching participants match each other on that same segment…except for the segment on chromosome 3 where RWM matches Rex.  Rats!  I never expected a match of this size to NOT triangulate, but I knew something was wrong when RWM only matched Rex and not Cheryl, Don or Barbara.  Hmmm….

JDM triangulation

The segments that do triangulate are marked with green, meaning all people in the group matches every other person in the group on at least part of that segment, so we are unquestionably looking at John David Miller’s DNA in our pink group of Miller descendants – Don, Cheryl, Rex and Barbara.

JDM chr 3

On chromosome 3, three of four of John David’s descendants match each other and HM on a significant sized segment. The graphic above is the relevant segment of chromosome 3.  The background is Barbara and you can see that she matches Don (orange), Cheryl (green) and HM (blue) but even at 1cM, there is no trace of matching to either Rex (yellow) or RWM (pink).  Don and Cheryl’s chromosome 3 matches Barbara and HM, but not RWM or Rex, so the Rex and RWM segment does not triangulate to the rest of the group.  The chart below shows matching on this segment of chromosome 3.

JDM chr 3 triang grid

How is it possible for Rex and RWM to match each other on the same segment as Barbara, Don, Cheryl and HM match each other, but for Rex and RWM not to match either Barbara, Don, Cheryl or HM?  I also verified that HM and RM don’t match each other on that segment either.

There are only two possible answers.  Either that segment is IBC, identical by chance which is very unlikely for a segment of 16cM, or Rex and RWM share another, previously unknown, common ancestor.  I don’t have much information on Rex’s mother’s line.  This also calls into question other matches between only Rex and RWM – meaning they might not be from the Miller line either.

Hmmm….so glad I didn’t just assume, even WITH those large juicy segments.  Sometimes the DNA tells us a story even without the associated genealogy – in this case, that Rex and RWM may have another common ancestor they are unaware of.

It’s amazing what cousins, match groups and triangulation can tell us about our ancestors!

Pretty cool, huh!

Summary

It’s absolutely amazing to me as I sit here using a computer in 2016, surfing the web, accessing DNA information on a server in Houston, TX, records information from a server in Salt Lake, periodically checking to see what my friends and cousins are up to on Facebook which is located someplace distant (I have no idea where) and checking my phone for messages, how dramatically different my world and John David Miller’s world are, in just a little over a hundred years. John David didn’t even have electricity.

We’re not talking “change” but an exponential technological revolution that John David couldn’t have ever imagined.

John David died in 1902, I was born a little over half a century later when most farms still didn’t have inside running water and utilized outhouses. I remember taking a bath as a young child in a cold metal tub sitting on my grandmother’s kitchen table on Saturday night with water warmed in a kettle on the stove so I would be clean for church on Sunday, and I remember the water pump built into the back porch.

I also remember a wasps building a nest under the “seat” (boards with strategically placed hole) in the outhouse – a story that repeatedly and regularly amused my brother until his dying day. I still hate wasps and swear that they chase me.

Another half century later, exactly on the 100th anniversary of John David’s death, we would be testing DNA of people to discover what story our ancestors had to tell. That’s clearly within the lifetime of one person – my mother, Barbara in the pink descendant group, participated in both ends of the spectrum, being born only 20 years after John David died in a home a few miles distant with no electricity or plumbing, and having, thankfully, tested her DNA before her passing.

It’s difficult to grasp, and John David Miller would be incredibly shocked that we can isolate some of his DNA today. Of course, people didn’t even know about DNA then.  DNA wasn’t discovered until 1953 – and it would take another quarter century to discover anything much useful about DNA. However, by the year 2000, we knew how to sequence DNA and how to utilize it for genealogy, thanks to Bennett Greenspan, although it was clearly an emerging infant science.

Antibiotics hadn’t been introduced when John David lived, and died. That wouldn’t happen for another two decades and would be a life-changer for many. In fact, one of John David’s grandchildren died of tuberculosis, some of his children died of kidney infections, pneumonia and one died of sepsis. The medical profession knew enough to diagnose the ailments, at least part of the time, but couldn’t do anything about them most of the time.

In a century we have moved from expecting a roughly 50% child mortality rate, with children dying so often than their graves weren’t even marked to a genetic moonshot. John David’s children were lucky and only cumulatively experienced an 18% childhood mortality rate.  John’s own rate was 28%, 4 of 14 died. Today, it’s nearly zero.

Although genetic genealogy is not about medicine, the public awareness and acceptance of DNA testing fostered by genetic genealogy has rapidly helped move a generation of consumers from skepticism to acceptance – and with that will come, probably in this next generation and certainly the next 50 years – the ability to “cure” genetic diseases. John David’s children’s and grandchildren’s death certificates are ripe with potentially genetically connected causes of death; epilepsy, dementia, lots of cardiac and kidney issues, strokes and multiple instances of stomach cancer.

A new day has dawned and come bursting forth, not only in terms of losing fewer children and finding ancestors through distant electronic connections, but in terms of being on the leading edge of a technology that is the space race of our generation. DNA is the frontier inside of us – gifted to us by our ancestors.

Every person who has participated in genetic genealogy testing has been a pioneer on that frontier, much as John David Miller was a pioneer along Turkey Creek on what was known as the Elkhart Prairie. What a wonderful legacy to leave – a family of pioneers – different centuries, different frontiers. Wouldn’t John David Miller be surprised what four his non-Brethren great-grandchildren have done – Barbara, Cheryl, Rex and Don, those 4 individuals in the pink box – and what their DNA can tell us about him.

Never, in his wildest dreams….

Family Tree DNA Partners with Geni.com

geni logo  family tree dna logo

I received the following press release earlier today from Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree DNA is pleased to announce a partnership with Geni, a division of MyHeritage and home of the collaborative World Family Tree. This optional new feature offers seamless integration of both platforms, greatly enhancing the accuracy of Geni’s World Family Tree and providing new insights for millions of users interested in discovering more about their family histories.

Family Tree DNA has the world’s most comprehensive DNA testing and databases. Along with the company’s advanced suite of DNA tests, the new integration with Geni provides users of both platforms the ability to help confirm genetic relationships and discover previously unknown relatives. The integration of data is authenticated and secure, allowing simple transfer of DNA results from Family Tree DNA to Geni, should users opt to do so.

This added cross-functional feature is available to users who have tested their DNA with Family Tree DNA and have a profile with Geni, but can also be utilized by anyone who registers with both platforms. To that end, the optional and error-free integration of DNA conveniently validates connections and relationships within one’s family tree. Marker data of Y-DNA and mtDNA tests is transferred—there is no manual entry of DNA information, thereby preventing human error.

Geni and its team of curators have merged publicly available Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA data into the World Family Tree, making it the most DNA-rich collaborative family tree to date. Access to all DNA features on Geni is free and user privacy is strictly maintained. No DNA raw data or marker information is displayed, and additional settings allow users to control all aspects of the way their DNA information is handled.

Users interested in DNA testing—or those who prefer more comprehensive tests— can purchase DNA tests on Geni’s DNA Testing page powered by Family Tree DNA. For users with DNA results from previous testing, Family Tree DNA’s one-click process makes it fast and easy to transfer DNA results into their Geni profile. With the integration of both platforms, Geni’s World Family Tree enables users to establish and visualize a more precise family tree along with new connections and DNA matches.

“This partnership and integration greatly increases the value of DNA for genealogy,” said Family Tree DNA founder and CEO, Bennett Greenspan. “It’s great to work with Geni and its parent company MyHeritage. DNA and family trees complement each other and come together perfectly on the World Family Tree.”

Mike Stangel, General Manager of Geni, said: “Adding DNA to the World Family Tree increases its accuracy and strengthens its position as the de facto resource that shows how everyone is related to everyone else. We are very happy to take our partnership with Family Tree DNA to the next level.”

Information on linking Geni accounts to Family Tree DNA and uploading DNA results to Geni is available here: http://www.geni.com/dna-tests/faq.

Taking a look at the Geni FAQ page, we find the following information:

What are the new DNA Integration features (released July 2016)?

We’re excited to announce that you can now import your DNA test results from Family Tree DNA to Geni, as well as upload your raw autosomal data for further processing. Geni will use your Y-DNA, Mitochondrial DNA and Autosomal DNA test results to confirm existing relationships in your family tree as well as discover new relatives. Specifically, Geni will:

  • Propagate Y-DNA results along the paternal lines to infer which other relatives should have matching DNA. If matching DNA is found, the line between the test-takers can be considered confirmed.
  • Propagate Mitochondrial DNA results along the maternal lines to infer which other relatives should have matching DNA. If matching DNA is found, the line between the test-takers can be considered confirmed.
  • Use Autosomal DNA matching to confirm close relationships
  • Guide you on what DNA tests to take to confirm relationships in your family tree
  • Show DNA conflicts that indicate where the tree may have mistakes, and provide guidance on other living people who can be tested to resolve the conflict
  • List other Geni users whose DNA matches your own, which enables you to compare trees to determine how you are related
  • Organize profiles into haplogroup projects

These features sound wonderful, especially relative to finding candidates for Y and mtDNA testing, but there is one piece of missing information in the FAQ.

Does Geni Sell Our DNA?

While Geni states that they don’t display your DNA results, only “matches and haplogroups,” and that your DNA information is private and secure, what they don’t say is if they will be selling or sharing your autosomal DNA results to third parties.

For additional questions, you’re directed from their FAQ page to their help page, but to submit a request form from the help page, one must login to Geni. Geni might want to rethink this policy, especially relative to DNA.  Furthermore, the link at the bottom of the DNA Tests page does the same thing.

Geni DNA tests

You can’t examine the fine print if you can’t find the fine print.

I do have a Geni account, so I signed on to view the DNA Terms of Service.

Here’s a quote from part of the Terms of Service document.

By submitting DNA Results to the Website, you grant Geni a royalty-free, world-wide license to use your DNA Results, and any DNA Results you submit for any person from whom you obtained legal authorization as described in this Agreement, and to use, host, sublicense and distribute the resulting analysis to the extent and in the form or context we deem appropriate on or through any media or medium and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed or discovered. You hereby release the Company from any and all claims, liens, demands, actions or suits in connection with the DNA Results, including, without limitation, errors, omissions, claims for defamation, invasion of privacy, right of publicity, emotional distress or economic loss. This Agreement continues even if you stop using the Website or DNA Services.

And this:

By transferring any DNA Results to the Website, you hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Geni the right to receive, use, modify, publicly display, reproduce, distribute, and create derivative works of such DNA Results solely on and through the DNA Services for commercial and non-commercial purposes and the Company’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the DNA Services (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

I was concerned about the above verbiage, but then, by clicking on the Privacy Policy link on the DNA Terms of Use page, we find the following:

Geni privacy policy

This very specifically says they will NOT share our DNA without informed consent and not without an opt-in.  Let’s see what opt-in means at Geni.

Opt-In

For me, the answer to whether I will participate, or not, is in large part based on whether or not my DNA will be sold or “shared” with third parties without my specific permission.  I have several Y and mtDNA lines that I need to find test candidates for, or even better yet, would like to know if that line has already tested.  This feature isn’t offered by any other vendor today, and might be very, very beneficial if enough people participate! So, much like Pavlov’s dogs, I’m salivating.

It appears, based on Geni’s Privacy Policy, that Geni will not share our information with third parties if we don’t specifically authorize that sharing when we upload our results.  That’s good news and exactly what I wanted to hear.  But what does that really mean?

Other vendors depend on less than straightforward authorizations and click-throughs that say you’ve read and understand a policy and in that document are buried statements that your anonymized DNA will be shared and there is nothing you can do about it.

The Geni blog provides a lot more information about how the new interface will work, including an interesting projects feature.

Furthermore, based on this screen shot from their blog, it appears that indeed, their research opt-in truly is an opt-in and unless you do opt-in, you’re opted out.

Geni opt in

As far as I’m concerned, this is exactly how opting in should work.  Hurray for Geni!!!

At this point, I don’t see any reason to NOT participate – and the lure of finding individuals that have already Y and mtDNA tested on a specific line is very exciting.

I hear it now, brick walls are gonna fall!!!