The 1709ers – German Palatinates – 52 Ancestors #137

I’m betting that a lot of you don’t know who the 1709ers were. I didn’t until I discovered I was descended from 1709ers, and then became immediately and compulsively interested in these people, their travels, travails and fate.

As luck and irony would have it, synchronicity smiled on me one day. I like to think that some favor I paid forward just got paid back. This was a big one.

A woman, Doris, was my “room angel” at a conference where I was speaking about DNA years ago – ironically, the Palatinate of America conference.  Doris contacted me after reading an article I wrote about X chromosome mapping and said that she had identified the parents of my Barbara Kobel who I had mentioned in the article as an “end of line” person – in other words – a brick wall. Indeed, Doris was correct, and she pointed me towards Jacob Kobel and his wife, Anna Maria. I have since added another 5 generations to this previous brick wall based on information that began with her kind note and information that she included. I can’t thank Doris enough! She’s an angel alright!

Doris told me that Jacob Kobel was part of the 1709 Palatine Immigration. The next question I had for her was “what was that?” The answer came in the form of a Wiki article and a couple of books, the best of which was “Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York” by Philip Otterness, a history professor at Warren Wilson College.

Who Were the German Palatines?

The German Palatines were natives of the Electorate of the Palatinate region of Germany, although a few had come to Germany from Switzerland, the Alsace, and probably other parts of Europe. Towards the end of the 17th century and into the 18th, the Palatine region was repeatedly invaded by French troops, which resulted in continuous military requisitions, widespread devastation and famine.

The “Poor Palatines” as they came to be called were some 13,000 Germans who arrived in England between May and November 1709 in response to a false rumor that the Queen was giving free land in America. Their arrival in England, and the inability of the British Government to integrate them, caused a highly politicized debate over the merits of immigration. The English tried to settle them in England, Ireland, and the Colonies. The English transported nearly 3,000 in ten ships to New York in 1710. Many were first were assigned to work camps along the Hudson River to work off the cost of their passage.

The Palatinates had left Germany believing that the English Queen was giving land in America in return for settling there. It wasn’t true, but the Germans didn’t discover that until after arriving in either Rotterdam or London, and then many refused to believe it. In fact, decades later, many were still trying to obtain their free land to which they were just sure they were entitled.

The 1709ers received their nickname because that’s the year they arrived, en masse, in London, descending on a city that was not prepared for them.

The first boats packed with refugees began arriving in early May 1709. The first 900 people were given housing, food and supplies by a number of wealthy Englishmen. The immigrants were called “Poor Palatines”: “poor” in reference to their pitiful and impoverished state upon arrival in England, and “Palatines” since many of them came from lands controlled by the Elector Palatine. The majority came from regions outside the Palatinate and often against the wishes of their respective rulers, they fled by the thousands down the Rhine River to the Dutch city of Rotterdam, where the majority eventually embarked for London.

Within a few days another 800+ Germans had crowded together in miserable rooms in St. Catherine’s parish in London. This was just the beginning of the tidal wave.

1709er-tower

In 1598, St. Katherine’s was described as “inclosed about or pestered with small tenements and homely cottages” and it remained so a hundred years later when its inhabitants consisted “of weavers and other manufacturers and of seamen and such who relate to shipping and are generally very factious and poor.” The parish, on the City’s east side just beyond the Tower had long been a community of poor English families and foreigners.  You can see the neighborhood to the right of the tower, both above and below.  The 1709ers would have fit right in were it not for the fact there were so many of them.

1746 London Map

Throughout the summer of 1709, ships unloaded thousands of refugees, and almost immediately their numbers overwhelmed the initial attempts to provide for them.

They were initially crowded into St. Katherine’s, also written as St. Catherine’s, today known as St. Katherine’s by the Tower.

At that time, these accommodations were tenements by the docks in an unsavory area. Having entirely overrun all buildings available, they lived in tents in squalid conditions and the local London people came to view them as entertainment.

By summer, some were moved to the fields and barns of Blackheath and Camberwell, now part of metropolitan London. A Committee dedicated to coordinating their settlement and dispersal sought ideas for their employment. This proved difficult, as the Poor Palatines were unlike previous migrant groups — skilled, middle-class, religious exiles such as the Huguenots or the Dutch in the 16th century.  The 1709ers, by contrast, were rather unskilled rural laborers, neither sufficiently educated nor healthy enough for most types of employment. Their health wasn’t improving by living in those squalid conditions, either.

The Germans already in London now realized that the queen had never planned to settle them in America and had been completely unprepared for their arrival. Now all they could do was to wait for the queen to determine their fate. They tried to make life as normal as possible. A woodcut of one the German camps at St. Katherine’s published in 1709 shows the women cooking and hauling wood while the children sleep next to the tents. This woodcut is part of an article describing the state of the Palatines.

1709ers

Some worked on surrounding farms. Some men joined the British army. The rest lived off of English generosity and the Queen.

In 1709, when the Palatinates were living at St. Katherine’s by the Tower, a beautiful church and hospital were located there as well, known as St. Katharine’s Church. The 1709ers would have worshipped in this church that was by that time already nearly 600 years old. Sadly, this church was destroyed in 1825 when the area was razed to build the St. Katharine Docks.

1709er-st-katherines

This map below shows the area to be destroyed to build the docks. You can see the church and cloisters and surrounding small streets and houses.

An intensely built-up 23 acre site was earmarked for redevelopment by an Act of Parliament in 1825, with construction commencing in May 1827. Some 1250 houses were demolished, together with the medieval hospital and church of St. Katharine. Around 11,300 inhabitants, mostly port workers crammed into insanitary slums, lost their homes.  Of course, only property owners received compensation and that didn’t include the tenants.

I shudder to think about more than 11,000 people crammed into 23 acres, what it would have looked and smelled like, but this map gives us some idea what this area would have been like with 16,000 Palatinates in tents in this same region, in addition to the residents.

1709er-st-katherines-map

You can see, on the current Google map below that the entire neighborhood was replaced by docks.  The water in the dock area looks dark, but you can see the boats moored today.

st-katherines-today

Life Gets Worse

Soon an alternate image of the “poor Palatine refugees” emerged. A physician wrote:

”I wish you the recovery of your health and a better neighborhood than the palatines, which I fear have infected your pure air. Our country has whole loads of them and call them gipsies, not knowing the language and seeing their poor clothes.”

Gypsies were often portrayed in Britain as parasitic intruders who invaded civilized societies while maintaining their own closed and mysterious communities. In 1711 gypsies were described as “this race of vermin.”

By the beginning of August, the people of London had visited their camps and the “poor Palatine refugees” had not lived up to their billing. Rather than being fit objects of charity, they had become, in the words of an anonymous pamphleteer, “a parcel of vagabonds, who might have lied comfortably enough in their native country, had not the laziness of their dispositions and the report of our well-known generosity drawn them out of it.”

Life was bad and getting worse for the German families. Many had been reduced to begging in the streets. Others were shipped back home. England became desperate to get rid of this group of people they hadn’t wanted nor invited and who couldn’t support themselves. When the opportunity to send the entire group to New York and Pennsylvania arose, they were all too happy to take advantage of the opportunity and send them on their way.

On To America

In mid-April, 1710, almost a year after the first migrants had arrived in London, a convoy bearing the 3000 Germans and New York’s Governor Hunter left England.

Jacob Cobel (Kobel), a miller, age 27, reported to be a Catholic, his wife and a son aged one half, were in the 4th group of arrivals in England in 1709 according to the London Lists. He had left Hoffensheim-Sinsheim. This is somewhat remarkable in that he was reported to be Catholic AND that he continued to immigrate to America. Most Catholics, in fact, all that the English knew about, were returned to Holland. I am not convinced that he was Catholic. If he was, how he and his family evaded deportation is both unknown and miraculous.

In 1710, Jacob along with his wife and child continued on to America, in fact, settling eventually in a location that would be named after him, Cobleskill, NY.

The postcard below shows Cobleskill Creek in Coblesill, NY. This is likely Jacob’s mill creek. He was documented as being a miller in the US as well.

1709er-cobleskill-creek

Jacob Cobel’s wife was Anna Marie Egli and they had daughter Maria Barbara after their arrival in the US. Maria Barbara married Johann Jacob Schaeffer, a member of another 1709er Palatinate family. His parents were Johan Nicholas Schaeffer and Maria Katherine Suder from Relsburg, Germany.

However, the story doesn’t stop here. It does however, skip forward some 304 years, to September 2013.

St. Katherines Today

My husband, Jim, and I were visiting London. We only had 2 and a half days.

On the day of our arrival, after finally finding our hotel, walking from a train station pulling heavy bags, we discovered that the travel agent had not made the reservation for the correct days. We had to find a different hotel. With the help of the hotel, we were able to do so, but it took a couple of hours that we didn’t have to spend. We missed any possibility of the tour I had so been looking forward to. Our next two days were already spoken for. With all of the frustration and disappointment, I just wanted to cry. Things were not going as planned. What to do?

After getting settled, we regrouped, and realizing we only had part of the afternoon, we decided to visit a couple of quilt shops I had found online. The hotel was gracious and called us a taxi, and a few minutes later our driver arrived, ready to take us anyplace we wanted.

On the way to the first of three quilt shops, we told him about our travel snafu and the tour we had hoped to take. One of the places I was really looking forward to seeing was the Tower of London so I could, from there, hopefully, see St. Katherine’s by the Tower. My ancestors, the 1709ers, “camped” there and I wanted to visit that area – or at least see it from a distance.

Our driver, whose name was Said, was beyond wonderful, and he wove a tour into the quilt shop visits. We spent the most wonderful afternoon with this gentleman and he took me directly to places that were on no canned tour.

Of course, with his London driving experience, he knew exactly how to get to all the best places.  That travel snafu turned out to be a lovely gift in disguise!

From this area on the Thames near St. Katherine’s, you can see Tower Bridge, located beside the Tower of London.  St. Katherine’s is between the Hermitage Park, where I’m standing in this photo, and the Tower Bridge.  St. Katherine’s begins on the other side of the brown building, to the far right in this photo, about half way between me and the bridge. This gives you an idea of how small the neighborhood of St. Katherine’s actually was. Google maps shows the area of St. Katherine’s to be roughly 1000 feet by about 700 feet.

London Bridge

In the most ironic twist of fate, today, this area has once again been redeveloped and is now comprised of very high-end, upscale condos, some directly on the Thames and some on the Marina. My ancestors wouldn’t recognize it.

1709er-st-katherines-redevelopment

Beautiful buildings on what is now a beautiful setting.

1709er-st-katherines-dock

You don’t have to look too far though to see some of the warehouses that were adjacent to the docks. There are still warehouses a block off of the waterfront. You can see them behind Said’s car, waiting patiently for me to get my ancestor-fix.

Said's Mercedes

The city walls, a remnant shown below behind the men at the bus stop, would have still been intact when the 1709ers were there, but not much remains today. I love these old brick streets too.

1709er-london-city-wall

The old ship ties still exist at St. Katherine’s docks. These were at one time used to tie the large cargo ships to hold them secure while they were loaded and unloaded.

1709er-st-katherine-ship-tie

You can still read “St. Katherine by the Tower.”

St Katherines by the Tower

I had to pinch myself to believe I was really standing here where my ancestors stood. Truthfully, between being sleep deprived after an all-night flight, followed by the hotel debacle, this unplanned experience felt entirely surreal.

1709er-st-katherine-park

This area has been made into a lovely waterfront park which includes the docks of course, and the historic Dickens Inn, shown with the red hanging baskets, above.  What a transition from how cramped and miserable this area was in 1709 and how spacious and lovely it is today.  The 1709ers would be shocked and probably mortified at all of that “wasted space” that they so desperately needed.

st-katherines-park

The redeveloped park where I’m standing, is located in the area between the green “St. Katharine Docks and The Dickens Inn on the current map above, in the lower right hand quadrant.  You can click to enlarge.  On the old map, this would have been just in front of the St. Catherine’s church – a place certainly familiar to the 1709ers who were assuredly praying daily for deliverance of some sort.

1709er-st-katherine-condos

The photo above is difficult to see because I took it through glass, but it shows pictures of the inside of the condos or apartments that are for sale in the area, all for over half a million pounds – and those are the cheap ones.

It’s somehow a supreme irony that the former poorest area, the waterfront tenement slums, are now the posh area. This is the third life of St. Katherine’s. I guess that is the very meaning of redevelopment.

I was so very grateful to Said for taking me to where my ancestors camped.  It brought history to life in a very memorable way.

I’d love to know more about these families before their arrival in England.  In particular, I’d like to know more about their deep ancestry, before the advent of surnames.  Where did they come from?  Who were their people?  Were they Celts or Saxons or maybe Huns before they were Germans seeking refuge?  Y DNA testing can give us those answers, but we need a male from the surname lines in question to test.

DNA Projects and Participants

Given that I certainly can’t test my Y DNA (females don’t have Y DNA) for the 1709er lines, I need to find males who descend from these family lines to test. Y DNA is always passed from father to son, generally along with the surname. The best way to start that search is to check the projects at Family Tree DNA, along with YSearch.

I checked the Family Tree DNA Y database and discovered no Cobel, Kobel or derivative surname, so I started the Kobel/Coble Y DNA project. While this project was initially focused on Kobel/Coble males, anyone who descends from a Kobel/Cobel line is welcome to join. Fortunately, we do have a Coble male from Jacob Kobel’s line, and he matches other Coble males as well. I would invite and encourage any Kobel (or similar spelling) male to join. I’ll be writing about Jacob Kobel’s line soon.

Viewing the Shafer project, it does appear that the 1709er Schaeffer line has probably tested and is a subgroup of haplogroup U106. I say probably because it’s a line believed to connect to my line, from a group that went to NC. Still, I’d much prefer to test someone from my own proven line, just in case. You can view the grouping of men that match, in yellow, below.

shafer-dna-project

There are no projects for either Egli, Suder or Sonsst. There are apparently 8 people with the Egli surname who have tested, but the only one I could find in any project was from France. One Suder has apparently tested, and no Sonssts. Sonsst could easily have been corrupted into something I wouldn’t recognize today. YSearch showed several people with either the Egli surname or Egli in their pedigree charts, but nothing that would suggest that they connect to the Egli family from Hoffensheim-Sinsheim.

Hopefully, someone, someplace is researching these family lines and will pass the word. I’m offering a Y DNA testing scholarship for a male carrying the surname and descending from these various 1709er family lines. If you qualify, please contact me.

  • Johann Peter Schaeffer (born c1640) family from Relsburg, Germany
  • Michael Suder (born c 1650 or earlier) family from Relsburg, Germany
  • Marx Egli (born probably 1664 or earlier) family probably from the Hoffensheim-Sinsheim area of Germany
  • Han Sonsst (born probably 1680 or earlier) family probably from the Hoffensheim-Sinsheim area of Germany

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

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

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

And a conundrum it is too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Miller’s Sons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Y DNA

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

robertas-view

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

michael-miller-desc-pedigree

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

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

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

Candidates for Dayton Daniel’s Father

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

john-miller-will

Children named:

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

Underage sons were Ludwick, David and Michael.

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

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

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

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

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

Did Michael Miller Have Other Sons?

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

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

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

Birth Records in Germany

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

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

Tom is my super-hero!

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

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

The next children were born in Kallstadt.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is John the Same Person as Hans Peter?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Candidates?

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

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

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

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

DNA Findings

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

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

michael-miller-autosomal-pedigree

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

tm-mtches

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

Is this Michael Miller or Susanna Berchtol’s DNA?

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

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

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

Autosomal Messages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Have We Learned?

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

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

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

The Rest of the Miller-Stutzman Story

If you watched the Katey Sagal episode of Who Do You Think You Are that aired on TLC on April 14th, you’ll recall that Katey made a couple of discoveries leading to the unveiling of her Amish heritage.  First, her ancestor in Iowa was buried in a “Dunkard” Cemetery.  Dunkard was the colloquial name for the religious denomination known as the Brethren.

I have Brethren ancestors too, an entire quarter tree full of them – my mother’s father, John Whitney Ferverda was Brethren. His mother Evaline Miller married Hiram B. Ferverda, a converted Mennonite.

The Brethren, Amish and Mennonite churches were all German based, lived in German communities, and were notorious for swapping members back and forth. All three were pietist religions, eschewing any type of violence or warfare, even for protection of yourself or your family.  In other words, those three sects were in many ways far more alike than different.

In other words, finding someone who was a Dunkard in one generation and their parents as Mennonite in the earlier generation was not a surprise. According to Amish historian, J. M. Byler, intermarriage between Amish and Brethren or Mennonite was acceptable until 1809 when it was forbidden.

So, I knew I was going to enjoy this episode.

But then, the episode got much, MUCH more interesting.

Miller Stutzman 1

Here are two screen grabs from the episode, thanks to TLC and Shedd Media. Katey’s line, going back in time, was found in Somerset, PA, then in Berk’s County, PA. an area highly known for their Amish population.

Miller Stutzman 2

Even more interesting, Peter Miller married Mary Stutzman.

That just about doubled my heart rate right there, because my Miller line, also German, also Brethren, was very closely associated with a Brethren Stutzman line.

My Miller Line

My immigrant Johann Michael Miller Jr., born in 1692, immigrated from Germany in 1727 with his sort-of step-brother Johann Jacob Stutzman, known as Jacob Stutzman.

What is a sort-of step-brother?

Johann Michael Miller’s mother died, and his father, also Johann Michael Miller, married a second time to Anna Loysa Regina. Johann Michael Miller Sr. then died, and Anna then married to Hans Jacob Stutzman in 1695.  Johann Michael Miller Jr. was only three years old at this time, so Anna was probably the only mother he had ever known.

Anna and her husband Hans Jacob Stutzman then had a son by the name of Johann Jacob Stutzman on January 1, 1706. So, technically, these two boys were not biologically related, but given that they immigrated together and were found together throughout their lives, it’s very likely that Anna Loysa Regina Miller Stutzman simply continued to raise Johann Michael Miller Jr., her step-son, after his father’s death and the boys were raised as brothers, even though they were 14 years apart.

Johann Michael Miller Jr. married Suzanna Berchtol in Germany, and in 1727, immigrated with his family, which included at least son Philip Jacob Miller, to the colonies – along with his sort-of step-brother Johann Jacob Stutzman

Johann Michael Miller and Suzanna Berchtol had a son the year after their marriage, Hans (probably Johann) Peter Mueller, baptized January 19, 1715 in Konken, Germany. We don’t know much about Peter except that on at least one occasion, Philip Jacob Miller’s brother, John, who died in Washington County, MD in 1794 was referred to as Johann Peter Miller in one document, but only one document of many.

Was that John the same Hans Peter that was born in 1715? It seems rather unlikely since he was never otherwise called Peter, but it’s possible.

So, we have a (possible) lost brother, Johann Peter Miller who was associated with the Stutzman family.  Now, in Berks County, we find a Peter Miller married to a Stutzman wife.

What are the chances of this being all circumstantial?

Slim to none, right? Stutzman is not a common name, even though Miller is.  And the two families being found together again, and intermarried is certainly suggestive of some continuity.  Right?

Clearly, the Peter Miller on Katey’s chart born in 1756 is not the SAME Peter Miller born in 1715 in Germany, but he could clearly be a descendent, either a son or possibly a grandson.

The program did not follow Peter Miller any further, but instead switched to the Stutzman line because it led to the Hochstetler line which was the focus of the rest of the program.

Mary Stutzman was the daughter of Christian Stutzman, born about 1732, and Barbara Hochstetler. Christian Stutzman could have been the son of Jacob Stutzman or perhaps even a younger half-sibling or uncle.

Had I by any chance found my missing Peter Miller, or at least his descendant, associated with the Stutzman family? It would make perfect sense.

With two family connections in Pennsylvania, plus the pacifist religion – and a very unusual name like Stutzman – how could this NOT be the same family group?

Well, hold tight, because we’re going to find out!

I was so very excited!

Let’s Start Digging

Since Stutzman isn’t my direct line, I do have some references, but not a lot, so I began on the internet where I discovered that Christian, at least by some, is attributed to be the brother of Johann Jacob Stutzman, the “step-brother” of Johann Michael Miller Jr..

If Anna was 20 in 1695 when she married Jacob Stutzman, as her second marriage, she would have been 57 in 1732 when Christian Stutzman was born. Well, there’s the first big red flag.

The next problem is that Peter Miller is attributed to John Miller and Magdalena Lehman, and that John Miller would have been the age to be a sibling to my Johann Michael Miller Jr.  This John Miller, known as “Indian John” was also wounded in the same raid where Katey Sagal’s Hochstetler family was taken captive.

Miller Stutzman 3

The next problem is that Indian John is attributed to Christian Daniel Miller, born in Bern Switzerland. Hmm….if this is accurate, this is clearly not my Miller family – although my Miller’s did come from near Bern – so they could be the same family, just a generation or two further back in time.  But regardless, not my lost Hans Peter Miller’s son.

Well, crumb.

Miller Stutzman 4

I’m always skeptical of trees, anyplace, so I wanted more proof than this.

I decided to take a look at the Miller DNA project at Family Tree DNA and see if there was any enlightenment there.  At the top of the project page, my Johann Michael Miller line is shown. At the bottom of the page, the John Miller who married Magdalena Lehman is shown. You can click to enlarge.

Miller Stutzman 5 cropMiller Stutzman 5-2 crop

While they do share the same halogroup, they are definately not matches to each other, as you can see below, so they are definitely NOT the same Miller line.

Miller Stutzman 5 crop STRsMiller Stutzman 5-2 crop STR

Double crumb.

Ok, well, maybe the Stutzman line is the same. While it’s not my direct line, it’s still an interesting part of my Johann Michael Miller’s life, so let’s take a look at what we find.

Stutzman

Stutzman was more difficult.

Ancestry trees showed a plethora of information, with some trees showing Jacob and Christian as full brothers, but we’ve already shown that’s nigh on impossible due to the age of Anna.

They could, however, be paternal half brothers or otherwise related.

The Stutzman project at Family Tree DNA seems to be abandoned and shows no project results. Harumph.  (If there is someone who would like to adopt the Stutzman DNA project at Family Tree DNA, which is quite small (4 members), it needs an administrator.)

So I turned to YSearch, with the hope that some of the Stutzman clan had uploaded results there.

Miller Stutzman 6

Indeed they had. Three entries – and two of those entries appear to be the lines we’re seeking.  I checked the compare box to view their results.

Miller Stutzman 7

First of all, none of the three match to each other, so these lines are definitely different. I checked my own Stutzman resource books, and the Jacob Stutzman line that Anna Regina married into is reported to be from Erlenbach, Switzerland.  In this case, that would be equivalent to the first entry, user ID V85YJ.

Miller Stutzman 8

Sure enough, they had uploaded a Gedcom file and I verified that indeed, this is the Jacob line that was the sort-of step-brother to Johann Michael Miller.

Miller Stutzman 9

The other entry, VZJYF is the is the Christian Stutzman line from Berks County, PA, whose daughter married Peter Miller.

Miller Stutzman 10

By running the Genetic Distance report, I verify that at 12 markers, which is all the further kit V85YJ tested, they have a genetic distance of 6, which very clearly indicates they are NOT a match.

Well, triple crumb.

Now, you could also say we need another sample from each of these two Stutzman lines, through a different son to assure that no undocumented adoptions have occurred – and you would be right of course.

However, without that additional information, it looks like these are different lines, just like the Miller line was.

Summary

I’m sure that it was assumptions just like this, before DNA testing was available, that caused people to jump to incorrect conclusions.

After all, what ARE the chances that both a Miller and a Stutzman would be found in a close family situation, not terribly distant, in a minority Pietist German religion in colonial America, and not be related? I don’t know the mathematical odds, but I can tell you that DNA confirms that whatever those odds are, they don’t matter.  Of course, this is also why definitive proof of a relationship between the two families could never be found – it wasn’t there to BE found.  The only facts we have are the DNA tests.

The DNA facts confirm that neither the Peter Miller nor the Christian Stutzman family from Berks and Somerset County, PA are the same family as the Johann Michael Miller and Jacob Stutzman family from York and Cumberland County, PA and then Frederick/Washiongton County, Maryland.

Three strikes and I’m out, but I am actually very glad to put this decades long question for both of these family groups to rest once and for all.  Bravo DNA testers, projects at Family Tree DNA and YSearch – all three critical to answering this question.

Further Analysis of Native American Haplogroup C-P39 Planned

Haplogroup C is one of two Native American male haplogroups. More specifically, one specific branch of the haplogroup C tree is Native American which is defined by mutation C-P39 (formerly known as C3b).  Ray Banks shows this branch (highlighted in yellow) along with sub-branches underneath on his tree:

C-P39 Ray Banks Tree

Please note that if you are designated at 23andMe as Y haplogroup C3e, you are probably C-P39. We encourage you to purchase the Y DNA 111 marker test at Family Tree DNA and join the haplogroup C and C-P39 projects.

It was only 11 years, ago in 2004 in the Zegura study, that C-P39 was reported among just a few Native American men in the Plains and Southwest.  Since that time The American Indian DNA project, surname projects and the AmerIndian Ancestry Out of Acadia DNA projects have accumulated samples that span the Canadian and American borders, reaching west to east, so haplogroup C-P39 is not relegated to the American Southwest.  It is, however, still exceedingly rare.

In August of 2012, Marie Rundquist, co-administrator of the haplogroup C-P39 DNA project performed an analysis and subsequent report of the relationships, both genealogical and genetic, of the C-P39 project members.  One of the burning questions is determining how far back in time the common ancestor of all of the C-P39 group members lived.

C-P39 MCRA

When Marie performed the first analysis, in 2012,, there were only 14 members in the project, representing 6 different families, and they had only tested to 67 markers. Most were from Canada.

C-P39 countries

My, how things have changed. We now have more participants, more markers to work with and additional tests to bring to bear on the questions of relatedness, timing and origins.

Today, there are a total of 43 people in the project and their locations include the Pacific Northwest, Appalachia, the Southwest and all across Canada, west to east.

If you are haplogroup C-P39 or C3e at 23andMe, please join the C-P39 project at Family Tree DNA today.  I wrote about how to join a project here, but if you need assistance, just let me know in a comment to the blog and Marie or I will contact you.  (Quick Instructions: sign on to your FTDNA account, click on projects tab on upper left toolbar, click on join, scroll down to Y haplogroup projects, click on C, select C-P39 project and click through to press orange join button.)

Marie is preparing to undertake a new analysis and provides the following announcement:

The C-P39 Y DNA project is pleased to announce a forthcoming updated and revised project report.  The C-P39 project has established a 111-marker baseline for our 2016 study and analysis will include:

  • 111 marker result comparisons
  • geo-locations
  • tribal / family relationships
  • C P39 SNP findings
  • new SNPs and Big Y results

The current C-P39 Y DNA study has a healthy diversity of surnames, geo-locations, and tribal / family lines represented.

The C-P39 Y DNA project will cover the costs of the necessary 111 marker upgrades by way of Family Tree DNA C-P39 Y DNA study project fund.

Thanks to all who have contributed to the project fund and to participants who have funded their own tests to 111 markers as part of our study.  To voluntarily contribute (anonymously if you like) to the C-P39 Y DNA project funds and help our project achieve this goal, please click on the link below and please do make certain that the “C-P39 Y-DNA” pre-selected project is highlighted when you do:

https://www.familytreedna.com/group-general-fund-contribution.aspx?g=Y-DNAC-P39

Thank you to project members contributing DNA test results to the C-P39 study and for encouraging friends and relatives to do the same!  Thank you also to Family Tree DNA management for their ongoing support.

The project needs to raise $3164 to upgrade all project members to 111 markers.  Many participants have already upgraded their own results, for which we are very grateful, but we need all project members at the 111 level if possible.

Please help fund this scientific project if you can.  Every little bit helps.  I’m going to start by making a donation right now!  You can make the donation in memory or in honor of someone or a particular ancestor – or you can be completely anonymous.  Please click on the link above to make your contribution!!!  We thank you and the scientific community thanks you.

How to Join a DNA Project

Family Tree DNA provides three types of projects for people to join. Projects are free to join and are run by volunteer project administrators, people who have a specific interest in the topic at hand and are generally quite glad to be of assistance.  Projects are great ways to find people you match and others interested in a common topic.

There are three kinds of DNA projects:

  • Surname projects – like Estes
  • Haplogroup Projects – like R1b, M269 or J1c2f, for both Y and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups and subgroups
  • Geographic projects – really anything else that isn’t a surname or a haplogroup, like Cumberland Gap or Cherokee or Scottish DNA

You can join unlimited multiple projects, but you want to make sure projects you join are relevant to your genealogy, your research and/or your haplogroup.

I covered haplogroup projects in depth here and surname projects in depth here, but today, I just want to do a simple “how to” instruction on how to find and join any project of your choosing.

Joining projects is easy.

First, of course, you must have tested at or transferred your results to Family Tree DNA and you must have taken the type of test relevant to the project at hand.

For example, if you have taken the Family Finder Autosomal test and not taken any other tests, you can’t join a Y DNA project because you have not tested your Y chromosome. Ladies, sorry, you can’t join Y DNA projects either because you don’t have a Y chromosome.

If you haven’t yet tested, then you can join a project and get a discount on your test at the same time. If you already have results at Family Tree DNA, skip to the next section, “Joining Up.”

Discounts When Ordering Through Projects

You can order tests through projects at a discount if you’ve never tested before. To do that, just click on this link, then type your surname of interest into the search field by the green text box.

join 13

Hint – if you’re an adoptee, just type adoptee and you’ll see the adoptee project. If you type a surname, you’ll see surname related projects.

Join 14

Click on the project you’re interested in joining to see discounted project based pricing, example shown below.

Join 15

Not sure what to order? You can read about the different kinds of DNA testing and how they apply to various ancestors on your tree in this “basic” DNA article.

Joining Up

If you’re already a customer at Family Tree DNA, it’s easy to join projects. First, sign on to your account.

Join 1

You’ll see your home page that looks something like this at the top.

In the upper left hand tool bar you’ll see the projects tab, with 3 drop down selections, shown below.

Join 2

“Learn About Projects” is basic information which you should, of course, read.

The “Manage My Projects” selection shows you which projects you are a member of and provides you with a convenient click list to visit any of your projects.

Join 3

But before you can manage projects, you have to join some first.

Click on “Join Projects.”

The first thing you will see is a list, based on your surname, of projects where the administrators have entered your surname as a surname of interest to their projects. This may or may not be useful to you.  If your surname is the surname of your spouse – not useful at all.  In my case, however, Estes is my maiden name so these projects might be useful to me.

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Let’s take a quick look.

  • The Cumberland Gap mtDNA project isn’t relevant, because my Estes line is my paternal line and my mitochondrial DNA is my matrilineal line – so no cigar on this one.
  • The Cumberland Gap Y DNA project isn’t relevant for me, because I’m a female and don’t have a Y chromosome, although my family is from the Cumberland Gap area. Hmmm…I need to find a related Estes male to test so he can join that project.
  • The Estes surname project. I have it on good authority that I can join this project whether or not I’m related via the Y, mitochondrial or autosomal connection. Hint – I founded this project and yes, we welcome anyone who is Estes descended.
  • Estis Jewish Ukraine – Nope doesn’t pertain to me and neither do the surnames Jester or Maestas, although clearly Estes could be derivative spellings of those surnames.
  • The I-L161 project is a Y DNA haplogroup project, so I’m not sure why a surname would be listed here, but this does not apply to me as I have no Y chromosome.
  • The administrators of the North Carolina Early project have obviously found the Estes surname in early records, but my line came through Virginia and Tennessee, so this doesn’t pertain to me either.

So, I can join one of these projects. Please, please take the time to read the project descriptions to see if the projects listed are a good fit for your family and for the stated project goals.

Some people think that this list is Family Tree DNA recommending certain projects, or suggesting that they join these projects. It isn’t.  The only way these projects appear is for the administrator to list your surname as one that their project is interested in – and it’s likely not universal meaning not relevant to everyone who carries the surname.  For example, Early North Carolina is confined to a specific geography and timeframe.

Obviously, there are probably other projects of interest that can’t be sensed by your surname.

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At the bottom of the project list, there is a search field, followed by a list of projects that are divided into types.

First, type into the search box the surname (or word) you are trying to find. Let’s use Ferverda for example.

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Yes, there is one project with 3 members for Ferverda. You can click on the project name to see additional information.  In fact, please do read the entire project description, because that’s the only way you’ll know if you qualify to join and the project is a good fit.  For example, what is the word Ferverda, or worse yet, Ireland?  Is it a surname or a place?  If it’s the place, can you join only if you are proven to descend from Ireland or can you join if might have Irish heritage?  Mitochondrial or Y DNA, or both?  What about autosomal DNA?  Read the project description to find out.

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Once you’ve determined that this project is for you, click the orange join button to join. Don’t worry, you can unjoin easily if you make a mistake.  Some projects have a “request to join” feature to be sure the pairing is a good fit.

Can’t find your surname? Try an alternate spelling or scroll down and see if you can find a different kind of project that fits the bill.  (Hint – you can double click on this image to make it larger.)

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For example, let’s see what’s available under the letter B under Y-DNA Geographical projects:

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Hmm, I can’t join those because they are Y DNA projects, so lets look under mtDNA Haplogroup projects. I’m haplogroup J.

Look, here’s the perfect project for me!

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Now all I have to do is click on the project link and then on the orange Join button to become a member.

Privacy Settings and Sharing

You will want to be sure your privacy settings are set such that your results will show in the projects you choose to join. I wrote about that here with specific instructions, so be sure to check, especially if you tested in 2015 or later, because the default is set to not publicly sharing.  This means if you don’t change your settings, your results will not be visible on the public project page.  An example of my haplogroup J project results on the public project page is shown below.

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The great thing about projects is that they ultimately benefit everyone through sharing, but sharing is the key word.

For example, this map of where the J1c2f ancestors are found in Europe and Asia, generated within the haplogroup J project, would not be available if people didn’t:

  1. Join projects
  2. Share publicly
  3. Enter the location of their most distant ancestor for that line

Join 12These maps allow us to take a look at the migration and settlement story behind this haplogroup. There are there hints based cumulatively on where our most distant ancestors are found.  We’ll never unravel the ancestral story without these hints and these hints are the results of shared information.  So, please share.  You’ll benefit from others sharing and others will benefit from you sharing.  Sort of a scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours scenario.

Have fun and find some great projects to join. You never know where your DNA will take you or the discoveries you’ll make!  What is your DNA waiting to tell you?

Roy Eastes – A Shining Example

Some things….they’re just hard….really hard.

My cousin, Roy Eastes has been such an inspiration to me and others for decades now, and he passed over this week, just two days after his 94th birthday.

Yep, earned his wings. Finally free from pain.  Gets to see his beloved wife again.  Meeting the ancestors.  Good for him.  Sad for those of us left behind.

Roy 2004

Roy was my very first DNA project co-administrator on my first DNA project.  And he was a very, very unlikely candidate.  I kind of thought of us as Mutt and Jeff, but we were indeed a dynamic duo and he made every escapade fun.  I loved working with Roy and just having someone who was as excited as I was about every little discovery made sharing the journey wonderful.  We had a special kind of camaraderie, even though he was clearly old enough to be my father – and he was somewhat of a character.

Why was Roy such an unlikely project administrator candidate? Well, because he was too old, too set in his ways, too unhealthy and too uneducated in the science of genetic genealogy.  At least, that’s what he told me.

I am 81 and have been in bad health for the past 10 years. I am pretty much confined and can’t get out but very little.  My wife Berniece is 80 an has had two light strokes but gets around real well with a walker. We joke and say that we get up in the mornings and flip a coin to see who takes care of who!! I can only piddle with this stuff a little bit each day but like to keep up with what’s going on!

But he wasn’t too old or too disabled, and he made up for all of those things with tenacity and sheer, utter commitment and perseverance. He was a pit bull, not a piddler…except I don’t want to offend any pit bulls out there.

I first came to know Roy in the Estes family research community over the years. We all lurked on Rootsweb and Genealogy.com posting questions and finds back and forth beginning in the early 1990s.

In 2003, Roy told me that he had been researching Estes family history for 55 years and he had made it his top retirement objective in 1983. I hate to tell you this, but Roy started with his genealogy significantly before I was born.  I don’t think my Dad’s eyes were even twinkling yet or that he had met my Mom.

But Roy had a problem. He was stuck on his Estes line with an Elisha who died in Roane County, TN in 1819.

Stuck.

Really stuck.

As in brick wall stuck.

Roy knew that there were several Estes men who were candidates to be Elisha’s father, but who was? And did these men all descend from the immigrant Abraham Estes, or did some of the Estes men in the late 1700s descend from other, perhaps unrelated immigrants?

When you’ve been through all the records, there just isn’t anyplace more to go unless you can find a record in a different location that connects the two families together – family history becomes impossible and you have reached a dead end.

The other alternative, at least today, is DNA testing.

In 2003 when I first really began recruiting for the Estes surname project, Roy jumped at the chance to participate. He didn’t know what he’d find, but he knew he stood a better chance of finding something and anything was more than he already knew.

Roy ordered kit number 11,727 in July of 2003.

He told me he was too old to understand “any of this,” but after I explained it to him, he began explaining it to others. So, Roy, at a mere 81 years of age wasn’t too old at all.

Roy wanted to know who else was participating in DNA testing from the Estes community, because he understood the success of his own goals depended on other male Estes’s with proven genealogical descent from Abraham taking the Y DNA test. So, he began recruiting people himself.

After Roy’s initial recruiting drive which included calling every other Estes male researcher he knew AND writing letters, he told me that he had, after he retired, entered every Estes family he could find into his genealogy software. Most of these lines had been documented somewhat in at least one earlier published book, but that was only the beginning for Roy.  He added his own research and that of anyone who would send him sourced information.

In 2003, I asked Roy to be my Estes DNA project co-administrator. He assured me he could not do that, for the same list of reasons he always gave me…too this or too that…but I knew better.  I wasn’t sure exactly how everything would work out.  After all, this was my first project and I was learning too.  But I knew for sure that Roy had one invaluable asset – enthusiasm and a willingness to reach out to people and to learn.  Plus, Roy was extremely motivated by his own brick wall interests.

I suggested that Roy and I split the tasks and that I’d take the genetics and he could help people with the genealogy part. We agreed, but that was before all of the DNA results began coming in.

A few weeks later, Roy, who was “too old” to understand the genetics, was sending me spreadsheets comparing the various Estes lines, their mutations and trying to figure out which of Abraham’s sons he descended from. We knew by that time that Roy’s line did indeed match the DNA of Abraham the immigrant, so either Abraham was his ancestor or they shared a common ancestor.

It’s amazing what a little motivation can do – Roy could and did understand Y DNA just fine.

Roy asked me about doing a webpage. I told him that was not my area of expertise.  Then, he told me he was unable at his age to learn anything like web programming.

About two weeks later, he mentioned that he was learning html, a web programming language, so he could write his own web page. I didn’t say it out loud, but I thought to myself, “Good luck with that.”

Another few weeks later, I received a link to something that looked a lot like this:

Roy home page

He had taught himself html at age 82 or 83 and constructed a genealogy webpage that still exists today. This man puts me to shame!

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was a bit of a turning point in Roy’s life, the beginning of a final set of chapters. Not only was it devastating, Roy refused to evacuate.  I begged him to come, family, wife, wheelchairs, pets, everyone and whatever he wanted to bring to stay with us indefinitely.  He told me he would live or die, but it would be right there – and he stayed in Gulfport, Mississippi.  We couldn’t contact Roy for days and days.  I never told him that another cousin died in that hurricane and how desperately worried we were. His mortality became crystal clear to him, his priorities shifted, and he began to work fervently on his bucket list.

Shortly thereafter, Roy told me he was too unhealthy to continue his website, and while I fervently hoped he was wrong, I did accept the gift of Roy’s website which Estes family archivist, David Powell has graciously incorporated as part of his website today, where you can visit it at http://estes.roots-boots.net/.

Over the next few years, now entirely wheelchair bound, Roy authored several books, the last of which was published in 2009. Roy wrote a large and beautifully detailed book about his Estes family history, but that book didn’t sell one single copy.  Know why?  Roy gave it away, to anyone and everyone who wanted it.

Roy was a true historian, questioning everything, driving us all to distraction sometimes requesting documentation, and digging up not only the improbable but seemingly, the impossible. His stringent military training and just under four decades of service never left him and served us all very well.  In fact, Roy poked around until he discovered the Bobbitt family whose Bible page included a record that Abraham Estes had sailed with their family immigrant on the same ship, the Martha, arriving in January 1674 at City Point, Virginia.

Bobbit Bible

As Roy and his wife’s health both deteriorated, he did have to give up his DNA project co-administrator duties and he was preparing for the inevitable day when he would no longer be here. He signed an affadivit, for example, allowing me access to his DNA forever.  That was before Family Tree DNA had their Beneficiary page for you to designate a beneficiary for your DNA.  Roy was absolutely committed to genealogy and genetic genealogy, both today and in the future when he just knew all of the answers would be unraveled.

After Roy’s wife passed away, he began living in an assisted living facility and gave up his research “cave” for a laptop. He was still involved, gladly shared his work, and encouraged anyone and everyone who would listen for half a minute…that was…until the beast called Alzheimer’s began to steal his life away.

These last few months have been exceedingly difficult, watching the once vibrant and outstanding researcher descend into the darkness of confusion. We still loved Roy of course, and we still wrote to him and shared finds with him, but his answers often no longer made sense.  But Roy knew we cared about him and sometimes a cognizant e-mail would slip in among the rest.  Those were doubly sad, because he clearly knew what he was losing as he slipped beneath the waves.  Those were heart-wrenching moments of terrifying clarity.

As I’ve looked back through Roy’s e-mails and letters these past few days, one of his e-mails really stands out in terms of clarity and prophecy.

I think when the dust clears with the DNA project we will find some fantastic information. I don’t expect this in my life time but you have really started a great thing in the project!

I will say this – My predictions are future research will show that:

  1. Nicholas Ewstas was not connected to The House of Este.
  2. Nicholas will be found connected to the Eustice line.
  3. The basic line will be traced back to the Flanders area.

Other predictions that will be proven :

  1. The spouse of Abraham Sr, was not Barbara Brock.
  2. Abraham was not an indentured servant as such.
  3. There are errors in the list of children of Abraham and Barbara that we now accept.

I only wish I knew 30 years ago what we know now! Then I would have had the time and resources to check into these things!

To date, we have evidence that indeed, Nicholas Ewstas was most likely not connected to the House of Este. The connection to the Eustice line depends on which line and who is spelling the surname.  And yes, the Estes line, first found in Kent, did come from mainland Europe – but apparently not Italy.  Big Y testing on a group of Estes men with known and proven descent helped to sort this out.  Roy didn’t get to participate in that testing, because his line is not proven genealogically beyond Elisha.  DNA can do a lot, but it can’t make up for generational genealogically connected records.

Indeed, Roy is right and there is no evidence to suggest that Abraham’s wife, Barbara, was a Brock.  You can’t prove a negative using DNA, at least not in this case.  I am hopeful that in years to come as we develop tools like ancestor libraries where haplotypes are associated with certain ancestors and lines that we can one day unravel Barbara’s surname.  It may not be in my lifetime either – but it will happen one day.

However, until then, we just don’t know, the county records we need have burned and there is just no way to discover her surname.

Unless, unless….Roy can figure out a way to tell us her name. I know, for a fact, that the first thing Roy did after greeting Berniece and his dog was to find Abraham and Barbara and ask about her surname.

Roy wasn’t too old, too disabled, too uneducated in genetic genealogy or too anything else.  He was just the opposite, extremely capable.  Roy jumped right in, in his 80s and made an unparalleled contribution on several fronts, including genetic genealogy.  And now that he is actually ON the other side, WITH those ancestors… I’m hoping against hope that Roy isn’t too far away.  I know that if there is any way for Roy to get us that surname information, he will.  And I’m counting on him.

Just so you know, Roy, I’m leaving a pad of paper out with a pen, right by the Christmas tree:)

Roy has served as a personal inspiration for me now, for years. I used to think of Roy and say to myself, thinking of him confined to his wheelchair and always working through some level of chronic pain, “If Roy can do THAT, I can surely do this.”  Roy leaves a huge legacy behind.

Perhaps the most important lesson is that you are never “too” anything, unless you decide you are.  However, if you don’t DO something, eventually, you will be too late. Roy wasn’t too late, he just left too soon.  I miss you partner.

Rest in peace Roy, right after you send me that surname:)

Hans Berchtol (1641/1653-1711), Twice a Godfather, 52 Ancestors #101

We know that Hans Berchtol’s death was recorded in the church in Konken, Germany, the beautiful hamlet shown below, on June 15, 1711.  His death record in the church records tells us that he resided in Krottelbach, just a few miles away.

Konken Germany

Hans Berchtoll and his wife, Anna Christina reportedly had the following children:

  • Hans Jacob born in 1686 who married Anna Marie Glosselos
  • Susanna Agnes born on May 3, 1688 and married Michael Mueller (1692-1771) (One source reports her birth in Ohmbach, a nearby village.)
  • Hans Peter born on May 1, 1690 and married Maria Elizabeth Zimmer
  • Hans Heinrich born on May 1, 1690
  • Barbel (Barbara) born about 1693
  • Ursula born about 1696

Konken Steinwenden map

In 1686, in Steinwenden (shown below,) not terribly far from Konken, we find mention of Hans Berchtol in the baptismal record of Johann Abraham Mueller, the son of Johann Michael Mueller and his wife, Irene Charitas whose last name is unknown.

Steinwenden Germany

Hans Berchtol’s wife was not with him in the baptismal records of this child, likely because she was herself quite pregnant or had recently given birth.  The first child born to Hans Berchtol and his wife, Anna Christina was born in 1686 as well.

The infant, Johann Abraham Mueller, would die shortly after his birth, but again, in 1692, Hans Berchtol would be called upon to attend another baptism of a child of Johann Michael Mueller and his wife.  These two couples were obviously close, even though they didn’t live nearby.  Why?  Were they in some way related?  What was their common bond – a bond strong enough to survive a 15 mile distance in the mountains over several years.

The child born in 1692, Johann Michael Mueller (Jr.) would one day marry the daughter of Hans Berchtol and Anna Christina.  How strange is that?  Michael’s in-laws-to-be were his godparents.  That doesn’t happen often.  Hans Berchtol’s daughter, Susanna Agnes Berchtol was born on May 3, 1688 in Konken (or Ohmbach).  Whether this family was previously related in some fashion or not, their descendants were destined to be.  I wonder if Johann Michael Mueller grew up playing with Susanna Berchtol, his future wife.  Did they sit beside each other in Sunday School from time to time? She was more than 4 years his senior, so maybe she wasn’t terribly interested in him until they were teenagers or young adults. And they did live 15 miles apart.

Then another thought struck me.  Konken and Steinwenden are really too distant for easy accessibility.  Since Hans Berchtol and his wife had stood up with Johann Michael Mueller at his baptism, they would have been his godparents.  Godparents were technically responsible for the religious education of the child, and were the people who would have taken the child to raise if their parents died.  It has always been assumed because of the close relationship of Johann Michael Mueller (the second) and Johann Jacob Stutzman (born 1706), son of Michael’s father’s second wife, that Michael’s step- mother, Anna Loysa Regina, and her second husband, Jacob Stutzman raised Michael.  I know this is confusing, so I’ve created a little chart representing the relationships.

Miller Stutzman chart

But maybe that wasn’t true, and Anna Loysa Regina and Jacob Stutzman didn’t raise Johann Michael Mueller (the second), or maybe not for the entire time.  Maybe Michael was raised by Hans Berchtol and his wife, his godparents.  That would explain how the 15 mile difference between Steinwenden and Konken was overcome for courting purposes.

I don’t have the Konken church records or their direct translations, but it would be very interesting to see if Johann Michael Mueller (the first) and his wife, Irene Charitas Mueller, witnessed the baptisms of any of Hans Berchtol’s children.  It would also be interesting to check the neighboring church records to see if we can find any additional children for Hans baptized in neighboring churches.  I don’t know if the family moved, or if they simply went to the closest church for baptisms, or they changed churches occasionally.  Why didn’t they attend the church in Krottelbach where they lived?

As it turns out, Krottelbach historically formed the boundary between the parishes of Ohmbach and Konken, so Krottelbach didn’t have its own church.

Konken Krottelbach map

This caused some difficulty in ascertaining what the village’s population was in the so-called Konker Protokollen of 1609 in which the 12 hearths (“households”) with 65 inhabitants listed for Krottelbach were actually only the ones on the north side of the brook, in the parish of Konken. Corresponding statistics for the part of the village on the south bank are not available. All in all, though, the village as a whole may have been rather large for the circumstances of that time.  However, that wasn’t to last.

Like all villages in the region around Kusel, Krottelbach suffered heavily under the twin blows of the Plague and the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).  After that war, there were only four people living in the village.  The populace was devastated.  This area of Germany was barren and desperate for settlers who were willing to work and farm, and actively sought people from Switzerland and other regions.

The newcomers welcomed the opportunity and settled, but more lives were lost towards the end of the 1600s in French King Louis XIV’s wars of conquest.  It seemed that there was no end to wars and violence.

Krottelbach belonged to the village church in Ohmbach, which Count Gerlach V of Veldenz had bequeathed to the Werschweiler Monastery after 1258. During the Reformation, the monastery was dissolved, whereafter some of the then Lutheran villagers still belonged to the parish of Ohmbach, while others belonged to the parish of Konken.  Until 1817, the village of Krottelbach remained solidly Reformed, a faith that in 1817 united with the Lutherans.  At that point, the whole village once again belonged to the parish of Ohmbach.

What this history of Krottelback, along with the Konken church records, tells us is that Hans Berchtol lived on the north side of the brook in Krottelbach.

Krottelbach creek map

Perhaps Hans farmed one of these beautiful fields or maybe he lived on Krottelback Creek, meaning “Toadbrook.”  At this time, farmers did not live on farms in the countryside, but they actually lived in the villages clustered together and then went to farm their fields that surrounded the village.

Krottelbach fields

A second Berchtol male was having children in Steinwenden where Johann Michael Mueller lived.  Hans Simon Berchtol and his wife Catherine had the following children according to Steinwenden church records:

  • Hans Samuel born 1685, godparent Hans Michael ?
  • Maria Magdalena born 1686, godparents Hans Michael Muller of Steinwenden and Anna Catherine
  • Maria Elizabeth born 1691
  • Anna Catherine born 1696, godparents Anna Catharine, Johannes Lampon, frau, Jacob ??
  • Johannes Theobold born 1697, godparent Maria Elizabeth
  • Johannes born 1698, godparents Johannes Berchtol and Anna Maria

Hans Samuel Berchtol, born in 1685 above is believed to be an immigrant and possibly the Samuel Berchtol found in records in Pennsylvania with Johann Michael Mueller born in 1696.  One Samuel Becktel arrived on the ship Robert and Alice on September 30, 1743.

Were Hans Berchtol of Krottelbach and Hans Samuel Berchtol of Steinwenden brothers?  These families were surely related, but how?

These villages, Krottelbach and Steinwenden were nearly as far apart as Konken and Steinwenden, being a distance of about 18 km.

Krottelbach Steinwenden map

The fact that both families were of Pietist leanings and settled in this part of Germany, traveling a non-trivial distance between locations, suggests that perhaps they had a pre-existing connection before settling here, other than their obvious religious leanings and refugee status.  Remember, we don’t know the maiden name of either man’s wife, Hans Berchtol’s Anna Christina or Johann Michael Mueller’s Irene Charitas.

We know that the Mueller family was originally found in the Canton of Berne, Switzerland where Johann Michael Mueller, the elder, was born in 1655 in Zollikofen.  Many Pietist families from this region removed to this same part of Germany in the 1680s.  So it’s not unlikely that the Berchtol family did the same thing, which would explain why Hans Berchtoll was willing to travel 18km, each way, twice to stand up with the Mueller family for the baptism of babies.

The record from Konken Reformed Church shows that Michael Muller, son of Johann Michael Muller from Steinweiler in Churpfalz, married Susanna Agnes Berchtel, a Swiss, at Crottelbach (sic) on January 4, 1714.  “A Swiss,” in fact confirms that indeed, the Berchtel family too immigrated from Switzerland.

The Steinwenden records begin in 1684, but the Konken records begin in 1654, so perhaps more information awaits in those records, once they are translated and indexed in some location so that you can find entries without reading the entire church book – or more accurately stated – paying someone else to read the entire church book.

Just three years after Hens Berchtol’s death in 1711, his daughter would marry Johann Michael Mueller Jr., that baby born in 1692.  Maybe when Hans died, Johann Michael Mueller stepped in to help the family.

Krottelbach Germany

Krottelbach, shown above, is about 5 miles from Konken.

So, by piecing scant records together, we know that Hans Bechtol, Bechtel or Berchtol was “Swiss,” lived in Konken or more likely Krottelbach by 1686, but traveled that same year to Steinwenden, without his wife, for the baptism of the child of Johann Michael Mueller and his wife, Irene Charitas, whose last name is unknown.

During this same time period, a Hans Simon Berchtol was living in Steinwenden and having children there.  Johann Michael Mueller was a godparent to one of Hans Simon’s children as well.  These three families were likely related in some fashion.

Hans Berchtol and his wife continued to have children in Konken until about 1696.  We don’t know if this was when his wife died, or whether she had reached the age where children were no longer forthcoming.  If that was the case, it would put their birth year at about 1653 or so. It would be worth checking Hans actual death record to see if his wife is mentioned as either living or dead.

Hans died in 1711 where the Konken church records reflect that he lived in Krottelbach.  He was born probably before 1653, which means he would have been at least 57 when he died.  Another source states that he was born on June 15, 1641 in Germany, but they do not provide the source of this information.  Regardless, Hans was not a young man when he died.

We know that two of Hans sons lived to marry, although I have no information about their children, or if they immigrated.

I noticed that in the Biddle/Bechtel project at Family Tree DNA, there are several Bechtel and Bechtol males who have Y DNA tested.  Unfortunately, there are eight different groupings, and none of them reach back to Hans Bechtol in Germany.  Several are found in Germantown, Delaware Co., Huntington Co., York and Berks Counties in PA.  These would, of course, be the exact locations where these German families would have settled.  Bechtel immigrants are documented here and none of these seem to be candidates for sons of our Hans.

Many of the Bechtol/Bechtel families were Mennonites and one group arrived in 1729.  These men don’t look to be Hans sons, but we don’t really know, apart from the fact that we are looking for a Jacob, a Peter or a Heinrich.

However, we know positively that there were Bechtol men with the Brethren families in Chester and York Counties in PA.

On February 7, 1744, Michael Miller, Nicholas Garber, Samuel Bechtol and Hans Jacob Bechtol, who all lived in Chester Co, PA, purchased a tract of land consisting of 400 acres northeast of Hanover, PA in York County.

Chester Co Hanover Co

Today this land is near Bair’s Mennonite Church, probably lying south from the church, shown below.

Bair's mennonite cemetery

Today, that land has a cemetery on both sides of the road.  It’s possible that the church is on the original land owned by these 4 men.

Let’s see if we have a participant from this line in the Bechtel DNA project.

Bechtel dna project

The last group of Bechtel men in the DNA project track back to one Samuel Bechtel, reportedly born in 1700, died in 1785, and is buried in the York Road Cemetery in York County, PA.  A little bit of digging shows us that indeed, the church shown in Samuel’s Find-A-Grave picture is Bair’s Mennonite Church, shown below from Google maps, street view.

Bair's mennonite church

Is this the same family line of Samuel Bechtol who purchased land there in 1744? Assuredly.  Additional deed work would likely confirm the land history.  Is the Samuel Bechtol of Chester County, PA the same Bechtol family as was found in Konken and Steinwenden, Germany.  Most likely, but we don’t know for certain.  The dates don’t align exactly.  Hans Simon Berchtol of Steinwenden had son Hans Samuel in 1685.  It’s hard to imagine the continued connection with the Mueller/Miller family if it is not the same Berchtol family line, but we need more than circumstantial evidence.

If any Bechtol, Bechtel or Berchtol male, meaning any of Hans Bechtol’s or Hans Simon Berchtol’s descendants who are males and still carry the surname, by any spelling, are discovered, I have a DNA testing scholarship for the first individual.  Let’s find out more about our ancestors.  I’m betting that Samuel Berchtol and Hans Berchtol from Germany are related, one way or another, and so is the Samuel buried in the Mennonite cemetery at Bair’s Mennonite Church.

Various kinds of DNA testing could help unravel this puzzle.

It’s possible that autosomal DNA testing can solve this puzzle as well, even though there are several generations between Hans and descendants today.  If we don’t look, we’ll never find that connection.  If you descend from these lines, let me know.

It’s amazing that DNA has the potential to answer these questions that have been burning for decades – and questions that our ancestors knew the answers to and thought nothing of.  They are probably chuckling at our inquisitiveness today, given that they still know those answers, and we still don’t.