I recently was pleasantly surprised to get a message from Patrick from Berlin. He says that we are connected through his great-grandmother Wilma Pfeiff.
Here is a photo of Wilma from an article written in 2010:
I enjoyed reading about Wilma’s history [translated on-line]:
Wilma Pfeiff was born in Riga, Latvia. She experienced the First World War in Russia in a city on the Volga. There her father had to work in a machine factory. She was allowed to herd cows and learned fluent Russian. “I always went to the other girls and talked to them.” After the war, they went back to Riga. There she married. “My husband was supposed to marry my older sister, but she did not want to,” remembers Wilma Pfeiff. The girls had hardly any say in the election of the groom. In 1929 she got her first child, nine more followed. In 1939, the German-descended family was relocated to the Polish Wartheland. Her husband later went to war and did not return home. Then the day came Wilma Pfeiff had to flee from Poland with her ten children. In open wagons, actually coal cars, the families were penned. “Mother was always smart. She had a blanket, “says her sonErich Pfeiff (71). And his brother Edwin adds: “We still got straw to keep us warm.” The family was stranded in Brandenburg, on detours, it went on to Lemwerder. That’s where the Pfeiffs lived in the refugee barracks, that was in 1947. “That was a very difficult time,” says the 104-year-old. She had to fight for her children, they wanted to take her away. “‘Young dogs are distributed, but no children,’ I told them then.” She was allowed to keep the children, the elders were apprenticed. “The children were all very nice, they helped a lot,” says Wilma Pfeiff. She never married again: “I could have found a husband, but no father for my children.”
I have found DNA relatives to people in the US who have had ancestors from Saratov. I have wondered how they could be connected to Latvia and this article may explain it. Saratov was about 1,000 miles away from Riga, Latvia. I know that my great grandmother was also moved around a lot in WWII like Wilma was.
The DNA Match – My Mom and Patrick
Here are the DNA matches between Patrick and my mom, Gladys:
There are five matches that are fairly small. This could mean that our common ancestors go back several generations. I have a cousin who has not uploaded her DNA to MyHeritage. I have other Latvian cousins at MyHeritage but they do not show DNA triangulation with Patrick.
Wilma Pfeiff’s Genealogy
A good resource for Latvian Genealogy is a website called Raduraksti. They have a page with 10,000 Latvian names that could be helpful to find Wilma Pfeiff. One problem with using this list is that the Latvians like to spell German names their own way. Another problem could be that Wilma was not in Latvia when they took the survey or if she was, she may have gone by her maiden name. This appears to be the Latvian spelling:
Another Hint from Patrick
Patrick messaged me at MyHeritage:
My Family lived in a German enclave with 3 other Families: Pfeiff (my one), Schmidt, Gangnus, Wolde. They all married each other. For Example my Great Grandma was firstly Schmidt and married Johann Otto Pfeiff.
This is a big help as I didn’t know Patrick’s great-grandmother’s maiden name. There are two Johans in the list above:
The second Johans seems to be born in the right time.
Next, is Wilma listed on the Latvian database? This must be her:
She was born in Riga. This also gives a name for Vilma’s father. However, there were many churches in Riga. Here are some Oskars’ from the Latvia database:
My top choice is the Oskars born in the Irsu pag. as that is another name for Hirschenhof where my ancestors came from.
Patrick’s New Finds
Since I started writing this Blog, Patrick has found a lot more information on his Hirchenhof ancestors. I built out part of Patrick’s tree that I had started based some of Patrick’s new research and got this:
I put a green box around the common ancestors Patrick and I have. It looks like Patrick and I are double 4th cousins once removed.
The Lutke Connection
Lutke is interesting because I was previously stuck on Friedrich Lutke as well as Eva Fuhrmann. Patrick’s research helped me fill in this whole lower right side of my Latvian tree:
This added a new Buchenroth surname that I had not heard of and an additional Schwechheimer. Here is how Patrick connects with me on the Lutke side:
A Gangnus – Biedermann Tree
This tree is more complicated because I already match some other people there by DNA:
This is complicated because I descend from from Gangnus ancestors on my grandfather’s mother’s and father’s side. Robert above also has a double connection.
Patrick’s Pfeiff Side
I can’t see the ancestors of Johann Otto Pfeiff on Patrick’s MyHeritage Tree:
Patrick has Johann Otto Pfeiff born in Riga on 23 May 1906. I have Johann Karl Pfeiff born in Hirschenhof on 6 August 1906. I wonder if they are the same person? I did find a birth record for Johann Otto Pfeiff in the HIrchenhof Church records.
The record goes onto the next page. At this time, the Church records were in what appears to be Russian. Fortunately, the names are also in German. I did find a Russian Genealogical Wiki. The first column must be birth and the second baptism. My guess is that Patrick’s 23 May was right.
I don’t know when to give up, so I looked for a marriage for Georg and Ottilie:
This marriage appears to be in 1902 or 1903. The German translations of the names are in parentheses. I think that the second name after the first name must be the father’s name of the groom and bride. I see those names as Johann and Georg.
I would like to paint Patrick’s DNA matches using DNAPainter. The problem is that we match three different ways. I’ll work around this by just naming the common ancestors by the two closest pairs of common ancestors. That would be Lutke/Fuhrmann or Gangnus/Biedermann.
Here is where I match Patrick:
Here is my already maternal side that is painted:
One problem here is that Chromosome 20 is already taken up by the wrong side. My Lentz ancestors mostly lived in Philadelphia. Also matches under 7cM are not likely to be valid.
There also seems to be a problem with the match at Chromosome 18:
The MyHeritage Chromosome Browser shows no triangulation on Chromosome 18. My match with Patrick is in red and my matches with my two Latvian 2nd cousins are in orange and yellow. That means I am skeptical of this match also, but I don’t want to just toss it out.
Here is the new DNA painted in light blue.
I made a note under the match in DNAPainter that the Chromosome 18 segment did not triangulate. Here is a portion of DNAPainter with my paternal side included:
My Latvian maternal matches are on the bottom bar of the Chromosome.
My Mom and Patrick
Here is my mom’s currently painted matches:
Here is my Mom’s map where Patrick’s matches were added:
DNAPainter doesn’t add the matches under 7cM. The match on Chromosome 18 doesn’t show as it is under other matches:
My mother didn’t match Patrick on Chromosome 20.
Summary and Conclusions
- I’m glad Patrick contacted me. It has been fun working with this enthusiastic and talented German genealogist.
- Patrick and I both have an interest in German/Latvian genealogy and we are working well together.
- Thanks to Patrick, I have added some ancestors where I was stuck on our shared Lutke and Fuhrmann Lines.
- Painting my matches and my mother’s matches with Patrick gave some more insight on the shared matches.
- I’m hoping to find out more about Patrick’s genealogy and meet other DNA matches with an interest in genealogy like Patrick.