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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Focus on Grouping

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

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

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

Ancestry’s 6-8 cM Matches

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

Ancestry tota.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of my total matches:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’s the Gold?

Ancestry filter

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

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

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

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

Great-grandparents’ Surnames

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be sure to check alternate spellings of surnames too.

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

So, what did I find?

Results!

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

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

I’m not willing to throw these away.

Continue to Provide Feedback to Ancestry

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

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

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

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

The Proof is in the Pudding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Provide Feedback to Ancestry

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

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Genetic Affairs Instructions and Resources

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

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

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

AutoCluster

Genetic Affairs cluster

Article: AutoClustering by Genetic Affairs

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

AutoTree and AutoPedigree

Genetic Affairs reconstructed tree 2

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

geneticaffairs autocluster dashboard.png

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

AutoPedigree + WATO

Autopedigree WATO chart2.png

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

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

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

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

August news.png

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

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

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

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

Ancestry Tagging Script (to Save Your Sanity)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Individual tweaking is required.

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

August ancestry 1saved

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

// MODIFY THE FOLLOWING LINES AS NEEDED

var groupTitle = “1saved“;

var groupRow = 2;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August ancestry common plus 6.png

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

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

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

Ancestry Acquisition Update

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

Summer Sales Have Arrived

Late summer always ushers in summer DNA sales.

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

AncestryDNA is on sale for $59, here.

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

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

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

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

MyHeritage Sale

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

August myheritage

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

Family Tree DNA Sale

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

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

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

august ftdna 2

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

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

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

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

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

Free DNAPainter Newsletter

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

I’ve written extensively about DNAPainter, here.

New Ancient Mystery Ancestor

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

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

You can read the PLOS article, here.

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

TTFN

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

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

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

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Blackstone Group Acquires Majority Interest in Ancestry.com

Ancestry banner.png

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

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

According to Bloomberg:

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

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

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

I Suspected

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Next?

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

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

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

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

Ancestry first announced their health initiative in 2015.

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

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

Ancestry sharing question

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anna Catharina’s Birth

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

Koob Anna Catharina 1735 burial.png

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

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

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

Anna Catharina’s Protestant Heritage

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

Koob 30 years war atrocities

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

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

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

Anna Catharina’s Funeral

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

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

Psalm 23, 24 & 73, King James Version

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Church

Kirsch Fussgoenheim church

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

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

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

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

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

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

Children

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

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

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

First Known Child

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

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

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

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

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

Second Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth Child

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

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

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

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

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

A Fifth Child is Discovered

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

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

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

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

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

Who Really Was Anna Catharina?

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

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

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

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

Fussgoenheim History

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Map

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

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim under village

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

Kirsch 1743 Fussgoenheim over village

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

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

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

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

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

Koob Hallberg castle.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Koob aerial Hallberg castle

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

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

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

Koob Fussgoenheim sign.jpg

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

Pandemic pig.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

Pandemic Fatigue

pandemic fatigue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pandemic garden.jpg

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

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

pandemic wildflower garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Common Thread

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

pandemic contrails.jpg

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

There’s a lot of loss, for sure.

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

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

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

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

Pandemic phlox

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

pandemic lily.jpg

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

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

pandemic red lily

Maintaining an Even Keel

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

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

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

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

Pandemic Rainbow

When will the Pandemic Journal series end?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pandemic plague doctor

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

pandemic rainbow.jpg

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

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Ancestry Match Purge Update

I’m covering four things in this article today:

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

Why is Focusing on Ancestry Critical Right Now?

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

Think of your car. It’s a lot easier for a car company to keep the same model year to year than to create a new model with the inherent design, engineering, and associated costs.

Yes, other DNA vendors could and should improve too, but right now, only Ancestry is taking something valuable away from genealogists. Regardless of what we want other companies, or Ancestry, to develop, providing feedback regarding Ancestry’s impending purge of our 6-8 cM matches is critical now, before the deletion occurs and is irreversible.

Some genealogists either don’t care or don’t specifically want to preserve smaller matches. That’s fine and they can simply ignore their smaller matches. Smaller matches DON’T HURT ANYONE. If you don’t like them, just ignore them.

Why would anyone be vehemently opposed to something that is agreed to be useful and valuable about 50% of the time? It has been widely accepted for years that 7 cM matches are valid about half of the time. Science tells us the same thing.

MMB stats by cM 2

Philip Gammon, a statistician, worked with sets of phased data to produce output indicating the rates of valid and invalid matches, meaning when the child matches someone and so does the parent. His numbers indicate that 6 and 7 cM matches were valid 66% and 58% of the time, respectively.

I worked with parent/child trios whose tests I control to determine the accuracy of matches phased to parents.

Ancestry phased matches accuracy.png

Working with parentally phased data, meaning when both parents have tested, a match matches either the mother or father in addition to the tester, the results indicated that matches between 6 and 6.99 cM were valid 30% of the time. Matches between 7 and 7.99 cm were valid 46% of the time. These percentages are smaller than Philips, but these groups are nonendogamous and Philip’s work included endogamous trios.

Parental phasing is the first step in confirming that a match is valid, regardless of the size. The smaller the size of the match, the more additional information is needed. We’re genealogists, we can do that!

shared cm quick reference

I created this combined quick reference chart from an analysis article I wrote based on the results of multiple resources and various testing companies. Note that we begin to see no matching at 3rd cousins, so we would also see 3rd cousins who match between 6-8 cM and those matches will be removed with the purge.

Clearly, smaller matches aren’t valid all of the time, but they certainly aren’t invalid all of the time either. Like any other record we use, they need to be critically evaluated.

Why would anyone care that other people want to use these tools for research?

If you type the name John Smith into a census search – you’re obviously looking for one specific John Smith. There are thousands. No one is advocating deleting the entire census collection because researchers are going to have to utilize some analytical skills to determine which specific John Smith is the ancestor for which they are searching.

Frankly, it’s no one’s business other than the researcher themselves, BUT, the researcher MUST HAVE THE RECORDS AVAILABLE to them in order to perform the analysis.

That’s the difference. Ancestry is deleting the DNA information between 6 and 8 cM leading to our ancestors and if they don’t reevaluate their decision now, once the data is gone, so is our opportunity to use it – forever.

Ancestry more tools

Don’t burn the house down because it needs to be cleaned.

Ancestry’s White Paper

Ancestry published a new matching white paper describing what they are doing, and why.

Ancestry white paper.png

Here’s the link directly, or you can access it at the top of your DNA Matches page.

Ancestry factor

This excerpt from page 13 is critical in understanding the motivation behind this purge.

Individuals on the initial July 13th call with Ancestry reported that as many as 2/3rds of people’s matches will be removed during the purge.

Since that time, my blog commenters and people who have emailed me directly are telling me that they will lose “more than 50%” of their matches. The numbers vary, but one person said it was well over 70% for her.

Unless you’ve previously used one of the download tools that have now been discontinued due to the cease-and-desist orders issued by Ancestry, to the best of my knowledge, you have no way of determining in advance how many of your matches fall in the 6-8 cM category and how many you will lose.

I’ve recorded how many total matches I have, but until the purge occurs, there’s no way to know how many of those I’ll lose. In other words, there’s no way for me to quantify my loss or complaint in advance.

Technology Costs Money

In technology terms, let me explain what this means to Ancestry.

Companies have to pay for data storage costs and processing one way or another.

The first way is by purchasing their own hardware, storage and processing equipment, which means as more people test, and more data needs to be stored and processed (matching), the company needs to spend more money for additional equipment.

If the firm doesn’t use their own hardware and the services are cloud-based, they still pay for storage by the amount of space and processing by the minute.

Your DNA kit was a one time purchase, mean a one-time revenue source for Ancestry, but the processor load of matching and storing match lists goes on forever. The only additional revenue source for your DNA, for Ancestry, if is you opted in for medical research or if you purchased a subscription that you would not have otherwise purchased.

It might also be worth noting here that Ancestry laid off 6% of its workforce, 100 people, in February, following in the footsteps of 23andMe, reported here, and that was before the economic downturn that all companies are experiencing now due to the ramifications of Covid.

I’m not surprised that Ancestry continues to seek cost-cutting measures and I am not criticizing them for doing so. I simply hope they will find methods where the burden isn’t directly born by their DNA customers.

The Definition of Small Segment Keeps Increasing

Initially, AncestryDNA included 5 cM matches. Those disappeared in 2016 when Timber arrived. At that point, Ancestry reported that academic (not parental) phasing plus Timber made matches more reliable, so 6 cM matches were supposed to be more reliable at Ancestry than unphased 6 cM or larger matches elsewhere. No one complained about 6 and 7 cM segment matches at that time or discarded them out-of-hand as unreliable, although people who work in this field have always cautioned testers to accumulate layers of evidence in their search.

Many researchers never get to those lower matches because they have many matches at higher levels. Matches are easy to ignore if you’re not interested.

Currently, matches in the 6 and 7 cM range are now being referred to as “small segments,” stated by some that they should never be used because they might be identical by chance and not identical by descent. The term “small segments” used to be reserved for segments below the matching threshold of the testing vendors which used to be 5 cM at Ancestry. The definition of “small segment” has crept up now to include 6 and 7 cM matches. Will it continue to creep upwards as it becomes advantageous? When will 8, 9, 10 cM matches, go away?

One of the justifications for ignoring or deleting smaller segments is that they are “far back in time,” but Ancestry’s documentation about 6 cM matches shows that 21% of the time, a 6 cM match is some flavor of 2nd, 3rd or 4th cousin. That’s hardly far back in time.

Ancestry 6 cm relationship.png

Unknown, Previously Unidentified Ancestors

The need to identify ancestors who are unknown, meaning not just unknown to you – but truly not identified through prior research by anyone eventually affects all genealogists.

Researchers often encounter this situation when they have females with no surnames or when they are researching ancestors with no records at all.

My closet brick walls begin in the 6th generation, all females, born in the 1760s and died in the 1800s. Their descendants in my generation would be 5th cousins to me. That’s where my search for truly unknown ancestors begins.

Other people experience brick walls much closer to them in time.

The Good News – People Are Looking

There’s actually a silver lining to Ancestry’s announced purge – people are looking and evaluating these smaller matches now that the matches are in jeopardy of being removed.

Maybe Ancestry’s threat to remove these matches was a genius marketing ploy to encourage us to use them (wink, wink.) Let’s hope so and Ancestry retains those matches and continues to provide their customers with matches at this level.

Numerous people have stated that they are finding patterns in multiple matches, especially if they manage multiple kits for various family members. Because of the 20 cM shared match threshold limit at Ancestry, testers may not see other family members on their shared match list, but looking at their other family members’ actual match list – those smaller matches are sometimes there. Researchers are finding matches between 6-8 cM that match multiple family members. Finding those matches is the beginning of analysis.

Let me explain that a different way. I’m looking at my shared matches with person A. I see no shared matches below 20 cM because that’s Ancestry’s shared match display limit.

However, person A’s sibling, person B, also matches me below 20 cM, but I can’t see that shared match with person A because my shared match with person B is below 20 cM. However, checking my match list for person B’s name shows that they are a match to me. However, there is no way to know that I match person B in common with person A.

Then, checking another family member, like an aunt, for example, I see that person A and person B both match her as well, probably also on segments below 20 cM so she can’t see them on her shared match list either, nor can I see either of those matches, person A or person B on my shared match list with my aunt.

Reaching out to matches below 20 cM and asking if they have other family members you can check, by name, to see if they are on your match list is important. Many people don’t realize shared matches below 20 cM aren’t shown at Ancestry.

I know that, but sometimes I tend to forget that when viewing shared matches and have to remind myself.

Are You a Researcher Who Could Benefit from Smaller Segment Matches?

What types of researchers are finding interesting matches that they are pursuing and finding promising leads or beneficial connections? Truthfully, I hadn’t thought of several of these. Here’s what people have reported recently.

  • People with Irish ancestry before the 1920 records fire.
  • African Americans hoping to identify their ancestors and connect with descendants
  • People tracking matches to locations, such as specific villages in Europe.
  • People tracking US colonial records where their brick walls occur.
  • People seeking unknown ancestors in locations where records have burned.
  • Native American researchers seeking connections before the adoption of European surnames, often in the late 1800s.
  • Acadian matches from before the 1755 “Grand Derangement” when the Acadians were forcibly evicted from Nova Scotia
  • New Mexico and Southwest US connections to early Spanish families
  • Hawaiian researchers’ connections to Native Hawaiians

The keyword here is “pursuing.”

No single match should be taken as proof of anything, certainly not at this level. Cumulative evidence is another matter.

DNA evidence is just like every other type of evidence. We research and build upon what we find. Sometimes we discard what we’ve found when we find it to be invalid. We learn how to evaluate the evidence we discover. DNA isn’t any different. But we must have that evidence before we can evaluate it.

I wrote about that in Ancestors: What Constitutes Proof?

Genealogy Goals

What you’re trying to accomplish with DNA testing will determine whether or not smaller segments are important to you. One size does not fit all – pardon the pun. Your goals may also change over time. Mine certainly have as I moved from confirming existing line to attempting to break down brick walls that no one has the answer to today.

Researchers have different goals for DNA testing in conjunction with genealogy. Working with smaller segments isn’t for everyone.

Many people who only want to confirm known ancestors and have no idea why or how smaller segment matches might be valuable to themselves, now or eventually, or to others. Adoptees looking for their biological parents don’t need or want those small segment matches  In general, smaller matches, unless they have a tree posted with a shared ancestor, require more work and are typically used by more experienced genealogists.

Let’s take a look at the various categories of research, which might explain why someone you’re talking to might have a different opinion about matches between 6-8 cM, or might be ambivalent.

Research Type or Interest Applicable DNA Research/Comments
Ethnicity and populations Ethnicity and population reports are available at all 4 major vendors, plus sometimes additional tools. People who test for ethnicity may not be interested in traditional genealogy or DNA matching.
Adoption or unknown parent searches or other close relative searches (grandparents, etc.) People searching for close family members focus on close matches beginning with their highest matches, then tree matching, not generally more distant matches. I wrote about that here.
Confirming known ancestors already in your tree Confirmation occurs by matching to (and triangulating with) multiple other testers who share common identified ancestors. Tools like Theories of Family Relativity (MyHeritage) and ThruLines (Ancestry, but no triangulation) automate this process as does Phased Family Matching (FTDNA), in addition to some third party tools.
Discovering previously unknown ancestors that someone else has already researched DNA matching and advanced tools such as ThruLines (Ancestry) and Theories of Family Relativity (MyHeritage), but these tools require that someone already has identified these ancestors and placed them in their tree.
Discovering unidentified and previously unknown ancestors, meaning those where records don’t exist, are not previously researched/documented and are not already in someone’s tree. Every generation back in time increases the number of brick walls that genealogists hit. A researcher born in 1980 is likely to be 4th cousins to someone born from a common ancestor in 1850. Some 3rd and 4th cousins won’t DNA match at all, some will match on larger segments and some will only match on smaller segments (6-8 cM). The number of people who match and the segment size (generally) decreases in every generation as the DNA is divided.

If you’re thinking to yourself that you have ancestors that are entirely brick-walled – then you’re a candidate to utilize matches between 6-8 cM. Remember, roughly half of those matches are valid, and yes, there are evidentiary tools and methods of evaluation.

If you’re not back to brick-walled ancestors in your research yet today, eventually you will progress beyond available paper records and will find yourself in need of DNA. If the only DNA that you carry from those ancestors are segments between 6 and 8 cM, and they’re gone – you’re entirely out of luck. Just like when the Irish Records office burned in Dublin in 1922.

Ancestry Irish records office fire.jpg

Doesn’t that picture just hurt your heart, understanding the magnitude of the history that is burning?

DNA is the Currency of Our Ancestors

I’ve been searching for how to describe the situation people with brick walls, no surnames, and no written history face.

Think of your ancestors’ DNA as genetic currency.

You have large bills that represent what you received from your parents. As you move further back in time, those bills become 20s, then 10s and 5s. Finally $1 bills. Then, change.

The problem is that some people know which bill, meaning what ancestor that change came from, because they can track it directly backward in time, bill to bill, and ancestor to ancestor. Their change is all stacked in nice neat ancestor piles because they have the records to connect them to other descendants that know that ancestor is theirs too.

Ancestry coins

Other people who don’t have the benefit of that knowledge just have a bag of change all mixed together. They don’t’ know where those coins came from, and the coins, or smaller DNA segments, themselves, MUST point the way to the identification of their ancestors.

Ancestry coins pile.jpg

While their pile of change is messy, there are tools for researchers to sort through the coins and organize – identifying which coins came from which ancestors. Tools like shared matches, clustering, and more.

If you take their coins away, researches who have hit brick walls, which we all eventually do, have no genetic currency to work with.

Franklin Smith, an African American genealogist at the Clayton Library in Houston shares his experiences on Dana Leeds’ blog, here.

Ancestry Delayed the Purge for a Month

Ancestry’s decision to purge matches of 6-8 cM is critically important for brick-walled genealogists because, in part, of the sheer magnitude of their database.

Let’s say, for example, that we need to find a minimum of 10 people descending from this same couple through different children before we’re comfortable that this connection is valid.

If we can find 10 people at Ancestry, in a smaller database, we may only be able to find a few – certainly not nearly 10. If that database doesn’t provide matches to 6 cM either or has an arbitrary match cutoff, we may not be able to see those matches elsewhere either. Furthermore, not everyone tests elsewhere or transfers their DNA file. That’s exactly why it’s so critical to keep the Ancestry matches.

The combination of the 6-8 cM segment matches, more likely to be accurate because of phasing and Timber, and the large number of testers at Ancestry provides us with an increased opportunity to be successful.

Ancestry has not communicated with me directly, but I was provided with this posting from the Ancestry Facebook page wherein the “author” with the Ancestry logo by their name states that they are delaying the purge for a month, until the beginning of September. That’s good news, but clearly not enough news.

Ancestry posting

Please note that Ancestry:

  • Has delayed the purge until “late August”
  • Has clarified that starred matches (in the groups) are saved
  • Is beginning, soon, to show decimals so you don’t have to save all 8 cM matches in order to be sure you save all 7 cM matches due to Ancestry’s rounding up.

Earlier today, the “Learn More” link at the top of the DNA matches page has been updated with the following information, which confirms the Facebook posting.

Ancestry FAQ

I am hopeful that Ancestry is still evaluating its overall decision and instead of a mass purge, will provide more effective tools for their customers to utilize.

I can think of several, but the first approach would be that if a match does not phase with parents, assuming both have tested, it should be removed, regardless of the size.

Providing genealogists with analysis tools, similar to the now-banned third-party tools, would be a wonderful addition. Just un-banning those tools is really all we need.

Allow genealogists to flag some matches for deletion which we have determined are not valid would be beneficial. Similar to “ignoring” incorrect records hints.

Provide Feedback to Ancestry

Ancestry provided roughly a month’s grace period to allow users frantically struggling to save their relevant 6-8 cM matches some relief. I provided preservation strategies and instructions for how to prevent matches from being deleted, here.

This temporary reprieve doesn’t address 6-8 cM matches that exist today and aren’t saved, nor future 6-8 cM matches.

Please continue to provide polite feedback to Ancestry.

Feedback channels include the following:

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

Someone pointed out that the chromosome browser petitions initiated a few years ago went exactly no place, but like I mentioned previously, it’s a lot easier to keep something that exists than it is to build something new. I’m still hopeful that our voices will make a difference this time!

If you’d like to sign petitions, at least three have been created:

What’s Next

I’ve had requests to review what methods and tools available at each testing vendor to assist genealogists who need to search for unknown, undiscovered, previously unresearched ancestors. That’s a great idea!

After Ancestry completes whatever they decide to do and things settle down a bit, I will write a series of articles about how to utilize the various tools offered by each vendor that can be utilized by brick-walled researchers – along with suggestions for improvements every vendor can make to improve our chances of success.

Eventually, all genealogists will move beyond ethnicity or confirming documented ancestors into the realm of the unknown where we need every piece of genetic currency that we can find – along with advanced analysis tools to help us sort the wheat from the chaff and assign names of ancestors to those DNA segments.

The best thing Ancestry can do for us, right now, is to NOT delete those matches. The best thing you can do is to share your opinion with Ancestry.

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Rare African Y DNA Haplogroup A00 Sprouts New Branches

In 2012, the great-grandson of Albert Perry, a man born into slavery in South Carolina, tested his Y DNA and the result was the groundbreaking discovery of haplogroup A00, a very ancient branch of the Y tree found in Africa.

The results were announced at the Family Tree DNA Conference in 2012 and published the following year.

Early Y DNA tree dating was imprecise at best. As the tree expands and additional branches are added, our understanding of the Y tree structure, the movement of peoples, and the evolution of branches is enhanced.

In 2015, two Mbo people from Cameroon tested as described in the paper by Karmin et al.

A00 tree.png

Click to enlarge

Those men added branch A-YP2683 to the tree.

In 2018, a paper by D’Atanasio et al sequenced 104 living males including a man from Cameroon which added branch A-L1149.

In 2020, the paper by Lipson et all found an ancient branch of A00 subsequently named A-L1087 that was added above A00, dating from between 3,000 and 8,000 years ago and believed to have been found among the remains of Bantu-speakers. Of course, that doesn’t tell us when A-L1087 occurred, but it does tell us that it occurred sometime before they were born.

How do you like the little skull indicating ancient DNA, as compared to the flags indicating the location of the earliest known ancestor of present-day testers? I’m very pleased to see ancient DNA results being incorporated into the tree.

A00 Lipson

What About Albert Perry’s Great-Grandson’s Y DNA?

The Y DNA of Albert Perry’s great-grandson had never been NGS sequenced with either the Big Y-500 or the current Big Y-700. NGS technology for Y DNA wasn’t yet available at the time. Is there more information to be gleaned from his DNA?

Recently, Albert Perry’s great-grandson’s DNA was upgraded to the Big Y-700, and two other descendants of Albert Perry tested at the Big Y-700 level as well.

The original 2012 tester, Albert Perry’s great-grandson, added branch A-L1100, and Albert’s great-great and great-great-great-grandsons split his branch once again by adding branch A-FT272432.

The haplogroup A Y DNA tree shows the new tree structure.

Looking at the Block Tree at FamilyTreeDNA, Albert Perry’s descendants are shown, along with the ancient sample at the far right.

A00 Perry block tree.png

Click to enlarge

Because so few men have tested and fallen into this line, the dark blue equivalent SNPs reach far back in time. As more men test, these will eventually be broken into individual branches.

The men who carry these important SNPs and their branching information will either be men from Africa or the diaspora.

I would like to thank the Perry family for their continuing contributions to science.

_____________________________________________________________

Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Products and Services

Genealogy Research

Henry Bolton, the Victualler & Sarah Corry/Curry; Their Ancestors and Life in Medieval London – 52 Ancestors #294-301

I met my cousin Pam Bolton some years ago. She and I both descend from our common ancestors, Henry Bolton and his second wife, Nancy Mann. Pam proved to be an ace genealogist, learned to work with DNA and has made inroads using both types of tools.

Together, we administer the Bolton DNA Project at Family Tree DNA which we invite all Boltons of any line and all descendants to join. Our search endeavors using both DNA and records don’t end with that project.

Using diligent research, Pam made headway identifying the parents and neighborhood of Henry and his brother, Conrad, on the waterfront in historic London before their “kidnapping” and immigration in 1775 where they were promptly sold into indentured servitude to pay for the passage they didn’t choose.

We kept hoping for a Y DNA match to a Bolton in England, but so far, that hasn’t happened. There is an Irish match at 25 of 37 markers whose ancestor was born in 1625 spelled Bolton and a Boldan from Germany born in 1813, so maybe there is some truth to early family legends. Neither have upgraded to the Big Y test which would further refine the connection and identify how long ago the lines diverged. Both could be reflective of either happenstance surname matches or even movement, in the case of Germany, since the 1700s.

Research was then at a standstill for a few years until Pam hired Anthony, a professional genealogist in London. Feet on the ground combined with someone who knows the ropes makes an absolutely huge difference.

Pam was kind enough to share her research with me, so that I, in turn, can share it with you. Above all, we want the information about Henry, Conrad and their ancestors to be accurate, or at least as accurate as we can make it. Anthony’s work eliminates a lot of possibilities, and provides likely scenarios, but there is no smoking gun, no absolute proof. We need to be clear about that. There is, however, substantial evidence.

If you have questions, including about Anthony’s contact information, suggestions, or more information, please feel free to contact us by either commenting on this article or emailing Pam who is spearheading this research at rudywoofs@yahoo.com.

I want to say a big, huge, thank you to Pam. You’re amazing!!!

Legends

Pam was fortunate to have heard the family legends. Not only through her direct line, but through the families she contacted over the years during her research who gladly shared their stories. She found similarities in many.

Legend told us that Henry’s father, also named Henry, had owned some sort of shop along the Thames River near or on London Bridge.

London Bridge 1616

London Bridge, with houses built on it, 1616.

Another tradition was that Henry’s mother was named Sarah and there was therefore one girl so-named in every generation in her honor.

The story of the boys being lured onto the ship, which turned out to be the Culvert, on the Thames River and kidnapped in order to be sold to pay their passage descended through both her family and mine through different sons of Henry.

Yet a different version of the story involved a wicked step-mother that wished to be rid of them.

Add to that a different legend of a shipwreck in which Henry and Conrad’s parents both died.

Rumors persisted in some families that Bolton was either Dutch or German.

My family told the story of a German “valentine” from Henry’s sweetheart in “the old country” that he kept in a Bible. Of course, the area where they lived in London was a neighborhood of immigrants, and early English secretarial script could have been mistaken for another language. I certainly can’t read it.

Henry supposedly had with him a card from a Methodist church or school where he studied, but no one that I know of has ever seen that document, nor the reported valentine. Henry could definitely write though, because he signed several documents in his lifetime. Someplace along the way, he obtained some education.

I wrote about Pam’s findings in the article, Henry and Conrad Bolton, 240th Immigration Anniversary, along with the questions her newly-found information raised.

Pam had found a marriage bond between a Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry in 1754 where he is noted as a widower. The couple married at St. Botolph Aldgate, northeast of St. Katherines by the Tower church and neighborhood, a working-class, poor, immigrant, riverfront area within sight of London Bridge.

Not long after, baptisms for children including Henry and a son, Conrath were recorded in nearby churches. Were these baptisms for our Henry and Conrad, even if the dates did not align perfectly with the ages the boys had claimed to be upon arrival in 1775?

Bolton emigrants.png

The ship’s captain could have inflated their ages, hoping to get more money when he auctioned them for their 7 years of indentured servitude.

While the name Henry was fairly common, the name Conrath Ditirnick Bolton, born to one Henry and Sarah was very distinct. However, this record shows Conrath born in 1765, so only 10 years old, not 16, when they were kidnapped.

Bolton ConrathSimilarly, the births for baby Henry Bolton didn’t align with him being 15 in 1775 either.

It seemed like there might have been multiple couples by the name of Henry and Sarah Bolton living in London and having children at the same time. I know, what are the chances?

Pam found one Henry Bolton, a victualler, living in Ship Alley. Widower Henry Bolton, a victualler married Sarah Corry in 1754.

London Bolton map

To make matters even more confusing, Pam found an 1806 will for a Henry Bolton who mentioned a wife, Sarah with minor children, Sarah and Henry William.

Was this the same Henry? The same Sarah or the same Henry and a second wife named Sarah? Or neither? What was going on? We needed help.

Introducing Anthony

Pam found professional genealogist, Anthony. Almost all of this information is taken from Anthony’s report, lightly edited, with a few comments and some additions such as maps and pictures provided by me. I have added churches and cemeteries where our ancestors and their children were either baptized, lived or buried, and structures from their neighborhoods like a city gate that would have been familiar to them on a daily basis. This allows me, and you, to walk in their footsteps, at least a little bit, from afar both in terms of time, more than 250 years ago and far away.

Anthony’s report starts here:

The first step was to check the baptism of ‘Conrath Ditrick Bolten/Bolton’ on 24 February 1765 in the original parish register of the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower in the City of London.

We found:

Conrath Ditirnick Botten [or Bolten, or Botlen, if it is badly written] [son] of Henry & Sarah – 6 [days old], was baptized on 24 February 1765

We searched for, but could not find, a record of an infant burial or a later burial for Conrath or Conrad Bolten/Bolton – a promising piece of circumstantial evidence that he survived to go to America, as you had hoped.

1709er-st-katherines

St Katherine by the Tower church no longer exists today, torn down to build docks.

Marriages

We then searched for marriages between the parents, Henry Bolten (or variants) and Sarah, in the period 1740-1765 in the London area. We found two possibilities:

Clandestine Marriage Westminster, London [by Mr Deneveu]

11 February 1752
Henry Boulton Stockings Maker of St Leonard Shoreditch Widr & Sarah Bates of St Lukes Mdsex Wid.

The second marriage took place at St. Botolph Aldgate.

Bolton Aldgate church.jpg

St. Botolph Aldgate church today.

Bolton St Botolph churchyard.png

The churchyard of St. Botolph Aldgate, shown above.

St Botolph Aldgate London

Date of Marriage: 26 Sep 1754

Hen Bolten of the parish of St George Middlesex Widr and Sarah Corry of this parish Spr married in this church by licence this twenty sixth Day of September in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and fifty four. Sarah appears to have signed in the place of the witnesses who were Wm Barnell and Mary X Denton her mark

Henry Bolton 1754 marriage 2

Note that we have both Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry’s signature on this document.

As this stated that the marriage was by licence we searched for and found the document in question in the records of the Bishop of London:

Henry Bolton 1754 marriage

He have Henry’s signature on this document as well.

Henry Bolton of the Parish of St George in the County of Middlesex Victualler and [blank]
25 September 1754
the above bounden Henry Bolton a widower and Sarah Corry spinster

This, to be clear, was the licence which allowed the couple to marry.

St. George is also known as St. George in the East, shown here in 1870.

Bolton St. George map.png

By Doc77can – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31418742

Bolton Stepney map

By Doc77can – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40290848

St. George in the East is beside the Tower.

Births and Baptisms

We then searched for children baptized to couples called Henry and Sarah Bolton (or variants) in London in the period 1740-1790:

Bolton Shoreditch.png

Several baptisms were in St. Leonard Shoreditch. Not terribly far, but also not in the neighborhood of St. Katherine by the Tower. St. Katherine was where the docks are today, and the iconic Tower of London is at left, beside the Tower Bridge.

Bolton tower of london

This painting is from the late 1500s and shows the Old London Bridge in the background, probably much as it looked when Henry and his ancestors lived there.

Bolton tower 1737.jpg

This 1737 engraving depicts the Tower of London from the waters of the Thames which were always busy, a river of commerce.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 12 July 1752
Henry son of Henry & Sarah Bolton of Dunkirk Court. Born the 10th & Baptized ye
12th Inst

St Leonard Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 9 December 1753
John S[on of] Henry & Sarah Boulton Dunker Court Born Decr 9th Baptized same day.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 1 October 1755
Rachel D[aughter] Henry & Sarah Boulton Dunker Court Born Sepr 26th Baptized 1st instant.

The next group of baptisms took place to a Henry Bolton and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley.

Ship Alley no longer exists in its original form today, but you can still find the location by looking at the layouts of the streets.

London Ship Alley

Here’s a view of the entrance to Ship Alley from Wellclose Square in 1898.

London ship alley from wellclose.jpg

This article includes a photo of the same area today, including this tree.

The next baptisms occurred to the Henry and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley, located exactly where this red arrow is located today. Ship Alley was only 300 feet long or so and is long gone.

Bolton Ship Alley

Alleys at that time were small, often rather putrid narrow passageways where houses and people were packed like sardines. Think tenements. Remember that human sewage and horse manure covered the dirt streets and alleys which were sandwiched anyplace possible. Dirt streets turned to mud when it rained. Everything drained into the Thames River and stunk to high heavens. Personal hygiene was virtually non-existent as we know it today. Ship Alley was just a couple blocks from the riverfront.

The baptisms took place in St. George in the East Church.

Bolton St George East church.jpg

St. George in the East was located literally 100 feet away from Ship’s Alley.

St Katherine at the Tower was near Thomas More Square today, where the docks and marina are located.

Bolton St George East map

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 14 July 1755
Henry James of Henry Bolton Victualr by Sarah – Ship All (3 D[ays] O[ld])

Bolton 1755 birth.png

This child seems to have gone early to his grave:

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 21 Sep 1756
John of Henry Bolton Victualr by Sarah Ship All. 9 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1756 birth

This baby died less than 6 months later.

St George in the East, Middlesex
Burial date: 4 March 1757

Bolton St George Churchyard.png

Baby John would have been buried here in the churchyard of St. George in the East, probably with no marker, or perhaps a wooden cross.

Henry James Bolten (burial) of Ship Alley

Bolton 1757 birth

Now, back to Shoreditch for the next baptism.

St Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex
Baptism date: 17 June 1757
Jane D[aughter of] Henry & Sarah Bolton Dunker Court Born 17 June and baptiz’d same day

And another two baptisms at St George in the East.

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 23 May 1760
George of Henry Bolton Victualler by Sarah  Ship Al.   12 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1760 birth.jpg

St George in the East, Middlesex
Baptism date: 8 August 1762
Henry Frederick of Henry Bolton Victualler  Ship Alley  7 D[ays] O[ld]

Bolton 1762 birth

Two Couples, Two Henrys

So, there were clearly two couples. Each Henry and Sarah had a son Henry. Not only that, but the Henry and Sarah who lived in Ship Alley had two sons named Henry, one named Henry James who died, and one named Henry Frederick born in 1762 which would have made him 13 in 1775.

The Shoreditch Henry was baptized in 1752, so could not have been 15 in 1775, (he would have been 23) and is unlikely to have been mistaken thus. But the St George in the East Henry was born in 1762, so might have pretended to be 15 (instead of 13), and of course only three years separate his baptism from Conrath’s.

These children are confusing, so let’s put them, all born to a Henry and Sarah Bolton, in a chart. Clearly, given the birth dates these children cannot be born to one couple, and the different locations indicate which children were born to which couple. I wonder if the two couples knew that there was another couple living not far away with the same names. I also wonder if the two Henry Boltons were related.

Child’s Name Baptism Location Date Residence Father Occupation
Henry St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex July 12, 1752 (born the 10th) Dunkirk Court
John St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex Dec. 9, 1753, born same day Dunker Court
Rachel St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex Oct 1., 1755, born Sept. 25th Dunker Court
Henry James St. George in the East, Middlesex July 14, 1755, born the 11th, apparently died Ship Alley Victualler
John St. George in the East, Middlesex Sept 21, 1756, born the 12th, Buried March 4, 1757 Ship Alley Victualler
Jane St. Leonard, Shoreditch, Middlesex June 17, 1757, born same day Dunker Court
George St. George in the East, Middlesex May 23, 1760 Ship Alley Victualler
Henry Frederick St. George in the East, Middlesex Aug. 8, 1762, born August 1 Ship Alley
Conrath Ditrick Collegiate Church of St. Katherine by the Tower Feb. 24, 1765, born Feb. 18

I bolded the St. George in the East baptisms, along with Conrath’s, as they appear to be “our” Henry and Sarah.

This also fits the family legends, father names Henry, mother named Sarah, lived by London Bridge and was engaged in some sort of business.

Deaths and Burials

We then searched for burials for the father(s) Henry Bolton/Bolten/Boulton between 1757 and 1810 in London area, looking for adults, discarding any born after 1738 (which seemed reasonable, as both Henry marriages above were for widowers) and we noted:

St Sepulchre, Holborn, London
Burial date: 6 Oct 1784
Henry Boulton, Chick Mx Workhouse  48 yrs

St Luke, Chelsea, Middlesex
Burial date: 12 Apr 1779
Henry Bolton

St Giles in the Fields, London
Burial date: 20 Jan 1762
Henry Bolton, Barn[–]ge Street

St Mary’s Lewisham, Kent
Burial date: 21 May 1762
Henry Boulton

None of these shows any obvious connection to the Henrys in whom we are interested.

Wills

We now searched for possible wills for our two possible Henrys, the stocking maker of Shoreditch and the victualler of St George in the East, in the Bank of England Wills Extracts, 1717-1845; the Archdeaconry Court of London Wills Index, 1700-1807; the Surrey & South London Wills & Probate Index, 1470-1856 and the Prerogative Court of Canterbury will index 1750-1800.

In the Prerogative Court of Canterbury we noted Henry Boulton ‘late of London but now of the Island of Antigua, merchant’, written on 3 September 1767, and proved in 1769. He mentioned only his wife, ‘Sarah Boulton, now of Kendal, Westmorland’ and his friends Richard Bush and Walter Wilson of London, merchants and John Shepherd of Antigua, merchant. The fact that this Henry had a wife Sarah is interesting, but he was listed here as a merchant, and this does not tie in very well  at all with the two families we have been following, so appears to be a red herring.

There was also a P.C.C. will for Henry Bolton of Lincolnshire, with no obvious links at all to London. In the Consistory Court of London, we found a will for Henry Bolton of Staines, Middlesex, victualler, proved in 1806. This is in fact the same one whose Inland Revenue abstract Pam had found. We wondered if this was the man from St George in the East, who had moved to the opposite end of the county (but still on the Thames), so we examined it. He had a wife Sarah –but only two children Sarah and Henry William, both under 21, and therefore not matching the family from St George in the East at all.

The majority of the East End falls under the Commissary Court of London, and we do not have access to these will at present due to the lockdown: the search could be made later, in the hope (it could only ever be a hope) that a will for this man could be found, and that some mention would be made in it of sons Henry and Conrath/Condery (etc). However, it would likely be quite a costly search, and the chances of success are low: there is , equally, the distinct possibility that, if a will was found for him and his sons Henry and Conrath had gone abroad, he would simply omit them from his will altogether and leave his estate to family in this country.

Unfortunately, wills were entirely unproductive and not helpful. However, if Henry Bolton, the victualler had a will, I’d LOVE to know what was in it.

Victualler

What is a victualler?

A victualler is traditionally a person who supplies food, beverages and other provisions for the crew of a vessel at sea.

Wow, just wow. This might well explain what Henry and Conrad were doing on the docks in the first place. Perhaps they were running errands for their father, taking food to a ship getting ready to depart. It also explains why Henry Bolton lived in a place called Ship Alley.

A victualler can also be a person that is a landlord of a public house or sells food and alcohol – or both. Perhaps a favorite place of sailors, glad to be ashore.

Bolton ships alley thames

Remember Pam’s family legend about Henry Bolton’s father having something to do with a shop near London Bridge? Look how close both Tower Bridge (built in 1886, so not existing then) and London Bridge are to Ship’s Alley. The ship wharves then were near where they are today, just along the banks of the Thames, not in the marina at St Katherine which didn’t exist at that time.

1746 London Map

The docks at St. Katherines on the Thames were the location in this 1746 map from which Henry and Conrad set sail.

London Bridge

A few years ago, I took this photo, standing at St. Katherine where the ships would have docked, looking at the Tower Bridge with London Bridge in the distance. This view on the water of the Thames may have been the last that Henry and Conrad ever saw of England as they looked back at London Bridge, and their home, as they sailed down the Thames for the sea.

London Bridge pano

Ok, What About a First Marriage?

Henry of St George in the East remained the favourite candidate. We knew that he was a widower when he married Sarah Corry in 1754, so now we looked for a first marriage for him, and found only one likely marriage that Pam had originally noticed, at the Collegiate Church of St Katherine by the Tower, City of London:

17 December 1752
Henry Bolten bach[elor] to Elizabeth Taylor spin[ster]

Bolton 1752 Taylor marriage.png

That is a nice fit, and of course it was at this same church that Conrath Ditrick Bolton was baptised in 1765. The marriage turns out to have been by a rather uninformative licence, issued by the Peculiar of St Katherine by the Tower:

Bolton Taylor license

However, the accompanying marriage, dated 17 December 1752, allegation shows that ‘Henry Botten’ (sic) was of ‘St George in the East, Victualler and Bachelor aged Thirty years’ (and she was 26). That was immensely helpful and helps confirm that this is the right person.

Note that spelling at the time was not standardized.

Bolton 1752 marriage return.jpg

This starts to tie the threads together very well. A search for any children to this first marriage revealed, at St George in the East, Middlesex:

1 October 1753 [baptised] Martha of Henry Bolten victuallr by Eliz. Ship All[ey]

Bolton 1753 birth

Eliz: Bolton, Ship All[ey], [buried] 21 June 1754

Bolton Elizabeth death.png

This convincingly shows Henry’s first marriage, the baptism of a daughter, and the burial of his first wife, probably as a result of childbirth. His first marriage was in the same church as the baptism of what we think was his final child, Conrad, in 1765, and this makes it more likely than ever that his son Henry Frederick Bolton, born and baptised in 1762, was your Henry.

It’s unlikely that Elizabeth died in childbirth, given that her baby was only 8 months old at the time. It’s very unlikely that she would have become immediately pregnant and had a child 8 months later, although she could have miscarried early. The most common causes of death during this time in London for adults were consumption, cough, fever which would be typhus and typhoid, measles and smallpox.

The cemetery that was at one time located by St. George in the East Church is now a garden, with the remaining stones relocated to form a barrier wall.

Bolton St George East Cemetery

There are no Bolton stones and only a couple remain from that early. This cemetery clearly held hundreds or thousands of burials over the centuries. The crypt above dates to the 1700s and was there when Henry would have baptized his daughter, then buried his wife and likely his daughter as well.

In 1752 when Henry married, his life looked bright. Ten months later, they welcomed a baby girl. Only another eight months later, Henry would bury his beloved wife. Left with an 8 month old baby, assuming the baby was still alive, what was Henry to do? How could he nurse a child? His life, bathed in grief, no longer looked rosy. We know that burial records are incomplete, but it’s likely that Henry’s daughter died too.

Regardless, Henry married three months and 5 days later to Sarah Corry. Maybe baby Martha hadn’t died after all, at least not when Henry remarried.

Did Henry, the Son, Remain in England?

We wanted now to make sure that this Henry Frederick Bolton could not be found remaining in England. Our searches, taking into account variant spellings, have not revealed any likely fate for him in England. That does not prove anything in itself, but had we found a clear sight of him after 1775, we could have said for sure that the theory was wrong – and that is not the case.

In the course of our research we found a Land Tax record in the name of Hen: Boulton, of St Katharine by the Tower dated 1765, paying 28s rent and with real estate worth £4-13-4.

Bolton 1765 tax.jpg

Henry, the father, also paid land tax there in 1764 and 1766. It is interesting that he does not appear here earlier on (though that may be a limitation of the records, which could be investigated); perhaps he had come by this property by right of his late, first wife (and perhaps on behalf of his daughter Martha) sometime around 1762/4, hence his move here.

As Henry’s last likely location was in St Katherine by the Tower in 1765, we made a search for a burial for him there in the period 1766-1800, but we could not find him. Using indexes covering many of the local burials did not result in a positive find either, so his fate remains unknown.

Baptism for Henry Bolton, the Victualler

We now sought a baptism for Henry the victualler, based on his alleged age of 30 in 1752, which suggested a birth in about 1721/2. One aim here was to see if his mother’s maiden name had been Ditrick or similar.

We found possible baptisms in the London area as follows:

St Botolph without Aldersgate, City of London
17 November 1720
Henry Boulton son of John & Elizh. Boulton

Bolton St Botolph church

The view below, from Postman Park which was the former churchyard where burials would have occurred.

Bolton Botolph postman park former churchyard.jpg

The baptism at St. Botolph without Aldergate is the closest location to where we know Henry who married Sarah Corry lived.

Bolton St Botolph map.png

The second baptism occurred at Wandsworth, Surry, not close.

1725 – 12 September baptized at Wandsworth, Surrey, Henry son of John Bolton

Both these baptisms are, at this stage, from transcripts. The 1720 baptism was likely, as ages at that stage could always be stated inaccurately, and the location was not too far from where our Henry lived.

A search for the parents’ marriage revealed:

St Paul’s Cathedral, City of London
John Boulton of St Botolph Aldersgate and Elizabeth Goaring of St Giles, Cripplegate spinster were married by a licence in thy Cathedral Church ye 3rd day of November 1713 [etc]

Bolton 1713 Goaring marriage

This plan for the floor paving at St. Paul’s Cathedral hails from 1709-1710, so they might well have been married on the new floor in 1713. Would the bride have walked up the long aisle, or would the minister have married they quietly in a private ceremony?

Bolton floor plan.jpg

Frankly, I’m stunned that they married in a Cathedral. Why did they select St. Paul’s? Is there a backstory to this? Could just anyone be married in this huge iconic structure?

Bolton St Pauls cathedral

By Ablakok – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58117537

This view of St. Pauls Cathedral on Lord Mayor’s Day in 1746 shows what the Thames and Cathedral would have looked like not long after John Bolton and Elizabeth Goaring were married there.

Bolton St Paul nave looking to choir

The nave, looking towards the choir.

Bolton St Pauls map.png

St. Giles Cripplegate, where Elizabeth Goaring lived, wasn’t far from the Cathedral. I can’t help but wonder how this couple met.

Bolton Cripplegate

The St. Giles without Cripplegate church was outside the city gate called Cripplegate, shown above in 1650.

Bolton St. Giles church.png

St Giles without Cripplegate. “Without” means outside the city gate.

Bolton Cripplegate churchyard.png

The Cripplegate churchyard about 1830 which also included a “poor ground” where both poor and plague victims were buried, often in mass graves. Earlier, lepers begged by the city gate.

We also searched for possible siblings of the 1720 Henry in the period 1713-1733, without success. Just outside the period, though, we noted:

St George in the East, Middlesex
John S John Bolton Vict. by Bolton, Plow Alley was baptized on 10 June 1739 (18 days old)

Bolton 1739 birth

That is unlikely to be the couple who married back in 1713, but as a victualler in St George in the East this John could well have been another son of theirs.

I was unable to find Plow Alley today, but I’d love to know where it was located. It may have been one of those tiny nameless pathways we see on the maps. Given the St George of the East location, it’s undoubtedly near Ship Alley. These men would have assuredly known each other and may have been brothers. John too was a victualler.

Baptism for Sarah Corry

We repeated the same exercise for Sarah Corry, the likely mother of our pair, Henry and Conrath, to see if she had a Ditrick mother. In the period 1736-1700 in London, the best we could find was:

St Mary Whitechapel, Middlesex
Sarah Curry, dr of Thomas (Curry) & Monika in Buckle Street, poor was baptized on 16 July 1729

Bolton 1729 Curry baptism.jpg

The date and location fit well with what we know of Sarah, so this could be the correct baptism.

St. Mary Whitechapel no longer exists.

Bolton Whitechapel

The remnant footprint of the church can be seen today in Altab Ali Park.

Today, you can see the footprint of the church in what was the churchyard from a satellite view.

Bolton Mary Whitechapel aerial

Some burials were at the church, but an additional burial ground is now beneath the playground of the Davenant Schools.

In 1633, behind the burial yards, “filthie cottages” and alley extended for almost half a mile beyond Whitechapel Church into “the common field.” Fields like this were often used for plague and other mass burials. It’s worth noting that Sarah’s family is labeled as poor, so I wonder if her family lived in one of those “filthie cottages.”

Bolton Whitechapel map.png

Whitechapel is located just north of the area where Henry Bolton is found.

Bolton Buckle Street map

Buckle Street, about 200 feet long, still exists today.

A Clandestine Marriage!

A search for the marriage of Thomas and Monika Curry, Sarah’s parents revealed that ‘Thomas Corry per[ri]wigmaker & Monika Demazares of ye parish of Stepney’ were married on 6 February 1724 by Mr. Evans, one of the ministers at the time performing clandestine marriages in London.

Bolton Corry Demazares 1724 marriage.png

A clandestine marriage? Wow!

According to wiki:

“Clandestine” marriages were those that had an element of secrecy to them: perhaps they took place away from a home parish, and without either banns or marriage licence.

It is often asserted, mistakenly, that under English law of this period a marriage could be recognized as valid if each spouse had simply expressed (to each other) an unconditional consent to their marriage. While, with few local exceptions, earlier Christian marriages across Europe were by mutual consent, declaration of intention to marry and upon the subsequent physical union of the parties, in 1563 the Council of Trent, twenty-fourth session, required that a valid marriage must be performed by a priest before two witnesses. By the 18th century, the earlier form of consent-based marriages (“common-law marriages” in modern terms) were the exception. Nearly all marriages in England, including the “irregular” and “clandestine” ones, were performed by ordained clergy.

The Marriage Duty Act 1695 put an end to irregular marriages at parochial churches by penalizing clergymen who married couples without banns or licence. By a legal quirk, however, clergymen operating in the Fleet could not effectively be proceeded against, and the clandestine marriage business there carried on. In the 1740s, over half of all London weddings were taking place in the environs of the Fleet Prison. The majority of Fleet marriages were for honest purposes, when couples simply wanted to get married quickly or at low cost.

Was this marriage clandestine because one party was a Huguenot or a class difference, the parents didn’t consent, or the bride was underage? Was something else in play, and if so, what? Or maybe they just wanted to get married without any muss or fuss, quickly and cheaply.

Apparently this clandestine marriage made it into the official records, as opposed to many that did not. Mr. Evans records appear to have been from Fleet Prison or nearby.

It’s interesting to note that one of John Evans marriages was for a “boy about 18 years of age and the bride about 65.” I did not find Thomas Corry and Monika Demarazes in the Fleet records themselves, so Mr. Evans either married them elsewhere or their records are not in this set.

Bolton Fleet prison

It appears that Thomas and Monika may have married at or near the Fleet Prison. Not exactly your typical wedding destination. Maybe this was equivalent to an elopement of that timeframe.

Bolton Fleet building.jpg

Reportedly, many of the Fleet marriages were performed in the houses or shops nearby.

Periwigs

So Thomas Corry was a periwigmaker. What were periwigs and what did they look like?

Bolton periwigs

This print is titled “Five Orders of Periwigs” dated 1761.

Wig is the shortened form of periwig, which Wikipedia described thus:

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the use of wigs fell into disuse in the West for a thousand years until they were revived in the 16th century as a means of compensating for hair loss or improving one’s personal appearance. They also served a practical purpose: the unhygienic conditions of the time meant that hair attracted head lice, a problem that could be much reduced if natural hair were shaved and replaced with a more easily de-loused artificial hairpiece. Fur hoods were also used in a similar preventive fashion.

Perukes or periwigs for men were introduced into the English-speaking world with other French styles when Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, following a lengthy exile in France. These wigs were shoulder-length or longer, imitating the long hair that had become fashionable among men since the 1620s. Their use soon became popular in the English court. The London diarist Samuel Pepys recorded the day in 1665 that a barber had shaved his head and that he tried on his new periwig for the first time, but in a year of plague he was uneasy about wearing it:

3rd September 1665: Up, and put on my coloured silk suit, very fine, and my new periwig, bought a good while since, but darst not wear it because the plague was in Westminster when I bought it. And it is a wonder what will be the fashion after the plague is done as to periwigs, for nobody will dare to buy any haire for fear of the infection? That it had been cut off the heads of people dead of the plague.

Wigs were not without other drawbacks, as Pepys noted on March 27, 1663:

I did go to the Swan; and there sent for Jervas my old periwig-maker and he did bring me a periwig; but it was full of nits, so as I was troubled to see it (it being his old fault) and did send him to make it clean.

With wigs virtually obligatory garb for men with social rank, wigmakers gained considerable prestige. A wigmakers’ guild was established in France in 1665, a development soon copied elsewhere in Europe. Their job was a skilled one as 17th century wigs were extraordinarily elaborate, covering the back and shoulders and flowing down the chest; not surprisingly, they were also extremely heavy and often uncomfortable to wear. Such wigs were expensive to produce. The best examples were made from natural human hair. The hair of horses and goats was often used as a cheaper alternative

Wigsmade by Thomas Corry in the 1700s would have worn by the aristocratic, probably not the wigmakers themselves.

Bolton periwigs portrait.jpg

It’s interesting that Stepney, where both bride and groom appear to have lived, wasn’t really part of London at this time. They would have had to make their way to town, several miles.

Bolton Stepney 1792

You can see the farming village of Stepney, surrounded by fields. Whitechapel borders Stepney Green and the road at the end of town is noted in this 1792 map.

Bolton fleet map.png

In Stepney, St. Dunstan’s church was built in the year 952 and is known as the “Mother Church of the East End.” This is likely the church where Thomas’s family attended. I wonder if Monika’s family lived here or elsewhere. I’d wager that they lived in the Huguenot area, not in Stepney.

Bolton Stepney church

The nursery rhyme memorializes St. Dunstan’s church in the veribage:

“When will that be? Say the bells of Stepney,” those bells cast in neighboring Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Bolton Stepney churchyard.png

The Stepney churchyard where church parishioners are buried.

Historically, St Dunstans was long associated with the sea, registering British maritime births, marriages and deaths. They were also responsible for mitigating the poverty of the people in the area. Almshouses built in 1695 provided housing for retired sailors. This area was reached in ships sailing up the Thames before they reached London proper.

Bolton Stepney map 2

Of course, today, Stepney is simply a portion of London.

According to Anthony:

That is a likely fit, and this couple were very likely your ancestors. Further research may later prove it. But for now, it was a pity that Monika’s surname had not been Ditrick, as this would have helped to tie things together nicely.

But Ditirnick Had to Come from Someplace?

Finally in this round, we made a search for that curious combination of names, ‘Conrath Ditirnick’, and were most interested to find a burial as follows:

Whitechapel, Middlesex

Conrad Detrick was buried on 12 June 1766, aged 60.

We found a will for this man in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, of the same year date named Conrad Dieterick, in the PCC.

He was of St Mary Whitechapel and did not state an occupation. He mentioned his wife Mary and daughter Ann Kopilt. The will was written on 5 May 1764, before witnesses Solomon de Meza and Isaac de Meza, and was proved on 17 June 1766.

A search for his marriage, in case his wife was, say, a Bolton, revealed a marriage bond marriage bond from the Bishop of London for ‘Conrad Diderick of the Parish of Saint Matthew Bethnall Green … Sugar Baker, and [name not filled in] dated 11 April 1755. Further down it gives Conrad Diderick as a bachelor and names his soon-to-be spouse as Mary Copdeild, widow.

The associated marriage allegation, dated 11 April 1755, says that Conrad was ’30 years & upwards’  – and considerably upwards, in this case, but that is not unusual.

There is a likely remarriage for Conrad’s widow Mary Dieterick, widow, to John Asteroth at St Katherine by the Tower, City of London on 28 February 1767. That places the family convincingly in the very parish in which your ‘Conrath’ was baptised in 1765.

We have not found a baptism for Conrad Detrick, but there is a burial:

St John’s, Wapping, Middlesex
[died of] fever, Conrade Diederick, rode macher, Neighingale L[ane], buried 25 June 1738

That is likely the burial of the father of the 1706-1766 Conrad.

These results suggest strongly that, despite the garbled spellings, ‘Conrath Ditrick’ Bolton, who was baptised at St Katherine by the Tower in 1765, was named after Conrad Ditrick (or similar), an East End sugar baker who died the year after he was baptised, and his widow then remarried in St Katherine by the Tower in 1767. Conrad’s will was witnessed by Jews, but he seems to have been German or Dutch (and Christian) so he was presumably part of the east End immigrant community of the time, just like the witnesses, and probably just like Monika Demazares, who we think was probably Conrad Ditrick Bolton’s maternal grandmother. There may have been a blood connection and further research might reveal this – or the families may simply have been very friendly.

This very interesting article about Ship Alley includes a map of the numerous “sugar houses” in this area in the 1800s, including one just a few feet away, on the square at the end of Ship Alley.

Of course, Conrade Diederick, road maker, might be related to either Henry Bolton or Sarah Curry/Corry. Perhaps the next round of research will shed light on this question.

Pam Makes a Final Discovery

After Pam received Anthony’s research report, she went to work herself and found the baptism of Monique Demazure, a Protestant French Huguenot in London, in 1705, the daughter of Guillam, a barber, and his wife, Marie who were both Huguenots.

Bolton Demazure.pngBolton Monique Demazure 1705

Barbers at that time performed different tasks than barbers today.

Bolton barber.png

Barbers in the 1600s and 1700s didn’t just cut hair and shave people, but also performed bloodlettings, popular and believed beneficial in that era, cuppings, tooth extractions and amputations. If that just made you cringe, me too.

At that time, physicians didn’t perform much surgery. If it had to do with cutting and blades, you went to the barber. Barbers marched with soldiers into war.

Bolton bloodletting.jpg

I have to tell you, this bloodletting equipment makes me feel, well, creepy, for lack of a better word, and a big queezy. Apparently I’m not the only one.

Bolton patient

By Heikenwaelder – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77861556

This patient looks none too happy. Im amazed that they didn’t die of blood poisoning, or maybe they did.

Come to think of it, it’s also amazing that the barber didn’t contract whatever was ailing his patients.

Huguenots

It’s likely that Guillam and Monique were either Huguenot immigrants to London or children of immigrants.

In 1550, in England, King Edward VI signed a charter granting freedom of worship to Protestant foreigners from France, Wallonia and the Netherlands. French Huguenots began to worship at the St. Anthony of Threadneedle Street church after 1560. The primary Huguenot rebellions accompanied by the French massacres of the Huguenots began in earnest in 1562 and lasted until 1598.

Beginning in 1681, 40,000 to 50,000 Huguenot refugees settled in England, although 8,000-10,000 had arrived prior to 1681.

Bolton Threadneedle.png

The church on Threadneedle Street conducted services according to the reformed Calvinist churches on the European continent.

Bolton Threadneedle Fleet.png

Collections were taken and funds created to assist the poor refugees who arrived with little or nothing. Fortunately, most Huguenots were skilled with a craft or trade that afforded them a living after getting settled in.

Bolton Huguenot church Threadneedle

The French Protestant church has been twice destroyed, once in the great fire of 1666 and again in the 1893. Today, the pastors still speak French in this church.

Bolton Threadneedle Fleet.png

It appears that the earliest Huguenot church was actually located in what is now 8 and 9 Soho Gardens.

St. Anne’s Court in Soho in the early 1900s, just a couple blocks away from the original location of the Huguenot church.

London 6 front - Copy

Unbeknownst to me, I visited Carnaby Street in the Soho area of London, now just called Soho, in 1970 – just a few blocks away from where my Huguenot ancestors lived for at least two generations. They would have walked the streets I walked, but I had no idea at the time.

Born in the “Hospital”

I found an additional record of Monique Demazure, registered as a male, clearly an error, baptized on March 25, 1704. This would have been the old style years. This baptism took place in the Chapel of the Hospital, Spitalfields, Middlesex, England, religion; Walloon and French Protestant.

Bolton Monique baptism

Spitalfield Life tells us that a hospital then didn’t mean what a hospital means today.

“Hospital: The church owned premises near Grey Eagle and Black Eagle Streets, Spitalfields, commonly known as “l’Hopital”, in fact the site of “les maisons des poures hommes et fammes” (FCL, MS 51, 4 June 1665) which were essentially homes for old people. The land on which stood the “Hospital” buildings was used for the site of a second church in 1687, “1’Eglise de l’Hopital”. One of the quartiers was also known as “l’Hopital”. Consequently the word in this context may mean one of three things, the homes, the quartier, or (from 1687) the church; the context normally makes it plain which is meant.”

The best-known church was “L’Eglise Protestant” in Threadneedle St in the City of London, it dealt with the first wave of refugees by building an annexe, “L’Eglise de l’Hôpital,” in Brick Lane on the corner of Fournier St. This opened in 1743, sixty years after a temporary wooden shack was first built there (1683,)

A “hospital” in that timeframe was more of a refuge for travelers or refugees, such as the order of the Knights Hospitaller.

Therefore, based on this information, it appears that Monique was born in a wooden shack on the corner of Brick Lane and Fournier Street, probably home to several poor refugee families.

Here’s a wonderful article about the Huguenots of Spitalfields in which we learn that many were weavers, textile or silk workers.

Today, the Brick Lane Mosque occupies the brick building build in 1743 that replaced the wooden shack where Monique was born.

Bolton Brick Lane mosque.jpg

By Bobulous – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84470828

After being a Protestant Chapel, this building became a Jewish Synagogue, then a Mosque in the 1970s. Waves of immigrants.

Given that Monique was baptized in 1705, her mother could have been born anytime between 1660 and 1685, probably in France. If not, then this family would have been first-generation immigrants. Perhaps death or other records can be found that will provide a connection back to a location in France, and to their parents who may have immigrated with them – assuming they survived the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in 1572 and the next 100 years in exile. Nope, records are probably very unlikely.

Bolton Huguenot

Once the massacres began in France, preservation and eventually, escape was the only thing on the minds of the Huguenots. I shudder to think about the scars on the people who survived to remember.

After 100+ years of persecution, the Huguenots were probably just relieved to be out, and alive. Most had likely lost beloved family members across many generations. Those scars assuredly ran deep and influenced their descendants for generations to come.

I’m sorry that none of their stories descend to us today. Perhaps they were too horrible to recount.

Where Are We?

Anthony tells us that at the end of this round of research, the evidence is as presented, but reminds us that there is little certainty. Likely connections are revealed, but not proof. Hopefully proof will be forthcoming in the next report in a few months, but I’d settle for a preponderance of evidence where more than 50% of the evidence points towards a specific conclusion, and nothing eliminates the possibility.

I normally don’t combine multiple ancestors into one article, but since this information is heavily suggestive but not confirmed, I have combined all of this research, for now. Anthony and Pam’s work flows together cohesively, which I felt was the best way to provide information for the following probable ancestors, in summary:

  • Henry Frederick Bolton, ancestor #45, the child born August 1, 1762 to Henry Bolton and Sarah Corry, kidnapped in 1775 and sold into indentured servitude in Maryland. It must have been devastating for the brothers, Henry and Conrad, to be separated from their parents at such a young age. I wonder if their parents ever knew what happened to them, if they were able to at least write a letter to let them know. Henry was just 13 and Conrad 10.
  • Conderith Dieterich Bolton, Henry’s brother, born February 18, 1765, kidnapped in 1775.
  • Henry Bolton, the father, a victualler, ancestor #294 – born November 17, 1729 to John Bolton and Elizabeth Goaring, died sometime after 1765/1766. Married Sarah Corry September 26, 1754 as his second wife. Had 6 children, 5 with Sarah and a daughter with his first wife, Elizabeth Taylor. These records confirm the truth of several family legends and dispell others.
  • Sarah Corry, the mother, ancestor #295 – born July 19, 1729, daughter of Thomas Curry and Monika Demazores, died after 1765. Had 5 children; 2 were kidnapped, 2 died, 1 may have still been living at age 15 when Henry and Conrad were kidnapped. Otherwise, Sarah was left with no children. Regardless, she would have been heartbroken when Henry and Conrad failed to return home.
  • John Bolton, ancestor #296, and Elizabeth Goaring, ancestor #297, parents of Henry Bolton, married on November 3, 1713. Deaths, parents and additional children unknown.
  • Thomas Curry, ancestor #298, born before 1705, father to Sarah Corry. Married on February 6, 1724 to Monique Demazares, parents and death unknown.
  • Monique Demazares, ancestor #299, mother to Sarah Curry, born March 25, 1704/1705 to Guillam and Marie Demazares. Monique/Monika married in 1724 to Thomas Curry and died unknown.
  • Guillam Demazares, ancestor #300, Huguenot born before 1685, probably in France, married Marie, ancestor #310, whose surname is unknown, sometime before 1704/1705. They were the parents of Minique Demazares. Marie could have been anyplace from about 20 to 45 when Monique was born, so Marie’s birth year could range from 1660 to 1685.

The lives of these ancestors have provided us with a fascinating glimpse into historic, immigrant London at the end of the Medieval period and the beginning of the Renaissance. For out ancestors, little about court life affected them. Their lives were center around food, survival and clearly, churches.

My Visit

Not knowing that Henry Bolton, his family and ancestors had lived in London’s east end, in particular so close to St. Katherine by the Tower, I visited this area in 2016 because by other ancestors, also impoverished refugees, several German Protestant 1709ers, lived in the equivalent of a squalid tent-city at St. Katherine’s.

Henry Bolton the child wouldn’t have yet been alive then, but his father, John Bolton lived just a few blocks away in St Botolph Aldergate and would have been quite aware of these pathetic new arrivals lodged down by the waterfront. You can read about that visit, and see pictures, here.

I realized I was walking in my ancestors footsteps, meaning the 1709ers who eventually set sail for the colonies. What I didn’t know was that the dust of my ancestors for generations was strewn throughout this land, and those ancestors had trod exactly where I stood. Perhaps their spirits were welcoming me back that day. I wish I had known then what I know now. So close, but so far away.

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Identifying Unknown African American Lineages Using DNA

My article asking Ancestry to reconsider purging 6-8 cM matches due to the effects on African American genealogy raised questions about how one could identify a lineage for an African American (or anyone really) who has no knowledge of their tree beyond a certain point in time.

That’s actually a really good question, so let me explain by using examples from my own family that illustrate how the science and matching techniques work together.

African American DNA isn’t any different than other DNA. What is different is that African Americans have absolutely no records, no surname and no context before emancipation in the 1860s and the first census in 1870. Many, and especially new researchers, have no idea where to look and without records, DNA is their only way to make connections back in time.

Unfortunately, this is also the threshold in time where the DNA of ancestors prior to 1870 is now chopped into segments the size of 6-8 cM.

Accidental Discovery

This week, while I was working on evaluating my smaller segment matches at Ancestry, I noticed that one was to an African American man, based on his profile picture, with whom I shared 7 cM.

AA Frank.png

I clicked on the match and then on Shared Matches. Even though this match is only 7cM, Shared Matches of 20 cM or above will show. The only shared matches that won’t show are shared matches below 20 cM, because they are presumed to be further back in time than 4 generations. I do wish Ancestry would show all shared matches.

We had 12 shared matches, ranging from 20 to 57 cM. some that I had previously identified as descending from the same couple.

I thought I recognized two or three of these people as having tested at other vendors.

I reached out to my match, we’ll call him Frank. He said that his mother, aunt and another relative had all tested at Ancestry too. I told Frank that I didn’t see their names in our Shared Matches, when I realized that could be because I shared less than 20 cM with them.

Sure enough, when I searched for the surname of the testers in question, they are all 4 on my match list.

AA Frank's family

Based on who we match in common at Ancestry, I *thought* I knew which ancestral couple we share in common. We all only match on one segment, but I can’t tell if it’s the same segment of course without a chromosome brower. And I can’t tell if these people also match each other at Ancestry on a common segment, although I would certainly presume so since he told me that they are closely related.

I asked Frank to transfer their results to either FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage, the other two vendors that accept transfers, where we can obtain segment information. Frank and two of his relatives transferred from Ancestry to FamilyTreeDNA where I’ve tested many family members over the years.

When I can identify a common ancestor with a match at any vendor that provides segment information, I paint those segments at DNAPainter.

Indeed, I did match Frank and his family members on the same segment, as do many of my cousins who are confirmed to have descended from a common ancestor.

The graphic below from DNAPainter shows all of my matches to this segment from all vendors identified to the purple couple.

AA Frank paint.png

I went to DNAPainter and painted these three smaller segment matches from Frank and his relatives, assigning them to the same ancestral couple. As you can see, they fit right in.

Can you tell which three of the people above are these three new cousins that I matched initially on 7 and 8 cM at Ancestry? No, of course not, because this is the exact same segment where I match all of my other cousins who are all assigned to the purple couple.

Given that these matches shown in purple are all descended from a specific line, my three newly-found cousins match them and must be related to that line in some way.

This match isn’t identical by chance, because their segment phases within their family, through Frank’s mother and another close relative.

We all share the same DNA, it’s phased in Frank’s family through three generations, so the conclusion must be that we share a common ancestor. This is an example of classic triangulation with many proof points.

Frank and his relatives then searched for the surname in question and found more people in their match lists from this same couple. They just didn’t know where to look before, but now they do.

If we accept that shared DNA between all of the purple people who are identified as descendants of the same ancestors share that ancestral couple’s lineage because they share the same DNA segments, and because they all match each other, then we must also accept that our three new cousins share the same genealogical line, because they share the same DNA as the previously proven cousins.

Now, of course, we need to work on geography and proximity, meaning figuring out exactly how our new cousins might descend from this line. We can also work on identifying matches to the wives lines’, if the wives are known, which may help place the most recent common ancestor. It’s also possible that we match because of an ancestor upstream of the purple couple.

In this case, there is no male in our match list that is descended from the appropriate surname line, so Y DNA testing is not an option. They are currently looking to see if they can find a qualifying male to test.

However, in another case, from some months back, we were able to identify an appropriately descended male.

The Smith Case

In this case, Smith is the fictitious biological surname. The tester, we’ll call him Joe, was an African American male who didn’t know who his family was before emancipation.

Joe and I initially discovered several random, mostly relatively small, common autosomal DNA matches that are part of an identified triangulation group. This was enough to identify the family in general and provide us with a working theory about who might have been his ancestor, but we needed more information.

Eventually, Joe found a male that descended from his ancestor who we’ll call Harold, a male emancipated when slavery ended. That man Y DNA tested, and indeed, his Y DNA matches my Smith family paternal line exactly.

Several of my proven Smith ancestor’s known relatives’ autosomal DNA matches the DNA of Harold’s family. Joe asked several family members from various children of Harold to test, and they too match various Smith descendants on many of the exact same segments of DNA.

AA Smith paint

I don’t match all of Joe’s relatives, but I do match some. On this common smaller segment of 7.7 cM, Joe’s family is painted in green and purple. My oldest progenitor, the Smith Father is painted in blue. Descendant generation matches are painted in other colors. However, since I now know that the blue portion is progenitor Smith, all of these segments can be tracked back to him on that side of the family – along with the segments carried by Joes family members who descend from multiple children of his progenitor. In reality, we now know that all these segments are actually blue – because it’s the exact same DNA.

That’s not all. There’s more evidence.

My Smith ancestor owned a female slave, and there were only two males of the right age that could have impregnated the mother of Harold who was emancipated. His mother had died before emancipation. The male child, Harold, listed as a mulatto was found in the 1870 census living in the household of the widow of father Smith. Did she, or did she not know that Harold was either her deceased husband’s son or her grandson?

In this Smith case, we have several pieces of evidence:

  • Some paper-trail records including the census and Harold’s death certificate listing his mother carrying the Smith surname. However, it was not uncommon for slaves to be identified by their master’s surnames as an identifier of ownership, not of marriage or descent. Harold’s father was listed as unknown, also not uncommon.
  • Geography – we know where both families lived which was both remote and mountainous.
  • Opportunity – two Smith males of an age to father a child, the Smith father and son, and no other Smith males.
  • Y DNA exact match of Harold’s descendant to the Smith family males at 111 markers.
  • Autosomal DNA evidence on a triangulated segment in an identified triangulation group to me, shown above, and other triangulated segments to other Smith family members.
  • Triangulated DNA in my family of people that descend from father Smith
  • Triangulated segments of DNA in Joe’s family that descend from multiple children, tracking those segments back to Harold, eliminating the possibility that they are identical by chance in the current generation

The smaller segment DNA evidence led us here. How much evidence do we need to draw at least a preliminary conclusion that Joe is a cousin? And, given that Joe’s family’s DNA matches the Smith family DNA exactly, and in descendants of multiple children in both lines, what other possible explanation is there? Add to that the Y DNA evidence.

Can I tell Joe whether Harold’s father was the Smith father or the Smith son? If Joe and his family autosomally match the ancestors of the Smith widow, then Joe’s ancestor is (probably) the child of the Smith son. So far, they don’t, so it’s most likely that the Smith father is our common ancestor, not the Smith son.

Joe then added Harold as a child of my Smith ancestor on Ancestry, using Harold’s biological surname, Smith, in an attempt to cause a ThruLine to form. Of course, had Joe used a different surname, one that Harold adopted at emancipation, assuming it was different from Smith, the ThruLine would not have formed. Another challenge for African American researchers or anyone whose biological surname is not the same as their surname used.

When I checked my ThruLines this week, I found three people descended from our common ancestor, Joe plus two more family members that I didn’t know had tested at Ancestry.

AA Smith match.png

These matches are now safely “saved” and won’t disappear when the purge occurs in early August, but the two 6 cM matches would clearly have disappeared otherwise and the 8 cM segment at Ancestry was a 7.7 segment at the other testing company, so it would likely have disappeared too. Ancestry rounds.

Joe’s segment match to me was the key to being able to reconnect our families initially. Without this critical clue, we would never have been able to reunite our family. Yes, we are a family. We’ve met and had a reunion. We’ve shared meals. I am watching his beautiful children grown up. And we would never have found each other without DNA.

All thanks to those segments between 6 and 8 cM that some opine aren’t real and aren’t relevant.

Some matches aren’t relevant which is why we need more evidence than one match, but some are very valid and therein lies the gold.

pexels-photo-1371168

Those matches are the gateway to research – clues to be evaluated just like any other clue. All evidence must be evaluated, genetic or otherwise.

We don’t discard census records out of hand because they might not be our ancestor without evaluating the evidence presented. DNA matches that stand a 50% chance of being accurate (at 7 cMs) and not false positive shouldn’t be categorically dismissed either.

A starving person doesn’t discard a basket of produce because only half of it is edible. Yet, that’s what’s about to happen.

African American Testing

African Americans who test have a blank slate, with no surnames, to work with before emancipation. Segment matches, and often segments between 6 and 8 cM because the passage of time has whittled them to this size, are the clues that allow African American researchers to begin reassembling their ancestral family.

In many cases, genealogists more fortunate don’t need smaller segment matches to piece together our family puzzles, but those working with little or no information on any line before 1870 need every clue they can get. The rest of us can simply ignore what we don’t want – but they can’t recover something taken from them.

Had it not been for that 8 cM match with Joe (actually 7.7 at the other vendor), I wouldn’t have found those cousins, and I wouldn’t have been able to figure out the line through which we are related. Without my work with known family, it’s very unlikely that Joe and his family would have been able to figure this out with no context. For them, it was a needle in the haystack. For me, I had already identified those ancestors and assigned relevant DNA segments to those ancestors. For me, there were records outside of DNA and DNA only confirmed my genealogy. For them, DNA is all they have – just a genetic  prayer.

These are just two examples of how DNA connections reassemble families for African Americans specifically and other researchers whose more distant family members are unknown.

Please Share

Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.

Please also share this and my original article with your genealogy friends and organizations. This topic is not welcome in some places. We don’t have long, so it’s up to you to spread the word.

Plea to Ancestry – Rethink Match Purge Due to Deleterious Effect on African American Genealogists

I’m still hopeful that Ancestry will reconsider. It benefits them, and us, to do so.

Ancestry’s email is ancestrysupport@ancestry.com and phone is 1-800-958-9124.

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