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One of the comments I hear regularly is that I’m lucky to be involved with genetic genealogy and the opportunities it offers. I agree, I am very fortunate, but luck, per se, has little to do with it. Luck is buying the winning lottery ticket. I haven’t managed to do that yet, although I’m still trying.

In the mean time, while I waited for Lady Luck to smile on me, I prepared, just in case I’m never “lucky.”

Everyone needs at least one really great teacher in their life. I was fortunate to have three, the first of which was Mrs. Alsup, followed by my step-father, Dean Long, who told me that “Luck favors the prepared and elbow grease,” and then with Joe Caruso.

Mrs. Alsup

Mrs. Inez Alsup was my English teacher in high school who taught me an extremely valuable lesson, one I really didn’t understand that I had learned or the depth of its value until nearly 25 years later.

I’ll add that she was a black woman, but in saying that, I also want to say that to me, she was just Mrs. Alsup and black or white mattered not one iota. I never thought of her in those terms. It’s just that looking back, I realize what a pioneer she really was and have a much greater respect for what she had to overcome to achieve what she did. It was from the depths of those experiences that she spoke to me.

She was a black woman, born in 1938 in the deep south, in Georgia, who obtained both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, became a teacher, then an administrator and assistant principal before retiring.

But Mrs. Alsup was tough, really tough. She was tougher on me than on anyone else and I felt she was extremely unfair.

As an adult, I fully understand why, and I appreciate it beyond expression. But I wasn’t an adult back then.

Mrs. Alsup saw my potential, and she comprehended something I didn’t. Women, in that day and age, had to be better to be equal. They had to excel, and excellence had to be absolutely unquestionable. Good wasn’t good enough.

On top of being a female, I was a mixed race female, and she understood all too well what that meant. I did not. Consequently, I was extremely unhappy with Mrs. Alsup.

“Next Time, Earn It”

Mrs. Alsup refused to give me an A that I fully believed I deserved. I was one-thirty-second of a point away from that A.

One. Thirty. Second. Of. A. Point.

1/32

Using math to average and round up, I could fully justify why I should have that A, but Mrs. Alsup was completely unswayed. Other teachers do this as standard practice, I argued. She patiently heard me out, and then she looked at me, dead straight in the eye, leaning forward over her desk until her face was just inches from mine, squinted her eyes at me and said, or rather kind of hissed, “Next time, earn it.”

I was furious, utterly furious. Mrs. Alsup was entirely unfazed as I stormed out of that room with an attitude and a half.

I did earn it, damn it, I did!

But, I really hadn’t. I had been almost good enough. Not good enough. Not better. Just almost. Not quite. Almost isn’t good enough.

But guess what…the next semester, and the next, I earned that A, and then I earned an A+ followed by what was called an A5, which was a 5 point A, as compared to a “regular” 4 point A.

Mrs. Alsup was right – if anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing well, completely and unquestionably. I learned to be undeniable and it served me very well from that time forward in my life, but it wasn’t until I met Joe Caruso that I fully internalized the lesson Mrs. Alsup had taught me.

Until I truly understood the value of undeniability, and could put words to the phenomenon, I was unable to leverage it effectively.

Joe Caruso

Joe Caruso, founder of Caruso Leadership Institute, is a cancer survivor (as a teenager) with a high school education. Yet, he consults with and to America’s largest corporations. Joe is an unprecedented teacher and leader and he does not know the meaning of the word “can’t.” If you ever have the opportunity to hear Joe speak, just do it.

In 1997, I attended a seminar, (quite by accident actually), taught by Joe which turned out to be a clarifying, life-changing event. You can download, for free, Joe Caruso’s Success Strategies, one of which is to “Be Undeniable.” Indeed. Joe’s Success Strategies poster has remained on the wall by my desk through three moves and more than two decades.

Yes, I’m lucky, fortunate and blessed to have had Inez Alsup, my step-father AND Joe Caruso enter my life at the moments I needed a lesson.

Being Undeniable

On that fateful day that I was infuriated by Mrs. Alsup, I learned what it meant to be undeniable, although at that time I didn’t understand undeniability as a strategy.

A year later, I put that lesson to use when I attended a school board meeting, refusing to be excluded from a college prep class because the school wasn’t going to “waste the seat on a girl who’s just going to get married anyway.” They were going to “give it to a boy who would make something of himself.” I made my case and refused to leave. I obtained that seat in the class. I didn’t realize at the time that I had internalized Mrs. Alsup’s lesson.

Some two decades later, Joe Caruso would verbalize this golden rule of opportunity and made me realize the important life lesson that Mrs. Alsup had taught – far more important, at least to me, than the English class or the grade itself.

I wish I could personally thank Mrs. Alsup, but she passed away in 2010. My Dad’s gone too, but I can still thank Joe Caruso. In their honor, I would like to convey these very simple messages:

  • Luck favors the prepared and elbow grease. (Thanks Dad.)
  • Earn it. (Thanks Mrs. Alsup.)
  • Be undeniable. (Thanks Joe Caruso.)

And in case you’re wondering just how this applies to genetic genealogy, this is exactly the strategy I used to make the risky move of switching careers in the early/mid 2000s to genetic genealogy which was at that time a brand new field. It’s not luck, it’s thanks to Mrs. Alsup, Dad, Joe and a whole lot of continuing elbow grease.

However, I am still buying lottery tickets. It never hurts to be both prepared AND lucky. Fingers crossed!

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Philip Jacob Miller was a Brethren man, also called Dunkers because their faith called for fully immersing, or dunking, those being baptized. Baptism took place as adults, not as infants, with the belief that one could only adhere to the tenets of the church if one was old enough to comprehend the teachings. Hence, converts were rebaptized, invalidating infant baptisms performed in other Protestant sects, causing the Brethren to sometimes be referred to by the derogatory term, “rebaptizers” by their Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed contemporaries. The Brethren were perceived as fanatical and sometimes seditious in their beliefs, but they found strength and comfort among their Brethren families and communities. This history explains the tight-knit sect that became both accustomed and immune to public outrage and pressure from outside of the Brethren church. Pressure to confirm from inside the Brethren church was another matter.

Philip Jacob’s father, Michael Muller/Miller, was Brethren as were his children, grandchildren and on down through a total of 5 generations until the first non-Brethren emerged in my line. John Whitney Ferverda, my grandfather, was raised Brethren, married a Lutheran woman and their compromise was the Methodist church. Philip Jacob was probably rolling over in his grave, wherever that is.

Brethren adhere to the “three negatives.” According to “A Centennial Statement,” published in 1981 by the Brethren Church:

Obedience to Christ is the center of Brethren life. This conviction has led the Brethren historically to practice non-conformity, non-resistance, and non-swearing.

  • In non-conformity, Brethren have sought to follow the way of Christ in contrast to the way of the world.
  • In non-resistance, Brethren have renounced the Christian’s use of violence in combating evil, striving, as far as possible, to be reconciled to all persons.
  • In non-swearing, Brethren have sought to lead such trustworthy Christian lives that oath-taking becomes unnecessary.

Every Brethren believer must live in a way that exhibits to the world the truth and love of Christ.

Historically, this means that Brethren did not believe in any particpation in government, to the point that they would not obtain a marriage license and those who did were shunned.

For instance, on February 14, 1776, Alexander Mack Jr., the son of the founder of the Brethren faith writes in a letter that he is shunning his daughter, Sarah, because “she married outside of the brotherhood” and secondly “because the marriage was performed with a license and third because her husband had not quite completed his apprenticeship.”

Brethren seldom registered deeds and often did not file wills. Worse yet, at least for the genealogist, they didn’t keep church records of births, baptisms, marriages or deaths.

Tracking Brethren families is difficult because of these beliefs. Sometimes tax lists, land surveys and purchases from or sales to non-Brethren community members are the only documents that confirm where our Brethren families were living at a given time, at least before the census began. You might escape a death record, but not even Brethren could escape the tax man.

If a Brethren was called to court, or wanted to become naturalized, they would not take an oath, but asked to be allowed to “affirm” instead. Hence, the Brethren men from Maryland traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where they were allowed affirmations as opposed to “swearing an oath.” Several Brethren men, including the minister Nicholas Martin, Philip Jacob Miller, Michael Miller, Jacob Stutzman and Stephen Ulrich made that journey for naturalization in either 1762 or 1767, or both.

Some Brethren felt that they had betrayed their faith by becoming naturalized, even under those circumstances, as minister Nicholas Martin reported to Alexander Mack Jr. in a letter in 1772 about Stephen Ulrich’s remorse and feelings of estrangement within the Brethren community.

The Brethren were peaceloving pietists. In essence, they would not participate in violence. They would literally not defend their families in a time of danger or warfare because violence was fundamentally opposed within their religion.

This wasn’t just a conceptual belief, as there are many examples over the years of Indian raids and families who died, and allowed their children to die rather than to defend themselves. I can’t imagine a faith so strong that someone would let a family member, particularly a child, be injured, tortured and perish.

I have to marvel at the people who lived by these beliefs. I respect them for the strength of their convictions, but I would never last.

Therefore, understanding that Philip Jacob Miller was indeed a devout member of this church, in a strong Brethren community where his entire extended family was Brethren as well, it never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that Philip Jacob Miller was a Revolutionary War Patriot.

That’s about as “un-Brethren” as you can get, especially for a man who went all the way to Philadelphia to avoid taking an oath in Maryland, not once, but twice.

I published the story of Philip Jacob Miller and there are surely some hints that, as I read back over the article, now seem obvious. Cousin Marian, a former DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) chapter rep sent me an e-mail and told me that several people had joined the DAR based on Philip Jacob Miller’s service. Imagine my shock!

Marian discovered that Philip Jacob Miller’s service was based on the 1783 tax list. I had found that list previously, but I didn’t realize the significance, especially when combined with other information.

The Maryland State Archives indicate that the tax list was bound into a book with the title of “Copy of Assessors Certificates of Valuation of Property in Washington County in Pursuance of the Act of Assembly for Raising the Supplies for the year 1783.” (Underscore mine.) The important part, relative to Philip Jacob Miller’s Revolutionary War service are those underlined words. In other words, these taxes, at least in part, went to fund the Revolutionary War effort.

The tax list shows several Miller men on page 46 and 47, including Philip Jacob Miller, his brother John and his son, Daniel.

Please note that you can click to enlarge any image.

From the article about Philip Jacob Miller, I’ve excerpted the portions relevant to his Revolutionary War service, and added information, as follows:

The Revolutionary War

Philip Jacob Miller lived through the Revolutionary War in Washington County, Maryland, taken from Frederick County in 1776. This would have been Philip Jacob’s third war in 30 years, or fourth war in 40 years, depending on how you were counting.

Floyd Mason, in his book, “The Michael Miller and Susanna Bechtol Family Record,” tells us what he discovered about the Brethren in Frederick County during the Revolutionary War.

During the Revolution, the colonists held their national conventions and appointed certain committees of local leaders to carry out local responsibilities. In PA and MD, the main committee was the Committee of Observation who had the responsibility for raising funds to promote the war, select its leaders and furnish themselves with one committee member for each 100 families.  This committee had full power to act as it saw fit, answered to no one and there was no appeal of their decisions.

The militia groups were called Associations, later called Militia Companies. The Committee of Observation made lists of those not participating, whether Loyalist or members of the “Peace churches,” and they were called non-enrollers or Non-Associators.

The war issues divided the people’s loyalty. About one third favored the revolution, one third were Loyalists or Tories who favored the English and one third were neutral or did not believe in this manner of settling the issues. This threw the Quakers, Mennonites and Dunkers (Brethren) in with the Tories or Loyalists and in opposition to the efforts of the Committee of Observation, at least as the committee saw it.

The churches were bringing discipline to bear on members who did not follow the historic peace teachings of the church. Annual Conferences were held each year and members were asked to remain true to the Church’s nonviolent principles, to refrain from participating in the war, to not voluntarily pay the War taxes and not to allow their sons to participate in the war. This caused a lot of problems for the church members who wanted to be loyal to the church, loyal to the Loyalists who had brought them to the new country and loyal to the new government which was emerging.

As the war wore on and it looked as if the patriot’s efforts might lose, emotions raged. Non-Associators found themselves having to pay double and triple taxes. Their barns were burned, livestock stolen or slaughtered and their crops destroyed.  They were often beaten and “tarred and feathered.”  Church members came to the aid of those who endured the losses.

Some members chose not to pay the war taxes or participate in the war activities and chose to wait until the authorities came and presented their papers to have taxes forced from them. This was in compliance with the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Action. The Committee of Observation provided that non-Associators could take as much of their possessions with them as they could and then they would seize the property and remaining possessions and sell them to fill their war chests.

During this time, the Revolutionary War was taking place and the Brethren were known as non-Associators, those who would take an oath of loyalty, but would not belong to a militia unit nor fight. Many non-Brethren residents suspected them of secretly being allied with the Tories and resented their refusal to protect themselves and others.  Laws of the time allowed for the confiscation of property of anyone thought to be disloyal.  Records of this type of event have survived in the oral and written histories of some of the Brethren families, in particular some who migrated on down into the Shenandoah Valley.  Perhaps others thought it wise to move on about this time as well.

Taken from several sources, these are some of the names of non-Associators and others who were processed by the Committee of Observance that are descendants of Johann Michael Mueller (Jr., Philip Jacob Miller’s father) who died in 1771.

  • Samuel Garber who may have married one of Michael Miller’s daughters, and their sons Martin and Samuel Garber
  • Jacob Good, Michael Miller’s step-daughter’s husband
  • John Rife, Michael Miller’s step-daughter’s husband
  • David Miller, the son of Philip Jacob Miller
  • Michael Wine, married Susannah, the daughter of Lodowich Miller, son of Michael Miller
  • Jacob Miller, son of Lodowich Miller
  • Abraham Miller, relationship uncertain
  • Another source lists Elder Daniel Miller, stated as Lodowick’s son, as being fined 4.5 pounds.

Susannah Miller Wine told her children and grandchildren that Michael Wine, Jacob Miller, Martin Garber and Samuel Garber had their property confiscated by the authorities for remaining true to the non-violent principles of their church.

Lodowich Miller’s family group removed to Rockingham County, VA about 1782 or 1783.

We know that in 1783, Philip Jacob Miller, John Miller and Lodowick Miller were signing deeds back and forth in Frederick County. These activities may well have been in preparation for Lodowick’s departure. He was not on the 1783 tax list, and at least part of his land was clearly in Washington County, so he was apparently gone by that time.

William Thomas, on the Brethren Rootsweb list in 2011 tells us:

I have a copy of the 1776 non-enrollers list for Washington County, MD, that lists “Dunkars & Menonist” fines. The list includes Abraham Miller, David Miller, and David Miller son of Philip.  It goes on to list an appraisal of guns (whatever that means) in 1777 and includes a Henry Miller.

Point being there were several Miller’s in Washington County, some of who were Dunkers or Mennonites, a name common to both denominations.

If you move to the 1776 non-enroller list for Frederick County, MD, you have even more Millers. You have Jacob Miller, Jacob Miller s/o Adam, Abraham Miller, Peter Miller, Stephen Miller, Solomon Miller, Robert Miller, Henry Miller, Philip Miller, David Miller and Daniel Miller, all fined, and implying a Dunker/Mennonite/Quaker religious affiliation.

Washington County, Maryland was formed in September 1776 from the portion of Frederick County where Philip Jacob Miller lived. Note that while David Miller, son of Philip is listed, Philip Jacob is not listed but he could be listed as Philip, although we’ll see on the 1783 list that another Philip Miller is also residing in the area. So, Philip on the tax list could be another Philip, Jacob could be the Jacob Miller who left for Virginia, and Philip Jacob’s name could be legitimately absent from the “Dunkars and Menonist” list.

There is other evidence that Philip Jacob Miller did participate at some level. Men 16-60 were required to participate in the local militia. Philip Jacob was born between 1722 and 1727, so he would have been about 50 years old in 1776, clearly not 60 where he would be exempt until 1782 at the very earliest.

From the book, “Colonial Soldiers of the South, 1732-1774” by Murtie June Clark:

Capt. John White’s Company Maryland Militia, 6 days, undated:

  • Michael Miller
  • Jacob Miller

Note that there were multiple Michael and Jacob Millers in the area, and not all of them appear to be Brethren. This alone is not conclusive.

List of Militia 1732-1763 now before the Committee of Accounts lists John White’s militia as from Frederick County as well as that of Jonathan Hager.

Capt. Jonathan Hager’s Company, Maryland Militia 6 days service, undated:

  • Jacob Miller
  • Conrod Miller
  • John Miller Jr.
  • John Miller
  • Jacob Miller Jr.
  • Zachariah Miller
  • Philip Jacob Miller
  • Jacob Miller (son of Conrad)

Perhaps Philip Jacob Miller was trying, rather unsuccessfully it seems, to find a middle ground.

It’s difficult to understand how to interpret this information that seems to be conflicting. To try to resolve or better understand the situation, I turned to the 1790 census where I found 2 Philips in Washington County, 5 Jacobs, 7 Johns and an Abraham in both Washington and Frederick County.  Unfortunately, the 1790 census did not add clarity.

One thing we do know is that Philip Jacob Miller always used both names. A second Jacob Miller, also Brethren, also found early in Frederick County, Maryland, moved to Virginia about this time and then later to the Brethren community in Montgomery County, Ohio where Philip Jacob Miller’s sons, Daniel and David settled. This Jacob Miller has been proven to be unrelated on the Michael Miller line via Y DNA testing through the Miller-Brethren DNA Project.

If you descend from any Brethren Miller line, and have either Miller paternal Y or autosomal DNA tests, please join this project at Family Tree DNA to help us identify the various Miller Brethren lines. If you haven’t yet tested, Miller men can order the Y DNA test here and everyone can take the autosomal Family Finder test.

Philip’s Land

We can tell based on Philip Jacob Miller’s land records that he did indeed pay his taxes. In the 1750s, he had a 290 acre tract and a 50 acre tract surveyed.

The 1783 tax list provides us with the following information:

Philip Jacob Miller owned “sundry tracts” meaning more than one, which included:

  • Acres of wood – 98
  • Acres of meadow – 14
  • Acres of arable – 55
  • Total #acres – 167
  • Value – 250
  • Value of improvements – 110
  • Horses – 2
  • Black Cattle – 4
  • Value of livestock – 21
  • Value other property – 3
  • Total amount of property – 384

We don’t know what happened to the total of 340 acres that Philip Jacob had surveyed in the 1750s, but it’s entirely possible that he sold or gave portions to other Brethren, in particular, his children. We haven’t found deeds. It’s also possible that some of the land lay in Frederick County, the part that did not become Washington, although given the locations that we know, I don’t think that’s likely.

We also know that in 1796, when Philip Jacob sold his land to move to Kentucky, he sold 290 acres which is consistent with his survey.

While I can’t confirm exactly how and when Philip Jacob Miller obtained and disposed of land, one thing is clear. Philip Jacob Miller did not lose his land that he purchased from his father in 1751 and had surveyed in 1755. He sold the largest portion of that land in 1796. I don’t know why the 1783 tax list shows less land, unless he gave some of it to his children, who gave it back when they left, not long after this tax list was prepared. In fact, perhaps this 1783 forced payment of taxes to support the war was the last straw that convinced his sons, Daniel and David to move to Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

His son, “Daniel Miller of Philip” is shown on the 1783 list as well with no land, but a David Miller has 142 acres. Since..

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Sometimes milestones make us think. Life is seldom what we expect, but that doesn’t mean we can’t influence the outcome. In fact, life is an amazing journey that takes us to incredible places we never expected. When I was 40, genetic genealogy hadn’t yet been born – yet here we are today!

One of my beloved family members is having a 40th today, and I’d like to share some “accumulated wisdom” for her and also for my genealogy friends.

Looking back, here are the things I would tell my 40 year old self.

1. It’s not too late. You’re just now ripe.

2. Someday isn’t a day on the calendar.

3. Risk is not a 4 letter word. Fear is.

4. Love undeniably.

5. Remove toxic people, and jobs, from your life. You’re worth it!

6. Listen to your gut. It’s seldom wrong.

7. Life’s too short to drink bad wine or eat bad food.

8. Dark chocolate is not bad for you. Excesses of anything are.

9. Unpursued dreams will kill you, slowly and painfully.

10. Life is about the long game. In 10 years, if you’re lucky, you’ll be 50 – so investment in your own life so that you’re 50th will be perfect, because you’ll be 50 whether it’s perfect or not and you have 10 years to make it happen.

11. You are your greatest barrier.

12. You are your greatest asset.

13. A positive attitude makes most of the difference between being happy and miserable.

14. If you’re unhappy, fix the problem whether it’s external or internal.

15. If you can’t bloom where you are planted, uproot yourself and move on.

16. Always entertain the possibility of new opportunities.

17. When looking at employment, think about opportunities to make a difference.

18. Most regrets are born of what we didn’t do. Just do it!!

 Relative to genealogy:

19. Write it down. Yes, you will forget it otherwise.

20. Back up your computer, religiously, and store a backup outside your home.

21. Share. Post your tree. Be kind. It’s good for everyone.

22. Pay it forward. Someday you will be the beneficiary – in spades.

23. DNA test every relative you can find, because you’ll lose the opportunity if you don’t.

24. Be prepared. Carry a DNA kit with you at all times. Learn how to beg effectively:)

In Summary

Give some thought about how you’d like to be remembered. Write your own “dream obituary.” Then, do what’s needed to grow into that legacy.

Those of you past this birthday, what would you add?

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All genealogists should be asking this question for every single relationship between people in their trees – or at least for every person that they claim as an ancestor. The answer differs a bit when you introduce DNA into the equation, so let’s discuss this topic.

It’s easier to begin by telling you what proof IS NOT, rather than what proof is.

What is Proof, Anyway?

First of all, what exactly do we mean by proof? Proof means proof of a relationship, which has to be proven before you can prove a specific ancestor is yours. It’s a two-step process.

If you’re asking whether those two things are one and the same, the answer is no, they are not. Let me give you a quick example.

You can have proof that you descend from the family of a specific couple, but you may not know which child of that couple you descend from. In one case, my ancestor is listed as an heir, being a grandchild, but the suit doesn’t say which of the man’s children is the parent of my ancestor. So frustrating!

Conversely, you may know that you descend from a specific ancestor, but not which of his multiple wives you descend from.

You may know that your ancestor descends from one of multiple sons of a particular man, but not know which son.

Therefore, proof of a relationship is not necessarily proof that a particular person is your ancestor.

Not Proof of an Ancestor

OK, so what’s NOT proof? Here are a dozen of the most common items – and there are surely more!

  1. Proof is not a DNA match alone. You can match as a result of ancestors on any number of lines, known or unknown.
  2. Proof is not an oral history, no matter how much you want to believe it or who said it. Oral history is a good starting point, not an end point.
  3. Proof is not, not, 1000 times NOT someone else’s tree. A tree should be considered a hint, nothing more.
  4. Proof is not a book without corresponding evidence that can be independently corroborated. Being in print does not make it so, people make mistakes and new information surfaces.
  5. Proof is not a man by the name of Jr., meaning that he is the son of a man by the same name with the suffix of Sr. Sr. often means older and Jr. means younger, but not necessarily related. Yes, this has bitten me.
  6. Proof of a father/son relationship is not two men with the same name in the same location.
  7. Proof is not a Y DNA match, at least not without additional information or evidence, although it’s a great hint!
  8. Proof is not an autosomal DNA match, unless it is an extremely close match and even then you (probably) need additional information. For example, if you have a half-sibling match, you need additional information to determine which parent’s side.
  9. Proof is not an Ancestry Circle, at least not without additional information.
  10. Proof is not similar or even identical ethnicity, or lack thereof.
  11. Proof is not a “DNA Proven” icon, anyplace.
  12. Proof is not a will or other document, at least not alone, and not without evidence that a person by the same name as the child is the RIGHT person.

I learned many of these NOTS or KNOTS as I prefer to call them, because that’s what they tie me in, by ugly experience. I began genealogy before there were proof standards, let along the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard). DNA adds yet another dimension to existing paper standards and is an important aspect of the requirement for a “reasonably exhaustive search.” In fact, there is no reason NOT to include DNA and I would suggest that any genealogical search is not complete without including genetic evidence.

Proof Is a Two-Way Street

Using traditional genealogy, genealogists must be able to prove not only that an ancestor had a child by a specific name, but that the person you believe is the child, is indeed the child of that ancestor.

Let me use an example of Daniel, the son of one Philip Jacob Miller in Washington County, Maryland in 1783.

The tax list shows Philip J. Miller, 15 entries from the bottom of the page, shown below. It also shows “Daniel Miller of Philip” 6 entries from the bottom, and it’s our lucky day because the tax list says that Daniel is Philip’s son.

But wait, there’s another Daniel, the bottom entry. If you were to look on the next page, you would also notice that there’s a Philip Miller who does not own any land.

What we have here is:

  • Philip J. Miller, with land
  • Daniel, son of Philip, no land
  • Daniel, no father listed, land
  • Philip, no land

This just got complex. We need to know which Philip is Daniel’s father and which Daniel is which Philip’s son.

Establishing proof requires more than this one resource.

The great news about this tax list is that it tells us how much land Philip J. Miller owned, and utilizing other resources such as deeds and surveys, we can establish which Philip J. Miller owned this land, and that his name was indeed Philip Jacob Miller. This is important because not only is there another Philip, who, by the way, is NOT the son of Philip Jacob Miller (knot #6 above), there is also another Jacob Miller, who is NOT Philip Jacob Miller and who isn’t even related to him on the Miller line, according to the Y DNA of both men’s descendants.

How would we prove that Philip Jacob Miller is the father of Daniel Miller? We’d have to follow both men backward and forward in time, together. We have great clues – land ownership or lack thereof.

In this case, Philip Jacob Miller eventually sells his land. Philip Jacob Miller also has a Bible, which is how we know that there is no son named Philip. Philip Jacob’s son, Daniel leaves with his brother David, also on this tax list, travels to another location before the family is reunited after moving to Kentucky years later, where Philip Jacob Miller dies with a will. All of his heirs sign property deeds during probate, including heirs back in Frederick and Washington County, Maryland. There is enough evidence from multiple sources to tie these various family members from multiple locations conclusively together, providing two way proof.

We must be able to prove that not only did Philip Jacob Miller have a son Daniel, but that a specific Daniel is the son of that particular Philip Jacob Miller. Then, we must repeat that exact step every generation to the present to prove that Philip Jacob Miller is our ancestor.

In other words, we have a chain of progressive evidence that taken together provides conclusive proof that these two men are BELIEVED to be related. What? Believed? Don’t we have proof now?

I say believed, because we still have issues like unknown parentage, by whatever term you wish to call it, NPE (nonpaternal event, nonparental event,) or MP (misattributed parentage,) MPE (misattributed paternal or parental event) or either traditional or undocumented adoptions. Some NPEs weren’t unknown at the time and are results of situations like a child taking a step-parent’s surname – but generations later – having been forgotten or undocumented for descendants, the result is the same. They aren’t related biologically in the way we think they are.

The Big Maybe

At this point, we believe we have the Philips, Philip Jacobs and Daniels sorted correctly relative to my specific line. We know, according to documentation, that Daniel is the son of Philip Jacob, but what if MY ancestor Daniel ISN’T the son of Philip Jacob Miller?

  • What if MY ancestor Daniel just happens to have the name Daniel Miller and lives in the same geography as Philip Jacob Miller, or his actual son Daniel, and I’ve gotten them confused?
  • What if MY ancestor Daniel Miller isn’t actually my ancestor after all, for any number of reasons that happened between when he lived and died (1755-1822) and my birth.

If you think I’m being facetious about this, I’m not. Not long after I wrote the article about my ancestor Daniel Miller, we discovered another Daniel Miller, living in the same location, also descended from the same family as evidenced by BOTH Y and autosomal DNA. In fact, there were 12 Daniel Millers I had to sort through in addition to the second Daniel on the 1783 tax list. Yes, apparently Daniel was a very popular name in the Miller family and yes, there were several male sons of immigrant Johann Michael Muller/Miller who procreated quite successfully.

Enter DNA

If DNA evidence wasn’t already a factor in this equation, it now must come into play.

In order to prove that Philip Jacob Miller is my ancestor, I must prove that I’m actually related to him. Of course, the methodology to do that can be approached in multiple ways – and sometimes MUST be approached using different tools.

Let’s use an example that actually occurred in another line. Two males, Thomas and Marcus Younger, were found together in Halifax County, Virginia, right after the Revolutionary War. They both had moved from Essex County, and they consistently were involved in each other’s lives as long as they both lived. They lived just a couple miles apart, witnessed documents for each other, and until DNA testing it was believed that Marcus was the younger brother of Thomas.

We know that Marcus was not Thomas’s son, because he was not in Thomas’s will, but Marcus and his son John both witnessed Thomas’s will. In that time and place, a family member did not witness a will unless it was a will hastily constructed as a person was dying. Thomas wrote his will 2 years before it was probated.

However, with the advent of DNA testing, we learned that the two men’s descendants did not carry the same Y DNA – not even the same haplogroup – so they do not share a common paternal ancestor.

Needless to say, this really threw a monkey wrench into our neat and tidy family story.

Later, the will of Thomas’s father, Alexander, was discovered, in which Marcus was not listed (not to mention that Alexander died before Marcus was born,) and, Thomas became the guardian of his three sisters.

Eventually, via autosomal DNA, we proved that indeed, Marcus’s descendants are related to Thomas’s descendants as well as other descendants of Thomas’s parents. We have a proven relationship, but not a specifically proven ancestor. In other words, we know that Marcus is related to both Thomas and Alexander, we just don’t know exactly how.

Unfortunately, Marcus only had one son, so we can’t confirm Marcus’s Y DNA through a second line. We also have some wives missing from the equation, so there is a possibility that either Marcus’s wife, or his unknown biological father’s family was otherwise related to Alexander’s line.

So, here’s the bottom line – we believe, based on various pieces of compelling but not conclusive evidence that Marcus is the illegitimate child of one of Thomas’s unmarried sisters, who died, which is why Marcus is clearly close to Thomas, shares the same surname, but not the Y DNA. In fact, it’s likely that Marcus was raised in Thomas’s household.

  • It’s entirely possible that if I incorrectly listed Thomas as Marcus’s father on Ancestry, as many have, that I would be placed in a Thomas circle, because Ancestry forms circles if your autosomal DNA matches and you show a common ancestor in your trees. This is why inclusion in a circle doesn’t genetically confirm an ancestor without additional information. It confirms a genetic relationship, but not how a person is related.
  • It’s entirely possible that even though Marcus’s Y DNA doesn’t match the proven Y DNA of Thomas, that Marcus is still closely related to Thomas – such as Marcus’s uncle. That’s why Marcus’s descendants match both Thomas’s and Alexander’s descendants through autosomal testing. However, without Y DNA testing, we would never know that they don’t share a paternal line.
  • It’s entirely possible that if Marcus was supposed, on paper, to be Thomas’s child, but was fathered by another man, such as his wife’s first husband, I would still be in the circle attributed to both Thomas and his wife, by virtue of the fact that I match DNA of Thomas’s descendants through Thomas’s wife. This is your classic step-father situation.

Paper is Not Proof

As genealogists, we became so used to paper documentation constituting proof that it’s a blow when that paper proves to be irrelevant, especially when we’ve hung our genealogical hat on that “proof” for years, sometimes decades.

The perfect example is an adoption. Today, most adoptions are through a court of law, but in the past, a functional adoption happened when someone, for whatever reason, took another child to raise.

The history of that “adoption” although not secret when it happened, became lost in time, and the child is believed to be the child of the couple who raised them. The adoption can actually be a step-parent situation, and the child may carry the step-father’s surname but his own father’s Y DNA, or it can be a situation where a relative or unrelated couple raised the child for some unknown reason.

Today, all paper genealogy needs to be corroborated by DNA evidence.

DNA evidence can be some combination of:

  • Y DNA
  • Autosomal DNA
  • Mitochondrial DNA

How Much Proof is Enough?

One of my favorite saying is “you don’t know what you don’t know.”

People often ask:

  1. If they match someone autosomally who shares the same ancestor, do they really need to prove that line through Y or mitochondrial DNA?
  2. Do they really need to match multiple people?
  3. Do they really need to compare segments?

The answers to these is a resounding, “it depends.”

It depends on the circumstances, the length of time back to the common ancestor, and how comfortable you are not knowing.

Relative to question 1 about autosomal plus Y DNA, think about Marcus Younger.  Without the Y DNA, we would have no idea that his descendant’s Y DNA didn’t match the Thomas Younger line. Suddenly, Marcus not being included in either Thomas nor Alexander’s will makes sense.

Relative to question 2 about matching multiple people, the first cousin we tested to determine whether it was me or my brother that was not the child of our father turned out to have different Y DNA than expected. Thank goodness we tested multiple people, including autosomal when it became available.

Relative to question 3 about comparing segments, every matching segment has its own unique history. I’ve encountered several situations where I match someone on one segment from one ancestor, and another segment from an entirely different line. The only way to determine this is by comparing and triangulating individual segments.

I’ve been bitten so many times by thinking I knew something that turned out to be incorrect that I want every single proof point that I can obtain to eliminate the possibility of error – especially multiple kinds of DNA proof. There are some things that ONLY DNA can reveal.

I want:

  • Traditional documentary evidence for every generation to establish the actual paper trail that proves that the child descends from the proper parents.
  • Y DNA to prove the son is the son of the father and to learn about the deeper family history. For example, my Lentz line descends from the Yamnaya culture, something I would never have known without the Big Y DNA test.
  • Mitochondrial DNA to prove that the mother is the actual mother of the child, if possible, not an unknown earlier or later wife, and to learn about the deeper family history. Elizabeth Mehlheimer’s mitochondrial DNA is Scandinavian – before her ancestors are found in Germany.
  • Autosomal DNA to prove that the paper lineage connecting me to the ancestor is correct and the line is not disrupted by a previously unknown adoption of some description.

I attempt to gather the Y and mitochondrial DNA haplogroup of every ancestor in my direct line if possible and confirm using autosomal DNA.

Yes, my personal proof standard is tough, but I suggest that you at least ask these questions when you evaluate documentation or see someone claim that they are “DNA proven” to an ancestor. What, exactly, does that mean and what do they believe constitutes proof? Do they have that proof, and are they willing to share it with you?

Genealogical Proofs Table

The example table below is designed to be used to document the sources of proof that the individual listed under the name column is in fact the child of the father and mother shown. Proofs may vary and could be personal knowledge (someone you knew within your lifetime), a Bible, a will, a deed, an obituary, death certificate, a church baptismal document, a pension application, census records, etc. DNA confirmation is needed in addition to paper documentation. The two types of proof go hand in hand.  

Name Birth Death Spouse Father Mother Proofs – Sources DNA Confirmed
William Sterling Estes Oct. 1, 1902, Claiborne Co., TN Aug. 27, 1963, Jay Co., IN Barbara Ferverda William George Estes 1873-1971 Ollie Bolton 1874-1955 Personal knowledge – William is my father and William George is my grandfather. Autosomal triangulated to multiple Estes cousins
William George Estes March 30, 1873, Claiborne Co., TN Nov. 29, 1971, Harlan Co., KY 1. Ollie Bolton

2.  Joyce Hatfield

3. Crocia Brewer

Lazarus Estes 1845-1918 Elizabeth Vannoy 1846-1918 1.  Will of Lazarus Estes Claiborne Co., Tn. Will Book 8, page 42

2.  Deed where Lazarus states William George is his son.  Claiborne Co., Deed Book M2, page 371.

3. My father’s personal knowledge and birth certificate

Autosomal triangulated to multiple descendants of both Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy.
Lazarus Estes May 1845, Claiborne Co., TN 1916-1918, Claiborne Co., TN Elizabeth Vannoy John Y. Estes 1818-1895 Rutha Dodson 1820-1903 1. Personal knowledge of George Estes, now decd

2.  Deed here John Y. deeds all his possessions to his eldest son, Lazarus when he goes to Texas, Claiborne Co., Deed book B1, page 37.

Y DNA confirmed to haplotype of Abraham Estes, autosomal triangulated to descendants of Lazarus and Elizabeth and upstream ancestors through multiple matches on both sides.
John Y. Estes December 29, 1818, Halifax Co., VA Sept. 19, 1895, Montague Co., TX Rutha Dodson John R. Estes 1785/88-1885 Nancy Ann Moore c 1785-1860/1870 1. Family visits of his children in Tennessee

2. Census records, 1850, 1860, Claiborne Co., Tn. shows families in same household

Y DNA confirmed through multiple sons. Autosomal triangulates to several descendants through multiple lines of other children.
John R. Estes 1785-1788, Halifax Co. VA May 1885, Claiborne Co., TN Nancy Ann Moore George Estes 1763-1869 Mary Younger bef 1775-1820/1830 1. Halifax County 1812 personal property tax list where John R. Estes is listed as the son of George Estes and lives next to him.  Only 1 George in the county. Later chancery suit lists John R.’s wife’s name and location in Tennessee Y..
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My Mom always used to say that “good things come to those who wait.” That always irritated me, because waiting was something I did, and still do, very poorly.

These past few months, I’ve gotten a lot of practice in waiting, but my friend who was visiting Salt Lake City for a conference did me a HUGE favor and put me out of my wait-induced misery by retrieving an obscure German journal article for me, solving the a huge mystery in the life of Johann Adam Ruhle (Reuhl). Literally, a life and death matter – did he live or did he die.

This is my friend Jen, at the Family History Library – smiling in spite of being incredibly sleep deprived, in class all day and in the library in the evening. What a good sport. I can’t thank you enough, Jen!!!

This is some story – one WHALE of a story, pardon the pun. And no, his name was not Jonas.

Life Begins in Schnait and Beutelsbach

We all start out in life the same way, wet, cold and complaining loudly about that combination of factors.

Johann Adam Ruhle was born January 30, 1764 in the village of Schnait in Wurttemberg, Germany to Michael Ruhle and Barbara Lenz.

Schnait is an ancient village, first mentioned in 1238 as Snait. Today, there is a museum in Schnait with some photos of the beautiful vineyard region.

Schnait is just down the road, literally, a mile or so from Beutelsbach where the Lentz (Lenz) family lived, or at least part of the Lenz family lived. After all, Johann Adam’s mother was a Lenz (which is also alternatively spelled Lentz) and she was living in Schnait, so perhaps the Lenz family lived all along the ancient road between the two villages.

The village of Schnait today is still relatively small, but has expanded some from the old center along the road. It’s surrounded by the beautifully symmetrical wine fields, where the men of both Beutelsbach and Schnait worked, for generations.

The church records for Schnait still exist, according to the FamilySearch site, although they apparently have not been translated and indexed at Ancestry or at FamilySearch. Baptisms begin in 1562, marriages in 1574 and death records in 1616. Once these records become available online, the possibility of reaching back another 200 years, or more, is dangling like a ripe fruit. Darn, another episode of waiting without an end in sight!!!

Fortunately, Beutelsbach, where Johann Adam Reuhl had the foresight to marry and live is a bit different.

The local Beutelsbach heritage book has a wonderful web page that provides information about family members.

The heritage book page tells us, among other things (using an automated German to English translator) that Johann Adam Reuhle:

Has been trained to Schnait and has been drawn up. If 4 years have served in Schnait. Occupation: Vinedresser

Johann Adam Reuhle was a vinedresser, or one who tends the vines in the vineyards. Many if not most of the men in Schnait and Beutelsbach worked in the beautiful vineyards that surrounded both villages, located just a couple miles apart. I think these fields would make a beautiful quilt!

It’s likely that these families had tended these same vineyards, father’s teaching sons the vinedresser craft, for more generations than anyone could remember – and far more than are recorded in the oldest church books.

This satellite closeup shows the fields, just outside the village, which are probably some of the exact same vineyards, and perhaps even the same vines, that Johann Adam, who we’ll call Adam, his middle name, as his family would have done, tended.

Marriage and Instant Parenthood

Johann Adam Reuhle married Dorothea Katharina Wolflin on June 5, 1787 in the Lutheran Church in Beutelsbach. Dorothea Katharina was born on August 10, 1755 in Beutelsbach to Johann Ludwig Wolflin and Dorothea Heubach.

This marriage was a bit unusual, in that Adam was of typical marriage age, 23, but Katharina was almost 9 years older than Adam, aged 32 when they married.

Katharina was a widow whose first husband had died on October 31, 1786. She had two living children when he died, the baby having her first birthday just 6 days after her father died. Widows didn’t wait long to remarry, because their very survival depended on forging an alliance and a new family unit. Adam and Katharina didn’t “court” long, because they married less than 9 months after her previous husband died. Nine months was probably plenty long enough. After all, Beutelsbach was a small village and everyone knew everyone else, so they had probably known each other since they were children.

However, when Adam married Katharina, he instantly became a parent. Her children, aged 4 and 1 when they married, were young enough that they would never have known any other father.

The next several years were normal for this family. They began the rhythmic ebb and flow of childbirth, springtimes sewing crops and preparing vines, summer tending fields, fall harvests with winemaking and food preservation, and then winter survival.

  • Their first child, Fridrica Ruhle, arrived and was baptized on March 14, 1788, literally 9 months and 9 days after their wedding. The young couple must have been joyful.

Fredericka was my ancestor, so obviously their firstborn child survived.

  • On January 5, 1790, Katharina’s daughter from her first marriage died and was buried. Katharina would have been 3 or 4 months pregnant at the time. The visage of the pregnant mother burying her child in the dead of winter is heartbreaking.
  • In 1790, a son, Johann Ludwig Ruhle, was born on June 3rd. He too survived, married and spent his life working the vineyards as a vinedresser in Beutelsbach. He died of a stroke in 1847 when he was 57 years old. Johann Ludwig had one son, Johann Ludwig Ruhle that was born in 1846 in Beutelsbach and died in 1893 in Stuttgart.
  • On March 5, 1793, Johanna Dorothea Ruhle was born, but she died just 3 days later and was probably buried in the churchyard. She was named after Katharina’s daughter who had died in 1790.
  • On April 25, 1794, Johann Georg Ruhle joined the family. He too lived, at least long enough to leave Germany.
  • On March 20, 1797, Catharine Margaretha Ruhle was born, but she too joined her sister in the cemetery on October 23, 1797, just 3 days beyond her 7 month birthday. There is no cause of death given, but I always wonder when I see these infant deaths.
  • The last child in the family, Johanna Margaretha Ruhle, named after the sister that died in 1797 was born on January 20, 1800.

There were no further deaths in the family, at least not among their children.

However, the climate was not cooperating. The world was undergoing what came to be known as a mini ice age. The problem is, of course, that once the grape vines are damaged or die, there is no quick recovery. If the vines fail to produce, an entire year is lost – both economically and in terms of food production as well. In 1816, crops failed in the fields.

After massive crop failures followed by riots for food, many people didn’t want to wait for a repeat performance the following year and applied to leave Germany.

Permission to Leave

Johann Adam Ruhle and his family arranged to immigrate to America, settling their debts and selling everything they had to pay for passage.

I don’t know if they were thrilled or terrified. Maybe they weren’t either, but just felt it was something they had little choice to do if they wanted to survive.

Leaving Germany wasn’t just a matter of packing up. Germans are extremely orderly people. There was a process that had to be followed to insure, among other things, that those who were leaving did not leave unpaid debts or unfinished business, had permission to leave, and understood there was no coming back.

By this time, Adam’s oldest daughter, Fredericka, had married to Jacob Lenz, also spelled Lentz. You can read about Jacob here and here. Jacob could have been related to Fredericka’s Lenz grandmother, and most likely was, but we don’t know if or how – and won’t until those Schnait records become available.

We find the legal notifications for emigration for Jacob Lentz and Johann Adam Reuhle side by side.

This book, “Königlich-Württembergisches Staats- und Regierungsblatt: vom Jahr … 1817,” in English, the “Royal Württemberg State and Official Gazette: by the year… 1817,” copied at Google, contains the actual German records of who was authorized to leave.

The following named persons have received the gracious permission to emigrate to America, namely:…….followed by the names.

Listed beside Jacob Lenz we find Johann Adam Ruhle, his father-in-law.

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“Why do vendors give me different haplogroups?”

This questions often comes up when people test with different vendors and receive different haplogroup results for both Y and mitochondrial DNA.

If you need a quick refresher on who carries which types of DNA, read 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy.

You’re the same person, right, so why would you receive different answers from different testing companies, and which answer is actually right?

The answer is pretty straightforward, conceptually – having to do with how vendors test and interpret your DNA.

Different companies test different pieces of your DNA, depending on:

  • The type of chip the company is using for testing
  • The way they have programmed the chip
  • The version of the reference “tree” they are using to assign haplogroups
  • The level they have decided to report

Therefore, their haplogroups reported may vary, and some may be more exact than others. Occasionally, a vendor outside the major testers is simply wrong.

Not All Tests are Created Equal

All haplogroups carry interesting information and can be at least somewhat genealogically useful. For example, haplogroups alone can tell you if your direct line DNA (paternal or matrilineal) is probably European, Asian, African or Native American. Note the word probably. This too may be subject to interpretation.

A basic haplogroup can rule out a genealogical match through a specific branch, but can’t confirm a genealogical match. You need to compare specific DNA locations not provided with haplogroup testing alone for genealogical matching. Plus you’ll need to add genealogical records where possible.

Let’s look at two examples.

Mitochondrial DNA

Your mitochondrial DNA is inherited from your mother’s direct line, on up you tree until you run out of mothers.  So, you, your mother, her mother, her mother…etc.

The red circles show the mitochondrial lineage in the pedigree chart, below.

If your mitochondrial haplogroup is H1a, for example, then your base haplogroup is “H”, the first branch is “1” and the next smaller branch is “a.”

Therefore, if you don’t match at H, your base haplogroup, you aren’t a possible match on that genealogical line. In other words, if you are H1a, or H plus anything, you can’t match on the direct matrilineal line of someone who is J1a, or J plus anything. H and J are different base haplogroups who haven’t shared a common ancestor in tens of thousands of years.

You can, however, potentially be related on any other line – just not on this specific line.

If your haplogroup does match, even exactly, that doesn’t mean you are related in a genealogically relevant timeframe. It means you share an ancestor, but that common ancestor may be back hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of years.

The further downstream, the younger the branches.  “H” is the oldest, then “1,” then “a” is the youngest.

Some companies might just test the locations for H, some for H1 and some for H1a.  Of course, there are even more haplogroups, like H1a2a. New, more refined haplogroups are discovered with each new version of the mitochondrial reference tree.

The only company that tests your haplogroup all the way to the end, meaning the most refined test possible to give you your complete haplogroup and all mutations, is Family Tree DNA with their mtFull Sequence test.

A quick comparison of my mitochondrial DNA at the following three vendors shows the following:

23andMe Living DNA Family Tree DNA Full Seqence
J1c2 J1c J1c2f

With Family Tree DNA’s full sequence test, you’ll receive your full haplogroup along with matching to other people who have taken mitochondrial DNA tests. They are the only vendor to offer Y and mitochondrial matching, because they are the only vendor that tests at that level.

Y DNA

Y DNA operates on the same principle. Specific locations called SNPs are tested by companies like 23andMe and Living DNA to provide customers with a branch level haplogroup. You don’t receive matching with these types of tests.

Just like with mitochondrial DNA, a basic branch level test can eliminate a match on the direct paternal (surname) branch but can’t confirm the genealogical match.

If your haplogroup branch is E-M2 and someone else’s is R-M269, you can’t share a common paternal ancestor because your base haplogroups don’t match, meaning E and R.

You can share an ancestor on any other line, just not on the direct Y line.

The blue squares show the Y DNA lineage on the pedigree chart below.

Family Tree DNA predicts your haplogroup for free if you take the 37, 67 or 111 marker Y-DNA STR test, but if you take the Big Y-500, your Y chromosome is completely tested and your haplogroup defined to the most refined level possible (often called your terminal SNP) – including mutations that may exist in only very few people. You also receive matching to other testers (with any Y test) which can be very genealogically relevant, plus bonus Y STR markers with the Y-500.

OK, But Why Do Different Companies Give Me Different Haplogroup Results?

Great question.

For this example, let’s say your haplogroup is H1a2a.

Let’s say that Company 1 uses a chip that they’ve programmed to test to the H1a level of haplogroup H1a2a.

Let’s say that Company 2 uses a chip that they’ve programmed to test to the H1 level of haplogroup H1a2a.

Let’s say that you take the full sequence test with Family Tree DNA and they fully test all 15,659 locations of your mitochondria and determine that you are H1a2a.

Company 1 will report your mitochondrial haplogroup as H1a, Company 2 as H1 and Family Tree DNA as H1a2a.

With mitochondrial DNA, you can at least see some consist pathway in naming practices, meaning H, H1, H1a, etc., so you can tell that you’re on the same branch.

With Y DNA, the only consistent part is the base haplogroup.

With Y DNA, let’s say that Company 1 programs their chip to test for specific SNP  locations, and they return a Y DNA haplogroup of R-L21.

Company 2 programs their chip to test for fewer or different locations and they return a Y DNA haplogroup of R-M269.

You purchase a Big Y-500 test at Family Tree DNA, and they return your haplogroup as R-CTS3386.

All three haplogroups can be correct, as far as they go. It’s just that they don’t test the same distance down the Y chromosome tree.

R-M269, R-L21 and R-CTS3386 are all increasingly smaller branches on the Y haplotree.

Furthermore, for both Y and mitochondrial DNA, there is always a remote possibility that a critical location won’t be able to be read in your DNA sample that might affect your haplogroup.

Obtaining Your Haplogroup

I strongly encourage people to test with and upload to only well-known major companies or organizations. Some companies provide haplogroup information that is simply wrong.

Companies that I am comfortable with relative to haplogroups include:

Neither MyHeritage nor Ancestry provide Y or mitochondrial haplogroups.

The chart below shows the various vendor offerings, including Y and mitochondrial DNA matching.

Company Offerings Matching
Family Tree DNA – Y DNA Y haplogroup is estimated with STR test. Haplogroup provided to most refined level possible with Big Y-500 test. Individual SNP tests also available. Yes
Family Tree DNA – mitochondrial At least base haplogroup provided with mtPlus test, plus more if possible, but full haplogroup plus additional mutations provided with mtFull Sequence test. Yes
Genographic Project More than base haplogroup for both Y and mitochondrial, but not full haplogroup on either. No
23andMe More than base haplogroup for both Y and mitochondrial, but not full haplogroup on either. No
Living DNA More than base haplogroup for both Y and mitochondrial, but not full haplogroup on either. No

Want More Detail?

If you’d like to read a more detailed answer about how haplogroups are determined, take a look at the article, Haplogroup Comparisons Between Family Tree DNA and 23andMe.

_____________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

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

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

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate.  If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase.  Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay.  This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 900 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc.  In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received.  In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product.  I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community.  If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA, or one of the affiliate links below:

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Were it not for two baptismal records, we would have no idea of the name of Cunrad (Conrad) Heitz’s wife, Anna Margaretha.

My cousin and friend, retired German genealogist, Tom, found these two priceless baptism records in the Mannheim church records, although I can’t include the images because they are from Archion who does not allow usage of their images.

1676 6 August

Child: Hans Conrad

Parents: Hans Conrad Heitz, soldier under H(err) Hauptmann Schaben(ger) Company and Anna Margaretha, his lawfully wed wife.

Godparents: Conrad Keller, ?, under said Company and Elisabetha ?

Bild 105 Mannheim Evangelical

Archion image

The death record of Cunrad Heitz in Ramstein on January 17, 1698 says his age is 20-23 years, which puts his birth about 1675-1678, so this fits.

The second birth record is for a brother, Johannes, although we find no additional records for him in either Mannheim or Steinwenden.

1679 21 May

Child: Johannes

Parents: Hans Conrad Heitz, soldier under Herr Hauptmann Schaben(ger)’s Company & Margaretha, lawfully wed wife.

Godparents: Johann Schwartz, soldier under Herr Hauptmann Schaben(ger)’s Company and Catharina, his lawfully wed wife.

Bild 149 Mannheim Evangelical

Archion image

I wonder what happened to Johannes. Mannheim death records don’t exist for this timeframe.

Mannheim

According to German researcher, Chris, at the end of the 30 Years War, in 1648, only about 500 people were left in Mannheim. In 1652, the city invited foreigners to settle, offering tax abatements, customs relief and more incentives.

We don’t know when Conrad Heitz and Anna Margaretha arrived in Mannheim. We don’t know if they arrived as a couple, or if Conrad arrived as a soldier and married a local girl. The only thing we do know is that someplace, they were having children by between 1654 and 1663.

Chris found a map of Mannheim in 1663 complete with the names of residents, and Conrad Heitz isn’t found on that map, or a list of other residents whose names couldn’t be fit onto the map.

Of course, it’s also possible that the soldiers and their families weren’t actually living in the city proper, perhaps assigned to special military housing or living in the actual fort.

What this map does do, however, is to give us a feel for the layout of the city. We know that they did live here 13 years later, and the street layout and location of churches and other public buildings wouldn’t have changed much.

However, more than half of the residents present in 1663 died in 1666 when Mannheim was devastated by the plague. Many of the wealthy residents left, so the city would have been a ghost-town compared to the 1663 map.

During the time that Anna Margaretha lived in Mannheim, from at least 1676 through 1679, it was a city both recovering from and preparing for war.

Leveled during the Thirty Years’ War, Mannheim had rebuilt and was populated mostly by Protestants, many from the Netherlands. A castle was constructed which made Mannheim a target for the next war, known as the Nine Years War which began in 1688 in which France sought to unify Europe under the Catholic religion, not to mention under the French king.

Mannheim fell as a result of a siege in 1688 and was burned to the ground in 1689. A decade later it was rebuilt on the original grid street pattern between the two rivers, the Rhine and Neckar.

The map above, discovered by Chris, shows the city of Mannheim at the time of the 1688 siege. The legend on the right shows the locations of military weapons, such as cannons. If Conrad was there, he might well have been manning those cannons and assuredly was protecting the city walls in some fashion. Conrad may have already been dead before 1688, or he could have died in the siege, but not everyone succumbed. The city surrendered, allowing many citizens to escape.

It’s worth noting that after the city fell, the French granted 400 Palatine soldiers the opportunity to leave and remove themselves to Frankfurt, so if Conrad was there, he might have survived. If Anna Margaretha was witness to this frightening attack, she might have lived through this episode as well, but I think Anna Margaretha had already died by this time.

Chris notes that the French Reformed Church of Mannheim moved altogether to the city of Magdeburg after the siege, and I’d bet most or all of the parishioners went along. Soon, there would be nothing left of Mannheim as it was literally burned to the ground in March of 1689.

This map of Mannheim from 1758 shows a walled city rebuilt after 1700. The 1880 map below shows the location of the churches and public buildings. Of course, we don’t know if the churches on the 1880s map are reflective of the locations or even part of the same buildings from the 1676/1679 churches, before the fire.

Exactly how the church records survived is unknown, although I’m sure they have an amazing story all their own. I’m guessing that someone removed them from Mannheim to protect them as it became evident with the approach of 30,000 French soldiers that fighting in Mannheim was inevitable. It’s also possible that they were removed sometime between the fall of Mannheim in November of 1688 and the burning of the city in March of 1689. We’re lucky the baptism and marriage books escaped, because death records don’t begin until 1739 and those two baptisms are our only link to Anna Margaretha.

Because of the location of the city, at the confluence of two rivers, and adjacent swampy land, the city of Mannheim itself had no room for expansion. Anna Margaretha lived someplace inside this semi-circular gridded city, on one of these streets.

Given that we know that Conrad was a solder, alive in 1684 and probably deceased by 1692, and that he served in Mannheim, it’s quite possible that he perished in the service of his country in the 1688 battle or the subsequent sacking of the Palatine.

Since we know that Conrad served in Mannheim, and that was the location given in 1698, a decade after we know that Mannheim fell and nine years after we know it had been deserted, I think the 1698 record suggests that Conrad last served in Mannheim, which also suggests that he died there as well. He was probably gone by 1692 when his son was confirmed in the Steinwenden church with no mention of Conrad Sr.

No one served in Mannheim after March of 1689 and probably not after November of 1688. Of course, Conrad Sr. could have perished before or during the siege itself. Unless we’d be lucky enough to find detailed records for Shabinger’s unit, we’ll likely never know.

Anna Margaretha’s Children

We pieced Anna Margaretha’s life together through the records of her children, and her children’s records were anything but easy to piece together.

Irene Lisabetha Heitz (c1654/1663-1729) – Irene is a mystery in many ways. In her 1784 marriage record to Michael Muller in the Miesau church records, her name is recorded as Irene Liesabetha and she is noted as being the daughter of Cunrad Heitz, a soldier from Kurpfalz Region, which is another word for the Palatine.

As Irene moved to different church jurisdictions throughout her life, her name was recorded differently, initially as Irene Charitas as Michael Miller’s wife, and then later as Regina Loysa. She is noted with variations on Regina Loysa when she marries Johann Jacob Stutzman in 1696 and thereafter, except for one record where she is again called Irene. However, when she married Jacob Stutzman as Regina Loysa, she was identified as the widow of Michael Muller, so her identity has been established, albeit with much difficulty. Her death record, in yet another church in another city on March 27, 1729, says that she is “age 75.” That would put her birth in 1654, making her 52 when she had her last child, Johann Jacob Stutzman, in 1706. That’s somewhat unlikely, but not entirely impossible. It’s more likely that she was born about 1663 which would make her 43 in 1706 and 21 when she married Michael Muller. Using either calculation, she is probably the eldest child of Cunrad Heitz and Anna Margaretha, assuming that Anna Margaretha is her mother.

Irene, often referred to as Irene Charitas, has been consistently mis-identified in many records for decades. Often Charitas is shown as her last name. In fact, I did the same thing and even a second time when I mis-identified her surname as Schlosser. You can read the progression through the various records and how the life of Irene was unpeeled like an onion, here, here, and here. (Yes, this onion made me cry a lot!) You can read about her first husband, here and life with her second husband here. If you’re thinking this series reads more like a web than a story, you’re absolutely right! Just think of these as chapters in a who-done-it!

Johann Samuel Heitz (c1670-1717/1728) – Samuel is first mentioned in 1692 as a tailor in a Steinwenden baptismal record where he is a godparent. This tells us that by 1692 he is an adult with a trade, so I’m assuming at least age 20, perhaps older. He is also mentioned at Christmas 1692 when Conrad Heitz was confirmed in the church as Conrad’s brother. Samuel married the widow, Catharina Apollonia Schafer Schumacher in February 1697. She was the widow of Michael Schumacher, son of Niclaus Schumacher from Rohrbach. In 1704, Jacob Ringeisen was the godparent to one of Samuel’s children. This could be significant since Jacob Ringiesen was the cousin of Michael Muller, the first husband of Samuel’s sister, Irene. In 1717, Samuel is mentioned in the church records as the censor, which is a guardian of the church morals. In 1728, Samuel’s widow died, so he clearly predeceased her, although we don’t know when or where Samuel died. There is a 1721 record where Samuel’s daughter is a godmother, and the record doesn’t say the “late” Samuel Heitz, but it’s in a different church outside the immediate area and may simply be an omission.

I’ve reconstructed the family of Samuel Heitz and Catharina Apollonia through church records:

Child Christening Death/Burial Confirm Other
Johan Adam December 26, 1697
Maria Magdalena March 1, 1699 1712
Anna Elisabetha September 1, 1700 March 31, 1741, burial April 2 Married Johannes Friess
Hans Adam August 7, 1703
Johann Heinrich August 14, 1703
Eva Catharina July 13, 1704 1717 Married Johann Nicholaus Schwind July 27, 1728
Maria Margreth October 31, 1706
Catharina Barbara September 24, 1713 October 29, 1713

Johann Cunrad Heitz (1676-1698) – A Mannheim church record shows Hans Cunrad’s birth on August 1, 1676 and lists his parents’ names. His mother’s full given name is Anna Margaretha although in keeping with tradition, no birth surname is listed for her. Cunrad’s first mention in the Steinwenden church records occurs in 1692 as being confirmed at Christmas. He’s noted as the brother of Samuel, the tailor. This would suggest Cunrad was 12 or 13 so born about 1690, although according to his baptismal record, he was born in 1676. Perhaps the family was unable to have his confirmation when it would normally have occurred in 1688, which was when Mannheim fell to French forces. On January 17, 1698 Cunrad (Jr.) died in Ramstein, unmarried and was noted as the son of Cunrad Heitz, deceased, soldier of Mannheim,

Johannes Heitz (1679-?) – Johannes’ baptism is recorded in 1679, but no further mention is found. Death records in Mannheim don’t exist before 1739. In his baptism record, his mother’s name is given as Margaretha. He may have died before the church records began in Miesau and Steinwenden, in 1681 and 1684, respectively – or he could have died elsewhere.

Anna Catharina Heitz (born 1677/78 or 1680/84) – On January 15, 1715 in Kallstadt, Catharina, “daughter of the late Cunrad Heitz from Ramstein…(margin),” married Johannes Shumacher. Cunrad Heitz, Jr. who died in Ramstein in 1798 was age 20-23 and unmarried, so Catharina must be the daughter of Cunrad Heitz, Sr. and the location of Ramstein must have been referring to her residence, or former residence.

In Weilach, a farm outside Kallstadt, Catharina was living with her sister, Irene Heitz Muller Stutzman who was at that time married to Johann Jacob Stutzman. Based solely on Catharina’s 1715 marriage, she would have been born about 1695 or earlier. As the sister of Irene, Catharina would probably have been born before 1684 due to the lack of any mention of Irene’s mother in the existing church records. Either way, the connection with Irene/Regina by living at Weilach is unmistakable. The following year Catharina and her husband, a cowherd, while living on the estate managed by Jacob Stutzman, give birth to a child and Irene/Regina stands up for the child, her niece, as Godmother. Irene/Regina’s son by her first marriage, Michael Muller/Miller, stands up for Catharina’s child born in 1722.

Catharina’s husband is given as Johannes in the difficult to translate 1715 marriage record. In two other records he is called respectively by the name of Nicholas Schumacher (1716) and Johannes again in 1722 when another child is born. Family Search shows him as Johann and Johanni in all three birth records.

It’s worth noting perhaps that Samuel Heitz’s wife, Catharina Apollonia’s first husband was Michael Schumacher, son of Niclaus Schumacher. Schumacher, German for shoemaker, was a very common surname, so this may simply be a coincidence.

The three known children of Anna Catharina and Johann or Niclaus Schumacher are:

Child Birth Christening Confirm Other
Susanna Elisabetha January 17, 1716 January 19 Baptized in Kallstadt
Maria Elisabetha October 14, 1719 October 19 Baptized in Kallstadt
Johann Michael January 15, 1722 January 20 Baptized in Kallstadt

Catharina’s age is estimated based on the fact that she gave birth in 1722.  If she was 43 in 1722, she would have been born in 1679. We know that Catharina could not have been born in 1679 because her mother, Anna Margaretha, had another child in May of that year.

There is a gap between the August 1676 and May 1679 Mannhaim births, so Anna Catharina could have been born in about December of 1677 or January of 1678. For Anna Catharina to have been born..

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The Lost Colony of Roanoke – what an enduring mystery – for 431 years it has remained unsolved and fascinated Americans and the British, alike.

An entire tourist industry has sprung up around the mystery of the Lost Colony along the Outer Banks in North Carolina. An open-air theater tells the story every summer on Roanoke Island near where Fort Raleigh was established. Tourists drift south to Hatteras Island across a long bridge that today connects Roanoke Island to Hatteras Island, the location where the colonists themselves indicated they were moving when they left the Fort Raleigh on Roanoke Island.

Then.

Nothing.

Hints, rescue missions, old entries in yellowed records that refer to the colonists, or might…but nothing factual or definitive about what happened to those colonists.

I joined the search for those elusive colonists in 2007 by co-founding The Lost Colony Research Group (LCRG) and establishing the Lost Colony DNA projects. Our small group of volunteers would contract with archaeologists and team with local residents to host archaeological excavations. We undertook research, compiled relevant records and publications as well as attempted to solve the mystery through genetics.

Just in case you’re wondering, the Lost Colonists haven’t yet been renamed the Found Colonists!

National Geographic Magazine

In 2017, Andrew Lawler, a journalist who was writing an article for National Geographic about the Lost Colony contacted me for an interview. Over the next several weeks, we would talk as well as exchange e-mails, discussing the story of the colony, the archaeological digs, and the DNA efforts to solve the mystery of whether any of the colonists survived.

Andrew’s article appears in the June 2018 issue of National Geographic Magazine. It’s exciting to garner a small place in history through National Geographic, a magazine I’ve loved since childhood.

(Full disclosure: I’ve been a volunteer member of the National Geographic Genographic Design team since 2012 and a Genographic affiliate researcher since 2015. Those activities are entirely unrelated to and separate from the Lost Colony article and DNA project.)

Andrew did a great job with a difficult story that resembles the best murder mystery with subplots upon twisting, turning, subplots. In fact, in many ways, the Lost Colony is the oldest known cold case in what would become America just shy of two centuries later.

Did the colonists live or did they die? Do they have descendants today? What happened?

The Back Story

The Lost Colony of Roanoke is an enduring romantic mystery that the history books haven’t treated very kindly, or at least, not terribly accurately.

Most people think of a young, loving mother, Eleanor White Dare, holding a newborn daughter, and then the picture fades to grey, oblivion, because we don’t know what happened next. That surely tugs at your heartstrings and makes you want to believe that Eleanor and her baby survived.

You’re not alone.

Almost everyone has their own idea of what transpired, and there are almost as many theories as people who are interested in the topic of the Lost Colony. A few scammers have made up stories of their own and attempted to sell them, one way or the other. Books have been written and stories told, but the facts and truth remain maddeningly elusive.

Indeed, Virginia Dare, born August 18th, 1587, was the first English person to be born on the land that would one day become the United States. Her grandfather, John White, left shortly thereafter to return to England for supplies – and that’s the last piece of actual factual information we have about either Eleanor or Virginia.

Virginia Dare has survived into infamy, the mystery of a fragile newborn child that refuses to be solved. Did she live? Did she marry? Is she the legendary “White Doe?” Was she the maiden reported to have escaped from the Powhatan slaughter nearly 20 years later in Virginia, near Jamestown? Does Virginia Dare have living descendants today? And what about the other colonists? Do they?

What does history tell us about the Lost Colony of Roanoke? The official version is very neat and clean. Sir Walter Raleigh sent an exploratory expedition in 1584 followed by a larger military expedition in 1585 that stayed until the early summer of 1586, built a fort, but then went back to England.

In 1587, a group of men, women and children arrived in what was then Virginia, now North Carolina, to establish a permanent “Cittie of Raleigh.” John White, the Governor and the grandfather of Virginia Dare, born days after arrival, returned to England for supplies but was unable to return to Roanoke Island until 1590. When White did return, the colonists were gone, the fort deserted, and he was unable to find them even though they had left him a message – the word “Croatoan” carved on a fortified palisade that had been constructed after White had departed. Croatoan was the name of Hatteras Island, the location where an Indian, Manteo, that had befriended the colonists lived. White, forced by a hurricane, returned to England and was unable to return again to search for the colonists, which included his son-in-law, daughter and grandchild. The colonists were presumed slain by Indians, which certainly could be true.

As far as the official “history book” version of the Lost Colony…that’s the end of the chapter and the book. But in reality, it’s only the beginning, or perhaps more accurately, a short extract from the middle of a book that’s more like a juicy murder mystery combined with a cliff-hanger soap opera than a history book.

There is more to the story, much more. When I heard about the colony settling on Roanoke Island, I asked myself what brought 117 people to an “unsettled” wilderness, unlike anything they knew, with people they considered savages living adjacent to and grossly outnumbering them? Who would undertake such a risky journey, and why? There had to be more to the story.

The story of the Lost Colony is like a large knit sweater, once you start to pull on one loose thread, slowly the entire sweater starts to unravel, and eventually, that small raveling is much larger than you ever expected. So, let’s tug a little bit and see where we wind up.

Characters in the Roanoke Drama

The story of Roanoke really begins long before 1584. It begins in 1493 actually, when Pope Alexander divided the world into two portions, half for Spain and half for Portugal, excluding all others. This action would set the stage for the next century of conflict, not only between the excluded countries, in particular, England, and the included counties, but also between Catholics and Protestants.

The players in this intrigue read like a Who’s Who of 16th Century Europe.

Sir Walter Raleigh was born in 1552 in Hayes Barton in Devon, the youngest of 5 sons. He subsequently attended Oxford and led the life of a wealthy adventurer. Walter Raleigh, or Ralegh as he spelled his name, was not knighted until after he established the “Cittie of Raleigh,” so he was born simply “Walter Raleigh,” the Sir being appended later after being knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Ironically, Raleigh himself never set foot in his colony.

In 1556 King Philip, married to Mary, Queen of England and Ireland, a Catholic, ascended the throne of Spain, controlling half of Europe, per the Catholic Pope.

In 1558, Queen Elizabeth, a Protestant, ascended the English throne, shown in her coronation robes above, having inherited the throne from her half-sister, Queen Mary Tutor (known as Bloody Mary), wife of Prince Phillip of Spain.

Queen Elizabeth, known as the Virgin Queen because she never married, was born in 1533, 19 years before Sir Walter Raleigh.

By 1568, a decade after Elizabeth’s ascent to the throne, the Inquisition was in full swing, and King Philip overran the Protestant Netherlands, condemning the entire country to death. The people in the Netherlands rebelled, and King Philipp had to send reinforcements and money to attempt to subdue the rebellion. However, French Huguenots chased the Spanish ship carrying gold into an English Harbor. Elizabeth, suffering from financial difficulties, viewed this much as we would view winning the lottery. That was her lucky day indeed and she confiscated the ship and its cargo. Elizabeth’s action caused a “furious rage” in Spain.

1568 and 1569 continued to be trying times in England. In 1568 Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Sir Walter Raleigh’s half-brother, crushed a revolt in Catholic Ireland instigated by the Spanish. Later, Mary Queen of Scots was taken into custody and confined after repeated attempts on the life of Queen Elizabeth, her first cousin once removed. In 1569, Catholics in northern England revolted.

In 1570, Pope Pius excommunicated Protestant Queen Elizabeth and encouraged her overthrow. Elizabeth must have found this humorous on some level, because Catholic excommunication has no punitive effect on a Protestant.

On August 22, 1572, the horrific event known to history as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre occurred in Paris where Catholics massacred an estimated 30,000 Protestant Huguenots. All Protestants were ordered to leave the country within 20 days or be condemned to death. Protestants were unable to sell their land or possessions, because everyone who might be interested knew that in 20 days or less, they could simply take the land and whatever was left. Raleigh left Oxford and fought in France for the Protestants.

In 1577 we find the first mention of John White, a Native of Bristol and the man who would become the eventual Governor of the Cittie of Raleigh. Ironically, even though White was an artist, we have no portrait or self-portrait of him.

Also in 1577, we meet another player in our real-life drama, Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth’s closest advisor.

Walsingham, a Machiavellian spy had formed an entire underground network of lowlife scoundrels to feed him information, was not above torture, and willing to do whatever it was he needed to do to achieve his ends. Elizabeth believed him to be her most trusted resource. In 1577, for reasons unknown, Walsingham saved Simon Fernandez, a pirate, from the gallows for murdering Portuguese sailors. In essence, Walsingham purchased his life and loyalty, and Fernandez became “Walsingham’s man.”

On June 11, 1578, Walter Raleigh’s half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert was granted a patent by Queen Elizabeth to discover and occupy North American lands not occupied by Spain. This patent expired in 6 years, in 1584, if occupation had not occurred.

In 1579, Raleigh and his brother Carew Raleigh captained a reconnaissance mission funded by Gilbert with Simon Fernandez, described by Raleigh as “a thorough-paced scoundrel.” In 1580, leaking ships, storms and desertion caused the mission to fail and Gilbert’s fortune was lost.

Also in 1580, no longer happy with just “half the world,” Spain invaded and captured Portugal in just 70 days. Spain had become a very powerful European aggressor.

We find John White in 1580 joining the Painters and Stainers Company in London. The now famous watercolors from the 1584 and 1585-1586 Roanoke reconnaissance trips were John White’s work.

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The first hint of Conrad Heitz is found in the Miesau, Germany church records on April 17, 1684 when his daughter, Irene Liesabetha, married Michael Muller, a widower. The Miesau records of this time held the records from Miesau, Steinwenden and Ramstein.

Entry No. 23 – 17 April 1684 – Recorded in Miesau parish

Michael Müller, legitimate son of the late Heinsmann Müller, resident of Schwartzmatt in the Bern region with Irene Liesabetha, daughter of Cunrad (Conrad) Heitz, who was at this time in war service for the Palatinate in Churpfalz (Kurpfalz), were married in Steinwenden.

My original assumption was that Conrad Heitz was living in Steinwenden when his daughter was married to Michael Muller there, but after significant analysis by me and my two German experts, it looks like my assumption was probably incorrect.

Conrad Heitz never appears in any Steinwenden (or nearby) record except by reference. In fact, we do not know where he was living in 1684, although Churpfalz would be a good place to look.

What we do know is that Conrad was a soldier, probably a professional soldier.

Conrad Heitz wasn’t found on the 1684 Steinwenden tax list, but that wasn’t terribly unusual because Swiss immigrants weren’t taxed. His absence on the tax list didn’t set off any alarms. Michael Muller wasn’t on that list either and he’s know to be Swiss.

Therefore, because Irene lived in Steinwenden, and as we shall see, so did (at least some of) Conrad’s other children, my assumption had been that Conrad did too. I should have already learned about assuming anything with my German ancestors. They lived in uncertain times, even after the 30 Years War, and they never fail to prove me wrong every time I assume anything is “normal.” My family is NEVER normal.

To be clear, we know that Conrad’s young children lived in the Steinwenden area. We just don’t know if he lived there, and it seems likely that Conrad was an absentee father, although perhaps not willingly, and possibly tragically.

Daughter Irene

Conrad’s daughter, Irene’s story is quite interesting, given that her name seemed to change throughout her life. She was known as Irene Elisabetha, Irene Charitas, Regina Loysa, Regina Elisabetha and maybe a few other variants.

Recently one of my readers who has been transcribing German records mentioned the following:

I recognized the name Irene Charitas and for awhile could not figure out why, but then I remembered that I came across it multiple times in my current project, transcribing entries from the earliest church books of Zweibrücken and Hornbach. It’s not a name you forget! I first saw it in the family of Herr Superintendent Michael Philipp Beuther, who had a daughter baptized Irene Charitas.

In my experience, it was common in Pfalz-Zweibrücken for church officials, administrators, and educators to have their church book entries recorded in a mixture of Latin and German, hence the wild, uncommon names like Irene Charitas. It was by virtue of that family’s prominence that the name spread in Zweibrücken, seeing how Irene sponsored many baptisms.

Since you have a combination of ceremonial Latin and German, it would not surprise me a bit if your Irene occasionally went by a more Germanic name as an adult, or if minister’s made mistakes in recording her name. For example, Irene in German sounds a lot like Latinate “Reina,” derived from Regina, so it’s very possible that a minister assumed that “Rene” or “Irene” was short for a Christian name of Regina. The flip-flopping of the Rufname, though is something to watch carefully. Given the records you’ve provided, I would presume that “Irene Elisabetha” was her preferred German name and that the others are either derivatives or hiccups, but I would keep investigating.

However, it was digging for every detail about Irene by all her names that revealed Conrad Heitz and what we do know about his life. In fact, it was by tracking daughter Irene/Regina, all over this part of Germany that we found evidence of her siblings. That was no small feat, believe me, especially with her periodic name changes combined with social upheaval of the time.

The Hoffman Connection

Irene Heitz’s brother was named Samuel. Given his name and Irene’s, along with other records, it seems that the Heitz family was close to the Samuel Hoffman family.

Samuel Hoffman was probably the first minister of the church in Steinwenden and his wife, Irene Charitas Buether, died in Miesau in 1684. At that time, Steinwenden and Ramstein deaths were recorded in the Miesau church records.

According to the Geneanet site by R. K. Morgenthaler, Samuel Hofmann, husband of Irene Charitas born Beuther, was a minister in Weilersbach, close to Steinwenden, from 1657 onwards. We also know that Samuel Hoffmann and Irene Charitas Beuther married in 1657 in Weilerbach since this is stated in her 1684 burial record.

Weilerbach and Miesau are both equidistant of Steinwenden by about 9 miles in either direction.

We do have a 1684 Steinwenden tax list that shows Samuel Hoffmann residing in Steinwenden which also includes closely adjacent areas. Based on this, we may conclude that Samuel Hoffmann was a minister in Steinwenden in at least 1683-1684, and perhaps earlier. He may thus have been the first minister in Steinwenden after the war. Since Samuel was taxed, he probably wasn’t Swiss.

Given that two of Conrad Heitz’s children were named Samuel and Irene, it’s possible, perhaps even probable, that Samuel Hoffman and his wife, Irene, stood as their godparents and that the children were named in their honor. But when was that, and where?

Where was Samuel Hoffman after his 1657 marriage and before 1670 or so when Samuel Heitz was born? It stands to reason that Rev. Hoffman remained in the Steinwenden area, since he is found there in the 1680s.

In 1684, Irene Charitas Buether Hoffman, born in 1613, died in Steinwenden at the calculated age of 71. That means she had been 44 when she married Samuel Hoffman, probably past childbearing age.

As the minister, Samuel would have recorded church member’s deaths in his own handwriting after he preached the funeral service and comforted the mourners. When the last prayer was said, as the grave was covered, the good reverend retreated into the sanctuary of the church to do one final thing – record the burial date in the church books. Some ministers also recorded the gospel passage they chose to read, or noted that the church bells were rung. Samuel Hoffman wrote the simplest of notes, taking care of business, but nothing more. I have to wonder if he wrote the death record for his own wife into the register after they buried her in the churchyard, sitting alone, surrounded by the stone walls echoing happier times. Both a labor of grief and of love. Such it was in 1684 in Steinwenden.

Samuel Hoffman Remarries

In 1685, Samuel Hoffman, then a widower, remarried. German genealogist, Tom, notes the burial of Herr Samuel Hoffmann recorded in neighboring Konken parish on January 5, 1718. Tom feels that this would indicate that Samuel Hoffmann was probably about 10 years younger or more than his first wife Irene Charitas Beuther and at his death, would have been in his 90’s. If Samuel had been about the same age as Irene, that would put his age at death at 105.

Given his age at remarriage, between 62 and 72, I was quite surprised when Samuel Hoffman began having children with his new wife. I wondered if this Samuel is the son of the original Samuel who married Irene Charitas Beuther, but records confirm otherwise.

Marriage: 13 January 1685

Herr Samuel Hoffman, widower, p.p. (all proper titles assumed) with Maria Magdalena, legitimate daughter of Hans Cunrad Hepp, servant innkeeper? in Winden.

Samuel Hoffmann and his 2nd wife Maria Magdalena Hepp are found in many Steinwenden links to the Muller and Heitz families. Samuel’s new wife was clearly at least three if not four decades his junior.

Samuel Hoffman served as a godparent for a son born to Johann Michael Muller and Irene Heitz in 1687. Clearly Irene Heitz Muller was close to Samuel Hoffman too, not just Irene who had died.

A decade later, Irene Heitz Muller had remarried to Jacob Stutzman and moved to Krottelbach, but returned to Steinwenden to be the godmother of a child born to Samuel Hoffman and his wife Maria Magdalena. At this time, Samuel would have been 70 or older.

Landesarchiv Speyer > Steinwenden > Taufe 1684-1698, Taufe 1698-1738, Taufe 1724, 1738, Trauung 1684-1780, Beerdigung 1685-1780, Konfirmation 1685-1779, Bild 17 www.archion.de

Baptism: Entry No. 221

Child: Irene Elisabeth

Date of Baptism: 3 February 1697

Parents: H(err) Samuel Hoffmann & Maria Magdalena from Steinwenden

Godparents: Irene, Jacob Stitzmantz wife from Brodelbach (Krottelbach); Elisabetha, wife of Balthasar Jolage; Dominicus Stutzman, unmarried.

The baby was named for Irene and if anything happened to the parents, Irene Heitz Stutzman would raise her namesake.

This 1697 record ties Herr Samuel Hoffmann & Maria Magdalena (his 2nd wife) with Irene Heitz Muller Stutzman, Jacob Stutzman’s wife from Krottelbach and with Dominicus Stutzman, Jacob Stutzman’s brother!

At this point, I have to ask myself how Samuel Hoffman knew Jacob Stutzman’s brother, Dominicus well enough to ask him to stand up for his child as a Godparent. Dominic is the Stutzman sibling that never moved to Konken area where Jacob Stutzman lived. Instead Dominic lived and died in Zweibrucken. How did he know the Reverend Samuel Hoffman?

Tom notes that Hoffman may have known Dominic from Zweibrucken which is about 25 miles from Steinwenden, or 32 miles from Weilerbach. Zwiebrucken is where Samuel Hoffman’s first wife, Irene Charitas Beuther was from. It’s also where the Stutzman family was found before 1682. Did the Hoffman, Miller and Stutzman families all know each other from Zwiebrucken?

Furthermore, I would still like to figure out how Cunrad Heitz, a solder from Kurpfalz, near Mannheim, came to name his two children after a minister in Weilerbach, 32 miles distant. There seem to be some critical puzzle pieces missing.

Let’s look at our Heitz records.

Heitz Records

After the 1684 marriage of Irene Heitz to Michael Muller, additional Heitz records begin to be found in 1692 in Steinwenden and continue there except where otherwise noted. Irene’s marriage was the first Heitz record found.

  • June 4, 1692 – Samuel Heitz, tailor along with Irene, Michael Muller’s wife (and others) are godparents to Johann Samuel Lantz, child of Ludwig Lantz and Esther Barbara from Steinwenden.

This tells us that Samuel Heitz is an adult because he has an occupation.

  • Christmas 1692 – Confirmation of Cunrad Heitz, brother of Samuel Heitz, tailor.

This is an important record, because it suggests the age of Cunrad Heitz to be about 12 or 13, so born about 1680. Cunrad was actually born in 1676, so he was confirmed at age 16. It also confirms that these two men are brothers. Conspicuous in this record is the absence of a parent.

  • June 21, 1693 – Elisabeth Catharina, wife of Philip Heintz and Michael Muller of Steinwenden are godparents (with others) for Catharina Margaretha, daughter of Hans Jacob Schmidt and Elisabeth from Dittweiler.

I originally thought that this Heintz record was probably a Heitz record. However, there were no additional records found, and Tom found the Philip Heintz marriage to his wife: “Philip Heintz, son of Jost Heintz (deceased) from Alsenz marries 1687 11 Nov. in Steinwenden to Elisabeth Catharina, dau of Hans Caspar Christman of Schwander?”

  • August 22, 1694 – Samuel Heitz, tailor, godparents (with others) for Johana Agnetha, daughter of H(err) Samuel Hoffmann and Maria Magdalena of Steinwenden.
  • December 12, 1694 – Samuel Heitz, tailor, godparent (with others) to Johan Samuel, son of Hanss Georg Berny and Anna Elisabeth from Obermohr.
  • July 22, 1696 – Samuel Heitz, tailor, godparent (with others) to Johann Samuel, son of Hanss Georg Deysinger & Catharina from Steinwenden.
  • February 5, 1697 – Samuel Heitz, son of the late Cunrad Heitz, from Ramstein marries Catharina Apollonia, widow of the late Michael Schumacher. (Note that on November 10, 1693, Hans Michael Schuhmacher, son of Niclaus Schumacher from Rohrback married Catharina Apollonia, legitimate daughter of the late Burchard Schafer from Turckheim (Bad Durkheim.)

I am unclear whether the “from Ramstein” note refers to Samuel Heitz or the late Cunrad Heitz, but this is not the only reference to Ramstein. Ramstein is less than 2 miles from Steinwenden. This record indicates clearly that Conrad Heitz is deceased by this time.

In fact, the road from Miesau to Weilerbach runs directly through Ramstein. Steinwenden is a side trip, literally, “off the beaten path.”

This record tells us that Conrad Heitz died sometime between April of 1684 when Irene was married and February of 1697. He was probably deceased by the 1692 confirmation, given that he wasn’t mentioned. I wonder why there is no death record for Conrad in the church books. Given that he was a soldier, perhaps he did not die in this region, or maybe because he did not live in this region.

I suspect, based on the entry from 1698 for Conrad Jr. that the reference to Ramstein refers to Samuel, not the deceased Conrad Sr.

  • May 9, 1697 – Samuel Heitz from Steinwenden godparent (with others) to Johann Samuel, son of Johan Simon Fries and Maria Elisabetha from Steinwenden.
  • December 26, 1697 – Johann Adam born to Samuel Heitz and Catharina Apollonia from Steinwenden, Hans Adam Schumacher godfather (with others).
  • January 17, 1698 – Death of Cunrad..
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On Father’s Day, NBC’s Dateline aired a full segment about what happened to one family as a result of DNA testing. And it’s not at all what they expected.

A woman tested her DNA, but the family she found was not the family she was looking for.

“I knew everybody, right???”

“She’s just been waiting for us all these years….”

“A moment 50 years in the making…”

“It was a gaping hole…”

Put another way, by Bennett Greenspan, CEO, Family Tree DNA, “History may get righted.”

“DNA is like a history book written into your cells and only now in the beginning of the 21st century are we learning how to read the book.” – Bennett Greenspan

“It was the middle of the night.  He told her he found me.  I can hear her crying…”

“He couldn’t hardly talk…”

“We watched pain turn into joy.”

Poverty and prejudice is evil. In all of its incantations.

Two families about to become one.

There is absolutely no way on this earth that you can get through this dry-eyed, so just get the box of Kleenex now and click the link to watch the segment.

https://www.nbc.com/dateline/video/fathers-day/3745516

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