DNA Testing the Recently Deceased

No one really want to think about this, but it happens.

You’ve always meant to DNA test someone, and they’ve agreed, but either you didn’t order the kit, or the kit is far away from where they passed away.

What can you do?

Take heart, all is not lost. You have two options.

Swabbing the dead

Swabbing the Deceased

Some funeral homes work with companies for DNA preservation and other services, but these services do not provide you with genealogy results from any of the major vendors and are processed by the lab associated with the company whose kit the funeral home is selling.

For genealogy, you have two options.

  1. Call Family Tree DNA (713-868-1438 9-5 CST) and have them overnight you a swab kit. The funeral director can swab the inside of their cheek and generally, funeral directors do a great job. You may want to ask for extra vials to be included in the overnight package, just in case. This is your last (and only) chance.
  2. If you don’t have time or aren’t in a location where you can receive an overnight delivery, purchase an Identigene paternity test kit at any CVS or similar drugstore. That kit will cost you about $27 for the kit alone, but the kit contains sterile swabs and a sterile pouch for inserting the swabs after swabbing the inside of the cheek. DO NOT SEND THE SWABS TO IDENTIGENE. Instead, call Family Tree DNA and explain that you are sending the Identigene swabs to their lab for processing. They will provide you with instructions and you must obtain approval before sending non-standard swabs for processing.

Caveats and Alternatives

  • Cheek swabbing must occur before embalming because embalming fluid interferes with DNA processing, per Dr. Connie Bormans, lab director at GenebyGene.
  • Per my friendly mortician, if you’re desperate and embalming has occurred, another area where some have achieved swabbing success is the crease behind the ear lobe where skin cells tend to become trapped if the body has not already been cleaned in that area. At this point, you have nothing to lose by trying.
  • Please note that sometimes “overnight” is not actually overnight. I attempted to overnight something across the Memorial Day weekend and “overnight” in that case was actually Friday to Tuesday for all carriers. If you are in a pickle, be aware of delivery constraints surrounding weekends, holidays and perhaps a very remote location.

Ordering

After the kit is returned to Family Tree DNA for processing, you can order the regular suite of tests. I would suggest that you order all the tests you actually want initially, because the quantity and/or quality of the DNA sample may be questionable.

In other words, later upgrades may not be successful. I had that situation occur with my aunt’s mitochondrial DNA test results. The initial mtPlus test was successful, but her sample could not be upgraded to either the mitochondrial full sequence or Family Finder.

Three Data Bases in One Test

While you can’t obtain a spit sample from a deceased person for other autosomal tests, you can transfer the person’s autosomal DNA results to both GedMatch and MyHeritage for additional matching after processing.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in this difficult situation, but if you do, you have options.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genographic Project Prepares to Shut Down Consumer Data Base

Today, on the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project page, we find this announcement:

Genographic end

This is a sad day indeed.

  • Effective May 31, 2019, you can no longer purchase Genographic kits.
  • If you currently have an unsubmitted kit, you may still be able to submit it for processing. See this link for more information about your specific kit.
  • The Genographic website will be taken down December. 31, 2020. Your results will be available for viewing until then, but not after that date.
  • Data will be maintained internally by the Genographic project for scientific analysis, but will not be otherwise available to consumers. Miguel Vilar with the Genographic Project assures me that the underlying scientific research will continue.

Please Transfer Your DNA Results

The original Genographic project had two primary goals. The first being to obtain your own results, and the second being to participate in research.

If you are one of the 997,222 people in 140 countries around the world who tested, you may be able to transfer your results.

Depending on which version of the Genographic test you’ve taken, you can still preserve at least some of the benefit, for yourself and to scientific research.

Family Tree DNA Genographic transfer

Note that only Y and mitochondrial DNA results can be transferred, because that’s all that was tested. How much information can be transferred is a function of which level test you initially took, meaning the version 1 or version 2 test.

According to the Family Tree DNA Learning Center, people who transfer their results also qualify for a $39 Family Finder kit, which is the lowest price I’ve ever seen anyplace for an autosomal DNA test.

  • If you tested within the US in November 2016 or after, you tested on the Helix platform and your results cannot be transferred to Family Tree DNA.

If you have already tested your Y (males only) and mitochondrial DNA at Family Tree DNA, there is no need to transfer Genographic data. Family Tree DNA information will be more complete.

Salvage as Much as Possible

As a National Geographic Society Genographic Project Affiliate Researcher and long-time supporter, I’m utterly heartsick to see this day.

Please transfer what you can to salvage as much as possible. We already lost the Sorenson data base, Ancestry’s Y and mitochondrial DNA data base along with YSearch and MitoSearch. How much Y and mitochondrial DNA information, critical to genealogists and the history of humanity, has been lost forever?

Let’s not lose the Genographic Project information too. Please salvage as much as possible by transferring – and spread the word.

Please feel free to repost or preprint this article.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

 Genealogy Research

Honoring Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, Navajo Code Talker

Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, Navajo Code Talker

Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, 97-year-old Navajo Code Talker of North Cottonwood, Arizona, holding his DNA kit from Family Tree DNA after swabbing, photo courtesy Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair.

I can’t even begin to describe the honor I feel to be able to write a Memorial Day article honoring WWII USMC veteran, William Tully Brown, one of the few living Navajo Code Talkers.

I first became aware of William because he matches the Anzick Child in one of the DNA projects at Family Tree DNA that I administer. I reached out to his daughter Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair who has graciously facilitated communications with her father.

William is 100% Native American, Navajo, as confirmed by his autosomal DNA, family genealogy and tribal history.

If you’re wondering about how a Navajo man born on the Navajo reservation in Arizona might match the DNA of a child buried approximately 12,500 years ago in Montana, the answer is because they share a common ancestor very long ago from a highly endogamous population.

Neither Anzick Child nor William have any ancestors that weren’t Native American, so any DNA that they share must come from Native American ancestors. In other words, their DNA is identical by population.

The original group of individuals migrating across Beringia who would settle in the Americas, the ancestors of all of the Native people extending across North, Central and South America, is thought to have been very small. Of course, there were no humans living in the American continents at that time, so that founding population had no new DNA sources to introduce into the expanding population. All aboriginal people descended from the original group.

beringia map

By Erika Tamm et al – Tamm E, Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu M, Smith DG, et al. (2007) Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders. PLoS ONE 2(9): e829. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000829. Also available from PubMed Central., CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16975303

It’s believed by some scientists that over time, additional migrations arrived from far Northeast Asia, in what is now Siberia, but that founding population in Asia is the same population that the original group left.

Today, we see fully Native people, including William, with ethnicity results that include North and Central America, Siberia and often, a small amount of East Asian, totaling 100%.

William’s DNA contributions are amazing, and we’ll cover them in a future article, but what I’d really like to do today is to honor his military service and incredible legacies. Yes, legacies, plural. When I think I couldn’t love and respect this man any more, he contributes selflessly again as he approaches the century mark. God Bless this man!

Let’s begin by talking about William’s incredible service with the Navajo Code Talkers.

The Navajo Code Talkers

Veteran USMC William Tully Brown, Navajo Code Talker WWII

William Tully Brown in a younger photo, courtesy Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair.

The Navajo Code Talkers, highly intelligent and incredibly brave men, were the heroes of WWII. The original group of Navajo Marines recruited specifically for their language skills to serve in the Pacific theater numbered 29 but had been expanded to more than 400 by the end of the war.

Only 7 Code Talkers are still alive today. William Tully Brown is 97 years old and is pictured at the beginning of this article in his Marine uniform, which he still loves, and above in a younger photo.

The great irony is that the Navajo had been forbidden as children to speak their Native language, practice their religion, arts or culture, raised often in boarding schools intended to assimilate them and rid them of their Native “ways.” It’s those same children, as men, who saved the very country that tried to “beat the Indian” out of them, teaching them to suffer in silence, according to now deceased Code Talker, Chester Nez.

We should all be incredibly grateful that the Navajo were so forgiving.

Navajo is a very complex language with many dialects, making it unintelligible to other language speakers. It was estimated that only about 30 non-Navajo individuals spoke or understood Navajo in 1942 – making it a wonderful choice for a secret code.

The Navajo language proved to be undecipherable, even by the best cryptographers, and remained so for decades. Meanwhile, the Code Talkers translated communications and tactical information to and from the Navajo language, utilizing radio, telephone and other communications on the front lines of the war. The work of the Code Talkers was essential to the Allied Victory of WWII, with Code Talkers being present at many important battles including Utah Beach and Iwo Jima.

At the Battle of Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. These six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error. Connor later stated, “Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima.”

For many years, the humble Navajo men weren’t recognized, keeping their military secrets, even from their families. It wasn’t until 1968, a quarter century later, that the documents were declassified, resulting in recognition for the brave Code Talkers.

August 14th was designated as National Navajo Code Talkers Day in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan. In 2000, Bill Clinton signed a law which awarded gold medals of honor to the 29 men who developed the special Navajo military code, and silver congressional medals to all Code Talkers. You can view William Tully Brown’s name in the Congressional Record, here.

Their pride and loyalty remains unwavering.

You can read more about the Code Talkers here.

The Language of Our Ancestors

Veteran Code Talker, Kee Etsicitty said, ” We, the Navajo people, were very fortunate to contribute our language as a code for our country’s victory. For this, I strongly recommend we teach our children the language our ancestors were blessed with at the beginning of time. It is very sacred and represents the power of life.”

The Navajo language isn’t the only language and legacy that William Tully Brown will be remembered for. His DNA, yet another language, is a second selfless legacy that he leaves.

William Brown tested his DNA at Family Tree DNA which matches not only with the Anzick child, but with many other individuals who are Navajo or carry Native American DNA.

The Navajo history tells us that they migrated from the far north. Remnants of that journey remain in their oral legends. Archaeologists suggest that the migration from the northwest occurred around the year 1500.

The Navajo language roots confirms that connection.

Navajo is a Na Dene language, a derivative of Athabaskan which is also spoken in Alaska, in northwestern Canada, and along the North American Pacific rim.

Athabascan language map

CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=147052

This map shows the areas where the Na-Dene languages are spoken today.

The languages spoken in areas of the southwestern part of the US are referred to as Southern Athabaskan languages.

Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that we find DNA matches to William Brown by several individuals whose ancestry is Native from and who still live in areas within the northern orange regions.

DNA is Forever

William Tully Brown’s legacy isn’t only in the Navajo code words he spoke in WWII, or his bravery, but also the code carried in his DNA that he has so generously contributed. William’s DNA has now been documented and will endure forever.

William’s genetic legacy reaches out to future generations, extending the connection to the ancestors through the threads of time, back to the Anzick child and forward for generations to come – drawing us all together.

Thank you Marine veteran William Tully Brown for your immense generosity, sacrifices and altruistic contribution of both life-saving and live-giving codes. How fitting that your heroism began 80 years ago with a war-winning language that would rescue both our country and democracy, as well as our Allies – and now, near your century mark, you are leaving a remarkable legacy by contributing your own genetic words, your DNA, for posterity.

Preserving our country then and our Native heritage now, uniting past, present and future. Gathering the generations together, lighting their way home.

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Attribution:

Thank you to Vee F. Browne-Yellowhair, the daughter of USMC veteran William Tully Brown, Code Talker, for permission to write this article, her generosity, and for his photos.

Family Tree DNA Sale Prices Including Big Y-700 Upgrade

I was attempting to finish an article about the Family Tree DNA conference this past weekend and include special conference sale price information, but it looks like that article just isn’t going to happen right now.

Typically, the conference is held in November, so the Holiday Sale begins the last day of the conference. That’s not the case this year, so Bennett announced a special sale just for conference attendees, project members, and through me, you too! Read on, because these sale prices are NOT available to the general public although you can certainly share with your families.

Thank you Bennett!!!

The good news is that while I realize I just can’t get that article written right now, I’m providing the sale price information which is only valid through month end. These are really good prices.

  • $30 off Family Finder ($49) – Use Code: GGC19FF
  • $50 off Y-37 ($119) – Use Code: GGC19Y37
  • $70 off Y-67 ($198) – Use Code: GGC19Y67
  • $70 off Y-111 ($289) – Use Code: GGC19Y111
  • $200 off Big Y-700 meaning have never taken any Y DNA test ($449) – Use Code: GGC19BIGY
  • $50 off MtFull Sequence ($149) – Use Code: GGC19MTFULL

If have taken one of the Y DNA STR tests, have never taken the Big Y-500 but want to upgrade from an existing 12, 25, 37, 67 or 111 marker STR test to the Big Y-700, here are the upgrade codes:

Upgrade Regular Price Final Price Code
Y12 to Big Y-700 $629 $449 GCC19122BY
Y25 to Big Y-700 $599 $449 GCC19252BY
Y37 to Big Y-700 $569 $449 GCC19372BY
Y67 to Big Y-700 $499 $399 GCC19BYUP
Y111 to Big Y-700 $449 $349 GCC19BYUP

All coupons codes expire March 31, 2019 and may not be used in conjunction with other promocodes, discounts, or offers.

Big Y-700 Upgrade – $179

The greatly anticipated Big Y-700 upgrade is now available.

In addition to the above sale prices for purchases, Bennett is offering the introductory upgrade price to move from the Y-500 to the Y-700 at just $179 through the end of the month. I was actually very surprised to see the price this low since it’s an actual rerun.

Family Tree DNA reviews each order to assure that enough DNA remains for the test. If not, they will reach out to you before processing begins to request another vial. If the tester is deceased, meaning they can’t provide an additional sample, please notify Family Tree DNA so that they can flag the sample for special handling in the lab, if necessary.

I wrote about the Big Y-700 here. If you want to read the scientific nitty-gritty, the Big Y-700 white paper is here. The white paper refers to the Big Y and compared to the Big Y-700. The Big Y is the same test as the Big Y-500, the difference being that Family Tree DNA added the additional STR markers for free (totaling 500) for all testers who had taken the Big Y and renamed the test at that time to Big Y-500.

To recap the benefits of a Big Y-700 as compared to the Big Y-500:

  • Big Y-700 provides 50% increase in quality SNPs over Big Y-500
  • Provides quality reads of Y chromosome regions not previously available
  • An additional 200 STR markers bringing the total from at least 500 to at least 700
  • Better coverage meaning fewer no-reads

Note that with the improved sequencing technology, it’s possible that men run on the Big Y-700 platform may not exactly match men run on the earlier Big Y-500 platform. If you’re working with a group of men who you “need” to be on the exact same platform in order to derive family lineages, then you’ll want all of the men on the same platform so you are comparing apples to apples. In the case of the Estes project, I’m hoping that the new technology will further divide my roughly 10 Big-Y men into distinct lineages in order to provide increased granularity.

I know that the price will increase after month-end and I don’t want anyone left behind. With my luck, the man I don’t upgrade will of course be the one with a newly-to-be-discovered mutation that I need.

If you are interested in upgrading from an existing Big Y-500 to a Big Y-700, there is no code needed. Click here to sign in to your account and then click on the upgrade button on your Y-DNA section of your personal page.

Y DNA Upgrade

You’ll then see the Big Y-700 upgrade, but only at this price for a few more days.

Big Y-700 upgrade

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

RootsTech 2019 – I’m Speaking and DNAexplain Meetup!

“May you live in interesting times.”

That Chinese proverb that no one is sure whether is a blessing or a curse.

I’m pleased to announce that I’m speaking at RootsTech, quite by accident😊

RootsTech 2019 speaker badge

Fate, synchronicity, call it what you will.

If you’re chuckling, so am I.

I’ll be presenting a total of 3 sessions – one regular RootsTech session and 2 minis plus a DNAexplain blog follower (that’s YOU) meetup.

Schedule at a Glance

Here’s a quick overview schedule, including 2 giveaways, with details following below:

  • Wednesday, February 27 – 6:15 – Family Tree DNA booth #1107 – Family Finder Search Tips – Quick tips for how to perform surname and ancestral searches successfully!
  • Wednesday, February 27 – 6:45 – Family Tree DNA giveaway drawing
  • Wednesday, February 27 – 6:45 – DNAexplain Blog meetup in the Family Tree DNA booth presentation center
  • Wednesday, February 27 – 7:15 – Family Tree DNA booth – Family Finder Bucketing – Connecting your matches to your tree so that Family Tree DNA can assign your matches to your maternal or paternal side – even without having your parents tested!
  • Wednesday, February 27 – 7:45 – Family Tree DNA giveaway drawing
  • Friday, March 1, Ballroom B – 3 PM – Beyond Pie Charts: Using Y and Mitochondrial DNA Testing to Solve Genealogical Puzzles

DNAexplain Blog Follower Meetup – Wednesday Evening –  6:15

The DNAexplain blog follower meetup which includes 2 free mini-sessions (and two giveaways) will be Wednesday evening from 6:15-7:45, right after the expo hall opens, in the Family Tree DNA booth, #1017, boxed in red on the map below. It looks like if you walk between LivingDNA and 23andMe, you’ll run smack dab into the Family Tree DNA booth.

Family Tree DNA has a new booth this year with a presentation center right in the booth, so we will be the first to use the new facility.

Rootstech 2019 Expo floor

I’ll be in the booth from 6-8 PM and have prepared special two mini-sessions for my blog followers and anyone else who would like to attend.

You don’t have to stay for the whole time of course!

Please stop by and say hello. I’d love to see you.

Thank you to Family Tree DNA for graciously allowing us to meet in their new presentation center.

Beyond Pie Charts: Using Y and Mitochondrial DNA Testing to Solve Genealogical Puzzles – Friday – 3 PM – Ballroom B

Jim Brewster was originally presenting the session, “Beyond Pie Charts: Using Y and Mitochondrial DNA Testing to Solve Genealogical Puzzles” at 3 PM on Friday.

Unfortunately, Jim is unable to attend and late last week – yes – as in 4 or 5 days ago, I agreed to present this session.

Now, the good news is that I’ve been working with Y and mitochondrial DNA 19 years, long enough to have some really good examples to include. You’ll laugh, I promise, and maybe even shed a tear or two. DNA and families are anything but boring!

Rootstech 2019 Roberta Estes session

Please, come and see the presentation at 3 on Friday afternoon in Ballroom B, on the map below.

Rootstech 2019 Ballroom B location

I promise you’ll be entertained and learn something too!

For those who can’t attend, several sessions are going to be LiveStreamed, 12 recorded and available later for free, and 18 more will be available with the purchase of a Virtual Pass. My session is not being recorded, so you’ll have to come and see it live!

LiveStream Schedule

Several people have asked about the LiveStream schedule, which you can find here. I believe this is also the link to view the LiveStreamed sessions.

An additional 12 sessions will be recorded and available for free viewing later.

  • Blending Family History and Technology with the Art of Storytelling
  • Descendancy Research: Another Pathway to Genealogy
  • Making Memories of You
  • New York Research Essentials
  • You Can Do DNA
  • How to Write Your Life Story in Five Pages or Less
  • Heirloom, Documentation or Junk: What to Keep or Toss
  • S.O.S. (Save Our Stuff): Stories and Heirlooms
  • Families Discovering Family History Together
  • Writing and Publishing a Family History: Ten Steps
  • Artificial Intelligence in Photo Management (and How It Can Boost Metadata)
  • Breaking through Brick Walls in Scottish Research

Virtual Pass Classes

A Virtual Pass is available for $129 (or $79 if you have already registered for RootsTech) which entitles you to the following recorded sessions as well.

  • Chromosome Mapping for Absolute Beginners—Jonny Perl
  • Must-Use U.S. Records at Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, findmypast, and MyHeritage—Sunny Morton
  • A Deep Dive into Understanding Your DNA Results—Blaine Bettinger, Angie Bush, Jonny Perl
  • The Surname Is Key: History of Surnames and Conducting Surname Research in Germany—Dirk Weissleder
  • One Touch Genealogy Research: Handle a Record Once—Thomas MacEntee
  • You Need Both! Uniting DNA and Traditional Research—Angie Bush and D. Joshua Taylor
  • Chromosome Mapping Tips and Techniques—Blaine Bettinger
  • Deeper Analysis: Techniques for Successful Problem-Solving—Elissa Scalise Powell
  • The Magic of German Church Records—Katherine Schober
  • My Ancestors Are from Germany, and I Don’t Speak German—Tamra Stansfield
  • When Details Disagree: 8 Ways to Resolve Conflicts—D. Joshua Taylor
  • 20 Hacks for Interviewing Almost Anyone, and Getting a Good Story—Joanna Liddell and Karen Morgan
  • Going Dutch: Finding Families in Online Records of the Netherlands—Daniel Jones
  • Beyond the Mists of Time: Sources for British Medieval and Early Modern Genealogy—Nick Barratt
  • The Combined Power of DNA, Records, and Family Trees—Jen Baldwin, David Nicholson, Diahan Southard
  • The Genealogist’s Google Search Methodology—Lisa Louise Cooke
  • Jewish Genealogy: How to Start, Where to Look, What’s Available—Lara Diamond
  • Slave Traders, Speculators, and the Domestic Slave Trade—Kenyatta Berry

Your Imbedded Reporter😊

I bought an Ultimate Pass this year, which means I’ll be able to have up-front seating which facilitates good photos for blog articles. I have also arranged to attend many of the vendor lunches and several of the vendor sessions so that I’ll be able to report back to you about new announcements and what’s coming, of course with a focus on DNA.

I hope to publish articles daily while I’m there, although I’m not promising given the hectic nature of my ever-evolving schedule. Rest assured I’ll let be writing as soon as I can. My ability to publish is sometimes constrained by poor Wi-Fi which makes it impossible to upload photos and articles.

My regular article publication schedule will be disrupted while I’m gone, so those ancestors will just have to wait!

For me, the best part of RootsTech last year was meeting people in person. I look forward to seeing you there, so please come to the meetup Wednesday evening or my regular session Friday at 3 and be sure to say hi.

I’m easy to recognize – l’ll be wearing something “DNA.”

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

The Muller House on Kreuzgasse; Humble Beginnings in Schwarzenmatt, Switzerland – 52 Ancestors #229

Just when I thought I was done with the Muller story, as in end-of-the-line done, another wonderful gift arrived for the Miller descendants in the form of a chapter from a book written by Peter Mosimann and his wife, Berti Mosimann-Bhend whose family owned the Muller home in Schwarzenmatt, Switzerland for generations, and still does.

Peter Mosiman very kindly sent this chapter of his out-of-print book to Chris, who sent it to me. I did my best translating it using www.DeepL.com/Translator.

An automated translator can only do so much, even a good one, so I sent the translated text back to Chris, who very patiently reviewed and retranslated over 260 places in this document over the holidays, in spite of having a young family. I feel like I need to apologize to Chris, because this isn’t even his family – although I wish it was.

This may not be your family either, but if you have Swiss or “Alpine” family from Europe, this is probably the story of your family. The goats, the cheese, their hand tools, carvings about God in their barns and…well…just come along. There are amazing photos and it’s never going to get any more “real” than this unless you have a time machine.

Thank You

My humble thanks to Chris and to Peter Mosiman for his permission to use his chapter and his photos to document the beautiful home of our Heinsmann Muller, the grandfather of Johann Michael Muller (Miller) the second who was born in 1692 in Steinwenden, Germany. At least, it’s very likely Heinsmann’s home. We know it was in the Muller family a generation later.

This historic home was built in 1556, according to the date carved into the wall, 100 years before Johann Michael Muller was born, but half a century after we know that a Muller man was living in Schwarzenmatt.

Johann Michael Muller the second, whose father was born in Schwarzenmatt, along with his half-brother, Jacob Stutzman whose family was also from this region and possibly from this village, immigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1727, founding both the Stutzman and Miller lineages in the US. Our roots run deep in this valley.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank Peter and his wife, Berti Mosimann-Bhend for preserving and restoring this wonderful historical home for future generations. You can read in the text the extent of their frustrations but were it not for their perseverance, there would be nothing left today.

Before we read Berti’s chapter, lets take a look at the earliest history of Schwarzenmatt, the quaint Swiss alpine village where Johann Michael Muller was born to Heinsmann Muller in 1655.

Come along…

Prehistory of Schwarzenmatt

As we travel further back in time in the human occupation of our planet earth, records become increasingly scarce. Eventually, of course, the only records are archaeological sites found in caves and shelters where our very distant ancestors lived. Pathways faintly threaded through the mountains and forests connecting one location with the next, or shelters with hunting grounds.

During the Middle Ages forts and castles were built along these routes to protect access, although all are in ruins today. Villages were established as waypoints, probably accidentally, beginning with a single hut, and grew slowly over time.

The villages and farms in this region came under Bernese control in 1386 and at that time, several villages were listed, including Boltigen, first mentioned in 1286, and Schwarzenmatt. The Boltigen church, St. Mauritius is first mentioned in 1288, so enough people were living there at that time to warrant the erection of a (then Catholic) church in the community.

Traditionally, villages in this valley imported grain from Bern and raised cattle on the valley floor and in seasonal alpine herding camps. Some trade occurred over the Juan Pass, shown below, crossing the Alps to France as well.

CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2643201

Our Muller family is first found in the records of Schwarzenmatt in the early 1500s, at least by name, but humans inhabited the alpine valley and mountains long before. Who knows, these early settlers could have been our ancestors, or they could have moved on or eventually their lineage might have been wiped out.

The first trace of human habitation is found about a mile and a half as the crow flies, above Schwarzenmatt in the mountains towering over the village.

By Ulrich Eranrb, Boltigen BE, Switzerland – Self-photographed, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21282568

The Ranggliloch Mesolithic shelter from about 15,000 years ago is a cave above what eventually became a mule path known as the Juan Pass (1509 meters) that connects Boltigen in Switzerland with Jaun in France and passed directly through the tiny village of Schwarzenmatt.

The Letter

Now that we know a bit about the earliest history of the area, let’s turn to Chris who tells us that a letter arrived from Peter Mosimann which included the chapter on the house on the Kreuzgasse in Schwarzenmatt, from the Boltigen book. This chapter was written by Peter’s wife Berti Mosimann-Bhend whose family owned the Muller home.

From Chris:

The second-last paragraph in the letter by Peter Mosimann may be a good summary:

“Heintzman Müller certainly lived in Schwarzenmatt in 1653, but whether he lived in our house hasn’t been proven yet. In former times, young families often spent some time at home, but when there were several children, then they moved out and often lived nearby. It should also be remembered that in some larger houses there were two fireplaces, so that we cannot deduce the exact number of houses from this directory.”

Let me add that there is indeed a Wolfgang Müller on the 1653 house list, so it is hard to tell, if there may in fact have been two Müller families in Schwarzenmatt. Personally, I do not think so, but it remains a possibility.

On the bottom of the letter there is a note that in 1653 (year of Schwarzenmatt house list) a peasant war was taking place in Switzerland. I was not aware of this, you can read about it in English here.

The book chapter itself gives no new genealogical information for you, Roberta, except one notion on page 289 that a Benedikt Müller is on record as a Schwarzenmatt resident as early as 1502. Besides that, I am sure you will like the photos!

On the pages 293 and 294, there is a colored floor plan of the house, “black” being the remains of the original building from 1556 and all further parts added from 1705 onwards That means that if Heintzmann Müller and son Michael indeed lived in this very house, then it was about one third of the size it is today – rather small!

Also, please note that from page 308 onwards additional houses are described, not the house on Kreuzgasse.

I was excited to see that one Benedikt Muller was living in Schwarzenmatt in 1502, 153 years before Johann Michael Muller was born in Schwarzenmatt in 1655 to Heinsmann or Heinzmann Muller, however his name was actually spelled.

If we use the 30-year generation as an average, we can presume that Heinsmann was born in about 1625.

  • Heinsmann’s father – born about 1595
  • Heinsmann’s grandfather – born about 1565
  • Heinsmann’s great-grandfather – born about 1535
  • Heinsmann’s great-great-grandfather – born about 1500
  • Benedikt Muller – born about 1470.

Did we just reach back another 5 generations in the Muller family in Schwarzenmatt? It’s certainly possible, but very unlikely that we will ever be able to connect those dots.

The Muller House on Kreuzgasse in Schwarzenmatt

This next section is the chapter itself, translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator and improved by Chris. I have left the translation largely intact, even when it’s stilted, in order not to inadvertently change the meaning.

Page 1 of the pdf that Peter sent, page 289 of the original book, on the bottom right of the page.

In the gable triangle, the year 1556 is at the upper left corner; the house is therefore one of the earliest dated rural residential buildings of the municipality Boltigen and perhaps even of the entire Bernese Oberland; today it forms a rare example of the small rural house type of the 16th century. So that one can imagine the time, in which this house is built, can visualize something better.

I would like to remind you of some important events of that time:

  • 1492 Christopher Columbus discovers America.
  • 1509 Nikolaus Kopernikus explains that the sun is the center of our planetary system.
  • 1515 Battle of Marignano. End of the Swiss great power politics.
  • 1517 Start of the Reformation in Germany by Martin Luther.
  • 1519 Magellanes is the first to sail around the world.
  • 1528 Reformation in the state of Bern.
  • 1531 Kappeier wars. Death of Ulrich Zwingli.
  • 1536 Bern conquers Vaud.
  • 1556 Emperor Charles V of Habsburg abdicates. “In my kingdom the sun never sets.”
  • In Boltigen the entries in the first church book (Eherodel) begin.
  • 1564 The Geneva reformer Johannes Calvin dies.
  • 1572 Persecutions of Huguenots in France. Bartholomew’s night.
  • 1588 England destroys the Spanish Armada.
  • 1608 Invention of the telescope.

It was the time of the masters, the patricians, Schultheisse and Landvögte, but also the time of the muleteers and rice runners, religious wars, plague trains, witches and Anabaptist persecutions, the Renaissance and the Baroque.

Probably the house on the Kreuzgasse was built on the Allmend built. It stands in a striking, sunny location of the settlement, directly on the old alpine and mule track (IVS: BE 25.1) from Boltigen via Reidigen to Jaun and more into the Gruyère region.

Before 1615 there were in Schwarzenmatt only a few courtyards, only four prove themselves with certainty, which also included our house; next to it there were some individual farmsteads (Tuor 1974: 64).

The house may have always been our ancestors. Documents of the State Archives and archival material the community of Boltigen and the Säuert Schwarzenmatt as well as private purchase contracts suggest this. In Schwarzenmatt are already 1425 Agnes Spilman (BU: 271), 1502 Benedikt Mueller (U 2) and 1558 Peter and Paulj Spylman (K 1: 4) detectable. The Spielmann Families and Mullers have been at least since the 15th century and 16th century settled here. Barbara owned in 1720 Spyllman in the Säuert Schwarzenmatt a “Hauß and Spycherblatz” [house and granary] (SSB: 54). 1741 lent Hans Spillmann Saltigen 179 Kr 6 bz 1 X and gave as a deposit the so called “Lehngut” [feud ?] and the house in Schwarzenmatt including beunden [a piece of land with a fence] and garden (AG: 25).

Andreas Müller married Johanna Horner (died 1768) in 1731.

Barthlome Müller (born 1731) her son, took Anna Zimmermann from Wattenwil (died 1775) as his wife. Since Barthlome had fled for unknown reasons around 1770, Anna and her children had to be supported by the community as in the poor calculations (MA 1:1773 f.). Single mothers were I’m afraid it was very badly placed back then. Jakob, Barthlomes and Anna’s son, married her already in the house on the Margaretha Spielmann living in Kreuzgasse (1742-1819); unfortunately, Jakob died very early (1758-1785). In his widow Margaretha lived with her two children two children Anna (1779-1837) and David (1782-1817) and her sister Magdalena Spielmann (1747-1812). Both women were sentenced in 1786 by the choir court for unauthorized serving of wine without permission, each penalty of 1 lb (C VIII: 31 0). Already their father, the mule skinner Hans Spielmann (died 1784) had to appear before the choir court several times because of unauthorized sale of wine and unauthorized [“Wirtschaft” is an inn, so “Winkelwirtschaft” could be an inn at a street corner, but I am guessing. Alternatively, it could as well be a specific juristic term for unauthorized sale.] at the Schafscheid [a place, where sheep are separated in different groups and directed on different roads] in Schwarzenmatt (C VI: 404, 409, 412). In 1805 Margaretha was (owed?) the Moneylender Johannes Zabli at Brunnehus 33 Kr 1 0 X accrued interest owed (EA: 12).

Kreuzgassen: Magdalena and Margritha Spielmann have all the house rules. 1808. AGM: 18.

Page 2 of pdf, page 290 of document.

The Kauf-Beyle of 1819/1825 states that “the lower half of the house (on Kreuzgasse) belongs to David Müller (1782-1817). Children of thought Schwarzenmatt “I belong to.” These five children were siblings of the seller Anna Spielmann, Johannes’ daughter from Weissenbach. She had inherited from her grandmother Margaretha Müller, née Spielmann, widow of the late Jakob …, half of the house. According to above Purchase and sale of orphans of Boltigen Municipality in Anna’s name her part of the house to old Gerichtsäss Jakob Gobeli zu Weissenbach (1746-1839), husband of Anna Müller (1779-1837).

Anna Müller’s brother David (1782-1817), Jakob’s son, married (Eherodel burned) Magdalena Karlen (1775-1827). He died as a soldier in a hospital in Holland. Their children were David (1803-1878), Magdalena (born 1805), Anna (born 1811), Christian (born 1814, teacher) and Margaretha (1816-1862). Later, Jakob Gobeli must have passed on his half of the house to these five children.

David Müller (1803-1878), known as “the hunter”, married in 1825 with Barbara Reidenbach (1798-1853). Her children were Barbara (born 1825, died in the USA). Caroline (1833-1903). Susanna (born 1834), David (1840-1897 died in Ohio) and Friedrich Wilhelm (born 1842, died in the USA).

In 1837 David acquired his four siblings’ shares in house and real estate, so that he is the sole owner of the in the house on Kreuzgasse. Caroline was my great-grandmother, she took (married) in 1868 in Spiez, Friedrich Bhend (1836-1904), of Jacob blessed, to man; he was cheese maker and Salzer and came from the small town Unterseen, his hometown. In 1872 David Müller sold the whole property for 6’700 Fr. to his daughter Friedrich Bhendin. His children were Louise (1872-1884) and Frederick (1873-1943). He married Susanna in 1903.

Katharina von Allmen (1877-1950); both were my Grandparents. They had three boys: Friedrich (1904-1984), Johannes (1906-2005) and Karl (1909-1973).

Johannes Bhend and Elise Stalder (1911-2008), my parents [the parents of Berti Mosimann-Bhend] held their wedding in 1935 and were gifted with five daughters: Rasmarie (born 1935), Hulda (born 1937), Elise Bertha (born 1940), Therese (born 1943) and Verena (born 1946).

If this chart is accurate, Berti and I are 9th cousins, once removed, or 9C1R. The three people in red immigrated to the US, and we’ll meet David, highlighted in red, later. Back to Berti:

After the move of my parents to the old age center “Bergsonne “the house in Zweisimmen was uninhabited since 2002. In February 2009 I bought it from the community of heirs.

With the “Ferien im Baudenkmal” Foundation FIB”, a sub-organization of the Swiss Heritage Protection, in 2010 an agreement was signed for 30 years completed. For the gentle reconstruction and the conversion into a holiday home was the subject of an architectural competition, won by the architects Bühler AG in Thun.

The house was built on top of it, after a six-month delay due to a neighbor’s building objection, from May to Christmas 2011 by the Foundation; in cooperation with the cantonal authorities. preservation of historical monuments, but mostly disregarding my wishes as owner and financier.

Unfortunately, the work was not done at all gently, as promised before, and without feeling for the historically valuable, interesting house! Thereby especially local craftsmen. On 21 December 2011 took place the inauguration, and on 25 December the first holiday guests moved in.

Image on page 290

The house on the Kreuzgasse in Schwarzenmatt from 1556. Susanna Katharina and Friedrich Bhend-von Allmen [his family name] stand in front of the ring fence.

With their children Friedrich, Karl and Johannes. Little boys used to wear skirts. The rings of the fence were made of green, slender twigs of dance. In front of the house stands a “Scheielizaun”. Photo from 1912, owned by B. Mosimann.

The house property bordered 1872 “above (N) at the Magdalena Eschler Soil, outside (E) and below (S) an the alley and inside 0NJ at Susanne Stocker Erben Bäunde.” To the house belonged a house pasture or five feet right on the Hausweidreidigberg and the ground serving summation or right of pasture to the of summed up Schwarzenmatt grounds. It was the impetus after with the alley maintenance complained [I am guessing again: “Kaufbeile” is probably the archival folder for house purchases] in 1872.

The house possesses an old house right (HV: 18), which the residents are entitled each year to take one of the following forest ranger marked fir tree, called lot wood, for his own use to fell. An old house belonging to the house winter right of way allows them to use the logs in winter with the horn sledge to the western neighboring property to lead it there to firewood, and next door to it in the woodcut. In spring, all the traces of logging on neighboring land removed be. The current owner refuses to know anything about any old rights.

All over the world, people used to use the material which nature has offered on the spot; thereby are the characteristic houses of a region of the country which fit in perfectly with their surroundings. The most important building materials in the Bernese Oberland were wood and stone well into the 20th century; both stood in the immediate vicinity in sufficient quantity and reasonably priced, so also for our house. The walls of the basement, the west wall, the wall between cook and stable as well as the pedestal of the east wall between the house door and the stable door consist of unhewn quarry stones, from boulders and brook debris in all sizes; they all originate from the near environment or even from the pit itself. The stones are made with only little lime mortar connected, plastered and white limed over. The art of masonry was here in the valley at that time still little developed and stands in contrast to the to the remarkable carpentry of this house.

In 2011, we invited the archaeologists of the Service (ADB) for a tour of the old building but unfortunately the offer was not used.

The house underwent various structural changes. 9.11.2009.

The roofs of the residential part and the stable were 1951 only with shingles, later then partly above the shingles covered with bricks, such as those around the new fireplace. Around 1960 the whole western part of the wall above the dwelling covered with bricks. 1977 one laid over the shingles of the apartment – in place the brick – Eternit plates and over the shingles of the stable brick.

(Page 4 of pdf, 292 of original)

During the reconstruction of 2011 the whole, well preserved cement asbestos roof together with the existing shingle roof again for no reason through heavy tiles is replaced. A good shingle roof insulates against summer heat and winter coldness; therefore it was in the Gaden [The “Gaden” must be a specific Swiss German term of a room. I never heard it before and cannot find information about it online.] never unpleasant even in the worst summer heat warm. Since the air here in the mountains in the evening always cooled, we girls in the Gaden could always sleep well. At the part of the stable the wooden roof bricks of the shingle roof, held by wooden hangers, unfortunately unnecessarily discarded. In addition the good roof bricks that had been stored in the hayloft disappeared without a trace.

West wall of the kitchen during reconstruction. 10.07.2011.

Above: Large eaves with typical 16th century ridge console.

Above: Year 1556. 9.11.2009.

Above: Strange holes in the beam above the room door. In the square hole on the upper right was the joist of the former.

“Welbi” (hallway) from 1951. Right: Holes to snap in the rod of the fireplace lid [I cannot offer a better translation than this. Fitting places for a rod used to open/close the fireplace.]. 26.2.20

Page 5 of pdf, page 293 of original.

Construction phases: Plan photographs autumn 2009 by architect Hans-Ruedi Roth. Spiez:.

  • Black – 1556 Original building. One room wide, two room deep with open smoke house. Later the installation took place of a wooden fireplace. The stove firing with stove plate and boiling stove were located at the western exterior wall of the kitchen.
  • Blue – 1705 Extension of a barn on the north side. Independent ridge, staggered opposite the main building.
  • Red – 1903 Widening of the Stuben floor to include the eaves arcade. Two new parlours with three are built on the ground floor, resp. two single windows. The three symmetrically arranged gaden windows were only changed in 1952.
  • Yellow – Modifications and installations after 1952.

Above: Facade west and east. Below: Front and back of the house.

Page 6 of pdf, page 294 of original

Ground floor plan.

Cuts.

Page 8 of pdf, page 296 of original

The ground floor originally only possessed one single room. Around 1900 the story was renovated and east, so that a small adjoining sleeping room was established. During the renovation of the front of the room, unfortunately only narrow walls were inserted between the windows; but before that, the opened window shutters were in place during the day. This “improvement” was fashion at that time.

Between the parlor and the stable there was originally an open smoke kitchen, where the rising smoke is through the cracks of the roof; and in the process the soot adheres to beams and walls, that’s why the one upstairs is black today. Later the open western half of the kitchen is a large, pyramid-shaped wooden fireplace. After a post-butcher feast, from the middle of the winter onwards, ham, bacon sides and sausages were stored and smoked on wooden rods in the upper half of the upwards tapered room, safe from mice. Through the open chimney also light fell in the kitchen. Today’s small roof window shows about the where once the former fireplace led out into the open air.

In the kitchen, on the right parlor door post old drill holes arranged vertically on top of each other are visible; in it one could see the long rod for adjusting the fireplace lid. On the left side you can see a lot of weird ones all over the beam above the door, 1-2 cm deep square smaller and larger holes. However, they cannot, as is was assumed, be marks caused by halberds that were smashed in there a long time ago, the holes are too small and their cross section would have to be rhombus-shaped, the specialist of the archaeological (A: Wulf; 4.3.2013). Also nail holes are hardly an option, they are too little for that deep. Since the holes end sharply, they could perhaps be marks of flails [“Morgenstern” in German can mean both “morning star” as well as “flail” – I know, that sounds strange…].

Rescued remainder of the original debris from the rubble dump.

Substructure. It is 21.5 cm high, 15.2 cm wide, with a scratch plow pattern characteristic of the time and bore the ceiling up to the wooden fireplace until 1951. It is another confirmation the year 1556 (Rubi 1972: 57). The incisions for this beam is still visible on both kitchen walls.

To the right of the room door stood the wood-burning stove, which was also used to heat the tiled stove in the living room. In front of the cooker and the “Buuchchessi” [I have no idea, again Swiss German specific…] the kitchen floor without any basement below it consisted until 1951 made of large natural stone slabs; otherwise wooden shutters formed the floor the kitchen. With these stone slabs was later below the little garden door. The large, whitewashed wall framed by a small “Buuchchessi” was for cooking laundry. There was no “Schüttelstein” [must be a specific kind of stone for dish washing] yet; we washed the dishes in a basin on the kitchen table and simply poured the dishwater out to the Hostettli [Swiss German…]. We drew hot water with an oval water cup the “Water Ship”, a tin ship, with a copper rectangular container with lid on the side at the wood-burning stove. When in the stove was fired, we also have hot water.

The other households in Schwarzenmatt had to obtain their water at the different wells of the village until their houses built around the middle of the last century got a water connection. But in front of our house entrance has always been a well of our own with water rights for it (purchase records 1819/1825); there the water rights are we fetched the drinking water with a kettle. This kettle stood to the right of the woodcop door [I do not know the term, it describes a specific kind of door] and hung in it a “watergätzi” (ladle). Not until 1951 did the kitchen a connection with cold water and a back then usual [“Schüttelstein” again must be the place for dishwashing, but I do not know the exact meaning of the word] made of white stoneware. At this opportunity, a hole was broken through the west wall and a large window with sash bars, double glazing and shutters was built in. At the same time, the wooden fireplace was torn out as well, a floor was built in at the entire length of the kitchen and the steep, turned-in staircase to the upper floor turning 180 degrees [was built in]. The beautiful old two-part front door with knocker was sold and replaced by a one-piece the upper half of which consists of a window that can be opened. The kitchen has been equipped with the two the new windows is now much brighter. The electric light reached the village of Schwarzenmatt in 1928 (PBS:254), the telephone came into the house in 1956.

In the upper floor the large Gaden served on the east side for the storage of supplies and the small Gaden (with stove hole) as bedroom. Both rooms received early light through three small windows, all with one sliding window vision. During the reconstruction of 1951 these windows were replaced by four larger ones, and it was two rooms of the same size, but now brighter.

An antique dealer from Grubenwald convinced our mother to sell the old windows to him for little money and he built them in at his rustic “Restaurant Schlössli”.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g580341-d4844540-Reviews-Schlossli-Zweisimmen_Canton_of_Bern.html

The original Gadenwand [“Wand” means “wall”, but since I do not know what a “Gaden” is, I cannot further describe its meaning] would be on the arcade side very well preserved. In the wall, on the outside at different heights thumb thickness, good hand-long wooden nails for hanging tools and clothes, because cupboards were hardly used here until the 18th century known. It is possible that these nails were (page 9 of pdf, page 297 of original) even so-called corn nails and thus relics of the former granary. On one wall-length, arm-thick wooden pole, hanging on ropes at shoulder height, Papa lined up all kinds of agricultural objects like Treicheln, bells, calf and goat bells, chains and ropes. A 150 x 40 cm long and safe from mice needed wooden board mother, to put on tea and aromatic herbs, dried fruit and keep scrawny beans in linen bags. The pergola [arbor] also served as a screed [“floor screed” is the term my dictionary gives me, it is a kind of wooden floor]. During the conversion of our resistance – the wooden nails sawn off short way and the beautiful old wall behind an isolation layer hidden. Due to the excessively thick insulation of the floor, the room lost so much height that you could no longer stand erect.

The window sill with grooved bevels is typical of the 16th century and well preserved in the area of the corner combs. 9.11.2009

Above 9.5.2012.

Above: The grooved bevels in the living room are a feature of the 16th century. 11.4.2011.

Above: Door fitting of the living room door. Around 1760. 15.3.2011.

The typical gaden windowsill of the 16th century with grooved chamfers in the area of the Gwätte harrows (corner combs) still preserved; other embellishments when different grooves didn’t exist back then. It will can hardly be explained unequivocally, why the carpenters of the Oberland around 1600 as on order of the grooved trains cultivated over a century on the cornices and other parts of the building and from then on, for a while, only the Cube as a decorative element. “In the history of the Bernese carpentry, there was never a single change that occurred as quickly as the one around 1600 in the Oberland” (Rubi 1975: 34; Rubi 1980: 27) The still Gothic grooved bevel on the outer wall, above the sitting stove of the living room as well as at the lintel of the door of the house door and the room door confirm the notched year 1556.

The custom of using the year of construction on the building as a jewelry form has only very hesitantly spread in the Alpine region in the course of the 16th century. Before 1550 only isolated numbers; the oldest preserved one comes from 1516 at a house in Hasli near Oey, parish Diemtigen (Fiückiger R.: 129).

Page 10 in pdf, page 298 in original

The parlor used to have a large tread stove from sandstone; it was heated from the stove in the kitchen. The stove stood directly above a walled-in rock in the basement. Above the oven hung the “Ofestängeli”, a finger-thick wooden pole; it was used for hanging up and drying of wet clothes, small clothes, diapers, dads calf bandage etc. ln the corner above the stove can be in the hallway is a wooden lid which can be closed with an oven lid or “gaden” lid can be opened, so that the hot air can ascend into the cold “gaden”. Sometimes we girls slipped up through the hole when we went to sleep. Often we would take a rest on the oven warmed cherry stone baglet with us to bed.

Candle holder made of brass sheet; tallow light, so called “Meijulämpli “with drinking glass insert and suspended tallow bowl, 19. 2 tallow bowls made of brass turned, end of 18th century. House on the Kreuzgasse. 2010.

Wick or light cleaning scissors made of iron. Candles were up to beginning of the 19th century made of animal fat (tallow). The longer the wick, the more sooty and dripping they became. The burned tip of the wick therefore had to be regularly shortened (snuffed) with the wick scissors. To prevent the cut-off wick from falling off, the scissors [had] a box to hold the hot wick. Length: 15 cm. House on the Kreuzgasse. 2010.

The furnace had a “Ofeguggeli”, a niche in which the Mother kept food warm for a late coming home family member. In the autumn we dried in it plums, pear and apple slices. Around the oven ran a low “Ofestüeli”, a small wooden stove bench; Papa liked to sit on it when he tied the shoes or wrapped the calf pads in winter.

In 1972 the old, cozy sandstone stove needed repair and had to give way to a tiled stove; its “Ofeguggeli” now had a metal door. Unfortunately this cozy sitting stove was also torn out during the conversion.

In winter the living room was the only warm one until 1951, well-lit room throughout the house. Here we all ate meals. After we finished dinner Papa sat at the big table in the parlour, writing, mother sewed, knitted or mended dresses, socks and lingerie, we girls did our homework or played. In the cold kitchen was only cooked, washed up and I got the laundry.

The windows and doors are protected against rain and breeze. The pergola on the east side was a kind of winter garden; the morning sun warmed them even on cool days so that my old parents could stay there on their bedside. Such arbours (I do not have a good translation for “hilbe” – again, probably Swiss German) belong to many old Simmentaler houses. The door and some of the windows were unfortunately removed during the conversion, instead of renewed, so that it is now on the pergola with the coziness is over, because it rains in, often an uncomfortable draught prevails and you also feel exposed.

The tiled stove from 1972. 9.11.2009.

Under the pergola was the small chicken yard, in front of the fox protected by wire mesh. This pergola was supported with five poles. Why with the conversion three have been removed, we don’t understand; now the gate to the chicken coop is jammed because of this. When I was a child, my mother owned a dozen chickens, but no rooster. She bought from the chicken dealer Peduzzi, who is on a motorbike with side-mounted (page 11 of pdf, page 299 of original) the so-called “one-day chicks”. We held these until they were bigger, on the always warm room oven in a box with interspersed sawdust; then we brought them for a while in a small Hostettli (Swiss German again…) enclosure. The money from the egg sale was a welcome addition to the household budget for the mother.

Of course cats always lived with us because of the mice, too.

Above: Stove hole closed. 11.4.2011.

Above: stove hole open. 25.11 .2012.

The cellar and wooden doors, the stable door, the door on the upper pergola and the former front door are typical doors of the 16th century. They consist of two wide, up to 6 cm thick boards. Groove and comb connect them at the contact surfaces, and two entirely slightly wedge-shaped burr strips with dovetail profile keep them together. Since these boards can move in damp conditions weather laterally expand, but in drought it will the doors seldom fit exactly in the door frame. Folds of the posts (Rubi 1980: 112).

In 1705, in the extension of the ridge, an economic section on the day. Various holes, grooves, rectangular recesses and other characters on the bars prove that the timber has already been used in another building was used, which at that time was quite customary. Such re-utilization can be seen in our house at other places as well. For example, two former parlor joists with planed profiles serve as posts of the outer wooden door, another beam with profile was used as rafter on the roof of the upper and a former pergola cornice with a 17th century diamond pattern was used as a support for the cellar ceiling.

The part of the barn had a hay stage, a scattered pergola and three small stables for four to six goats and two pigs. Through the two coverable feeding holes in the floor boards, left and right of the gate door, daddy threw hay from the stage directly into the feeding troughs.

(page 12 of pdf, 300 of original)

Above: House before the reconstruction. 24.7.2008.

Above: under the pergola supported by five posts was the chicken yard, behind the Wall of the chicken coop. 27.5.2011.

The stables underneath the economic section shows various interesting details, e.g. over the ridge purlin a stapled rate pair (I have no idea even in German, what “verklammertes Rafenpaar” is supposed to mean, it must be a specific term in carpentry – not my subject…) or the gate door at the north wall with its ingenious wooden lock and the inscription “DMD 1844”; it is to be opened with a wooden key. DM is David Müller (1803-1878), D probably means David’s. On the stable wall of the on the east side is a wooden jug, from which the goats licked their salt – today also a rare object.

The small board, which the wall underneath before the salt was unfortunately thrown away during the conversion.

Above: Door to the wooden mop of wood.

Above: Strip with dovetail profile on the upper half of the barn door. 3.7.2011.

The eaves-side of the building is supported by two posts. The scattering pergola was covered from the hayloft by a small door; this opening existed, as the beam construction and Roth’s plans clearly show, already since 1705 the addition of the economic section of the building took place.

Flax, cereal cows, or also litter (dry leaves, fern, niche) stored, therefore evenly, the scattering hood. It is not comprehensible for us that the monument care this completely intact pergola, which is formerly an important function in everyday farming life as the first action at the beginning of the I’m afraid the reconstruction was cancelled. Double incomprehensible, because it robs the big canopy of its supports. The carpenter warned, if much snow the protruding roof could break.

Such scattered foliage belonged in former times practically to all stable barns. Some of them are used as threshing floors. (Tuor 1974n5: 169) and can still be seen in the valley today (page 13 of pdf, 301 of original) and can be observed at numerous houses. Probably found the many old, tanned boards of our Scatterbugs and others, on stage for decades stored boards with planing profiles on any noble building in Gstaad use. A few windows of our house front we discovered in summer 2012 by chance at a chalet converted into a holiday home in the community Oberwil, the others found elsewhere can be used again.

The stone slabs between the house and stable entrance come from the surrounding area and the reddish plates from the Roteflue Alp.

Directly behind the stable part supports the upper neighboring garden a 1 to 1.5 m high, today cement grouted quarry stone wall. They already existed in 1611, because at that time a “Hanns Spillman vff der mur’ (K 1: 191). This one lived in the neighboring upper house, which will later be my grandsons and my cousin today. Martin Bhend.

Economical part of 1705 with step-down cottage 0/VC). Stables, scattering arbour and hayloft, in front the upper Hostettli. 9.11 .2009.

Above: Wooden castle at the gate of the hayloft. 11.4.2011.

Above: Detail of the corner combing (Gwätt) with Ratennagel (large hardwood nail) for stabilizing the Beam. 3.7.2011.

Above: Salt can for goats. 9.3.2011.

I love this goat salt lick. I can see them standing there yet today!

Above: Between house entrance and stable. Above the spreading hood. 24. 7.2008.

Next to the barn door stood the wooden cottage (outhouse); at whose back wall served as a horizontal board with two round holes for dismounting. The septic tank had to be occasionally with a “Bschüttigoon” (small, wooden scoop on long wooden handle) exhausted will be. With the liquid manure the vegetables in the garden were or she was fertilized with a lockable liquid manure cart on the Maadli flood and distributed it there.

This still completely intact little cottage, which nobody stood in the way, would have stood nevertheless with the change can stay! This would have given the holiday guests the former simple states and to show it as a ski and sledge room or playhouse that kids could use. The house was supposed to be an architectural monument. Give the holidaymakers a little idea how the lives of the former inhabitants of this area could have played!

Old. original kitchen window with sliding window.

Page 14 pdf, 302 of original

The saying “Fear God and keep his commandments” is carved in Gothic script above the stable door. 20.4.2011.

Stone slab floor in front of the stable. If the stones are wet, their red color is more visible. 9.3.20 11.

Above 2, cellar wall made of found stones with a ventilation formed by four stone slabs. 10. 7. / 25.9. 2011.

Scattered pergola, two-part barn door and little exit cottage on the covered cesspit. (outhouse) 9.3.2011 .

Right: Departure. 9.9.2011.

Page 15 of pdf, page 303 of original

Wooden mop with exterior wall of “Müselen” (wood chips) and door; brick kitchen wall. 9.11.2009.

Above: Cellar door with bar grille. 9.3.2011.

Above: Cheese tower with rinds and cheese boards. 15.3.2011.

I love this cheese tower! I can see the Muller family making, and then checking the cheese.

On the west side of the farm building is the woodcut; it can be entered directly from the kitchen. A wooden door leads out of the mop of hair. The doorposts consist of old beams, which have planing profiles. Above the lintel donated a window the room brightness. Before the reconstruction wood splinters stacked up to under the roof and branches the outer walls, so that a closed hilber where daddy spent hours and hours in the winter wood sawed and split.

The cellar is half deepened in the ground and possesses a stamped ground. Attention deserves the wooden bar grids of the outer cellar door; with this you can the enclosed room can still be ventilated. In always cool cellar we supplied buckets, tubs, pickling barrels for fruit and the garden tools; but we stored especially potatoes and vegetables, milk and milk products.

Butter. Daddy took care of our alp cheese on the cheese tower. Not only the cheese tower in the cellar, but also others objects stored in the house show that in former times whose inhabitants were alpine shepherds who made cheese:

  • Cheese vat: 60 cm copper belly cauldron diameter, capacity about 80 litres. In it during cheese making, by heating the milk, the cheese mass won.
  • Järbe: Wooden ripening for shaping the cheese mass (in cheese cloths), outside around with adjustable pull cord to tighten. They were used for larger hard cheese. Cheese boards: while pressing on the table was the fresh cheese mass between two round boards in the first place.
  • Cheese tower: three round, staggered trays, through the center of which is a ground level in a large stone and ceiling joists rotatable axis guides. Then the cheese from the alp Reidigen (Rieneschli), where we our cattle summered, salted by their parents, well-groomed and, protected from mice, for personal use and kept it in a safe place. A rarity!

Alp Reidigen is about 2 miles as the crow flies.

  • Gebsen: cooped, round, low vessels from wood, in which the milk is stored overnight in the cool Milchgadeo or cellar was kept, so that on the surface, the cream was eliminated. This could be skimmed off in the morning with the shallow Nidelkelle and processed into butter.
  • Vätterli: round, turned or coopered wooden moulds with grooves and little holes in the bottom, through which drained the cheese milk. For the production of Cheese and goat cheese.

Tools stored in the house for various activities and repairs testify to the fact that the former residents knew how to help themselves in everyday life. So shortly before 1950, father Hans and uncle Karl covered the whole roof with shingles. We found when clearing out the house before the conversion of all kinds of tools and equipment for:

  • Cheese drill to take a cheese sample; wooden ladle.
  • Carpenters and carpenters carving tools
  • Chisels, all kinds of saws (e.g. clamping or frame saws), burr saws, large and small drills, various axes and planes, hammers and pliers
  • Wooden angle and scale (EIIstock), whetstone
  • Cooper: pulling chair, pulling knife, plane with slightly bent up sole
  • Roofer: black bucket with string, hammers
  • Nails, wedge.
  • Masons: trowels, spatulas, hammers
  • Wooden rubbing board
  • Forestry worker: Zappi, sweeper hook, crowbar, iron for debarking, axes, crop!, Guntel. Iron and wooden crossroads, big forest saws, foxtail, iron chains etc.
  • Butcher: brewing trough, butcher’s collar, large hardwood meat board, butcher knife, meat saw, meat hook, meat grinder, piercing machine (for closing the sausages).
  • Shoemaker: Special hammers, shoe last, iron fitting foot, shoe nails
  • Veterinarian: Trocar (french trocart). Metal instrument for stinging bloated cows (rumen).

Above: Vätterli (cheese mold)

Above: Cheese vat

Page 17 of pdf, 305 of original

Above: All kinds of hand-forged nails with square cross section found in the house.

Above: Hand carved spoon; wooden clothes pegs (“Gäbeli”); milking grease box made of cow horn and inserted wooden floor, which is attached to the milking chair strap with a cord.

Above: 2 artificial chairs and an artificial stick. When spinning, the flax is tied to the top of the stick and put it in the tube of the chair.

Above: Chipboard holder for resinous woods for the lighting.

The house was once used for spinning and weaving, because on stage we found corresponding objects such as breaking, weaving shuttle, spinning wheel, bobbins, three-legged artificial chair with artificial sticks, reel, peg. etc. From former own production are today 200-year-old pillow- and bedding suits still available. You carry partly embroidered monograms, e.g. “DM 1 0”. (David Müller 1 0 pieces). These suits were then in the Simmentalertruhe, which is being restored today in the living room. 1747 learned the daughter of Andreas Müller with her mother Johanna Horner the weaving craft (C VI: 419).

Other items kept in the farm building bear witness to the once arduous life of the mountain farmers:

Horn sledges were used to transport wood,

Branches, straw or hay, wooden bowls for discharge of liquid manure and other substances for the carriage of water, huts for carrying dung, rope cloths for scratching hay and lischnen (sedge grass), hay ropes with truffles to bind the Burdines from hay and Emd; these so-called “Fertli” were on his back from the meadow to the hayloft.

I wonder if this is what is being carried in the photo below.

Also, a wooden dustpan, dung forks, hay forks and wooden hay rakes with long stems are available. A flail points to former threshing (page 18 of pdf, 306 of original) treidebau. The wooden equipment and tools the respective owners and occupants of the house burned well their monograms in order to protect them from confusion. To protect the world.

V.l.t.r.: Water briquette,

Hut with “Brätschel”

Melchter and KalberkübeL

Beautifully woven huts with wooden carrying straps, “called “Brätschel”, were used for entering smaller quantities of hay or grass, but also for transport and food to our agricultural and food processing businesses plots of land or on the mountain; occasionally they even took a toddler with them. On the Räf was carried all sorts of loads, especially wood and cheese; they leaned on the long, decorated puzzles with an iron tip at the bottom. We can today, we can hardly imagine the long distances that are possible and height differences the people in former times had to cover every day and what heavy loads and on their backs in huts and on rafts that we have carried with us.

All sorts of small tools, the use of which today is hardly known anymore, came to light in the house: a ring pliers and open, different large copper and brass rings with pointed ends for pig wrestling. A ringed trunk (nose) hindered the animals to stir up the soil or to damage the edge of the (fence or) to gnaw away at a wooden feeding trough. Since 2008 the Animal Welfare Act prohibits the marking of pigs. (I love that translation, though it is utterly wrong – “pig wrestling”! Indeed what is meant here is a tool to mark pigs with metal rings. “ring” in German is “Ring”, “wrestling” is “Ringen”…)

With a pair of ball pliers you could use lead balls yourself for cast muzzle-loading rifles. Maybe this pliers for making balls with a caliber of 17 mm belonged to my great-great-grandfather David Müller, called “the hunter” who lived in the house. Such pliers were in use until the end of the 19th century.

Above: Ball tongs. Length 14 cm. Right:

Ring pliers with rings. Length 17 cm.

On the ground, directly in front of the whitewashed southern house wall, formed long, thick wooden boards a 1.30 m wide, slightly elevated floor, which can be used for all sorts of ???. Thanks to the large canopy, it rained it seldom on, so we here in summer grass from the “ribbons” (grass ribbons on both sides of the alleyways) and we could have dried it. In autumn we spread out on these boards the harvested onions and dug up (page 19 of pdf, 307 or original) DahIienknoiien to dry out. Also boxes with red Geraniums stood here in late autumn until the first frost. Papa “Baumgretzen” stratified directly at the wall. (lumber) Between the boards and the fence was a small garden. In spring winter follies, snow and March bells blossomed there, crocuses, April bells and daffodils, in summer all kinds of meadow flowers and low along the fence roses. Even medicinal plants like warts grew here and cheese herb. Also an apple tree and in the corner a stick of gooseberries were present. At an old red climbing rose climbed up the edge of the house.

Carved chair back from 1739. House on Kreuzgasse.

In the course of the rebuilding of the house – without us to ask – one day the whole good soil of this garden with all the bulbs, trees and boards was simply lifted up and taken away. As a replacement a boring, splintered one was created, in summer hot forecourt, as it is in the Simmental otherwise is barely visible.

On the small meadow of the upper Hostettli, in spring snowdrops, marchdrops, aprildrops and daffodils; in summer, forget-me-nots followed, mat nails, Küherkäppli, red clover, more meadow flowers and all kinds of grasses. Also, this earth has been taken away; now there is a splintered parking for two cars. This bare house environment hurts us; it must be changed urgently!

The triangular garden in front of the house, “Haltenboden” “called ” (plot with summation to be served on the Schwarzenmatt area), was founded by David Müller in two halves acquired the first 1839 and the second in 1853. The purchase of this plant blossom enabled the inhabitants to grow flax close to the at home and better self-sufficiency with vegetables, potatoes and berries. Remarkable is still that the second half salesgirl, Elisabeth Tänzer. on the Eschiegg, who needed the proceeds to “give birth to her daughter Elisabeth to pay the apprenticeship fee, which the weaving craft learned.” (production certificate 1839; axes of purchase and letter 1853)

Above: Snowdrops and winterlings in Mätteli in front of the house. 14.3.2009.

Above: Kitchen and living room wall with eternit protection and climbing rose. The stone embankment had to give way to the new water pipe. 27.5.2011

Page 20 of pdf, 308 of original

The vegetable garden was protected against the cold Bise by a board wall provided with deck loading, as it is protected by a here in the valley belongs to almost every old garden. The inner wall along grew a rhubarb stick, productive currants and raspberries, also a gooseberry bush. In flower gangs on the upper side fence and next to the garden paths winterlinge, schneeund March bells, tulips, April bells, daffodils, irises, larkspur, lupines, flake flowers, roses, buschelfriesli, big daisies, pansies, asters, flox and fire lilies. They are being converted to buried to a large extent by excavated material or else disappeared.

The “Maadli” also belonged to the operation of my parents, a mat (mat=food, does this mean garden) situated above the Dachebüel. David Müller had the one part 1849 from the Burgergemeinde for the price of 250 Kr and the other part 1864 of the Stocker brothers for 2070.50 Fr. in increases (PG: 133; axes of purchase 1864).

Note, this is where discussion of the other buildings in the village begins, according to Chris, but I am retaining this section because it paints such a vivid picture of the life and times of the people who lived here. Our ancestors saw and were in these buildings too. For all we know, these buildings were built and owned by additional ancestors. Heinsmann had to marry someone and the family surely lived nearby!

On an artificial small terrace on a slope in a very beautiful location the oldest stable barn of the municipality Saltigen stands there, dating from 1688. It is preserved by the monument preservation as worthy of preservation. It is built entirely as a block building, on the upper floor, however, as a loose block construction, so that the hay stick can pass through the “gime” (spaces) is ventilated. Access to the barn is from the valley side, that to the hayloft on the mountain side. The stable floor is in the back deepened in the slope and secured by quarry stone walls. The longitudinal stable contains one store each for grass and small cattle and a feeding walk. On the east side there is the cromes for the litter (foliage, niche, straw).

Above the stable floor, a beam shows the following Inscription (antiqua. notched, unfortunately only partially legible):

The small barn is still used today as a storage room. The building is in a bad condition and should urgently be redeveloped; but the preservation of historical monuments is on our request has not yet occurred. Below the mother moved the old barn on her big planzbiätz beans and autumn vegetables such as cabbage, cabbage and cabbage and palatine turnips.

In 1927, a new and larger plant was built on Maadli land. Barn built, still today called “Nöji Schüür”. They has the following inscription on the top bar: “BI. Fritz Bhend + Katha. v. Allmen. Built in 1927 Z.mstr. SI. Stryffeler.” To the building wood of the broken off old Eggscheune use. It was the Ueltschi brothers, cattle breeders, Boltigen, bought for 800 Fr. (Receipt). To it was agreement of the acid meeting necessary (PBS: 229).

Garden with traditional shop wall as protection against the iron and fence with wire mesh against the street. 30.5.2009.

Page 21 of pdf, 309 of original

The former vegetable garden, bordered at the top by a local “Scheielizaun”, was a flower meadow before the restoration.

18.5.2011.

Under which “Maadli” ran past, uphill of the old path and ending up far behind the new barn, a beautiful, about 300 m long, up to 1 m high dry stone wall. It was mostly covered with hazel herbaceous perennials, hedge roses and Maples stocked and offered small birds and lizards shelter. Directly below the new barn the wall contained a small niche; inside there was an old iron stove. The mother prepared and then we’ll have lunch each time our family in the “Maadli” on the mucky tedding, cherry picking, haying or Emden was.

The old Maadli barn from 1688 with two plum trees; the snow pushed the lower tree down in February 2012. 5.4.2011.

Page 22 of pdf, page 310 of original

Above: Back side with gate to the hayloft.

Above: wooden door hinge of the gate. 5.4.2011.

In 1977 the wall was completely demolished, because they corrected the old way, extended it, asphalted it. and as a rhinestone vision with three loops up to the willow. Our own small spring because of the large earthworks and excavations above the old barn. The old way could possibly a part of the medieval mule track.from Adlemsried to Tubetal and Schwarzenmatt.to Eschi.

The medieval mule track.

New Maadli barn from 1927. 5.4.20 11 .

Also the food south of the “Maadli” with barn, called “Lehn”, 1915 by Friedrich Bhendvon Allmen, and the “Grimattli” belonged until the inheritance from 1951 of the Bhend family, also in Ruere a third of the “war moss” (Lischenland with Heufimmel and forest), the “Untere Stierenweid” (lower bull pasture) (residential house with economy part, 16th or 17th century and 1735th inscription: IM ESM ZM ZM HST HR 1735, antiqua notched) with a freestanding barn, and the “Grabenmatte”; then a third of the Grabenheimwesen” (country and barn); further behind Ruere, below at the old Waldweidgasse, indoors to the “forest pasture”, the “Waldweidli” with a hay house, a bovine pasture, Wiesland and forest; in addition the third part of the Sennhütte on the “forest pasture” (four cow rights, pasture, with and complaints, with forest share). The whole property was taken over by the three Bhend families and jointly farmed.

The “Grimattli” or “Grünmattli”, underneath the “Maadlis”. came on the 3rd Hornung in 1837 in the possession of my ancestors. The barn standing on it was fire insured for 2′ 100 Fr. (Certificate of Inheritance 1951); unfortunately it was torn down in autumn 2011. In of a shopping hatchet reads: “Know and know be thither: That the respectable old court apostle Jacob Gobeli, from and to to Weißenbach, for himself and his heirs: to his beloved cousin, the honourable David Müller, David’s son, from and to Schwarzenmatt, and eat inherit the two property effects listed below

  1. A home being to said Weißenbach, called Schußeli, containing a residential house together with attached barn and stabling.
  2. A piece of land called the Grimmenmatte, in the Bäuert Reidenbach, with a coating standing on it.

The purchase price was 1,000 Kr Berner- or 2,500 f Swiss currency (axes of purchase 1837). Jakob Gobeli’s wife died on 18 Hornung 1837. Anna née Müller; she was the sister of David Müller. Jakob, at that time 91 years old and childless, donated then on 17 June 1837 to his “beloved godchild David Müller” 500 Kr or 1 ‘250 f to the remaining. Purchase remainder (donation 1837). On the vegetable blossom at the “Grimattli” my parents built potatoes every year until the distribution of the inheritance in 1951. The land was planted on this parcel every few years. Shifted.

Maadli. Drawing P. Mosimann.

My great-grandfather Peter von Allmen (1843-1918) and his wife Magdalena (born Boden, 1848-1924) possessed in Ruere many real estates; 1876 Peter was also (page 23 of PDF, page 311 of original) owner of the house on the Unteren Stierenweid and 1878 of the Grabenhaus (LB II: 38, 17). After Magdalenas death, the whole property was taken over the same year. The three heirs Peter (born 1910), son of Peter. (1871-1913), and the daughters Magdalena (born 1872) and Susanna Katharina (1877-1950). Since Susanna Katharina 1903 Friedrich Bhend (1873-1943) had married, came now about a third of the former large Ruere-owned property in his family.

On November 4, 1939, Friedrich Bhend, my grandfather sold to the private docent and medical doctor Max Müller, then director of the of the Psychiatric Clinic Münsingen, the beautiful, large, residential building in Ruere, built around 1700, which is today a protected monument. After the war began, rented also other rich lowlands in the Oberland houses or flats as possible escape accommodation-for their families. The purchase price for the building including 781 m2 of land was exceptionally low. The longer uninhabited house was located in a house with a in quite bad condition and had to be renovated. The unique house sale inspired Werner Juker in 1952 to his novella “The House in Ruhren” (or “Horen”). The house was built by the three current Müller heirs fortunately largely in the original, almost museum-like condition the kitchen furniture, for example, with the the Buuchchessi, the wood fireplace, the windows partly with the bull’s-eye slices, the shingle roof. In the house there are neither Electricity nor water (A: M. Müller, 17.8.2011). In the barn connected with the residential building the current owner Ernst Gobeli still livestock. Already 1734 is from “the sloppy house in the ditch” to read, because there had often been operated Winkelwirtschaft (C VI :32, 116, 173, 176, 180).

Above: The Grimtlischeuer shortly before the dismantling. Photo: Ueli Stryffeler.

Above: Remains of the barn, on the horizon the old Maadli barn. 24.3.2012.

Page 24 of pdf, 312 of original

When Susanna Katharina had died, in 1951 the still considerable possessions among the three Bhend brothers divided.

They received:

– Fritz: The whole “Untere Stierenweid” with farmhouse, the “Grabenmatte”, a third of the “Grabenheimwesens “, a third of the “war moss” and the “Waldweidli”.

– Hans: In Schwarzenmatt the lower, smaller house, called “Auf der Kreuzgasse”; the “Maadli” (as the compensation, because of the relatively new barn); from the “Lehn” the external (front) part, two cow rights on the “forest pasture” and one sixth of the Sennhütte.

– Karl: In Schwarzenmatt the upper, bigger house, bought 1924 (certificate of inheritance 1951). called “Uf the Mur”; the “Grimattli”, from the “Lehn” the inner (rear) part, two cow rights on the “Waldweid” (forest pasture) and one sixth of the hut there (Erbgangsangs- Das Grabenhaus in Ruere. 13.9.2011 . Below: 1 0.8.2011. document 1924). Karl’s son Martin sold the “Grimattli” the farmer Ueli from Schwarzenmatt Stryffeler, who will break off the barn in 2011.

I didn’t.

The Grabenhaus in Ruere. 13.9.2011 .

Above: 1 0.8.2011.

Buuchchessi (covered), fireplace, wooden door in the ditch house. The kitchen in the “Haus auf der Kreuzgasse” was quite similar until 1951. ” looked like. 16.10.2011.

Page 25 in pdf, 313 in original

The house on Unteren Stierenweid dates from the 16th/17th century and was extended in 1735. Recordings around 1970 and 2010. Photo: Preservation of monuments in the Canton of Berne.

A beam above the residential part of the Sennhütte on the “Waldweid” bears the following inscription: “BL PVA 1\ MB. ZM HK 1896”. BL means builders, PVA Peter von Allmen (1843-1918), MB Magdalena Floor (1848-1924), ZM Master carpenter HK(?). The house has on the ground floor stables for young cattle and goats, above a living room, a kitchen and a Milchgaden, behind it a cowshed and a hay stage under the roof.

The “forest pasture” is a Vorsass. The flat stones from the nearby streambed belong to the flysch of the Simmendecke; they were bricked up unprocessed.

After the distribution of the inheritance in 1951 Hans, my father, was compelled, as a supplement to his own business, from Karl Stocker, teacher in Boltigen at that time to rent the steep, arduous “Büelacher” and the even more stubborn “Farnerenrain “. Also, he farmed the northeastern of the Büelachers situated property with name “Schmidsweg, which belonged to Altred Wüest. We were a simple family of mountain farmers, and the parents during the Second World War, always easy to take care of her five girls every day. I had little spare time, because in all the families I had to the children, in keeping with their powers, the parents.help in the operation. Nevertheless or perhaps just because of that I lived in the old house on Kreuzgasse. Happy childhood.

Berti Mosimann-Bhend
Cooperation: Peter Mosimann

Above: The mountain hut on the Waldweid. 7.10.201 0.

Right: The walls consist of unhewn stones from the nearby stream bed.

13.9.20 11.

Page 26 of pdf, 314 or original

The house on Kreuzgasse. Dächenbühl in the background. February 1968.

The house on the Kreuzgasse. Behind the economic part is the upper house, called “Uf der Mur>>. 23.11.2008.

This ends the above translation of the wonderful chapter by Peter Mosimann and his wife, Berti Mosimann-Bhend.

Life in Schwarzenmatt

Some of these translations were a bit rough, but translating their life then for us to understand today is rough, regardless of the language. It truly is another world away, in both geography and the lives these mountain farmers and their families lived.

I found it interesting to note the discussion about the well. It seems this location was the only property to have its own water source, which tells you EXACTLY why this home was build where it was. I’d wager that this was the very first house or hut, at the time, to be built in Schwartzenmatt. Clean water equates to life. Contaminated water means illness and death. The first settler got their choice of where to build their camp and that prime real estate location was clearly adjacent the water source.

I was surprised that they received both electricity and phones as early as they did, considering the terrain. However, the poles for power lines which also carried phone lines would have snaked up the valley right alongside the stream.

The artifacts found and the carvings speak in whispers about the lives of Heinsmann Muller, and probably long before. The earliest people who lived in this half house/half barn hut environment would have guarded their livestock, goats and pigs, closely. Cheese and meat meant life. The growing season was short and the elevation high, which further reduced the time for crops to ripen.

When I lived in the Swiss Alps in 1970, just about 30 miles away and across a few mountains, in July and August, much snow remained on the ground in the ski resorts. In other locations, alpine meadows above the tree line were snow free and literally carpeted in Edelweiss and meadow flowers, exactly as described by Berti.

A wild Alpine garden stretching as far as the eye could see, without end.

By Matthias Zepper – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4101693

Perhaps now I understand my breathless enchantment with this landscape so foreign to my young American eyes, yet so hauntingly familiar. Indeed, I felt that I had returned home and have longed to return since the day I left.

By Giettois – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46004459

Not the Only Immigrants

I was surprised to read that three different children of David Miller, “the hunter,” immigrated to and died in America. How would they have even known about America in this remote location? Why would they leave?

It’s also ironic that my own Miller ancestor, great-grandson of Johann Michael Muller/Miller, the immigrant, was named David Miller and his son, John David. David has been a Miller name for generations and I can’t help but wonder if its genesis was in Schwarzenmatt.

David Miller, “the hunter” who lived in Schwarzenmatt had a son, David, who was reported by Berti to have died in Ohio.

As fate would have it, my own Miller ancestor, Daniel, whose brother was David, and who both had sons named David, also lived in Ohio.

I told you the name was popular. Carrying the same names also makes it difficult to sort through the various men.

Could I possibly find the David Muller who was born in 1840 in Schwarzenmatt and died in Ohio?

He probably had absolutely no idea that he was related to any Miller already living in the States. After all, by 1680, Johann Michael Muller had left Schwarzenmatt and his son immigrated in 1727, 160 years before David would be born in Schwarzenmatt.

By the time David immigrated, 150 years more or less would have passed since Johann Michael Muller Jr. would have immigrated.

No, surely David had no idea at all.

The question is, could I find him?

David Muller (1840-1897) Who Died in Ohio

The family members who migrated to America obviously kept in touch, because the family who stayed in Schwarzenmatt had knowledge of the death year of David who moved to Ohio. He probably had no idea whatsoever that his Miller cousins, a few generations removed were also living in Ohio about 200 miles away and in nearby Indiana.

It’s clear that my Ohio clan had lost the oral history of where, in Germany they had originated, and Switzerland was lost entirely to history.

Finding David in Ohio was more difficult than I expected.

The only reasonable candidate that I located was found buried in the Old Lutheran Cemetery in Bethleham Twp. Stark Co., Ohio, having had served someplace in the Civil War.

David Miller died on January 30, 1897 and was married to Mena Strubel in 1878 according to a later census and the marriage record of one of his children.

According to the 1880 census, they had:

  • Barbara 4 (born 1876)
  • Mary C, 2 (born 1878)
  • David born in May of 1880

In 1900, I find Mena, born Oct 1854, with:

  • Unnamed child probably born 1880-1882
  • Carrie (female) (born in April 1884)
  • Charles (born August 1887)

Obviously I’m missing a child according to the 1900 census that shows Mena with 6 children living. That child was probably born after 1880 but before 1882 so they would be old enough to be gone from the household by 1900. David and Mena also had one child that died.

One very pleasant turn of events is that in 1880, David Miller actually says he was born in Switzerland. He is the only David Miller in the 1880 census anyplace that says he was born in Switzerland, so, I’m pretty confident we found the right David Miller.

Sadly, in 1897, David Miller of Navarre, Stark County, Ohio met his demise in a train accident according to this brief article in the Stark County, Democrat published on February 4, 1897.

Is This the Same Family?

I suspect so, but there is no absolutely proof. We are missing a definitive link between Heinsmann and Berti’s family line that begins in the documentation with Andreas who was born in 1710 or earlier, given that he had a child in 1731. We know that Heinsmann had a son, Johann Michael Muller, in 1655 who could have been his first or last child, or in-between.

Heinsmann could have been Andreas’ father, uncle, grandfather, related more distantly or not related at all. I must say, in a tiny village with only a few farms, that’s probably unlikely, but given the common name of Muller it could certainly happen. I learned long ago to never assume anything.

We’re also missing a definitive link between the David that died in Ohio in 1897 and the Schwarzenmatt line, although that connection seems firmer.

To prove definitively that Berti Mosimann-Bhend’s Muller line is one and the same with the Johann Michael Muller line, a Y DNA test needs to be taken by one of the male children descendants of David Miller who died in Stark County, Ohio in 1897 and a male Muller who is known to descend from the Schwarzenmatt line. The Y DNA, passed from father to son ad infinitum would match, or closely enough to establish the ancestral relationship between:

  • Johann Michael Muller who immigrated to the US in 1727
  • Muller family from Schwarzenmatt
  • David Muller who died in 1897 in Ohio

Maybe someday one of the Schwarzenmatt descendants or David Miller’s descendants will find this article and reach out. I am offering a DNA testing scholarship for a male Miller descendant of both lines. If this is you, just leave a message in the comments.

I sure hope the genealogy bug bites someone in the Miller family!

Last in the Series

This is the last in the long series of Muller/Miller articles. I hear you laughing now, because I know I’ve said that before – but I really think this one is it. We’re now back beyond the reach of records and before even Chris can excavate anything more.

Perhaps one day the next generation will add to this story when, if we’re lucky, new records are found, transcribed, indexed and translated.

It’s been a long journey from Schwarzenmatt in the 1600s to Indiana in the 1900s when Eva Miller married Hiram Ferverda and had my grandfather. The Muller lineage may reach back even further in time, to Benedikt Muller who lived in our quaint alpine village in 1502, more than 500 years and 15 generations ago.

Clearly, the red generations between Heinsmann and Benedikt are speculative, and I don’t want to portray them otherwise. Miller is such a common name.

Berti is probably a 9th cousin once removed, give or take a generation. That’s an amazingly long time – roughly 23 generations counting both lineages.

I would love for Berti to take an autosomal DNA test. There’s a small chance that she would match my mother, especially considering that it’s very likely that Heinsmann Muller’s wife, the mother of Johann Michael Muller was a young lady from the same village, or at least the neighboring farms. There were only a limited number of families living in that area in the early 1600s and every family intermarried into the mix.

Fingers crossed that somehow, someplace, DNA tests or new records surface to prove me wrong once again about this being the “last article!”

In the mean time, a deeply heartfelt thank you to the many people, in particular Chris, Tom and now, Peter and Berti, who have helped compile and reconstruct the stories of the Muller men of Germany and Switzerland, their wives and many descendants who have scattered like alpine meadow seeds on the winds of time throughout the world.

2018 – The Year of the Segment

Looking in the rear view mirror, what a year! Some days it’s been hard to catch your breath things have been moving so fast.

What were the major happenings, how did they affect genetic genealogy and what’s coming in 2019?

The SNiPPY Award

First of all, I’m giving an award this year. The SNiPPY.

Yea, I know it’s kinda hokey, but it’s my way of saying a huge thank you to someone in this field who has made a remarkable contribution and that deserves special recognition.

Who will it be this year?

Drum roll…….

The 2018 SNiPPY goes to…

DNAPainter – The 2018 SNiPPY award goes to DNAPainter, without question. Applause, everyone, applause! And congratulations to Jonny Perl, pictured below at Rootstech!

Jonny Perl created this wonderful, visual tool that allows you to paint your matches with people on your chromosomes, assigning the match to specific ancestors.

I’ve written about how to use the tool  with different vendors results and have discovered many different ways to utilize the painted segments. The DNA Painter User Group is here on Facebook. I use DNAPainter EVERY SINGLE DAY to solve a wide variety of challenges.

What else has happened this year? A lot!

Ancient DNA – Academic research seldom reports on Y and mitochondrial DNA today and is firmly focused on sequencing ancient DNA. Ancient genome sequencing has only recently been developed to a state where at least some remains can be successfully sequenced, but it’s going great guns now. Take a look at Jennifer Raff’s article in Forbes that discusses ancient DNA findings in the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia and perhaps most surprising, a first generation descendant of a Neanderthal and a Denisovan.

From Early human dispersals within the Americas by Moreno-Mayer et al, Science 07 Dec 2018

Inroads were made into deeper understanding of human migration in the Americas as well in the paper Early human dispersals within the Americas by Moreno-Mayer et al.

I look for 2019 and on into the future to hold many more revelations thanks to ancient DNA sequencing as well as using those sequences to assist in understanding the migration patterns of ancient people that eventually became us.

Barbara Rae-Venter and the Golden State Killer Case

Using techniques that adoptees use to identify their close relatives and eventually, their parents, Barbara Rae-Venter assisted law enforcement with identifying the man, Joseph DeAngelo, accused (not yet convicted) of being the Golden State Killer (GSK).

A very large congratulations to Barbara, a retired patent attorney who is also a genealogist. Nature recognized Ms. Rae-Venter as one of 2018’s 10 People Who Mattered in Science.

DNA in the News

DNA is also represented on the 2018 Nature list by Viviane Slon, a palaeogeneticist who discovered an ancient half Neanderthal, half Denisovan individual and sequenced their DNA and He JianKui, a Chinese scientist who claims to have created a gene-edited baby which has sparked widespread controversy. As of the end of the year, He Jiankui’s research activities have been suspended and he is reportedly sequestered in his apartment, under guard, although the details are far from clear.

In 2013, 23andMe patented the technology for designer babies and I removed my kit from their research program. I was concerned at the time that this technology knife could cut two ways, both for good, eliminating fatal disease-causing mutations and also for ethically questionable practices, such as eugenics. I was told at the time that my fears were unfounded, because that “couldn’t be done.” Well, 5 years later, here we are. I expect the debate about the ethics and eventual regulation of gene-editing will rage globally for years to come.

Elizabeth Warren’s DNA was also in the news when she took a DNA test in response to political challenges. I wrote about what those results meant scientifically, here. This topic became highly volatile and politicized, with everyone seeming to have a very strongly held opinion. Regardless of where you fall on that opinion spectrum (and no, please do not post political comments as they will not be approved), the topic is likely to surface again in 2019 due to the fact that Elizabeth Warren has just today announced her intention to run for President. The good news is that DNA testing will likely be discussed, sparking curiosity in some people, perhaps encouraging them to test. The bad news is that some of the discussion may be unpleasant at best, and incorrect click-bait at worst. We’ve already had a rather unpleasant sampling of this.

Law Enforcement and Genetic Genealogy

The Golden State Killer case sparked widespread controversy about using GedMatch and potentially other genetic genealogy data bases to assist in catching people who have committed violent crimes, such as rape and murder.

GedMatch, the database used for the GSK case has made it very clear in their terms and conditions that DNA matches may be used for both adoptees seeking their families and for other uses, such as law enforcement seeking matches to DNA sequenced during a criminal investigation. Since April 2018, more than 15 cold case investigations have been solved using the same technique and results at GedMatch. Initially some people removed their DNA from GedMatch, but it appears that the overwhelming sentiment, based on uploads, is that people either aren’t concerned or welcome the opportunity for their DNA matches to assist apprehending criminals.

Parabon Nanolabs in May established a genetic genealogy division headed by CeCe Moore who has worked in the adoptee community for the past several years. The division specializes in DNA testing forensic samples and then assisting law enforcement with the associated genetic genealogy.

Currently, GedMatch is the only vendor supporting the use of forensic sample matching. Neither 23anMe nor Ancestry allow uploaded data, and MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA’s terms of service currently preclude this type of use.

MyHeritage

Wow talk about coming onto the DNA world stage with a boom.

MyHeritage went from a somewhat wobbly DNA start about 2 years ago to rolling out a chromosome browser at the end of January and adding important features such as SmartMatching which matches your DNA and your family trees. Add triangulation to this mixture, along with record matching, and you’re got a #1 winning combination.

It was Gilad Japhet, the MyHeritage CEO who at Rootstech who christened 2018 “The Year of the Segment,” and I do believe he was right. Additionally, he announced that MyHeritage partnered with the adoption community by offering 15,000 free kits to adoptees.

In November, MyHeritage hosted MyHeritage LIVE, their first user conference in Oslo, Norway which focused on both their genealogical records offerings as well as DNA. This was a resounding success and I hope MyHeritage will continue to sponsor conferences and invest in DNA. You can test your DNA at MyHeritage or upload your results from other vendors (instructions here). You can follow my journey and the conference in Olso here, here, here, here and here.

GDPR

GDPR caused a lot of misery, and I’m glad the implementation is behind us, but the the ripples will be affecting everyone for years to come.

GDPR, the European Data Protection Regulation which went into effect on May 25,  2018 has been a mixed and confusing bag for genetic genealogy. I think the concept of users being in charge and understanding what is happened with their data, and in this case, their data plus their DNA, is absolutely sound. The requirements however, were created without any consideration to this industry – which is small by comparison to the Googles and Facebooks of the world. However, the Googles and Facebooks of the world along with many larger vendors seem to have skated, at least somewhat.

Other companies shut their doors or restricted their offerings in other ways, such as World Families Network and Oxford Ancestors. Vendors such as Ancestry and Family Tree DNA had to make unpopular changes in how their users interface with their software – in essence making genetic genealogy more difficult without any corresponding positive return. The potential fines, 20 million plus Euro for any company holding data for EU residents made it unwise to ignore the mandates.

In the genetic genealogy space, the shuttering of both YSearch and MitoSearch was heartbreaking, because that was the only location where you could actually compare Y STR and mitochondrial HVR1/2 results. Not everyone uploaded their results, and the sites had not been updated in a number of years, but the closure due to GDPR was still a community loss.

Today, mitoydna.org, a nonprofit comprised of genetic genealogists, is making strides in replacing that lost functionality, plus, hopefully more.

On to more positive events.

Family Tree DNA

In April, Family Tree DNA announced a new version of the Big Y test, the Big Y-500 in which at least 389 additional STR markers are included with the Big Y test, for free. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive between 389 and 439 new markers, depending on how many STR markers above 111 have quality reads. All customers are guaranteed a minimum of 500 STR markers in total. Matching was implemented in December.

These additional STR markers allow genealogists to assemble additional line marker mutations to more granularly identify specific male lineages. In other words, maybe I can finally figure out a line marker mutation that will differentiate my ancestor’s line from other sons of my founding ancestor😊

In June, Family Tree DNA announced that they had named more than 100,000 SNPs which means many haplogroup additions to the Y tree. Then, in September, Family Tree DNA published their Y haplotree, with locations, publicly for all to reference.

I was very pleased to see this development, because Family Tree DNA clearly has the largest Y database in the industry, by far, and now everyone can reap the benefits.

In October, Family Tree DNA published their mitochondrial tree publicly as well, with corresponding haplogroup locations. It’s nice that Family Tree DNA continues to be the science company.

You can test your Y DNA, mitochondrial or autosomal (Family Finder) at Family Tree DNA. They are the only vendor offering full Y and mitochondrial services complete with matching.

2018 Conferences

Of course, there are always the national conferences we’re familiar with, but more and more, online conferences are becoming available, as well as some sessions from the more traditional conferences.

I attended Rootstech in Salt Lake City in February (brrrr), which was lots of fun because I got to meet and visit with so many people including Mags Gaulden, above, who is a WikiTree volunteer and writes at Grandma’s Genes, but as a relatively expensive conference to attend, Rootstech was pretty miserable. Rootstech has reportedly made changes and I hope it’s much better for attendees in 2019. My attendance is very doubtful, although I vacillate back and forth.

On the other hand, the MyHeritage LIVE conference was amazing with both livestreamed and recorded sessions which are now available free here along with many others at Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Family Tree University held a Virtual DNA Conference in June and those sessions, along with others, are available for subscribers to view.

The Virtual Genealogical Association was formed for those who find it difficult or impossible to participate in local associations. They too are focused on education via webinars.

Genetic Genealogy Ireland continues to provide their yearly conference sessions both livestreamed and recorded for free. These aren’t just for people with Irish genealogy. Everyone can benefit and I enjoy them immensely.

Bottom line, you can sit at home and educate yourself now. Technology is wonderful!

2019 Conferences

In 2019, I’ll be speaking at the National Genealogical Society Family History Conference, Journey of Discovery, in St. Charles, providing the Special Thursday Session titled “DNA: King Arthur’s Mighty Genetic Lightsaber” about how to use DNA to break through brick walls. I’ll also see attendees at Saturday lunch when I’ll be providing a fun session titled “Twists and Turns in the Genetic Road.” This is going to be a great conference with a wonderful lineup of speakers. Hope to see you there.

There may be more speaking engagements at conferences on my 2019 schedule, so stay tuned!

The Leeds Method

In September, Dana Leeds publicized The Leeds Method, another way of grouping your matches that clusters matches in a way that indicates your four grandparents.

I combine the Leeds method with DNAPainter. Great job Dana!

Genetic Affairs

In December, Genetic Affairs introduced an inexpensive subscription reporting and visual clustering methodology, but you can try it for free.

I love this grouping tool. I have already found connections I didn’t know existed previously. I suggest joining the Genetic Affairs User Group on Facebook.

DNAGedcom.com

I wrote an article in January about how to use the DNAGedcom.com client to download the trees of all of your matches and sort to find specific surnames or locations of their ancestors.

However, in December, DNAGedcom.com added another feature with their new DNAGedcom client just released that downloads your match information from all vendors, compiles it and then forms clusters. They have worked with Dana Leeds on this, so it’s a combination of the various methodologies discussed above. I have not worked with the new tool yet, as it has just been released, but Kitty Cooper has and writes about it here.  If you are interested in this approach, I would suggest joining the Facebook DNAGedcom User Group.

Rootsfinder

I have not had a chance to work with Rootsfinder beyond the very basics, but Rootsfinder provides genetic network displays for people that you match, as well as triangulated views. Genetic networks visualizations are great ways to discern patterns. The tool creates match or triangulation groups automatically for you.

Training videos are available at the website and you can join the Rootsfinder DNA Tools group at Facebook.

Chips and Imputation

Illumina, the chip maker that provides the DNA chips that most vendors use to test changed from the OmniExpress to the GSA chip during the past year. Older chips have been available, but won’t be forever.

The newer GSA chip is only partially compatible with the OmniExpress chip, providing limited overlap between the older and the new results. This has forced the vendors to use imputation to equalize the playing field between the chips, so to speak.

This has also caused a significant hardship for GedMatch who is now in the position of trying to match reasonably between many different chips that sometimes overlap minimally. GedMatch introduced Genesis as a sandbox beta version previously, but are now in the process of combining regular GedMatch and Genesis into one. Yes, there are problems and matching challenges. Patience is the key word as the various vendors and GedMatch adapt and improve their required migration to imputation.

DNA Central

In June Blaine Bettinger announced DNACentral, an online monthly or yearly subscription site as well as a monthly newsletter that covers news in the genetic genealogy industry.

Many educators in the industry have created seminars for DNACentral. I just finished recording “Getting the Most out of Y DNA” for Blaine.

Even though I work in this industry, I still subscribed – initially to show support for Blaine, thinking I might not get much out of the newsletter. I’m pleased to say that I was wrong. I enjoy the newsletter and will be watching sessions in the Course Library and the Monthly Webinars soon.

If you or someone you know is looking for “how to” videos for each vendor, DNACentral offers “Now What” courses for Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and Living DNA in addition to topic specific sessions like the X chromosome, for example.

Social Media

2018 has seen a huge jump in social media usage which is both bad and good. The good news is that many new people are engaged. The bad news is that people often given faulty advice and for new people, it’s very difficult (nigh on impossible) to tell who is credible and who isn’t. I created a Help page for just this reason.

You can help with this issue by recommending subscribing to these three blogs, not just reading an article, to newbies or people seeking answers.

Always feel free to post links to my articles on any social media platform. Share, retweet, whatever it takes to get the words out!

The general genetic genealogy social media group I would recommend if I were to select only one would be Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques. It’s quite large but well-managed and remains positive.

I’m a member of many additional groups, several of which are vendor or interest specific.

Genetic Snakeoil

Now the bad news. Everyone had noticed the popularity of DNA testing – including shady characters.

Be careful, very VERY careful who you purchase products from and where you upload your DNA data.

If something is free, and you’re not within a well-known community, then YOU ARE THE PRODUCT. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it sounds shady or questionable, it’s probably that and more, or less.

If reputable people and vendors tell you that no, they really can’t determine your Native American tribe, for example, no other vendor can either. Just yesterday, a cousin sent me a link to a “tribe” in Canada that will, “for $50, we find one of your aboriginal ancestors and the nation stamps it.” On their list of aboriginal people we find one of my ancestors who, based on mitochondrial DNA tests, is clearly NOT aboriginal. Snake oil comes in lots of flavors with snake oil salesmen looking to prey on other people’s desires.

When considering DNA testing or transfers, make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions, where your DNA is going, who is doing what with it, and your recourse. Yes, read every single word of those terms and conditions. For more about legalities, check out Judy Russell’s blog.

Recommended Vendors

All those DNA tests look yummy-good, but in terms of vendors, I heartily recommend staying within the known credible vendors, as follows (in alphabetical order).

For genetic genealogy for ethnicity AND matching:

  • 23andMe
  • Ancestry
  • Family Tree DNA
  • GedMatch (not a vendor because they don’t test DNA, but a reputable third party)
  • MyHeritage

You can read about Which DNA Test is Best here although I need to update this article to reflect the 2018 additions by MyHeritage.

Understand that both 23andMe and Ancestry will sell your DNA if you consent and if you consent, you will not know who is using your DNA, where, or for what purposes. Neither Family Tree DNA, GedMatch, MyHeritage, Genographic Project, Insitome, Promethease nor LivingDNA sell your DNA.

The next group of vendors offers ethnicity without matching:

  • Genographic Project by National Geographic Society
  • Insitome
  • LivingDNA (currently working on matching, but not released yet)

Health (as a consumer, meaning you receive the results)

Medical (as a contributor, meaning you are contributing your DNA for research)

  • 23andMe
  • Ancestry
  • DNA.Land (not a testing vendor, doesn’t test DNA)

There are a few other niche vendors known for specific things within the genetic genealogy community, many of whom are mentioned in this article, but other than known vendors, buyer beware. If you don’t see them listed or discussed on my blog, there’s probably a reason.

What’s Coming in 2019

Just like we couldn’t have foreseen much of what happened in 2018, we don’t have access to a 2019 crystal ball, but it looks like 2019 is taking off like a rocket. We do know about a few things to look for:

  • MyHeritage is waiting to see if envelope and stamp DNA extractions are successful so that they can be added to their database.
  • www.totheletterDNA.com is extracting (attempting to) and processing DNA from stamps and envelopes for several people in the community. Hopefully they will be successful.
  • LivingDNA has been working on matching since before I met with their representative in October of 2017 in Dublin. They are now in Beta testing for a few individuals, but they have also just changed their DNA processing chip – so how that will affect things and how soon they will have matching ready to roll out the door is unknown.
  • Ancestry did a 2018 ethnicity update, integrating ethnicity more tightly with Genetic Communities, offered genetic traits and made some minor improvements this year, along with adding one questionable feature – showing your matches the location where you live as recorded in your profile. (23andMe subsequently added the same feature.) Ancestry recently said that they are promising exciting new tools for 2019, but somehow I doubt that the chromosome browser that’s been on my Christmas list for years will be forthcoming. Fingers crossed for something new and really useful. In the mean time, we can download our DNA results and upload to MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA and GedMatch for segment matching, as well as utilize Ancestry’s internal matching tools. DNA+tree matching, those green leaf shared ancestor hints, is still their strongest feature.
  • The Family Tree DNA Conference for Project Administrators will be held March 22-24 in Houston this year, and I’m hopeful that they will have new tools and announcements at that event. I’m looking forward to seeing many old friends in Houston in March.

Here’s what I know for sure about 2019 – it’s going to be an amazing year. We as a community and also as individual genealogists will be making incredible discoveries and moving the ball forward. I can hardly wait to see what quandaries I’ve solved a year from now.

What mysteries do you want to unravel?

I’d like to offer a big thank you to everyone who made 2018 wonderful and a big toast to finding lots of new ancestors and breaking down those brick walls in 2019.

Happy New Year!!!

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

Big Y-500 STR Matching

Family Tree DNA recently introduced Big Y-500 STR matching for men who have taken  the Big Y-500 test. This is in addition to the SNP results and matching. If you’d like an introduction or definition of the terms STR and SNP, you can read about SNPs and STRs here.

Beginning in April 2018, Family Tree DNA included an additional 379+ STR markers for free for Big Y testers as a bonus, meaning for free, including all earlier testers.

While the Big Y-500 STR marker values have been included in customers’ results for several months, unless you contacted your matches directly, you didn’t know how many of those additional markers above 111 you matched on – until now.

If you haven’t taken the Big Y test, the article Why the Big Y Test? will explain why you might want to. In addition to the Big Y results, which refine your haplogroup and scan the entire gold standard region of the Y chromosome looking for SNPs, you’ll also receive at least 389 Y STR markers above the 111 STR panel for total of at least 500, for free – which is why the name of the Big Y test was changed to the Big Y-500. If you haven’t tested at the 111 marker level, don’t worry about that because the cost of the upgrade is bundled in the price of the Big Y-500 test. Click here to sign in to your account and then click on the blue upgrade button to view pricing.

Big Y-500 STR Matching

To view your matches and values above the traditional 111 makers, sign on to your account and click on Y DNA matches.

You’ll see the following display.

Y500 matches

The column “Big Y-500 STR Differences” is new. If you have not taken the Big Y-500 test, you won’t see this column.

If you have taken the Big Y-500, you’ll see results for any other man that you match who has taken the Big Y-500 test. In this example, 5 of this person’s matches have also taken the Big Y-500 test.

What Are Big Y-500 STR Differences?

The “Big Y-500 STR Differences” column values are expressed in the format “4 of 441” or something similar.

The first number represents the number of non-matching locations you have above 111 markers – in this case, 4. In the csv download file, this value is displayed in the “Big Y-500 Differences” column.

The second number represents the total number of markers above 111 that have a value for both of you – in this case, 441. In other words, you and the other man are being compared on 441 marker locations. In the csv download file, this value is displayed in the “Big Y-500 Compared” column.

Because the markers above 111 are processed using NGS (next generation sequencing) scan technology, virtually every kit will have some marker locations that have no-calls, meaning the test doesn’t read reliably at that location in spite of being scanned several times.

It’s more difficult to read STRs accurately using NGS scan technology, as compared to SNPs. SNPs are only one position in length, so only one position needs to be read correctly. STRs are repeated of a sequence of nucleotides. A 20 repeat sequence could consist of 20 copies of a series of 4 nucleotides, so a total of 80 positions in a row would need to be successfully read several times.

Let’s take a look at how matching works.

How Does Big Y-500 STR Matching Work?

If you have a total of 441 markers that read reliably, but your match has a total of 439 that produced results, the maximum number of markers possible to share would be 439. If you both have no calls on different marker locations, you would match on fewer than 439 locations. Here’s an example just using 9 fictitious markers.

Y500 match example

Based on the example above, we can see that the red cells can’t match because they experienced no-calls, and the yellow cells do have results, but don’t match.

Y500 summary

New Filter

There’s also a new filter option so you can view only matches that have taken the Big Y-500 test.

Y500 filter

Let’s look at some of the questions people have been asking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Are the markers above 111 taken into account in the Genetic Distance column?

Answer: No, the values calculated in the genetic distance column are the number of mismatches for the marker level you are viewing using a combination of the step-wise and infinite alleles mutation models. (Stay with me here.)

In our example, we’re viewing the 111 marker level, so the genetic distance tells you the number of mismatches at 111 markers. If we were viewing the 67 marker level, then the genetic distance would be for 67 markers.

The number of mismatches above 111 markers shows separately in the “Big Y-500 STR Differences” column and is calculated using the infinite alleles model, meaning every mutation is counted as one difference. You can read more about genetic distance in the article, Concepts – Genetic Distance.

The good news is that you don’t need to calculate anything, but you may want to understand how the markers are scored and how the genetic distance is calculated. If so, go ahead and read question 2. If not, skip to question 3.

Question 2: What’s the difference between the step-wise model and the infinite alleles model?

Answer: The step-wise model assumes that a mutated value on a particular marker of multiple steps, meaning a difference between a 28 for one man and a 30 for another is a result of two separate mutation events that happened at different times, so counted as 2 mutations, 2 steps, so a genetic distance of 2.

However, this doesn’t work well with palindromic markers, explained here, where multi-copy markers, such as DYS464, often mutate more than one step at a time.

Counting multiple mathematical differences as only one mutation event is called the infinite alleles model. For example, a dual copy marker that has a value of 15-16 could mutate to 15-18 in one step and would be counted as one mutation event, and one difference and a genetic distance of one using the infinite alleles model. The same event would count as 2 mutation events (steps) and a genetic distance of 2 using the step-wise mutation model. In this article, I explain which markers are calculated using which methodology.

Another good infinite alleles example is when a location loses it’s DNA at a marker entirely. If the marker value for most men being compared is 10 and is being compared to a  person with no DNA at that location, resulting in a null value of 0 (which is not the same as a no-call which means the location couldn’t be read successfully), the mutation event happened in one step, and the difference should be counted as one event, one step and a genetic distance of one, not 10 events, 10 steps and a genetic distance of 10.

To recap, the values of markers 1-111 are calculated by a combination of the step-wise model and the infinite alleles model, depending on the marker number and situation. The differences in markers above 111 are calculated using the infinite alleles model where every mutation or difference equals a distance of one unless a zero (null) is encountered. In that case, the mutation event is considered a one. However, above 111 markers, using NGS technology, most instances where no DNA is encountered results in a no-read, not a null value.

Question 3: Has the TIP calculator been updated?

Answer: No, the TIP calculator does not take into account the new markers above 111. The TIP calculator relies upon the combined statistical mutation frequency for each marker and includes haplogroup differences. Therefore, it would be difficult to compensate for different numbers of markers, with various markers missing for each individual above 111 markers. The TIP calculator only utilizes markers 1-111.

Question 4: Do projects display more than 111 markers?

Answer: No, projects don’t display the additional markers, at least not yet. The 111 marker results require scrolling to the right significantly, and 500 markers would require 5 times as much scrolling to compare values. Anyone with an idea how to better accomplish a public project display/comparison should submit their idea to Family Tree DNA.

Question 5: Which markers above 111 are fast versus slow mutating?

Answer: Results for these markers are new and statistical compilations aren’t yet available. However, initial results for surname projects in which several men who share a surname and match have tested indicate that there’s not as much variation in these additional markers as we’ve seen in the previous 111 markers, meaning Family Tree DNA already selected the most informative genealogical markers initially. This suggests that the additional markers may provide additional mutations but probably not five times as many as the initial 111 markers.

Question 6: Why do I have more mutations in the first 111 markers than I do in the 389+ markers above the 111 panel?

Answer: That’s a really good question. You’ve probably noticed in our example that the men have dis-proportionally more mutations in the first 111 markers than in the markers above 111.

Y500 genetic distance

The trend is clearly for the first 111 markers to mutate more frequently than the 379+ markers above 111. This means that the first 111 markers are generally going to be more genealogically informative than the balance of the 379+ markers. However, and this is a big however, if the line marker mutation that you need to sort out your group of men occurs in the markers above 111, the number of mutations and the percentages don’t mean anything at all. The information that matters is how you can utilize these markers to differentiate men within the line you are working with, and what story those markers tell.

Of course, the markers above 111 are free as part of the Big Y-500 test which is designed to extract as much SNP information as possible. In essence, these STR markers are icing on the cake – a treat we never expected.

Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line about the Big-Y 500 STR markers. You don’t know what you don’t know and these 379+ STR markers come along with the Big Y test as a bonus. If you’re looking for line-marker STR mutations in groups of men, the Big Y-500 is a logical next step after 111 marker testing.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

Concepts – Paternal vs Patrilineal and Maternal vs Matrilineal

Sometimes a single word – and its interpretation – makes a world of difference.

For example, maternal versus matrilineal and paternal versus patrilineal.

What’s the difference and why does it matter?

In genetic genealogy, it’s very important.

Y and Mitochondrial DNA Lineage

When we explain the differences between Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA, we used to tell people that Y was your paternal line and mitochondrial (mtDNA) was your maternal line.

People became confused.

Y and mito

Here’s the pedigree chart generally used to explain the people in your tree represented by Y (blue boxes) and mtDNA (red circles) testing. Unlike autosomal, Y and mitochondrial only tests one line, but tests that one line VERY deeply, providing information not available through autosomal testing.

Y DNA tests only the Y DNA of the line shown with the blue boxes, NOT everyone on your paternal side.

Mitochondrial DNA tests only the line shown in red circles, NOT everyone on your maternal side.

That’s a good thing, not a bad thing, because this type of testing reveals information and matching opportunities not available through autosomal testing.

Maternal Versus Matrilineal, Paternal Versus Patrilineal

When we say maternal and paternal, the meaning can easily be confused.

Paternal and maternal

Anyone on the father’s entire side of the tree literally is paternal, and anyone on the mother’s side literally is maternal. The line is drawn straight down the middle, with half of your ancestors on each side.

Paternal and Maternal sides

What we really mean when we discuss Y and mtDNA testing is patrilineal and matrilineal. Those words mean the direct paternal line only, and the direct maternal line only, shown below.

patrilineal vs matrilineal

There doesn’t seem to be as much confusion with understanding that the Y chromosome follows the patrilineal line – probably because we’re used to this concept as the surname follows the same Y DNA path.

Matrilineal means the same thing on the maternal side, but there isn’t any key anchor concept, such as surname to go along with it. Therefore, when I’m discussing mitochondrial DNA testing, I say, “matrilineal, meaning your mother’s mother’s mother’s line, on up the tree until you run out of mothers.”

Why is this So Important?

Aside from the fact that expectations can easily be mis-set resulting in misinterpreted results, the concept of patrilineal and matrilineal are important because this confusion results in the confused person in advertently confusing others.

For example, when people want to take a mitochondrial DNA test to see if their Native American ancestor is on their mother’s side, what they are really testing is their matrilineal line, not everyone on their mother’s side of the tree.

Native American mitochondrial haplogroups are known to be subsets of haplogroups A, B, C, D and X. If the matrilineal line is Native, the mitochondrial results will fall into the proper Native subgroup. If not, they won’t.

However, a maternal Native American ancestor could well exist in any other ancestor or ancestors whose circles and squares aren’t colored at all – shown below by haplogroup B2a.

Native nonpatrilineal nonmatrilineal

Conversely, a male Native American ancestor could exist in any of those other lines as well, shown above by C-M217. The only way to discover that information is to DNA test someone who carries the Y or mitochondrial DNA of each of your ancestral lines.

At Family Tree DNA

At Family Tree DNA, the only vendor that does full Y and mitochondrial testing and matching, one of the information fields that testers are asked to provide is titled “Earliest Known Ancestors.”

FTDNA earliest known ancestor

Although this field says specifically how to determine the relevant ancestor they are asking about, many people either don’t read this, or don’t understand, or they enter the information before their results come back and never think to update this field when they discover that this isn’t their Native line after all.

On the Matches Map tab, where this information can also be entered, there is no explanation for which ancestor they are asking for. Often, I see males names have been entered in the direct maternal field, so the person interpreted this as their OLDEST person on their mother’s side – which of course is inaccurate – instead of their most distant matrilineal ancestor.

The problem is that if the tester enters a person who was born in Germany, and the matrilineal ancestor is a Native American female (or vice versa), this provides incorrect information to the system which then uses that compiled information to populate Haplogroup Origins, Ancestral Origins and the locations on the Family Tree DNA universal Y haplotree and mitochondrial public haplotree for other people. This is why you often see people in European haplogroups shown as “Native American.” Other testers’ information is part of what is provided on those pages. Collaboration is the underpinning foundation of genetic genealogy, but it also carries with it the opportunity for error.

Family Tree DNA provides a lot of information to customers, but some of it relies on information from other testers, so please test, and please be sure that your information is accurately reflected in these fields. Now might be a good time to check.

What About My Other Lines?

You can’t test for lines other than your patrilineal (males only) and your matrilineal (both genders) personally, BUT, other family members can – and you can surely gift them with tests. I look at it this way; they are testing for me, and if I could, I’d test for that line in a heartbeat – so I’m more than willing to provide a scholarship for their testing.

In the situation above, your mother’s father carries the mitochondrial DNA that you seek, shown as Native American B2a. If he’s not living, his siblings carry that same mitochondrial DNA. If he has sisters, their children, both male and female carry his mother’s mitochondrial DNA too. You need to follow the lineage through all females to a living relative who’s willing to test.

To obtain the DNA of the Native male, shown above as C-M217, you’d need to test your father’s mother’s father, or her brothers, or their sons. Follow this line up and down in the tree to find a male who carries that surname who is not adopted into the family.

I wrote about determining who to test in this article, along with a more detailed article about who to test for your father’s Y and mtDNA DNA, here.

DNA Haplogroup Pedigree Tree

I’ve been gathering my own ancestors’ Y and mtDNA information, because only Y and mtDNA provides a periscope view directly down a single line without admixture from the other parent.

DNA 8 grandparent

There’s just so much to learn! Where they originated, the history of their lineage, who you match and more. Y and mtDNA reaches back before surnames.

What can you learn about your family lines, and who can you ask to test?

What About You?

You can order the Y DNA for males and the mtFull test for either males or females at Family Tree DNA. When I ask a family member to test, I always offer to also purchase a Family Finder test at the same time so we can utilize their autosomal DNA as well, which is inherited from all of their lines. The cousin and I both get to know our ancestors better and advanced matching feature allows combined matching between all kinds of tests.

The Family Finder test can then be leveraged by uploading the autosomal DNA files to other free databases such as GedMatch and MyHeritage to obtain even more matches.

Your cousins and family members are goldmines containing the DNA nuggets of your ancestors just waiting to be found!

Ready for More?

If you have enjoyed this concepts article, you may enjoy other articles in our concepts series.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

Whole Genome Sequencing – Is It Ready for Prime Time?

Dante Labs is offering a whole genomes test for $199 this week as an early Black Friday special.

Please note that just as I was getting ready to push the publish button on this article, Veritas Genetics also jumped on the whole sequencing bandwagon for $199 for the first 1000 testers Nov. 19 and 20th. In this article, I discuss the Dante Labs test. I have NOT reviewed Veritas, their test nor terms, so the same cautions discussed below apply to them and any other company offering whole genome sequencing. The Veritas link is here.

Update – Veritas provides the VCF file for an additional $99, but does not provide FASTQ or BAM files, per their Tweet to me.

I have no affiliation with either company.

$199 (US) is actually a great price for a whole genome test, but before you click and purchase, there are some things you need to know about whole genome sequencing (WGS) and what it can and can’t do for you. Or maybe better stated, what you’ll have to do with your own results before you can utilize the information for genealogical purposes.

The four questions you need to ask yourself are:

  • Why do you want to consider whole genome testing?
  • What question(s) are you trying to answer?
  • What information do you seek?
  • What is your testing goal?

I’m going to say this once now, and I’ll say it again at the end of the article.

Whole genome sequencing tests are NOT A REPLACEMENT FOR GENEALOGICAL DNA TESTS for mitochondrial, Y or autosomal testing. Whole genome sequencing is not a genealogy magic bullet.

There are both pros and cons of this type of purchase, as with most everything. Whole genome tests are for the most experienced and technically savvy genetic genealogists who understand both working with genetics and this field well, who have already taken the vendors’ genealogy tests and are already in the Y, mitochondrial and autosomal comparison data bases.

If that’s you or you’re interested in medical information, you might want to consider a whole genome test.

Let’s start with some basics.

What Is Whole Genome Sequencing?

Whole Genome Sequencing will sequence most of your genome. Keep in mind that humans are more than 99% identical, so the only portions that you’ll care about either medically or genealogically are the portions that differ or tend to mutate. Comparing regions where you match everyone else tells you exactly nothing at all.

Exome Sequencing – A Subset of Whole Genome

Exome sequencing, a subset of whole genome sequencing is utilized for medical testing. The Exome is the region identified as the portions most likely to mutate and that hold medically relevant information. You can read about the benefits and challenges of exome testing here.

I have had my Exome sequenced twice, once at Helix and once at Genos, now owned by NantOmics. Currently, NantOmics does not have a customer sign-in and has acquired my DNA sequence as part of the absorption of Genos. I’ll be writing about that separately. There is always some level of consumer risk in dealing with a startup.

I wrote about Helix here. Helix sequences your Exome (plus) so that you can order a variety of DNA based or personally themed products from their marketplace, although I’m not convinced about the utility of even the legitimacy of some of the available tests, such as the “Wine Explorer.”

On the other hand, the world-class The National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project now utilizes Helix for their testing, as does Spencer Well’s company, Insitome.

You can also pay to download your Exome sequence data separately for $499.

Autosomal Testing for Genealogy

Both whole genome and Exome testing are autosomal testing, meaning that they test chromosomes 1-22 (as opposed to Y and mitochondrial DNA) but the number of autosomal locations varies vastly between the various types of tests.

The locations selected by the genealogy testing companies are a subset of both the whole genome and the Exome. The different vendors that compare your DNA for genealogy generally utilize between 600,000 and 900,000 chip-specific locations that they have selected as being inclined to mutate – meaning that we can obtain genealogically relevant information from those mutations.

Some vendors (for example, 23andMe and Ancestry) also include some medical SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) on their chips, as both have formed medical research alliances with various companies.

Whole genome and Exome sequencing includes these same locations, BUT, the whole genome providers don’t compare the files to other testers nor reduce the files to the locations useful for genealogical comparisons. In other words, they don’t create upload files for you.

The following chart is not to scale, but is meant to convey the concept that the Exome is a subset of the whole genome, and the autosomal vendors’ selected SNPs, although not the same between the companies, are all subsets of the Exome and full genome.

I have not had my whole genome sequenced because I have seen no purpose for doing so, outside of curiosity.

This is NOT to imply that you shouldn’t. However, here are some things to think about.

Whole Genome Sequencing Questions

Coverage – Medical grade coverage is considered to be 30X, meaning an average of 30 scans of every targeted location in your genome. Some will have more and some will have less. This means that your DNA is scanned thirty different times to minimize errors. If a read error happens once or twice, it’s unlikely that the same error will happen several more times. You can read about coverage here and here.

Genomics Education Programme [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.

Here’s an example where the read length of Read 1 is 18, and the depth of the location shown in light blue is 4, meaning 4 actual reads were obtained. If the goal was 30X, then this result would be very poor. If the goal was 4X then this location is a high quality result for a 4X read.

In the above example, if the reference value, meaning the value at the light blue location for most people is T, then 4 instances of a T means you don’t have a mutation. On the other hand, if T is not the reference value, then 4 instances of T means that a mutation has occurred in that location.

Dante Labs coverage information is provided from their webpage as follows:

Other vendors coverage values will differ, but you should always know what you are purchasing.

Ownership – Who owns your data? What happens to your DNA itself (the sample) and results (the files) under normal circumstances and if the company is sold. Typically, the assets of the company, meaning your information, are included during any acquisition.

Does the company “share, lease or sell” your information as an additional revenue stream with other entities? If so, do they ask your permission each and every time? Do they perform internal medical research and then sell the results? What, if anything, is your DNA going to be used for other than the purpose for which you purchased the test? What control do you exercise over that usage?

Read the terms and conditions carefully for every vendor before purchasing.

File Delivery – Three types of files are generated during a whole genome test.

The VCF (Variant Call Format) which details your locations that are different from the reference file. A reference file is the “normal” value for humans.

A FASTQ file which includes the nucleotide sequence along with a corresponding quality score. Mutations in a messy area or that are not consistent may not be “real” and are considered false positives.

The BAM (Binary Alignment Map) file is used for Y DNA SNP alignment. The output from a BAM file is displayed in Family Tree DNA’s Big Y browser for their customers. Are these files delivered to you? If so, how? Family Tree DNA delivers their Big Y DNA BAM files as free downloads.

Typically whole genome data is too large for a download, so it is sent on a disc drive to you. Dante provides this disc for BAM and FASTQ files for 59 Euro ($69 US) plus shipping. VCF files are available free, but if you’re going to order this product, it would be a shame not to receive everything available.

Version – Discoveries are still being made to the human genome. If you thought we’re all done with that, we’re not. As new regions are mapped successfully, the addresses for the rest change, and a new genomic map is created. Think of this as street addresses and a new cluster of houses is now inserted between existing houses. All of the houses are periodically renumbered.

Today, typically results are delivered in either of two versions: hg19(GRVH37) or hg38(GRCH38). What happens when the next hg (human genome) version is released?

When you test with a vendor who uses your data for comparison as a part of a product they offer, they must realign your data so that the comparison will work for all of their customers (think Family Tree DNA and GedMatch, for example), but a vendor who only offers the testing service has no motivation to realign your output file for you. You only pay for sequencing, not for any after-the-fact services.

Platform – Multiple sequencing platforms are available, and not all platforms are entirely compatible with other competing platforms. For example, the Illumina platform and chips may or may not be compatible with the Affymetrix platform (now Thermo Fisher) and chips. Ask about chip compatibility if you have a specific usage in mind before you purchase.

Location – Where is your DNA actually being sequenced? Are you comfortable having your DNA sent to that geographic location for processing? I’m personally fine with anyplace in either the US, Canada or most of Europe, but other locations maybe not so much. I’d have to evaluate the privacy policies, applicable laws, non-citizen recourse and track record of those countries.

Last but perhaps most important, what do you want to DO with this file/information?

Utilization

What you receive from whole genome sequencing is files. What are you going to do with those files? How can you use them? What is your purpose or goal? How technically skilled are you, and how well do you understand what needs to be done to utilize those files?

A Specific Medical Question

If you have a particular question about a specific medical location, Dante allows you to ask the question as soon as you purchase, but you must know what question to ask as they note below.

You can click on their link to view their report on genetic diseases, but keep in mind, this is the disease you specifically ask about. You will very likely NOT be able to interpret this report without a genetic counselor or physician specializing in this field.

Take a look at both sample reports, here.

Health and Wellness in General

The Dante Labs Health and Wellness Report appears to be a collaborative effort with Sequencing.com and also appears to be included in the purchase price.

I uploaded both my Exome and my autosomal DNA results from the various testing companies (23andMe V3 and V4, Ancestry V1 and V2, Family Tree DNA, LivingDNA, DNA.Land) to Promethease for evaluation and there was very little difference between the health-related information returned based on my Exome data and the autosomal testing vendors. The difference is, of course, that the Exome coverage is much deeper (and therefore more reliable) because that test is a medical test, not a consumer genealogy test and more locations are covered. Whole genome testing would be more complete.

I wrote about Promethease here and here. Promethease does accept VCF files from various vendors who provide whole genome testing.

None of these tests are designed or meant for medical interpretation by non-professionals.

Medical Testing

If you plan to test with the idea that should your physician need a genetics test, you’re already ahead of the curve, don’t be so sure. It’s likely that your physician will want a genetics test using the latest technology, from their own lab, where they understand the quality measures in place as well as how the data is presented to them. They are unlikely to accept a test from any other source. I know, because I’ve already had this experience.

Genealogical Comparisons

The power of DNA testing for genealogy is comparing your data to others. Testing in isolation is not useful.

Mitochondrial DNA – I can’t tell for sure based on the sample reports, but it appears that you receive your full sequence haplogroup and probably your mutations as well from Dante. They don’t say which version of mitochondrial DNA they utilize.

However, without the ability to compare to other testers in a database, what genealogical benefit can you derive from this information?

Furthermore, mitochondrial DNA also has “versions,” and converting from an older to a newer version is anything but trivial. Haplogroups are renamed and branches sawed from one part of the mitochondrial haplotree and grafted onto another. A testing (only) vendor that does not provide comparisons has absolutely no reason to update your results and can’t be expected to do so. V17 is the current build, released in February 2016, with the earlier version history here.

Family Tree DNA is the only vendor who tests your full sequence mitochondrial DNA, compares it to other testers and updates your results when a new version is released. You can read more about this process, here and how to work with mtDNA results here.

Y DNA – Dante Labs provides BAM files, but other whole genome sequencers may not. Check before you purchase if you are interested in Y DNA. Again, you’ll need to be able to analyze the results and submit them for comparison. If you are not capable of doing that, you’ll need to pay a third party like either YFull or FGS (Full Genome Sequencing) or take the Big Y test at Family Tree DNA who has the largest Y Database worldwide and compares results.

Typically whole genome testers are looking for Y DNA SNPs, not STR values in BAM files. STR (short tandem repeat) values are the results that you receive when you purchase the 37, 67 or 111 tests at Family Tree DNA, as compared to the Big Y test which provides you with SNPs in order to resolve your haplogroup at the most granular level possible. You can read about the difference between SNPs and STRs here.

As with SNP data, you’ll need outside assistance to extract your STR information from the whole genome sequence information, none of which will be able to be compared with the testers in the Family Tree DNA data base. There is also an issue of copy-count standardization between vendors.

You can read about how to work with STR results and matches here and Big Y results here.

Autosomal DNA – None of the major providers that accept transfers (MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA, GedMatch) accept whole genome files. You would need to find a methodology of reducing the files from the whole genome to the autosomal SNPs accepted by the various vendors. If the vendors adopt the digital signature technology recently proposed in this paper by Yaniv Erlich et al to prevent “spoofed files,” modified files won’t be accepted by vendors.

Summary

Whole genome testing, in general, will and won’t provide you with the following:

Desired Feature Whole Genome Testing
Mitochondrial DNA Presumed full haplogroup and mutations provided, but no ability for comparison to other testers. Upload to Family Tree DNA, the only vendor doing comparisons not available.
Y DNA Presume Y chromosome mostly covered, but limited ability for comparison to other testers for either SNPs or STRs. Must utilize either YFull or FGS for SNP/STR analysis. Upload to Family Tree DNA, the vendor with the largest data base not available when testing elsewhere.
Autosomal DNA for genealogy Presume all SNPs covered, but file output needs to be reduced to SNPs offered/processed by vendors accepting transfers (Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, GedMatch) and converted to their file formats. Modified files may not be accepted in the future.
Medical (consumer interest) Accuracy is a factor of targeted coverage rate and depth of actual reads. Whole genome vendors may or may not provide any analysis or reports. Dante does but for limited number of conditions. Promethease accepts VCF files from vendors and provides more.
Medical (physician accepted) Physician is likely to order a medical genetics test through their own institution. Physicians may not be willing to risk a misdiagnosis due to a factor outside of their control such as an incompatible human genome version.
Files VCF, FASTQ and BAM may or may not be included with results, and may or may not be free.
Coverage Coverage and depth may or may not be adequate. Multiple extractions (from multiple samples) may or may not be included with the initial purchase (if needed) or may be limited. Ask.
Updates Vendors who offer sequencing as a part of a products that include comparison to other testers will update your results version to the current reference version, such as hg38 and mitochondrial V17. Others do not, nor can they be expected to provide that service.
Version Inquire as to the human genome (hg) version or versions available to you, and which version(s) are acceptable to the third party vendors you wish to utilize. When the next version of the human genome is released, your file will no longer be compatible because WGS vendors are offering sequencing only, not results comparisons to databases for genealogy.
Ownership/Usage Who owns your sample? What will it be utilized for, other than the service you ordered, by whom and for what purposes? Will you we able to authorize or decline each usage?
Location Where geographically is your DNA actually being sequenced and stored? What happens to your actual DNA sample itself and the resulting files? This may not be the location where you return your swab kit.

The Question – Will I Order?

The bottom line is that if you are a genealogist, seeking genetic information for genealogical purposes, you’re much better off to test with the standard and well know genealogy vendors who offer compatibility and comparisons to other testers.

If you are a pioneer in this field, have the technical ability required to make use of a whole genome test and are willing to push the envelope, then perhaps whole genome sequencing is for you.

I am considering ordering the Dante Labs whole genome test out of simple curiosity and to upload to Promethease to determine if the whole genome test provides me with something potentially medically relevant (positive or negative) that autosomal and Exome testing did not.

I’m truly undecided. Somehow, I’m having trouble parting with the $199 plus $69 (hard drive delivery by request when ordering) plus shipping for this limited functionality. If I was a novice genetic genealogist or was not a technology expert, I would definitely NOT order this test for the reasons mentioned above.

A whole genome test is not in any way a genealogical replacement for a full sequence mitochondrial test, a Y STR test, a Y SNP test or an autosomal test along with respective comparison(s) in the data bases of vendors who don’t allow uploads for these various functions.

The simple fact that 30X whole genome testing is available for $199 plus $69 plus shipping is amazing, given that 15 years ago that same test cost 2.7 billion dollars. However, it’s still not the magic bullet for genealogy – at least, not yet.

Today, the necessary integration simply doesn’t exist. You pay the genealogy vendors not just for the basic sequencing, but for the additional matching and maintenance of their data bases, not to mention the upgrading of your sequence as needed over time.

If I had to choose between spending the money for the WGS test or taking the genealogy tests, hands down, I’d take the genealogy tests because of the comparisons available. Comparison and collaboration is absolutely crucial for genealogy. A raw data file buys me nothing genealogically.

If I had not previously taken an Exome test, I would order this test in order to obtain the free Dante Health and Wellness Report which provides limited reporting and to upload my raw data file to Promethease. The price is certainly right.

However, keep in mind that once you view health information, you cannot un-see it, so be sure you do really want to know.

What do you plan to do? Are you going to order a whole genome test?

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Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

I provide Personalized DNA Reports for Y and mitochondrial DNA results for people who have tested through Family Tree DNA. I provide Quick Consults for DNA questions for people who have tested with any vendor. I would welcome the opportunity to provide one of these services for you.

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