Sometimes, when you’re researching your family, you discover something that just doesn’t seem right.
Just doesn’t make sense.
Over time, things begin to feel odd.
Pieces that don’t fit.
Or pieces that are missing…that shouldn’t be missing
Sometimes, when you’re researching your family, you discover something that just doesn’t seem right.
Just doesn’t make sense.
Over time, things begin to feel odd.
Pieces that don’t fit.
Or pieces that are missing…that shouldn’t be missing
Steps up to microphone at the podium, alone, on stage (in this case, a blog article.)
The press corps is gathered (readers) and the lights are bright, white hot and glaring. (Who turned the heat up anyway?)
“Ahem.” <clears throat>
From offstage someplace, “We’re live in 4, 3, 2, 1…”
“I’d like to take this opportunity to update the birth announcement of Andreas Kirsch with new and improved parents.”
Cough. Choke. Sputter.
Every genealogists nightmare, right?
Who is Andreas Kirsch?
As new records become available, of course genealogists want copies, and that sometimes means that we have to revisit previous conclusions based on earlier information. All genealogists know that a new piece of information can turn a previous conclusion up-side-down – or at least complicate things or cast serious doubt.
No one wants to be wrong, but I’m oh so grateful when someone finds something new or that was previously unknown or missed and points it out to me. I do admit, I always have a “well, drat” moment, but I really think these are teachable events for myself and others as well. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
I wrote about Andreas Kirsch of Fussgoenheim, Germany and in that article, I had stated that I could not find his actual baptismal record, but we did have his purported birth date from other indexed records.
Church records in Fussgoenheim, such as marriage records of Andreas’ children showed that Andreas was indeed the father of our immigrant, Philip Jacob Kirsch and his sister, Anna Margaretha Kirsch who married Johann Martin Koehler who immigrated as well. In Anna Magaretha’s 1821 marriage record, it states that she is the daughter of “the deceased Andreas Kirsch and his surviving wife Elisabeth Koehler, present and consenting.” Of course, this not only tells us who her parents are, but that her father has died and her mother is still living.
Later, Philip Jacob Kirsch’s own marriage record provided his parents’ names:
Philip Jacob Kirsch, the legitimate unmarried son of the deceased couple, Andreas Kirsch and Margaretha Koehler and Katharina Barbara Lemerth, the legitimate unmarried daughter of the deceased local citizen Jacob Lemmerth and his surviving wife Gertrude Steiger, both of protestant religion.
We’re home free, right? Yes, as far as who the parents of Philip Jacob Kirsch are, but maybe not relative to the identity of Andreas’s parents. We really do need that missing baptismal record.
My introduction to my German friend Chris was when he pointed out that additional records had become available and there was more than one Andreas Kirsch in Fussgoenheim. Not only that, but the Andreas born in 1772 might not actually be an Andreas at all!
Who was this Chris guy I’d never heard of before anyway? Was he right? Were there really two Kirsch men whose records were intermingled? I didn’t want to believe that. I didn’t even want to consider that. Do you know how many ancestors I’d have to chop off my tree if the wrong man was attached?
And yes, you’ve guessed it, I had identified the “wrong” Kirsch birth record back in the 1980s when my translator was reading and translating these records page by page. Many Fussgoenheim records are missing, and not all remaining records had been microfilmed at that time. Many had been terribly water damaged or torn and the microfilm image quality itself was poor. These factors combined prove very challenging and cause errors to occur.
Chris discovered the mistake and had the misfortune of getting to tell me. I took it pretty well, all things considered. Chris is such a nice person, but I was upset because I’d fallen in love with those families that I fully believed were mine over the past 30 years. But Chris’s information was compelling, and there was simply no ignoring his research – no consigning it to the sidelines. It was in-your-face front and center and had to be dealt with.
I was very unhappy – but not with Chris. With myself. With the genealogical “condition” in general which of course periodically includes discoveries of errors past, and with the bad fortune of the combination of missing/damaged and confusing records.
It’s like I had written my ancestors obituary some 198 years after his death with the wrong parents and now, I had to somehow straighten it out and correct the error.
Crumb! Crumb! Crumb!
Chris Unravels the Mess
I’m providing Chris’s commentary here to illustrate his meticulous (successful) search methodology. Please note that Chris was working from much better record copies obtained from Archion.de, but Archion doesn’t allow their images to be published. The one image I’ve included is from the original Fussgoenheim church book obtained many years ago from the Family History Center.
From Chris (edited slightly for readability and clarity):
For some reason today, I thought back about your post on the Kirsch family from Fussgoenheim. So, being the curious person I am, I went back to the records, with some surprise to wait for me. I think you will like it!
First, I went back to your post:
I planned to have a look at the baptism record of your Andreas Kirsch on 10 August 1772. I found a baptism record for a Kirsch relative at the right date, but it was not an Andreas, but a Johannes that was baptized this day! The parents of this Johannes, however, were the ones you have listed in your article as the parents of Andreas; Johann Valentin Kirsch and Anna Margaretha Kirsch.
I was a bit puzzled, why a child named “Johann Andreas” or even only “Andreas” later on should not be written as such in the baptism entry. As you point out yourself in your article, Johann was such a common name at this time, that I thought they definitely would have written the second name “Andreas” as well. So I went on.
Further down in your article you mentioned that “your” Andreas Kirsch was buried in 1819. So I checked the burial entry.
“Am 20. May starb und am 22. ejusdem ward begraben der hiesige Bürger Andreas Kirsch, Ehemann von Margaretha Elisabetha Köhler, in einem Alter von 45 J., 3 Mon. und 14 Tag.”
My translation: “On the 20th of May died and on the 22nd of the same month was buried the local citizen Andreas Kirsch, husband of Margaretha Elisabetha Köhler, at age 45 years, 3 months and 14 days.”
Again, the listed wife of this Andreas Kirsch is the one you note in your post as well, but if you calculate back from the death date 20 May 1819 with the age at death, you do not end up in 1772, but rather on 6 February 1774.
So, again I went back to the baptism records and find one on this very day for an Andreas Kirsch. Please note that the parents (in the first column) are not the ones you have in your post, but an Elias Kirsch and his wife and Anna Elisabetha. The second column notes the child`s name Andreas, the third column the witnesses Andreas Kirsch and Maria Katharina, third column: birth date 6 February 1774, fourth column date of baptism 8 February.
In summary, I think that your cousin Walter was right to link the Johannes Kirsch born in 1772 with a wife Maria Catharina Koob, while you were right linking the Andreas Kirsch born in 1774 with the wife Margaretha Elisabetha Köhler.
However, these men, Johannes and Andreas, were not one and the same. I had selected the wrong one as my ancestor, mistaking Johannes for Andreas. No, I really don’t know how, but it happened.
Andreas’ wife is confirmed as Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler but his father, based on Andreas’ death record, followed by Chris finding Andreas’ actual baptismal record, shown above, was Elias Kirsch, wife Anna Elisabetha who had no birth surname listed.
Who was Andreas’ mother?
Identifying Andreas’ Mother
My friend and cousin Tom discovered more about Andreas’ mother. Her name wasn’t exactly Anna Elisabetha.
As translated by Tom:
Baptism: 17 June 1731
Parents: Joh. Theobald KOOB and his wife, Maria Catharina, a daughter was baptized and named:
Godparents: Johann Andreas Kirsch & Anna Elisabeth, widow of the late mayor (village elder), Koob.
Fussgönheim Evangelical Church Records
Susanna Elisabetha had been shortened to Anna Elisabetha during her lifetime.
Now I’m paranoid. Are we sure this is the right person?
Tom found more records that suggest strongly that yes, indeed, it was. The records of Elias Kirsch and his wife baptizing their children hold clues in terms of who the godparents were, especially the record where Emanual Koob is noted as the mother’s brother.
Translated by Tom:
Elias KIRSCH and wife, Anna Elisabetha
A son was born, baptized and named: Emanuel
The Godparents: the mother’s brother, Emanuel Koob and wife, Maria Elisabetha
Born: 23rd of April 1763 Baptized: the 26th of the same – Entry No. 50
1766 Elias KIRSCH and wife, Susanna Elisabetha
A son was baptized and named: Georg Henrich
Godparents: Georg Henrich Koob, the juror and wife, Anna Margaretha
Born: 12th of March 1766 Baptized: the 16th of the same – Entry 73
1772 Elias KIRSCH and wife, Anna Elisabetha
A daughter was baptized and named: Maria Catharina
Godparents: Johann Theobald Koob, the juror and wife, Maria Catharina
Born: the 30th of September 1772 Baptized: the 30th of the same
Clearly, Elias and Anna Elisabetha were very close to the Koob family members.
Sawed Off Branch
It was painful, but I did it – sawed that rotten branch right off the tree and grafted the correct information. The grafting felt therapeutic after the removal.
Andreas Kirsch was born on February 6, 1774 and baptized two days later in Fussgoenheim to Elias Kirsch (1733-1804) and Susanna Elisabetha Koob (born June 1731). It feels good (now) to know I have the right ancestor. Andreas died on May 20, 1819, also in Fussgoenheim, but I don’t have a death date for Susanna.
I removed the erroneous conclusions from the first Andreas Kirsch article and will post a link to this article there as well.
A huge thank you and debt of gratitude to both Chris and Tom. I’m sure Andreas’ is resting easier now that he’s connected to the right parents.
I’m doing that happy dance today – leaping for joy – and am I EVER glad I’ve sponsored so many mitochondrial DNA tests. Today, I’m incredibly thankful for one particular DNA test.
Think mitochondrial DNA doesn’t work or isn’t effective for genealogy?
Often, when people ask on social media if they should test mitochondrial DNA, there is a chorus of Negative Nellie’s chanting, “No, don’t bother with that test, mitochondrial DNA is useless.” That’s terribly discouraging, depriving people of knowledge they can’t obtain any other way.
When people heed that advice, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When people don’t test and don’t provide genealogical information that would go along with a mitochondrial DNA test, mitochondrial DNA is much less useful than it could be if people actually tested their full sequence mitochondrial DNA at Family Tree DNA, not just for their haplogroup at 23andMe or Living DNA. There’s a huge difference.
Family Tree DNA tests the full mitochondria and provides matching to other testers which is critical for genealogical purposes. In fact, Elizabeth Shown Mills wrote about using this exact same technique here.
And by the way, this is not an isolated outlier case either. In fact, mitochondrial DNA from this same line was used previously to prove who Phoebe Crumley’s mother was.
If people hadn’t tested, then these walls would not have fallen. Every person who doesn’t take a mitochondrial DNA test is depriving themselves, and others, of critical historical information and clues.
It’s all about CLUES and sometimes that big brick-wall-breaking boulder falls into your lap out of the blue one day.
Today was that day!
Phoebe’s Family Found
I’ll be writing a more detailed article about my ancestor, Phoebe, shortly, but for now, I’d like to share exactly how mitochondrial DNA broke through this brick wall that I truly believed was permanent. I’ll walk you through the various steps so you can follow the same path. Do you have female ancestors without families in your tree? Start thinking about the possibilities!
DNA Pedigree Chart
Let’s start with my DNA Pedigree Chart.
I know many people look at my DNA Pedigree Chart and think it’s a bit over the edge, but identifying the family of Jotham Brown’s wife, Phoebe, would absolutely NOT have been possible without this valuable tool and the fact that I’ve been “collecting” my ancestors’ DNA.
As you can see, any time I find the opportunity to test either the Y DNA line, or the mitochondrial line of any of my ancestors, I do. I’ve been quite successful in that quest over the years thanks to many cousins.
The brick wall that fell is an ancestor of Elizabeth Vannoy and her mother, Phoebe Crumley, shown on my DNA Pedigree Chart, boxed in red, with their haplogroup, J1c2c.
A Proxy Tester
Elizabeth Vannoy, being my great-grandmother on my father’s side, doesn’t’ share her mitochondrial DNA with me, so I had to find a proxy tester.
My cousin Debbie knew another cousin, David, whose mother was Lucy, granddaughter of Elizabeth Vannoy. David agreed to test, back in…are you ready for this…2006. Yes, almost 13 years ago. Sometimes DNA is a waiting game.
At that time, the family rumor was that Elizabeth Vannoy was “Cherokee.” Yea, I know, everyone with ancestors who lived east of the Mississippi has that same rumor – but the best way to actually find out if this is true is to test the relevant family line members’ Y and mitochondrial DNA. Native American haplogroups are definitive and haplogroup J1c2c is unquestionably not Native, so that myth was immediately put to death. (You can read about Native American haplogroups here.)
However, Elizabeth’ Vannoy’s mitochondrial DNA has patiently remained in the Family Tree DNA database, accumulating matches. Truthfully, I’ve been focused elsewhere, and since we had a brick wall with Jotham Brown’s wife, Phoebe (c1750-c1803), which had not yielded to traditional genealogy research, I had moved on and checked cousin David’s matches from time to time to see if anything interesting had turned up.
I thought there was nothing new…but there was! However, it would take my cousins to serve as a catalyst.
On New Year’s Eve of 2016, I received an e-mail from a previously unknown cousin, Rita, who was also descended from Jotham Brown and Phoebe. Rita was born a Brown and over the next two years, not only tested her Brown line’s Y DNA which matched Jotham Brown’s line, but also connected her family via paper trail once she knew where to look. She’s a wonderful researcher.
Another researcher who lives in Greene County, Tennessee has doggedly researched the Brown, Crumley, Cooper and associated Johnson lines. It was rumored and pretty much believed for years, because of the very close family associations and migration routes that Phoebe was Zopher Johnson’s daughter. I worked through this mountain of information in late 2015, reaching the conclusion that I really didn’t think Phoebe was Zopher’s daughter, but since there were no known daughters and Zopher’s wife’s surname was unknown, there was no way of finding matrilineal descendants to test. That door was slammed shut. I thought permanently.
However, Stevie had previously recruited two men from the proven Jotham Brown line to Y DNA test who matched a third Brown man whose line descended from the Long Island, Sylvanus Brown family. Wow, Long Island is a long way from Greene County, TN. Adding to the evidence, our Jotham Brown named one of his sons Sylvanus, a rather unusual name.
This revelation allowed us to track the Brown line forward in time from the Sylvanus on Long Island, providing significant pieces of evidence that Jotham indeed descended from this line.
At that point, we all congratulated ourselves on at least finding an earlier location to work with and went on about solving other mysteries.
I think Rita must be on vacation between Christmas and New Years every year, because I heard from her again on December 28th this year. It took me a few days to reply, due to the Holiday Crud being gifted to me, but am I EVER glad that I did.
Rita, it seems, has spent the last several months sifting through records and looking for migration patterns of families from Long Island. Can you say “desperate genealogist.” I’m not going to steal her thunder, because this part of the journey is hers and hers alone, but suffice it to say she wrote me with a theory.
Joseph Cole was found in Botetourt County, VA along with many of the families that eventually settled in Frederick County, VA and then migrated on together to Greene County, TN. In other words, she’s using the Elizabeth Shown Mills FAN (friends and neighbors) concept to spread the net wider and look for people that might be somehow connected. I took this same approach in Halifax County, VA several years ago with my Estes line very successfully.
Rita discovered that Joseph’s father John Cole also migrated from Long Island through New Jersey into Virginia and settled with this same group. Hmmm, Long Island, same place as Sylvanus Brown. Interesting…
John Cole, it turns out, had a daughter Phebe, who married a Jotham Bart, according to a Presbyterian church book in New Jersey where they settled for a short time in their migration journey. The church records referenced are transcribed, not original.
Jotham Brown, who is known to connect to the Brown family found on Long Island, is found migrating with this same group, and Rita wondered if indeed, Jotham Bart was really Jotham Brown and Phoebe was actually the daughter of John Cole and wife, Mary Mercy Kent.
Still being in the grips of the Holiday Crud, I asked Rita if John Cole and his wife had any proven daughters who would be candidates to have descendants mitochondrial DNA test.
While Rita was searching for daughters of Mary Mercy Kent and John Cole, I had sufficiently escaped the grim reaper to check cousin David’s mitochondrial DNA matches, just on the off chance that some useful gem of information was buried there.
David has 16 full sequence matches, of which 7 are exact matches, meaning a genetic distance of 0, a perfect match. Keep in mind that a perfect match can still be hundreds of years in the past, but it can also be much closer in time. Just because it can be further in the past doesn’t mean that it is. You match your mother, her sisters and their children, and that’s clearly very recent.
What was waiting was shocking. Holy chimloda!
The Earliest Known Ancestor of one of David’s exact matches is Lydia Cole, born in 1781 in Virginia and died in 1864 in Ohio. The tester, Pete (not his real name,) had a tree. Thank you, thank you!!
Pete was stuck at Lydia Cole, obviously, but his tree provided me with Lydia’s husband’s name.
Oh, and by the way, guess what our Phoebe, born about 1750, named her daughter? Yep, Lydia.
Should I have noticed this hint sooner and dug deeper. Yes, I surely should have – Pete’s test was taken in 2012 so this information was there waiting for 6 years.
Is Lydia Cole too good to be true? Perhaps. Is she related? Of course the first thing good genealogists do is try to poke holes in the story. Better me than someone else. Let’s see what we can find.
Desperate to find out more about Lydia Cole, I checked Ancestry’s trees, understanding just how flakey these can be. Regardless, they are great clues and some are well sourced. Other people’s trees are at least a place to start looking.
There was Lydia with her father, John Cole and Mary Mercy Kent, the exact same couple Rita had hypothesized as Phoebe’s parents!
Lydia’s marriage was sourced and sure enough she married William Powell Simmons in Frederick County, VA in 1801, where Jotham Brown and Phoebe, his wife lived. It appears, according to Rita, that John Cole and his entire family settled there.
What a nice little bow on this package – at least for now. Am I done? Heck no…this journey is just beginning. You know how genealogy works – when you solve one mystery, you just add two more! Plus, there’s that little issue of verification, finding the relevant documents, etc. I know, details, right?
Is it possible that Lydia Cole isn’t really Phoebe’s sister? Yes, it’s possible. There is a roughly 30 year birth difference – although we all know how fluid these early dates can be.
DNA alone this far in the past can’t prove anything without additional evidence. It’s theoretically possible that Lydia’s mother was another close relative of Phoebe’s mother, somehow – explaining why Lydia and Phoebe would match so closely on such rare mitochondrial DNA. It’s possible, but not terribly likely.
Preliminary autosomal research also shows connections to the Cole family through other descendants of John Cole – so the evidence is mounting.
There’s a lot more research to do – verifying records, discovering more about Phoebe and John Cole and Mary Mercy Kent. I think Rita is already in the car on the way to Virginia😊
We can now follow Phoebe’s family’s migration from Long Island through New Jersey to Virginia. We now know the identity, pending confirmation, of both of Phoebe’s parents and can track those lines back in time. We know roughly when and where Phoebe was born. We can put the Brown and Cole families in the same place and time on Long Island.
All, thanks to mitochondrial DNA tests at Family Tree DNA confirming Rita’s hypothesis.
What a glorious day!!!
What Can Mitochondrial DNA Do For You?
Mitochondrial DNA is anything but useless. If you’re thinking, “yes, but David only had 16 matches total, and the only possible useful ones were the 7 exact matches because the rest are too far back,” – you’d be mistaken.
One of David’s matches is a distance of 2, meaning two mutations, and that’s the match that confirmed that Clarissa Marinda Crumley was the sister of our Phoebe Crumley, proving that Lydia Brown was indeed Phoebe’s mother, NOT Elizabeth Johnson who apparently married a different William Crumley just a few months before Phoebe’s birth. I wrote about unraveling that mystery here.
If you haven’t mitochondrial DNA tested, what critical information are you missing? You don’t know what you don’t know. If everyone would test, just think how many brick walls would fall.
If you haven’t tested, please do so today. Here’s a summary of what you can learn – as if you needed any more encouragement after Phoebe’s story.
I want to thank my cousins and wonderful collaborators, Debbie, Rita, Stevie and in particular, David for testing – along with Pete, Lydia Cole’s descendant.
Sometimes it does take a village! Test those cousins.
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Thank you so much.
It’s always interesting to look at the most popular articles at DNA-Explained at the end of each year. Out of millions of page views, these are the Top 10 in 2018, with the * indicating articles that were in the 2017 Top 10 list as well. If you missed some, now’s a good time to catch up or to share with friends.
*Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA
*Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages
*Which DNA Test is Best?
Ancestral DNA Percentages – How Much of Them is in You?
*Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum
*How Much Indian Do I Have in Me?
Autosomal DNA Transfers – Which Companies Accept Which Tests?
Concepts – Percentage of Ancestors’ DNA
X Marks the Spot
*Mythbusting – Women, Fathers and DNA
Spread the Word – What You Can do to Help!
The purpose of writing articles is to educate people who have taken genetic genealogy tests along with providing motivation for potential testers.
With more and more companies performing tests, and record numbers of people testing – there’s a lot of confusion and misinformation out there.
You can help by spreading the word.
If you see a question and know that I wrote about that topic, you can enter key words into the search box at the top of any blog page to find the article.
You can always share the links to articles on social media, with friends and at genealogy meetings. If you want to share the actual text of the article in more than a summary fashion or relatively short excerpts (with attribution), as in a reprint, please check with me first – but as for links – please share away. You don’t need to ask first. Sharing is the purpose of writing these articles.
Educating others with credible information helps all of us have a better experience.
What Would You Like in 2019?
To some extent, I maintain a list of articles that I’d like to write at any given point in time. My candidate list always seems to be longer than the time I have, but I do try to prioritize the topics based on, in no particular order:
So, given that criteria, what topics would you like to see me cover in 2019? I’m also open to suggestions during the year as well. In fact, this article is in response to a reader’s “wish.”
Please post your suggestions in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!
My grandmother, Edith Barbara Lore was born on August 2, 1888 and died on January 4, 1960. Today, I’m celebrating what I feel is a landmark aspect of her life on this, the 59th anniversary of her passing over.
Life in Northern Indiana in 1920
The Presidential election of November 1920 marked the first time that women were provided with the right to vote (nationally) in the US. My grandmother, Edith, would celebrate her 12th wedding anniversary to John Ferverda on November 17th that year. She would have been 32 years old at the time, with a son who would turn 5 on November 24th.
Her husband, John Ferverda, owned the local hardware store in Silver Lake, Indiana, F&F, short for Ferverda and Frye. Edith and John were members of the local Methodist Church. John’s parents who lived a few miles up the road were Brethren, although apparently much less conservative than most Brethren of the time, judging by the fact that three of their sons served in WWI. Edith’s father had passed away, but her mother by 1920 had remarried and had moved to Chicago with her husband.
All in all, Edith seemed to blend in to the conservative heartland of Indiana “near-the-farm” life. While John and Edith did not own a farm, aside from chickens, they lived in a crossroads town that consisted of only 452 people in 165 households according to the 1920 census (yes, I counted), which meant that they were surrounded on all sides by farms and farm culture – which clearly flavored the atmosphere of tiny Silver Lake.
It was then and remains now a small, sleepy community where the local drive-in root-beer stand, the lake and the neighbors provided the only entertainment, outside of church of course.
At that time the B&K rootbeer stand, the drive-in on State Road 15 on the north side of town across from the Marathon Gas Station still remains. The cemetery, where virtually everyone in Silver Lake, including Edith, is buried is a block or so behind the gas station, towards the lake. I remember stopping at the rootbeer stand after visiting my grandparents’ graves. You also passed the cemetery and said a “drive-by” hello to any relatives reposing there on the way to swim at Silver Lake.
At that time, the cottages around the lake were separated from the town itself by the cemetery and a few farms which have been developed at least somewhat now. After all, the population of Silver Lake has doubled and the people have to live someplace.
It was into this community that Edith had moved from Rushville, Indiana after marrying John Ferverda. Rushville was significantly larger, with trips often to both Indianapolis and Cincinnati, vibrant centers of commerce and culture compared to Silver Lake.
Edith’s mother, Nora Kirsch Lore, started and owned a tailoring business after Edith’s father passed away, and Edith’s grandmother, Barbara Drechsel Kirsch, in 1920, hadn’t yet retired as the proprietor of the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana.
I’ve often wondered how Edith actually felt about settling in a small, extremely conservative town in the midst of a Brethren/Mennonite community.
Anabaptist Conservative Culture
Mennonite and Brethren wives didn’t work outside the home. They were identified with their husbands. When their names were mentioned, it was almost always as “Mrs. John Doe,” not as Jane Doe. They joined women’s church clubs of like-minded women and birthed lots of children to help with farm chores. These women worked hard on the farms, plus cooked, cleaned and took care of the ill.
I don’t know whether they liked or were happy with their lives or not. It’s doubtful that they gave that much consideration because it’s not like there were any other options, and their conservative church/family life is what they had been raised to revere. The words “obey’ were still in all wedding vows and were taken literally by both genders.
But not Edith. She had been raised in a culture of strong women, brazenly independent for their time, and had married into the Brethren culture.
I don’t know if Edith’s husband was “dismissed” from the Brethren Church for marrying an outsider, but regardless, he and Edith joined the Methodist Church in Silver Lake where they were life members.
The Methodists were somewhat less restrictive than the Brethren, but the conservative culture ran strong throughout the region.
Few women “worked,” at least outside the home, and for the most part, it was the perception and possibly the reality that the only women who worked were those who “had to,” implying that somehow their husbands weren’t manly enough or successful enough to support their families. If your wife worked, it was a slap in your face and implied some very “un-nice” things about you as a man.
In addition to their jobs, working women still had the same responsibilities at home, just much less time in which to accomplish everything. They generally didn’t garner the compassion of other women, who somehow felt that they “deserved” their fate and looked down upon them for working.
Edith worked anyway, as a bookkeeper, beginning in 1925, if not before. She literally worked from then, through the depression when there was no other family income, until just a few days before her death in 1960. Edith did what she needed to do for her family and God help anyone who got in her way.
This is the backdrop against which I’ve wondered how Edith felt about Women’s Suffrage. Women obtained the right to vote in August of 1920.
Did Edith vote in the 1920 Presidential election in which Republican Warren Harding won? If so, did she vote Republican or Democratic? Given how strongly Republican Kosciusko County was at that time, along with her husband’s strong political leaning, I’m guessing that I know which way she voted, assuming she voted.
I’ve speculated that indeed, she probably did vote because she was always a woman with an opinion and not afraid to speak her mind, in SPITE of where she lived and regardless of who approved, or not.
I’m not sure I’ve ever really appreciated Edith’s bravery under the circumstances. Social ostracization is a powerful deterrent, especially in a small town where it’s easy to become a minority of 1. Reading the local Indiana newspapers over the past several days as I’ve been sidelined by the winter crud has made me appreciate the life she led and the woman she chose to be.
It was in the Warsaw Union Newspaper, serving the 12,000 residents of Kosciusko County that I found clear evidence of Edith’s involvement in the election process – and the fact that she was indeed working at least episodically before 1925.
As it turns out, Edith was appointed to serve as clerk for Lake Township’s second precinct for the Special Election to be held on September 6, 1921.
Warsaw Union Newspaper, August 3, 1921, found on MyHeritage
Not only was Edith selected to serve on the Special Election board as Clerk, but Edith was NOT addressed as Mrs. John Ferverda, using her own first name. In later editions of the paper referring to the election and beyond, she was (generally) listed as Edith L. Ferverda.
When she married, Edith replaced her middle name of Barbara with her maiden name of Lore. For 1908, that was a radical way to preserve your birth surname and make a subtle statement. I think she would be proud of her granddaughter who retains her birth surname as well.
One of the ballot issues, as you might have guessed, had to do with women’s rights to vote.
On JStor, the Journal Article “Amendments to State Constitutions 1919-21”, pages 251 and 252, provides the following information about the special Indiana Constitutional Election:
And lastly, this…
Indiana ratified the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, giving women the right to vote on January 16, 1920, following the proposal for the 19th Amendment proposed in Congress on June 4, 1919. The amendment didn’t become federal law until August 18, 1920 with Tennessee being the deciding state to ratify the constitutional amendment.
So, how did the 1921 Indiana Special Election go?
Early returns on September 6th weren’t very positive.
At 2:30 on election day, it seemed that few voted. Women seemed indifferent, but perhaps those who didn’t want to vote, wouldn’t regardless of the Constitution, and those who did care had already gained that right.
Certainly, in Kosciusko County, there were very few non-naturalized females, if any. The topic probably wasn’t terribly relevant. The legislation was apparently in response to the recent war – or perhaps it was an attempt to limit the number of women voters. It would be interesting to understand why a separate amendment would be required if the law regarding citizenship was already in place for men. In 1851, in Indiana, section 2 of the Indiana Constitution read:
Section 2. In all elections, not otherwise provided for by this Constitution, every white male citizen of the United States, of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, who shall have resided in the State during the six months immediately preceding such election; and every white male, of foreign birth, of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, who shall have resided in the United States one year, and shall have resided in the State during the six months immediately preceding such election, and shall have declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, conformably to the laws of the United States on the subject of naturalization; shall be entitled to vote, in the township or precinct where he may reside.
Regardless of disparity, if any in 1921, between males and females, the amendment was passed, but county-wide interest seemed light, according to the Sept. 7th paper.
Only about 2.5% of the county population voted. The “tax amendment” was the least popular of any.
On a national level, today, noncitizens cannot vote in federal elections, but states control who can vote in state and local elections. Back in the 1700s and 1800s, vast tracts of land were available for homesteading and voting rights had been extended to immigrants who had filed their intention to become citizens in order to attract people by letting them know they could have a hand in deciding their own future. Territories needed to attract people to settle those lands in order to have sufficient population to become states, and states needed to have their land settled and cultivated as well, producing taxable revenue.
Edith, Leadership by Example
We will never know how Edith voted in the privacy of the voting booth, but her involvement in 1921, so soon after women obtained the right to vote tells me one thing positively. Edith was no wall-flower.
I imagine Edith walking up to the voting booth on that first election day in November of 1920, perhaps amid disproving stares, maybe with her child in tow, among all men, and voting anyway. A small but tiny act of protest. Then deciding that SHE would be the woman there to welcome future women and sealing the legitimacy of women in the polling place. Edith perhaps knew that the best was to effect permanent and positive change was through encouragement – that old honey versus vinegar adage.
Edith’s immediate involvement in the electoral process almost assures us that she DID vote, and DID care, and DID what she could in the time and place she lived to make a difference. Her name was in the newspaper, so EVERYBODY knew. She was the face of women in the polling place, the silent, or maybe not-so-silent, example for others. Encouraging participation. Encouraging involvement. Encouraging women to step out and step up to the polling booth – and to vote. They knew at least one woman, Edith Lore Ferverda, would be there to greet them with a warm reassuring smile and show them what to do – how to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
Women setting examples and encouraging other women was critically important, with the small steps of thousands paving the way 98 years later for the swearing in this week of the 116th class of Congress, the most diverse we’ve ever seen as a country.
I like to think that in some small way, in the tiny community of Silver Lake, where Edith was front and center in Indiana’s 1921 Special Constitutional Election, willing to be present in the polling location, and the voting booth, seen and heard, that she in some way helped with the forward, positive momentum that set the stage for the day when women didn’t just serve as clerks, but in elected positions. Currently, 23.7% of the members of Congress are women, with 25% in the Senate and 23.4% of the House of Representatives.
Nearly a century is a long time, but I think Edith would be proud to watch the swearing in ceremony that just occurred. What a wonderful way to celebrate her passing-over anniversary. I’m incredibly proud to be her granddaughter and thankful for those old newspapers that revealed a previously unknown chapter in my grandmother’s life.
The journey of 1000 miles (or a hundred years) begins with a single step.
Edith, your small steps and public example were not in vain. Thank you!
They have and it’s super easy.
DNA and Tree Matching in 4 Easy Steps
Here’s how to see your combined matches in 4 short steps.
DNA Matches Plus SmartMatches
Voila – using this filter setting, the only matches you will see are your DNA matches that are also SmartMatches, meaning the other person shares a common ancestor (or more) in a tree with you. You’ll see a combination of both features. We’ll use my match with Michael as an example.
Scroll down to review all of your information in common with this match including:
MIchael matches my mother too, so if I didn’t already know which parental side Michael matched me on, I do now. Triangulating with multiple other relatives assures me of a valid match.
Who do you match, share ancestors and triangulate with?
Testing at or Transferring to MyHeritage
You can either test at MyHeritage or transfer a DNA file from other vendors to MyHeritage.
To order a DNA test, click here.
To transfer a DNA file to MyHeritage, click here.
The article, MyHeritage Step by Step Guide: How to Upload-Download Files provides you with easy to follow instructions.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
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
I combine the Leeds method with DNAPainter. Great job Dana!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Health (as a consumer, meaning you receive the results)
Medical (as a contributor, meaning you are contributing your DNA for research)
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:
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!!!
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.
Hiram Bauke Ferverda was my mother’s grandfather. Since today would be my mother’s 96th birthday if she were still with us, I’ll let her introduce you – just like she introduced me.
Mother and I were visiting on the blustery spring morning of March 3, 2002, while drinking coffee or tea at her kitchen table, plotting our genealogy adventures for the upcoming months. Those were the days, and I miss them!
Mom said, “Grandfather Ferverda came over with his brother from Holland. They had a disagreement and the brother went up by Nappanee near or among the Amish. Mawmaw and Pawpaw [Hiram and Eva Miller Ferverda] weren’t Amish, but she did wear the hat on her head. She wasn’t among the real strict sect.”
That’s the first I had heard of any of this.
Mom was right. According to immigration records, Hiram, along with his parents and brother, Hendrick, known as Henry, immigrated from the Netherlands.
But Amish? Mennonite? Hat on her head? What was that all about?
And so began the Ferverda quest.
Meet Yvette Hoitink
Before I go any further with this story, I have to take a minute and introduce Yvette Hoitink, a Dutch professional genealogist. The Dutch records for this family are available because of her diligent research. I love her reports as well. Oh, how I love those reports!! They are concise and chocked full of information, complete with images of the document, a translation and source information. Even if I could find the records myself, I can’t read them.
If it’s a Dutch ancestor in my family, I absolutely guarantee you that Yvette is involved as a research partner. And no, this is not a paid announcement, it’s my unending gratitude for an amazing friend (that I met thanks to a blog article) and a job well done.
Let’s dive right in!
Neither Hiram nor Ferverda
Ferverda family records in Indiana provided Hiram’s birth date, which was verified by Yvette. But that’s it, all we had about Holland. No location, nothing else. We didn’t even know Hiram’s mother’s name, or, as it turns out, his real name.
Hiram was born, according to Dutch records, on September 21, 1854 in Hiaure, Westdongeradeel, The Netherlands, to Bauke Hendrick(s) Ferverda (known as Henry in the US) and Geertje Harmens de Jong.
The original birth record is shown below, and the first thing that pops out at me is that the surname is spelled Ferwerda in Holland. In the US, Hiram’s line spelled their surname Ferverda and his brother, Henry’s line spelled it Fervida. No one on this side of the pond spelled it Ferwerda! In fact, I initially thought those records were misinterpreted (meaning the handwriting), but they aren’t. The surname probably changed to the phonetic pronunciation here in the US.
Yvette provided the following translation:
In the year one thousand eight hundred fifty-four, the twenty-third of the month of September appeared before us, Zijtse Sijbouts de Haan, mayor, clerk of the civil registration of the municipality of Westdongeradeel province Friesland:
Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda aged twenty-four years, head teacher, living in Hiaure, who declared to us that on the twenty-first of this month of September, at half past ten in the evening, in Hiaure, was born a child of the male sex from him declarer and his wife Geertje Harmens de Jong, aged twenty-five years, without occupation living with him which child he declares to give the first name of Harmen.
Said statement occurred in the presence of Oene Klazes Hofman, aged fifty-four years, cow milker living in Hiaure and of Egbert Oebeles Kijlstra, aged thirty-nine years, clerk at the “secretarie” [municipal administration] living in Ternaard.
Of which we have created this record, that, after having been read aloud, was signed by us, the declarer and the witnesses.
B H Ferwerda
O: K Hofman
E O Kijlstra
ZS de Haan
Source: “Netherlands, Civil Registration, 1792-1952”, Familysearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 29 August 2012), digital image, “Geboorten 1851-1856” [Births 1851-1856], Westdongeradeel (Friesland, The Netherlands), p. 66 reverse; Birth record of Harmen Ferwerda.
Look at Bauke’s beautiful signature!
Not only do we discover that the surname is spelled differently, we also discover that Hiram’s name was originally given as Harmen, his mother’s middle name which was her paternal grandmother’s birth surname. Harmen’s parent’s names are provided, along with their ages and his father’s occupation. Not only that, but he was born at half past 10 in the evening. How many of us know what time we were born today?
I decided right on the spot when I saw these records that I loved Dutch record-keeping.
Visiting my Dutch Homeland
In 2014, both as a result of Yvette’s work, and with Yvette, I was fortunate enough to visit many of my ancestral Dutch locations in what amounted to a whirlwind tour.
Additionally, my Ferverda cousin, Cheryl and my husband, Jim, rounded out our foursome and did we EVER have a good time. We also worked with the wonderful staff at the Friesland branch of the Dutch National Archives in Leeuwarden, named Tresoar. If that name sounds a lot like treasure to you, there’s a reason and yes, it is indeed full of treasure – both in terms of their records and wonderful employees who we now count among our friends.
Ummm….maybe I should explain…
The Dutch really go all out celebrating King’s Day on his birthday, April 27th. Everything shuts down, all public offices are closed and a huge nationwide party takes place. We were accidentally present for the first King’s Day, which changed from the previous Queen’s Day when the Queen’s eldest son, William Alexander became King. The King is a member of the “House of Orange” and let’s just say we wanted to fit in with the locals – and we did. After all, we’re Dutch, right? Yes, there’s obviously a story behind this and yes, eventually, I’ll tell – but not today😉
I’ll be sharing lots photos of the locations where my Dutch family lived and relevant history in this and several upcoming articles.
Hamlet and Record Confusion
Many locations in the Netherlands are very small hamlets. Often records indicate ancestors living in the larger region but don’t give the name of the tiny village. It’s a bonus to find the village name and Yvette is persistent.
Additionally, there may be several places in the Netherlands, even in Friesland with the same name. For example, there are about 5 different towns, hamlets and villages with the name of Oudega. In my case, the Oudega I would have assumed, just about 3 miles from another location the family lived, is not at all the Oudega where they moved. All I can say is thank goodness for Yvette or I would have fallen directly into that tar pit.
Another complication for my family is that they didn’t do what families are supposed to do. (Now there’s a surprise – NOT.)
Ancestors are supposed to marry in the town where they were raised. Stay there. Have children there. Marry someone of their own religion. Have their children baptized in the same church with the baptism witnessed by other family members. Don’t move around, and don’t marry across the country from where their first wife died. And don’t, absolutely DO NOT, no matter what else, marry someone of a religion that does NOT KEEP RECORDS.
Oh, and don’t change your name either, first or last and certainly not both. Just sayin’…
Yep, Hiram Ferverda’s father did ‘em all.
Welcome to Hiaure!
You can see a short video clip of Hiaure in this YouTube video.
As with all Dutch towns and villages, the church is located on the highest point of land, a small mound called a terp, because the cemetery lies in the churchyard and the Netherlands is an extremely low, meaning wet, country.
Compared to the countryside of the US, Europe is a very small place with limited land. There’s an old saying that the US has land, but Europe has history. In every square foot, I might add.
It’s quite common to be standing in one village and be able to see the church steeple of several churches by turning and looking in various directions. Those churches are the center of yet another village. This is true even in very small villages. Today, Hiaure has about 65 residents and that probably hasn’t changed much since Hiram was born there.
Because the Netherlands is so low, much of the country is reclaimed either from the sea or extreme lowlands. Windmills furnish wind-power to pumps and are commonplace scenes across the landscape.
This photo, taken close to Hiaure as we drove through the Dutch countryside is a typical Dutch scene. Today, it’s also not unusual to see wind turbines generating electricity in addition and sometimes side by side with older traditional windmills. Note the windmill in the clearing to the right of the house.
Village life centered around the church. Children were baptized there, families attended services, marriages took place, as did funerals. After the funeral service, parishioners walked outside and buried the person in close proximity to the church – sometimes in a grave the family owned, used and reused for generations.
As you can see, the Hiaure church is located on a small “terp” or raised area, the highest location in the village. One does not want to strike water when digging graves.
Hiram’s father was a school teacher. A house was typically provided to the teacher as part of their salary and research suggests strongly that this small house is indeed where Hiram was born.
The current resident was very generous to allow us to visit the backyard as well.
Was this where Hiram played as a child? Possibly, but he probably wouldn’t have remembered because by the time his brother was born in October of 1857, when Hiram had just turned 3, they were living in Eernewoude.
The traditional barns, like the one shown above at right, would have been similar to what Hiram saw when he lived in Hiaure or elsewhere in the countryside.
The Dutch love gardens, and tulips, of course. Such old-world beauty and charm.
Sometime between Hiram’s birth and the birth of his brother, 3 years later, the family moved from Hiaure to Eernewoude, Tietjerksteradeel, Friesland, about 20 miles away, probably so that Bauke could accept a different teaching position.
However, in Eernewoude, Hiram’s young life would change forever.
Hiram and Hendrick Ferwerda
Hiram had a brother Hendrick, later known as Henry in the US, born in 1857 in the village of Eernewoude, Tietjerksteradeel, Friesland, and a sister Lysbertus, born November 12, 1859, probably in the same location.
You may notice location spelling disparities, which I find quite confusing. There is a difference between the languages of Dutch and Frisian, the common language spoken in Friesland, the northwesternmost province of the Netherlands. Most people living in Friesland understand and speak Dutch perfectly well, but not all Dutch people speak or understand Frisian, a west Germanic language.
The original spelling is shown as Eernewoude (Dutch) and the current spelling is Earnewald (Frisian), at least I think I have those right.
Eernewoude, as is recorded in the Ferwerda records, was then and remains today a small low-lying village with a 2017 population of around 409 people.
Hiram’s sister died on July 23, 1860 at 8 months of age, not quite 3 months before her mother perished on October 3rd, leaving Bauke with 6 year old Hiram (Harmen) and 3 year old Hendrick to raise alone.
Young Hiram would just have turned 6 years old less than two weeks before his mother died. He would surely have been old enough to remember both his sister’s and his mother’s deaths and funerals.
We don’t know why Geertje died, but the death notice placed in the newspaper by Bauke Ferwerda on October 12th and translated by Yvette reveals a lot:
Tonight at 9 ¼ hours died, after a very long but patient suffering, my beloved wife Geertje Harmens de Jong, in the yet youthful age of 31 years and 6 months, leaving me, after a comfortable union of almost 7½ years, two sons.
Eernewoude, 3 October 1860
Did their daughter die of something related to her mother’s death? Was her mother so ill that the child died? What malady related to the birth could have caused Geertje to suffer for nearly 11 months, killing her and the child both. I would think that infections or issues related to childbirth would be terminal much sooner than that. Whatever Geertje’s affliction, it clearly wasn’t contagious, because no other family members died.
Sadly, young Hiram would have seen his mother’s suffering.
We don’t know positively where Hiram’s mother, Geertje, is buried, but given that the family had been living in Eernwoude for several years, it’s very probable that both she and her daughter are buried in the churchyard there.
The church in Eernewoude was built in 1794, so this would have been where Hiram’s sister and mother’s funerals were both held and probably where they would have been buried as well unless there was a separate Mennonite cemetery which is unlikely.
Graves are reused in European countries after a few years, so the stones, if any ever existed for Geertje and the baby would no longer be preserved today. Perhaps the church records themselves record the location of the plots where they were buried, but that too is rare. It will have to be enough to know they are there someplace.
I would love to have been able to decorate Geertje and her daughter’s grave like this beautifully decorated Dutch grave on a little terp all its own. I so wanted to tell Geertje that her son did just fine. That I’m living proof and that she is my great-great-grandmother. To whisper that her little boy, Harmen, would become Hiram. That he sailed to America and became a leader in his community. That he too married an Anabaptist woman, just like she was. That we came back to find her. That she is not lost to us.
I was not able to visit this village, and I would not have been able to find her grave today, but she is there and I honor her none-the-less.
Rauwerderhem, Friesland, Netherlands
The Dutch population registers show that Hiram lived in Rauwerderhem between January 1, 1861 and Dec. 31, 1881. Another population register says that he lived here between 1854 and 1941. That’s surely true, just only a fraction of that time – and we don’t know exactly which fraction.
We know positively that Hiram had sailed to America long before 1881. In fact, we know that in May of 1863, the family had moved to Oudega.
Rauwerderhem as a region ceased to exist in 1984 and became Boarnsterhim which ceased to exist in 2014. Rauwerderhem includes several municipalities including Irnsum which is probably our clue as to when he lived there.
Oudega and a Step-Mother
Hiram’s father, Bauke, remarried on October 30, 1863, three years after his wife’s death, to Minke “Minnie” Gerb ens Van der Kooi. We know that Bauke moved to Oudega on May 6, 1863, several months before he married Minke. A year later, in 1864 when their first child was born, the family was still living in Oudega (Hemelumer Oldeferd), near the coast.
In 1866, Hiram’s father, Bauke, was listed as the head teacher there.
I wonder who cared for Hiram and Hendrick for the 3 years that Bauke Hendricks Ferwerda was a widower and teaching school. His older son, Hiram who had just turned 6 when his mother died was probably attending school, but assuredly the younger child was not.
A newspaper ad that Yvette discovered answers that question:
A few weeks after Geertje’s death, Bauke advertised for a housekeeper. Their first known housekeeper was Romkje Rintjes Dooijema, a 69-year-old widow who joined the family in July 1861. It is possible that they had a housekeeper before her, that did not live with the family. Romkje was in the household for two years, probably until Bauke’s second marriage in October 1863 to Minke Gerbens van der Kooi.
Hiram moved to Oudega with his father in May 1863 when he would have been 9 years old and lived there for the next four years.
We drove from Leeuwarden to Oudega which took about an hour. The Netherlands is connected by roads today, but in the 1860s and before, the Netherlands was a riverine country – connected by natural waterways and canals constructed strategically to drain the land. Boats tied loosely in canals are equivalent to second cars in the driveway here. You may well be able to get to town more quickly by water than by land.
While it appears that the residents of the Netherlands are in a constant battle with water, in reality, for the most part, they’ve learned to adapt and co-exist. In some cases, they have to tame the water, generally the sea, and they have to find ways to retain what little land they have.
Regardless of what they do, the Dutch are always innovative.
The church in Oudega was constructed in 1850, so would have been relatively new at the time that Hiram started attending with his father.
When they first arrived, Bauke, being the schoolteacher, would have been introduced around. He probably entered the church for the first time, holding his sons’ small hands in each of his larger ones as they made their way to a pew where they boys would have sat on either side of their father, probably fidgeting and squirming. A routine they likely repeated every Sunday.
Bauke was single and available, so any widows near the same age would have taken notice and maybe sat strategically nearby. Perhaps Minke Ger bens Van der Kooi sat nearby as well, exchanging furtive glances with the handsome schoolteacher widower.
Given that Bauke was a music teacher, perhaps he took a more active role in the church.
Bauke and both of his sons were listed on their emigration paperwork as Dutch Reformed, but both of Bauke’s wives were Mennonite. So maybe Minke wasn’t sitting in this church after all.
As with most Dutch churches, the cemetery surrounds the church.
Next to the church is the school and parsonage. Bauke would have likely lived in one of these buildings. It’s unclear from historical records which building was which at the time.
The building immediately next door looks like it might well have been the school, and the schoolmaster might well have lived here too.
It’s also possible that another structure stood at that time that does not remain today, in the part of the churchyard where Jim is standing, between the church and that brick building.
There is definitely space for another structure, but no physical evidence that one existed.
Regardless, this is where Hiram lived, attended church and played as a child, probably in the cemetery among the gravestones.
During the time the family lived in Oudega, Minnie and Bauke presented Hiram with 2 sisters, Lysbeth born August 21, 1864 and Geertje born May 15, 1867. Lysbeth died at sea during the August 1868 crossing. That must have been a heartbreaking, terrifying day, watching your child, or your 4-year-old sibling, slip beneath the waves – especially after having lost your mother and sister just a few years before. Did Hiram ever feel safe from death?
Minnie and Bauke would give Hiram two more sisters and a brother in the US.
When Did Hiram Emigrate?
On August 1, 1868, the Ferwerda family sailed for America, but Hiram may not have been with them. Did he arrive with his parents, or did he join the family later? He wouldn’t have been quite 14, but children then were trusted to travel alone at much younger ages than today.
Yvette provides the following information:
Since 1848, the Dutch national government required each province to compile lists of emigrants each year. The government wanted to understand who was leaving and for what reasons. The lists were usually compiled by requesting lists of emigrants from each municipality. The municipality often based these lists on information in their population registers. If people failed to register their departure, their emigration may go unnoticed for some time and sometimes shows up in the lists years after the emigration took place.
1. Harmen Ferwerda
Information in the source:
The list of emigrants shows that Harmen Ferwerda emigrated from Wijmbritseradeel, Friesland in 1869. He was a 14-year-old baker’s apprentice and listed “geluk te zoeken” [finding happiness/luck] as his reason for departure. His destination was listed as North-America, precise location unknown. He was less well-to-do and had not paid poll tax the previous year.
Source: “Staten van Landverhuizers overzee” [Lists of overseas emigrants], Wijmbritseradeel, Friesland, Netherlands, 1869, p. 88-89; microfiche, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, The Hague; citing Nationaal Archief, Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken [Department of the Interior], afdeling Statistieken [Statistics department], record group 2.04.23.02, call number 26V
Analysis: The other emigrants from Wijmbritseradeel listed ‘to make a fortune’ or ‘amelioration of circumstances’ as reason to emigrate. To find “geluk” (happiness/luck) is an uncommon reason that is not mentioned elsewhere in the list. It may be that this reflects Harmen’s own choice of words.
2. Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda
Information from the source:
The list of emigrants shows that Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda emigrated from Hemelumer Oldephaert en Noordwolde, Friesland in 1868 with 1 wife and 4 children. His destination is listed as Minnesota. The record shows he was less well-to-do, with an annual income of fl.425 the previous year. The notes column states that he was married to a sister of Bergstra. This refers to the first emigrant named in the list of emigrants from Hemelumer Oldephaert en Noordwolde, Rimmer Johannes Bergstra. Several other emigrants in the list of emigrants from that municipality were also related to Rimmer Johannes Bergstra.
Source: “Staten van Landverhuizers overzee” [Lists of overseas emigrants], Hemelumer Oldephaert en Noordwolde, 1868, p. 69-70; microfiche, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, The Hague; citing Nationaal Archief, Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken [Department of the Interior], afdeling Statistieken [Statistics department], record group 2.04.23.02, call number 26V
Yvette’s note: No relationship between Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda’s second wife, Minke Gerbens van der Kooi, and Rimmer Johannes Bergstra is known at this stage. We could investigate this as this might lead to a better understanding of their reasons for emigrating. The way that the list mentions different relationships suggests that they traveled as a group.
The fact that Bauke and his wife have 4 children with them strongly suggests that Hiram was with them and did not make the trip, alone, later. There were only 4 children in total, including the child who died en route.
I wonder why Bauke and family decided to settle in Indiana. It looks like their original destination was Minnesota. Maybe they met someone en route who provided information that changed their minds.
The Elkhart County history book states that there was a group of Dutch that settled in this area, so the Ferwerda family was not the only family in the settlement group. I wonder how they selected Elkhart County, and why.
Checking others in the immigration group with Rimmer Johannes Bergstra (age 67) we find Dirk Peekes Hoogeboom who died in 1887 in Nappanee, Indiana, and is buried in the Union Cemetery where Hendrick Fervida and family are buried. The Union Cemetery is across the road from the Brethren Church. According to Find-A-Grave, a G. R. Bergstra was married to Kirk Hoogeboom, and the emigration record states that Hoogeboom is married to the daughter of Bergstra. Gerben Willems DeBoer was married to Anna (died 1911), a sister of Bergstra, and died in 1874. They are also buried in Union Cemetery. These people lived in the area where Bauke Ferwerda and family settled and provided tenuous ties to the old country.
A second group that was traveling with the Bergstra group from the same location in Holland settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan by 1870 and remained. Gosse Jans Molenaar, age 35, whose wife was the sister of Durk Jeremias Quarre, age 32.
More from Yvette:
Population registers were retrieved for Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda and his son Harmen Ferwerda for the period covering their emigration.
Population registers were kept in the Netherlands since 1850, with some earlier local attempts. Population registers show who lived where in the municipality.
In the 19th century, a population register typically covered a period of 10 to 20 years, depending on the size of the municipality and the mobility of its inhabitants. This register was kept up to date, whenever somebody moved, died or was born their addition or removal from the household was noted. People were required to register whenever they moved into a municipality or moved out of a municipality.
Some population registers were arranged by address. In this case, when people moved, they were struck from the page of their previous address and added to the page of their new address. Other municipalities quickly changed to a system that arranged the population registers by household. In this case, addresses were struck and corrected every time a family moved.
Struck through names in the population register usually indicate one of two things:
All people not stricken through were apparently still living there at the end of the period covered by the register.
Populations give a very good insight in the composition of a household. However, because a population register covers a period of several years, not all people listed on the page may have lived there at the same time. Some people may have died or moved away before other people were born or moved in. Careful analysis of the dates is needed to draw conclusions about the composition of a household.
Hemelumer Oldeferd en Noordwolde 1860-1869
This population record shows the household of Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda. It covers the period 1860-1869 and shows that Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda arrived in Oudega in the municipality of Hemelumer Oldephaert en Noordwolde on 6 May 1863 together with his two sons Harmen and Hendrik. They had come from the municipality of Tietjerksteradeel. The record lists that Bauke married Minke Gerbens van der Kooi on 30 October 1863. She is listed as number 4. Subsequently, two children are born in 1864 (Lijsbert) and 1867 (Geertje).
Son Harmen Baukes Ferwerda leaves the parental home on 22 July 1867 to go to Rauwerdehem. He is also shown as incoming from Wijmbritseradeel on 17 July 1867, when he is added as nr. 8 to the household.
Source: Hemelumer Oldeferd en Noordwolde, Friesland, Netherlands, Bevolkingsregister [Population Register] 1860-1869, p. 88, household of Bauke Hendriks Ferwerda; microfiche, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, Den Haag, Netherlands
Analysis: the dates of Harmen Baukes Ferwerda’s departure and return do not add up, as he arrived back home 10 days before leaving it. Since his listing as number 8 is below that of his sister Geertje b. 18 May 1867, we can be sure he arrived back home after 18 May 1867. More analysis is needed in comparison with the Wymbritseradeel population register.
I wonder why Hiram left and went to Rauwerdehem and then Wijmbritseradeel. Yvette wondered too – and she found the answer!
The population register of Wolsum shows Harmen Baukes Ferwerda as living in the household of Johannes Jousma in Wolsum in the municipality of Wymbritseradeel. He arrived there from Irnsum on 20 November 1867.
Now that’s quite interesting. If Hiram left home of July 22, 1867 and stayed in Irnsum until November 20th of that year, where was he in Irnsum during that time? He was only 12 years old when he left and turned 13 that September. He certainly was living with a family, perhaps someone from his mother’s side of the family who was Mennonite?
Irnsum, today Jrnsum, was a Mennonite stronghold, known to be a center of Mennonite activity before 1600. Two Mennonite congregations originally existed, but one died out relatively early. The second joined the Mennonite conference in Friesland in 1695. In 1684, that congregation had a meeting house with stained glass windows, quite the exception to the traditional “very plain” lifestyle. In 1838 the membership was 83 and in 1871, 160.
This would have been the Mennonite church that Hiram probably attended in Irnsum during his 4 months living there.
A Baker’s Apprenticeship in Wolsum
We may not know who Hiram was living with and what he was doing in Irnsum for 4 months, but we do know more about the time he spent in Wolsum living with Johannes Jousma.
Johannes Jousma was a baker and Harmen Baukes a “bakkersknecht” [baker’s hand]. The term ‘knecht’ was also used for apprentices, which translation would fit with his age (13). By comparing the arrival and departure dates of the other people in the household, Johannes Jousma is shown to have at most one apprentice at the time, sometimes none.
So, Hiram was apprenticing to be a baker. Fortunately, Wolsum was on our itinerary. It’s such a small “place” that we almost missed it, literally.
Our visit to Wolsum was just amazing, for several reasons. In fact, this was one of the highlights of the trip. Ironic that we nearly abandoned this stop because we couldn’t find this hamlet amid the maze of canals and waterways. I’m so glad my friends didn’t give up.
The Wolsum church on the raised terp. While Hiram would probably have attended this church regularly, none of our ancestors or family members are buried here. Or are they?
Yvette came up with a surprise and tells us that:
In the population register Harmen lived with baker Johannes Jousma (Anabaptist) and Pierkje de Jong (Dutch Reformed). I only now realize that Pierkje was his aunt! She was the daughter of Harmen Gerrits de Jong and Angenietje Wijtzes Houtsma and sister to Geertje Harmens de Jong. Therefore, given that Pierkje was Dutch Reformed, she would have attended this church and is likely buried here as well.
Amazing what is hidden away in the details of these records. Anabaptist connections keep popping up. Hiram would cross the ocean and eventually marry an Anabaptist women himself.
In the back of every church, we find a small unobtrusive building like the one shown below.
I thought these were sheds for the groundskeepers holding lawnmowers or perhaps supplies for digging graves, but that’s not at all the purpose for these generally nondescript structures. They are ossuaries for the bones encountered when the grave is dug for the next occupant. Any bones remaining are put into the ossuary and stacked with all of the other bones where the “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” process continues.
Now, I must admit, in locations where I know my ancestors or their family members are buried, I look longingly at these buildings. I know that their DNA is just laying there, but unavailable to me☹
In fact, I’m probably related to everyone in many small villages. No point crying over split-milk, or bone-dust, so let’s walk through this lovely village.
Flowers bloom everyplace in Holland in the spring, peeking through small spaces, seeking the sun.
Beautiful moss-covered walkway beside the church. I love these little peek-a-boo Dutch gardens. So inviting!
Looking across the fields. The next hamlet is always within view. The fence below isn’t between fields, but across a canal or waterway. We fence roads here, the Dutch fence canals.
Some hamlets are too small to even have a church.
One such place is named Fiifhus translated as “Five Houses,” for obvious reasons, within sight of Wolsum.
A one lane road reaches across the fields and canals in the direction of the tiny Five Houses where we were told the Wolsum baker once lived. Of course, we’re going!
A one car bridge and quaint, beautiful cottages greeted us.
It was here, in 5 Houses, officially a part of Wolsum because the two hamlets shared the church, that Hiram served his apprenticeship with Johannes Jousma.
Five Houses was located at the end of the little dead end one-vehicle-wide “road” that ended beyond the 5th house. The street looked more like a walkway and we weren’t sure we were supposed to drive there, or could turn around, so we parked at the end and walked.
The people in Wolsum told us that the “old baker” had lived in Fiifhus. There were literally 5 houses originally and only one more today, all lined up in a row across from the canal. The “road” in the 1860s to 5 Houses was the canal by boat.
Wood decays quickly in the Netherlands which is why most structures are built of brick. Stone is scarce in this lowland country. Note the moss growing on the fence. It grows everyplace.
Cheryl, always shy (humor), began talking to people and asking questions. Fortunately, Yvette and some of the Frisian-speaking archives staff were along to help with translation, although most Dutch people speak at least some English.
The residents were amazingly friendly and as interested in us as we were in their little village. In the Netherlands, many residences were both a house and a barn, combined. This one was built, remodeled or at least roofed in 1871. The house portion for the people is much smaller than the barn portion, which is typical.
We continued walking along the canal, on the left, below.
It was absolutely amazing to stand where we knew Hiram had stood, in his footsteps, and I mean exactly, daily, 146 years earlier. This boy who would become a man and have the sons who would be Cheryl’s father and my grandfather. And here we were, standing where he stood, looking at the same scenes he saw.
I’m sure Hiram never imagined such a thing, just as I could never have imaged anything like standing here when I was a young teen. When Hiram was living in Five Houses, he couldn’t possibly have imagined that he would sail to America just a year later. He planned to be a baker, perhaps right here, for the rest of his life. But life had something very different in store for young Harmen who would soon become Hiram.
If mother could only have been with us that day. My heart both rejoiced and broke. I’m incredibly glad that Cheryl and I were together, representing our family lines. I wish this could have happened a decade earlier when Mom could have joined us. I’m sure she was with us in spirit.
At the very end of the red brick road, we found the baker’s house where the driveway was wider than the road. The garage portion in front is new, but the rear is older and original. The current resident told us that when he bought the property, some 30+ years ago, he had to tear out the old ovens and haul them away, so we knew unquestionably that we were in the right place and had indeed found the baker’s house where Hiram lived.
My heart broke again.
Hauled. Them. Away.
Lead in a genealogist’s heart. Wasn’t there even one brick left? Someplace?
Nope. The Dutch are fanatically neat and tidy – a trait which I did NOT inherit.
The homeowner graciously invited us to walk on his property and here we found the old barn and building where Hiram likely lived.
Another small building at the rear of this property, below.
The Dutch seldom tear a building down. They simply refurbish, again and again, and the old building isn’t so old. Old in European terms is measured in hundreds of years. The perspective is very different from the US.
Hiram would have walked on these bricks or on this path if bricks weren’t yet laid, and perhaps gone to the supply building for what he needed for the day’s baking.
Structures are mostly made of stone because the almost constant moisture causes wood to rot quickly.
Each property along the small dead-end street also had a “location” for their boat or boats to be tied up on the canal, right across from the house.
Hiram probably rose early, before dawn, to bake bread, then loaded the boat with the baked good to deliver to Wolsum, visible across the field from where we stood, in front of the baker’s house where Hiram would have boarded the boat. It was as if he was standing with us, had guided us back in time to this very place to stand in his footprints.
Was this young man, barely a teen, homesick? Did he miss his father, step-mother and siblings? Did he think about them and wonder what they were doing in the misty or rainy mornings on the boat to Wolsum?
If you cry in the rain, no one knows.
Yvette tells us that:
The emigration record shows that Harmen Baukes Ferwerda emigrated with his father, step-mother and siblings on October 15, 1868 to North America.
Source: Wolsum, Wymbritseradeel, Friesland, Netherlands, Bevolkingsregister [Population Register] 1862-1880, p. 30, household of Johannes Jousma; microfiche, Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, Den Haag, Netherlands
So, Harmen, known to us as Hiram, did immigrate in 1868, not later, but I still wonder if he traveled separately since the rest of the family is recorded as leaving on August 1st.
We’ll catch up with Hiram on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in part 2 of his story, but first, we have a DNA riddle to solve.
The DNA Twist
This story would not be complete without something about DNA, and the DNA aspect of this story is quite unexpected.
One day, I received an e-mail from Yvette whose mother had recently taken an autosomal DNA test. The results were nothing short of amazing!
Yvette’s mother and my mother matched on 5 chromosomes. They matched at Family Tree DNA, although it was easier to compare them at Gedmatch since my cousin, Cheryl and her brother had both tested at 23andMe their results were transferred to GedMatch.
While the matches on chromosomes 6, 11 and 15 between our mothers are too small to be meaningful, the matches on chromosomes 18 and 22 are large enough to potentially be relevant, meaning identical by descent, not identical by chance.
This is exciting not just because Yvette is a friend, but because it might help both of us unravel our respective genealogy. Plus, how cool would that be – to meet through genealogy and then discover we are related.
GedMatch predicted 6.6 generations to a common ancestor between our mothers, but both Yvette and I think that a common ancestor would be further back in time. Obviously, Yvette knows both her and my Dutch ancestry quite well.
Yvette took a look at both of our pedigree charts and identified 4 different potential lines where one or both of us had holes in our tree where we could potentially intersect. That sounded hopeful.
Had my mother not tested before her death, and had Yvette not tested her mother, we would never have known of this match, because it does not extend to matches between us daughters.
The Rest of the Story
This match originally occurred about 5 years ago. I recorded it at that time, excited that someplace, Yvette and I probably shared an ancestor.
However, things have evolved, developed and changed over time.
While writing this article, it occurred to me that I should recheck our DNA matches and see if we could discern anything new.
Was I ever surprised.
Our mothers are no longer matches to each other at Family Tree DNA. At GedMatch, their matching algorithm has apparently changed too, because now they are shown only as matching on chromosome 18. The match on 22 is entirely gone. I didn’t recheck the smaller segments.
This is confounding.
Checking Yvette’s mother to see if she matches either Cheryl or her brother shows no match on this segment.
That’s not terribly unusual, because Mother could have inherited a different piece of DNA from her ancestors that Cheryl and Don did not. Nothing unusual about that for first cousins. Mom and Cheryl/Don share grandparents, so each would be expected to only share about 12.5% of their DNA with mother – and not entirely the same 12.5%.
I could have checked at that time to see if Mom and Cheryl matched on that same segment, given that Cheryl did not match Yvette’s mother, but I was waiting for Don’s results to come back and never got back to checking. Plus, I wanted to retest Cheryl and Don on a fully compatible chip at Family Tree DNA.
The next thing I knew, 5 years had passed and here we are.
However, today we have a much easier visual tool in DNAPainter.
Mom, Cheryl and Don are related in the following fashion.
Mom, Don, Cheryl and another Ferverda line cousin named Mike all match on this same segment, telling me that this is indeed either a Ferverda or a Miller segment, given that Hiram Ferverda married Eva Miller, a Brethren woman.
If Mom matches Yvette’s Mom on this segment and if the segment is a valid IBD (identical by descent) match, then Yvette’s mother will match all three of the Ferverda cousins on the same segment where she matches mother. The only way that mother can match both Cheryl and Don (on very large segments, 17 and 35 cM respectively) is through their common grandparents. Their respective mothers are not related to each other or the Ferverda line. Mike, another Ferverda descendant also matches Mom, on 27 cM that includes Yvette’s Mom’s blue segment and overlaps with both Cheryl and Don.
The perfect triangulation scenario – except they don’t.
Yvette’s mother does not match Cheryl, Don or Mike. Therefore, because mother does match all 3 of her Ferverda cousins, and they all match each other as well on this same segment, that means that the match between Yvette’s mother and my mother is not identical by descent, but identical by chance. Rats!
Better to know than not.
The Moral of the DNA Story
But most of all, test those cousins and older family members because often their DNA is every bit as important to genealogy, if not more so, than yours.
A huge thank you to the Tresoar staff as well as Yvette Hoitink.
Initially, Tresoar was planning to offer “Back to Your Roots” genealogical tourism packages, although the project never emerged in quite the way it was initially imagined. If you have Dutch ancestry, please contact either Tresoar in Friesland or Yvette for assistance anyplace in the Netherlands.
Lots of people will have received DNA tests as gifts over the holidays. This pleases me to no end, because I know I’ll match any number of them and maybe, just maybe, those matches will help me fill in those pesky blanks in my tree or break down brick walls.
However, for the most part, those testers probably aren’t genealogists, at least not yet. They are most likely curious about “who they are” or didn’t even realize they might be curious about anything until they unwrapped that gift and discovered a DNA test inside.
Let’s hope they test with one of the major 4 companies, being Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry or 23andMe. (Sale prices are still in effect.) Some additional firms are certainly reputable and provide ethnicity only tests (meaning no matching), such as the Genographic Project, LivingDNA and Insitome, but then there are also a growing number of questionable pop-up DNA testing, upload sites and interpretation “services.” And yes, I’m using that word loosely. Buyer beware.
For genealogists, the gold is in the cousin matching. We already know that DNA is more than ethnicity, and ethnicity is far more than percentages.
Ethnicity, for the most part, is a shiny red bauble that the magic wand of advertising transforms from a diamond in the rough into the glittery Hope diamond with a free kilt to lederhosen conversion (or vice versa) thrown in to boot.
Yay – Results are Back
Everyone who received DNA test kits during the holiday season has hopefully spit or swabbed and mailed and is now waiting excitedly. Waiting is always the hardest part!
Soon, they will be discussing their ethnicity results. Reactions will vary, swinging like a pendulum – and you may well get to help interpret.
To help people understand, you may need to explain about how Native Americans, especially east of the Mississippi were admixed very early in our national history, so their “fully Native” ancestor probably wasn’t.
You can explain about how autosomal DNA is diluted in each generation since their Native (or French, or Italian, etc.) ancestor lived – to the point that the Native DNA might not show today.
You can talk about reference populations, or the lack thereof, and that people in France and Israel can’t legally take DNA tests for recreational purposes.
You can educate people about how we all need to research our genealogy, and how, as Blaine Bettinger writes in this classic article, we have both a genetic and genealogical tree. The ancestors are always there in our tree, but we may not have inherited measurable DNA from a particular individual if they are several generations back in time.
If that coveted Native ancestor doesn’t appear in their DNA, then they need to look in their family tree. She or he might be waiting there, AND, they may still be able to prove their Native heritage using either Y or mitochondrial DNA testing at Family Tree DNA.
There’s more than one kind of DNA and more than one way to prove Native heritage.
The Underlying Truth
But the truth of the matter is, while each and every one of those statements above is entirely valid, the fundamental truth about ethnicity testing is that…
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.
Everyone in the Americas (except for Native American, First Nations or aboriginal peoples) wants to know where their ancestors “came from.” As genealogists, we deal with no records, damaged records, misplaced records, burned records, rapid westward migration with no links “back home” and at least three wars on our soil. It’s no wonder that we often can’t track those ancestors back across the pond or even to the shore.
Therefore, we hope that DNA testing can help us bridge that gap. And indeed, both Y and mitochondrial DNA testing is wonderful for doing just that for matrilineal and patrilineal lines.
But ethnicity results, in most cases, are really only useful for making continental-level discoveries. What we really want, refinement and granularity to the country level within Europe, for example, isn’t really feasible.
Size is part of the reason why. Look at the size of the contiguous 48 US states as compared to Europe, courtesy thetruesize.com.
Would you expect to be able to tell the genetic difference between people that live in Washington State from people that live in Idaho? That’s roughly the same distance as from the UK to Germany. France is located down in California and Nevada.
Can you tell the difference genetically between people who live in Washington State from California or Nevada? That idea sounds rather preposterous when you look at it that way. Now, is it any wonder that your ancestor’s “French” doesn’t show up, but German does?
Here’s Texas compared to Europe. Can you tell the people in Dallas from the people who live in San Antonio from the people who live in Houston, genetically? That’s the same difference as Germany, Italy and Austria. The Czech Republic is over near Shreveport. You get the drift.
Western European Countries are the Size of US States
Western European countries are even more difficult.
How about discerning the difference between Indiana and Illinois residents, or Illinois and Missouri? European countries are the size of medium sized US states. Larger states, like Texas cover most of the Iberian Peninsula including Spain and Portugal and reach over into Morocco.
To make this relatively small region even more complex, people have moved freely across these areas for thousands of years. The people from the Russian Steppes moved into Eastern Europe displacing and assimilating with the hunter-gatherer population that had resided there for millennia.
The Germanic tribes moved towards the coast and into the British Isles. The people from “Indiana and Ohio” moved into “Illinois” and then that entire group populated parts of Scandinavia. According to a recent genetic paper, some of those “New Yorkers” and on east moved into Scandinavia too.
Oh, and the Sephardic Jewish people moved from the Middle East into “Texas” aka Spain and then on up to “Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania” some 500 years ago to join their Ashkenazi brethren. Fortunately, Jewish people generally stayed together and didn’t intermarry or assimilate much into the local population, so we can still identify them genetically.
Europe is indeed a great melting pot.
Adding the largest US state, Alaska onto the map makes the rest of the states and their corresponding European countries look really tiny.
Ethnicity is Really Only Reliable at a Continental Level
Ethnicity really is only reliable at a continental level, plus Jewish and in particular, Ashkenazi. Very small or trace percentages may not be reliable at all. We’ll discuss ways to prove or disprove minority admixture in my next article, Minority Ethnicity Percentages – True or False?.
This continental-level-only phenomenon is more understandable if you look at a world map.
It’s extremely difficult to discern any reliable level of granularity between regions as tiny as US states in Europe, no matter how badly testers want to know. Of course, that doesn’t keep the testing companies from trying, and kudos to them. As they make improvements, your intra-continental estimates will change over time – so don’t fall in love with them. And don’t trade that lederhosen for a kilt or vice versa – or get that Viking tattoo just yet.
It’s much more reasonable to rely on ethnicity estimates based on much larger regions, where people after migration have been separated from people in the other regions for a much longer period of time, allowing time for unique mutations to develop.
Less admixture happens with greater geographic distance. People who aren’t neighborly don’t produce offspring because begetting requires proximity. Mutations that occurred after the populations split into different regions are found only in the new or the old populations, but not both – at least not in high frequencies. Of course, population boundaries are fluid and people (continue to) move from place to place, back and forth.
What You Can Do!
When your family and friends begin to discuss their confusion or disappointment with their ethnicity results, you’ll have this article to explain the situation visually. Please feel free to share and encourage them to learn more.
Sometimes it’s difficult to be the cold voice of reason in a positive way, but there is so much more to learn. I always hope to spark curiosity about why, and then provide ways that the person can fall in love with discovering their ancestors and ancestry.
Another good resource is the article, Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum which explains how DNA ethnicity testing actually works – in terms that everyone can understand.
If your family is wondering what happened to their Native American DNA, you’re not alone. I’ve put together a page of Native American Resources to help everyone!
Have fun, enjoy and let’s hope that newly baptized ethnicity testers will like the water enough to engage in a bit of genealogy. You can encourage them by helping construct their first tree by recording what they know about their parents and grandparents. Maybe give them a taste of success by helping them find a record or two. Give them a taste of genealogy crack.
You never know, it just might be habit forming!
Thank you so much.