My Latvian Cousins Inese and Anita

Back in March of this year I wrote a Blog about my Latvian cousin Anita and how we matched by DNA. Since then, her sister Inese also tested at MyHeritage. Anita sent me a photo of her sister on the left and herself on the right:

Here is how we match on our Rathfelder side:

I am in the bottom left box and Anita and Inese are in the lowest box. We both have the common ancestors of Heinrich Rathfelder and Maria Gangnus. I am a second cousin once removed to Inese and Anita and my mother is a 1st cousin twice removed.

My Mother’s DNA Matches with Inese and Anita

Here is how Inese matches with my mother as shown at MyHeritage:

Here is how my mom, Gladys, matches with Inese and Anita:

The most important matches are where Inese matches my mother where Anita doesn’t. That is because this is newly identified DNA areas where we match.

Anita’s Questions

Anita had this question for me:

Me and your mother have 5,1% shared DNA, but my sister has 4,1% shared DNA with Glagys. Does it means that I have more DNA from Rathfelders than my sister has? Or 1% isn’t such a big difference?

That is a good question. I think that it does mean that Anita has more Rathfelder DNA than Inese. Anita and Inese got half their DNA from their father Haralds. They got 25% from Vera. They got on average 12.5% from Leo. My mother is Leo’s brother’s daughter. However Leo and his brother Alexander shared about half of their DNA with each other. That means that if all of Inese’s DNA matched all of Gladys’ DNA they could be up around 6.25% theoretically.

We Get Our DNA From Our Grandparents, But Not Equally

Looking at the image above, Anita matches my mom Gladys on Chromosome 19, but Inese does not. Why is that? That is because we all have a maternal and paternal chromosome. However, on each of those chromosomes we only have room for one grandparent. On Anita’s paternal Chromosome 19, she got her DNA from her grandmother Vera. However, Inese got her paternal Chromosome 19 DNA from Vera’s husband. That is why she doesn’t match Gladys on her Chromosome 19.

In order to answer Anita’s question definitively, we would have to map out all of Anita’s and Inese’s DNA to see exactly how much Rathfelder DNA they got on each Chromosome. They should both have about 25% of their DNA from their grandmother Vera who was a Rathfelder. However, it is possible that Anita has 26% and Inese could have 24% Rathfelder, for example.

That gets to another of Anita’s good questions:

Why me and my sister have only 39,3% shared DNA (44 segments)? I thought that close relatives should share more than 50%, no? Does it means that she for example took more DNA from our mother and me from father? Or almost 40% is a high share?

Here was my answer to Anita:

Siblings are a special case as they share what is called fully identical regions. That means that they can share DNA from the same location from the mother and the father on a specific Chromosome. Perhaps this makes it seem like less DNA is shared. I have 5 siblings tested, so I have plenty to look at! I have 4 of my 5 tested siblings at MyHeritage. They show:

  1. 40.0% (2,898.9‎ cM)
  2. 37.8% (2,738.1‎ cM)
  3. 35.0% (2,534.9‎ cM)
  4. 34.0% (2,462.8‎ cM)

Based on this 40% is pretty high. I share 48.6% with my mother. With my mom, I am only sharing on the maternal side, so there isn’t the same situation as sharing with siblings.

My Match with Inese and Anita

I only got half of my mother’s DNA. Here is how I match with Inese and Anita:

Even though I get half of my mom’s DNA, that doesn’t mean I get exactly half of the DNA that she got from her grandparents. I may get more from some and less from others. Here I didn’t get the DNA that my mom got from her Rathfelder and Gangnus grandparents on her Chromosome 2 and 6 as well as in other places.  However, Inese and I share Rathfelder/Gangnus DNA on part of Chromosome 15 and 17 that I don’t share with her sister Anita.

Painting My DNA

There is a DNA painting utility on the internet that is fun to play with. Using this I can add the extra DNA on my maternal side on Chromosomes 15 and 17.

The addition on Chromosome 17 is difficult to see as it merges with or is covered up by Schweccheimer/Gangnus. On Chromosome 15 the Rathfelder/Gangnus DNA that we share merges into Nicholson/Ellis. These are ancestors that my mom has that are not shared with Anita or Inese. The point where the color changes is called a crossover. That means that is the spot where the DNA that you have crossed over from one ancestor to another.

Inese, Anita and Ethnicity

I usually don’t write about ethnicity. That is because there are a lot of variations in the results. I have tested with different companies and there are some differences in what I have been told. However, Anita had some questions about her and her sister. I know that the ethnicity or where you came from based on your DNA is a very popular part of the DNA testing and people enjoy looking into this area.

Anita has some good questions:

By MyHeritage results I have 28,5% of Balkan region. My mother says that her parents and grand parents came from Russia and EasternAsia, no one she knows from Balkan. From my father side, Vera comes from Rathfelders, also not Balkan. I don’t know nothing about my father’s father, but almost 30% for me sounds a big part. What does it means? 

Here is Inese and my mom compared at MyHeritage:


Inese comes out as 9% Balkan. Note at the top that it says that Gladys and Inese do not have ethnicities in common, but they do share common areas. This is a bit of a surprise. So, for example, Inese and Gladys share a general North and West Europe DNA but Gladys’ is interpreted as English and North  and West European while Inese comes out Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Finnish.

I note that the 10.8% my mom has of North and West Europe is in the area including Germany.

I should note that Germany is a difficult area to determine by DNA. It could be because Germany was a bit of an ancient crossroads. A lot of people lived and passed through there. The Anglo Saxons that came to England, for example, were from Germany. German people also moved up to Scandinavia and other places. My mother also has other German ancestry on her mother’s side that is not related to Anita and Inese.

How Does Anita compare with Gladys?

The results are similar, except for the Balkan. Here Anita shows as 28.5% Balkan. Let’s take the average of Anita and Inese and call them 18.7% Balkan. My guess is that Anita’s father’s father had some Balkan background based on the MyHeritage analysis. However, I also like to look at Gedmatch.

Inese and Me

Even though Inese and my mom share no ethnicities, I do.

We share some Irish, Scottish and Welsh. How is this possible? We share this by coincidence. The 34.5%  Irish, Scottish and Welsh I have was from my father’s side. So this is just a coincidence that we share that heritage. This could not be from DNA I got from my mother as my mother and Inese have no shared ethnicities.

Anita and Inese’s Heritage at Gedmatch

Gedmatch has a lot of tools for looking at what they call ‘Admixture’. However, the documentation of how to interpret the results are often difficult to find. At Gedmatch, I choose admixture and use the Eurogenes program. Here is what Anita looks like:

I see the Baltic agrees with MyHeritage. However, Anita has about 48% North Atlantic. The above uses the K13 model. Apparently the K15 is newer and gives this results for Anita:

This basically broke Anita down onto four quarters with some miscellaneous heritage under 4% each. Atlantic seems a bit vague to me but the North Sea is quite specific. Note that there has been no mention of Balkan at Gedmatch for Anita.

A Look at Oracle

Oracle looks at various other possibilities. It is a bit more interesting as it adds some more specific areas based on an interpretation of the general areas in the pie chart above. Here are the Oracle results for the K15 analysis:

The single population sharing means that if four of Anita’s grandparents were from the same place, where would that place be? Here are the top 20 places. Some of the bottom choices are in the area of the Balkans.

The next option is the top 20 choices if Anita has two different heritages:

In this model, Southwest Russian comes out strongly with some other secondary choices. Now there are some German choices in there. If I were to do the same thing with the K13 Analysis, the results would be different. Also note that Anita’s great-grandfather was German. A great-grandfather represents 1/8 of one’s heritage. That is 12.5%.

Chromosome Painting Anita and Gladys

This is where things could get really wild. I chose the K15 analysis and then I compared Anita with my mom, Gladys on Chromosome 18. This should show what they have in common. Here is how Gladys matches Anita and Inese on Chromosome 18:

Gladys matches Anita between about 7.6M and 57.1M. That makes up a large part of Chromosome 18. Here is the Chromosome Painting:

This is an expanded view of Chromosome 18. Anita’s results are in the first row. Gladys is the second row. The third row is how Anita and Gladys compare with each other. I have an arrow at about 7.5M where Anita and Gladys start to match each other. The third row has blacked out where Anita and Gladys do not match. Where Anita and Gladys match each other represents DNA that they got from Heinrich Rathfelder and Maria Gangnus. Here is the right side of Chromosome 18 up to about 57.1M. After that point Gladys and Anita no longer match each other.

This is difficult to interpret, but it tells me that the ‘German’ match between my Mom and Anita is seen in the DNA in the last row is a mixture of North Sea, Atlantic, West Asian, Eastern European and a bit of Baltic.

Also by comparing Anita to the bottom row, we can see how Anita and my mom do not match. It seems they don’t match on Siberian and East and West Mediterranean among others.

Inese and Gladys Painted on Chromosome 18

Next I want to make the same comparison between Inese and Gladys. I am wondering if I will get the same results.


This image corresponds to the previous image where I compared Anita with my mom. It looks the same. It makes sense as all three match along this part of Chromosome 18. However, the more I look, I see a few subtle differences. In the area before 40, the black part in the bottom row is thinner between Inese and Gladys. That means that in this area, my mom and Inese have a closer match by ‘admixture’ than my mom and Anita. As Anita, Inese and Gladys match each other between 8 and 58, there could be other subtle differences.

Anita’s Question on Germany

In my and sister’s MyHeritage results 60% is Baltic, but nothing from Germany. It means MyHeritage takes into account that Rathfelders were from Baltic region not Germany? Or how?

Admixture questions can be complicated. There are a few reasons for this. Although the Rathfelders were considered German, they had many other ancestors that made up their ancestry that could have been from other areas. The second reason is this. Germany was a bit of a crossroads. Many other people came into what is now the Country of Germany. What I showed above was that the ‘German’ that Anita, Inese and Gladys share shows in DNA form as East Europe, Atlantic, North Sea, Baltic and some other areas in very small amounts. The United States is considered a melting pot where different nationalities have inter-married. This is true also of England which has had different conquerors and different populations moving to that Country. Likewise many people moved into Germany before staying there or moving on to other places.

Summary and Conclusions

  • A comparison between me Inese and Anita shows where I match them both by DNA. It also shows where I match on and not the other.
  • I was able to map the extra DNA where I match Inese and not Anita. Everywhere I match Anita or Inese it represents DNA that we both have from Heinrich Rathfelder or Maria Gangnus.
  • There are many variables in trying to tie DNA to your own heritage or ethnicity. There are also a lot of models and interpretations. As a result there can be different results. In general the DNA is accurate. However, when applied to a specific modern-day country, the results can be erratic.
  • The ethnicity results were accurate for the greater part of Anita’s and Inese’s heritage. However, when it got down to the 12.5% German, the results were confusing. Part of the answer could be in what makes up a Rathfelder or a German.
  • It is a good idea to look at more than one model when interpreting heritage by DNA.

More Schwechheimer Genealogy

My interest in Schwechheimer Genealogy was renewed this year when I found my mother had a good DNA match with Otis. It turns out that Otis and my mother have Scwechheimer ancestry. These Schwechheimers lived for over 100 years in the German Colony of Hirschenhof in present day Latvia. Through some quick genealogy, I came up with this connection:

Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem on Otis’ side at the point of the circle.

More Than One Gerhard Schwechheimer?

Here is the 1847 birth record I found for Johann Georg Scwechheimer.

Johann Georg’s father was Gerhard Schwechheimer. Before Gerhad, there is either a name or an occupation. I can’t make it out. This Gerhard was married to Jacobine Schwechheimer. This is where I likely went wrong. I had this reference:

This is from a book on the Gangnus family. The next to the last born in this large family was Rosine – my ancestor. I assumed that Johann Gerhard was the same as the Gerhard who was the father of the Johann Georg Schwechheimer above.

Then I came upon this Geni tree:

This tree shows that Gerhard’s father was Georg Michael (Ludvig) Schweccheiner. The profile manager, Lāsma, had the following further information about Gerhard:

I am not able to read Latvian, but I do get the impression that this person was from Helfreichshof which was the Colony to the North of HIrschenhof.

However, a spreadsheet I have created based on an online interactive map of the two colonies indicates that Gerhard’s father, Georg Michael Schwechheimer lived in Hirschenhof on farm # 48:

It looks like the Schwechheimers were neighbors to each other.

Jacobine Schwechheimer

That means that if Otis’ ancestor Gerhard Schwechhemer is not the brother of my ancestor Rosine Schwechheimer, then perhaps Jacobine is Rosine’s sister. The Gangnus genealogy above had Jacobine born in 1807. The problem with this date is that it is between two siblings. Those two siblings were born July 20, 1806 and March 18, 1808. That leaves a slim margin for Jacobine to be born. The Jacobine in the Geni web site was born 1810. This would put her between two siblings born in 1809 and 1813, so that gives a little more leeway. I looked in the Linden Church records and did not see a Jacobine Schweccheimer born in 1807.

A New Tree

Here is the new tree:


In this scenario, I am a 4th and 5th cousin to Otis. This would mean that Rosine and Georg Gerhard were married 1st cousins. First cousins marriages were much more common at that time. This tree is an improvement over my previous one as it accounts for both Rosine and Gerhard Schwechheimer the parents of Johann Georg Schwechheimer. I would like to create a web page concerning my Schwechheimer ancestry. I am 1/16th Schwechheimer or 6.25%. It is interesting to think about how little has been known about this part of my heritage. Or put another way, my Hirschenhof ancestors represent one quarter of my ancestry and Schwechheimer would be one quarter of that Hirschenhof ancestry.

Summary and Conclusions

  • Thanks to Lāsma’s Geni Web Site work on the Schwechheimer family, I have a better tree for Otis who I match by DNA
  • More work could be done nailing down marriage and birth records for Otis’ line
  • I am also grateful to the creator of the Hirschenhof interactive map. This map is useful in tracing where colonists lived and the succession of holders of the different farms. This succession results in a geographical genealogy.
  • Next step is to brush up on my internet and genealogical skills and put up a web page on my Schwechheimer ancestors.

Some of My Hirschenhof, Latvia Genealogy

In my last Blog, I looked at Otis’ DNA and genealogy and how it related to my family. In that Blog, I came up with this for our shared ancestry.

[Note: See update to the above here.]

In this Blog, I’ll take a further look at the Schwechheimer and Gangnus families.

Johann Markus Schwechheimer born 1723 Germany

Johann Markus was the first of the Schwechheimer family to leave Germany for Hirschenhof, Latvia. He was born in Altlußheim bei Hockenheim Kraichgau Baden.

Here is Altlußheim:

Altlußheim is on the Rhine River between Strasbourg, Stuttgart and Frankfurt.

According to, Johann Markus had three wives:

From one web page I read, the colonists were for the most part craftsmen, so did not do so well at farming. However, some lived in Jutland for 5 years where they tried to learn farming, but the farming conditions were not good there.

It looks like Johann Markus had Farm 55:

These lists are important as they trace who lived on the land. Usually, the land would be passed down from father to son. Lot 55 was near the middle of Hirschenhof. It looks like there was a bit of a village to the West of Lot 55. Gottfried Scwhechheimer was a schmied which is a smith.

Here are some other Schwechheimers:

Erbe 101 is in the Colony to the North of Hirschenhof. Jacob Schwechheimer came to own this property around 1880.

Three farms to the West was this family:

The Colony to the North was Helfreichshof:

Here is one more Schwechheimer family in Hirschenhof:

A search for Schwechheimer shows some more:

Georg Philipp was from Erbe 55, so he was probably the son of Johann Gottfried.

This Georg Philipp came from Erbe 55 so I assume that he was a son of Johann Markus. All the above came from a useful interactive map referenced here.

I started to extract some of the information from the occupants of the various Lots:

It appears that Erbe 55 was the original Schwechheimer location, so I started there. I didn’t extract the newer information. From this Lot. I gather that the first three listed were three generations of Schwechheimer living at the same location. This is consistent with what I have in my genealogy program:

The question comes after Gerhard. Why did the land not go to a son of Gerhard? Instead the land went to a cousin from Erbe 98. Here is some more information from Erbe 98 in Helfreichshof:

Johann Gerhard Schwechheimer Born 1809

I have above that Gerhard married Anna Charlotte Marz. This information was from a book “Vom Elsass Hinaus in Die Welt” by Gustav Gangnus published in 2003. In my previous Blog, I had Gerhard married to Jacobine Schwechheimer:

Of course, both of these could be true. Gerhard also had a sister named Jacobine. I have their son as Johann Georg. He would have been 11 when his relative Johann Peter took over the farm in 1858. I am interested in Georg and Gerhard as they are the likely ancestors of Otis who I mentioned at the beginning of this Blog. Gerhard was the brother of my ancestor Rosine Schwechheimer born in 1823 and matches my family by DNA.

Anna Charlotte Maria Gangnus Born 1780

Gerhard and Rosine’s mother was Anna Charlotte Maria Gangnus. She married around 1794 at the age of 14! Was this normal in Hirschenhof? She had her first child when she was 15 and her last daughter when she was 44. That is 29 years of childbirth. That also means that I am related to Otis twice on my Gangnus side.

This means that I am a fourth and sixth cousin to Otis on the Gangnus side. That is because I descend from two Gangnus brothers.

[Note: See update to the above here.]

Summary and Conclusions

  • Finding an interactive map of HIrschenhof and her sister Colony Helfreichshof gave some structure to where the Schwechheimer and Gangnus families lived.
  • There is a lot of information on Hirschenhof. However, the parish records are not indexed for the most part and are sometimes difficult to read.
  • These were large families. That means that sorting them out can be a bit of a problem. First names were also reused a lot. In addition, I learned that when someone was baptized they usually took one of the names of their godparent.
  • As shown in the last figure, there was intermarrying in this isolated German Colony.
  • I still haven’ found out who were the parents of the Jacobine Schwechheimer who married Gerhard Schwechheimer (born 1809).


A New Latvian DNA Match – Otis with Schwechheimer Ancestry

Otis, as well as my mom, has Latvian ancestors. He also shows as a match to my mom and other family memebers at AncestryDNA where he tested. At AncestryDNA, Otis shows as the first in the list of probable third cousins by DNA. That means that Otis and my mom could have shared 2nd great-grandparents.

The Known Genealogy

Here is the genealogy of my mother’s dad who was born in Latvia:

Otis tells me that he has Schwechheimer in his ancestry. One of my mother’s great grandparents was Rosine Schwechheimer. Rosine’s dad, my mom’s 2nd great-grandfather was Johann Gottfried Schwechheimer born 1772. However, Johann was married to a Gangnus, so it is possible that Otis and my family are related on more than one line.

Otis’ Schwechheimer Line

Otis has recently looked into his ancestry and updated his tree. Here is his paternal grandfather’s Schwechheimer Line:

In order to get back to Johann Schwechheimer, on my mom’s tree, I need to go back over 100 years from Otis’ grandmother Antonija. That could be difficult.

Otis’ DNA

I’ll look at Otis’ DNA and then get back to the genealogy. Otis kindly uploaded his DNA to There I can see his first 8 matches are with my family:

  1. First Otis matches my mom
  2. Then my two first cousins
  3. Then me and my four tested siblings

This is how Otis matches my mom at Gedmatch:

Otis also matches my 2nd cousin Catherine:

Otis matches my newly discovered (through DNA) 2nd cousin, Anita from Latvia:

Otis, my mom and Anita all match on Chromosome three, which is a likely triangulation of DNA. Triangulation by DNA is strong evidence of a common ancestor.

AncestryDNA’s Shared Matches

AncestryDNA has a helpful utility called Shared Matches. The first unknown shared DNA match between Otis and my mom is Valdis. Valdis’ mom was Klara Schwechheimer born in Hirschenhof. That is where my mom’s father’s side was from.

This adds evidence that the match between my family and Otis’ is on our Schwechheimer lines. My mom and Otis have about 29 Shared DNA Matches at AncestryDNA. I note that my mom’s great-grandmother Rosine Schwechheimer was one of 15 children, so this may help explain some of the matches.

Back to the Genealogy

My favorite source for Latvian genealogical research is:

It would make sense to try to find Antonija Schwechheimer:

Otis has her born 3 Mar 1884 in Latvia. I looked through the HIrschenhof Parish records of Lipkalnes for that time period and did not see Antonija.

From there I went to the Raduraksti List of Latvian Inhabitants. There I found two Antonija’s but they had the wrong birth years:

The elder Antonija had a father named Georgs. Perhaps this Georgs was a brother of Otis’ Antonija. The elder Antonija did not have a birth place listed, but her place of origin was listed as Irsu which is another name for Hirschenhof. I also found different spellings for Schwechheimer. On a different page of records I found two children of Georgs Schwechheimer:

They would have been born in Hirschenhof around the time that Antonija would have been born.

Here is the record for Alexander:

I must say the handwriting is quite impressive. It looks like Alexander’s father was Johann Georg married to Anna Charlotte Müller. These are the prime suspects for Antonija’s parents at this point.

I did find another version of the birth records and found this:

That means that Antonija was baptized Margarethe Antonie on 26th (sechsundzwanzigste) February 1884 and born on the 20th (zwanzigste) of the same month. That means that I was on the right track with the parents.

Finding Antonie’s Grandparents

Now that we have Antonie’s parents, we need to find her grandparents. The best way to find this is through a marriage record for Antonie’s parents. Fromholds was born in 1878 according to Raduraksti’s List of Latvian Inhabitants. That means that I should start looking for a marriage before this time.

It appears that Antonie’s parents married in 1871:

I found this in an index a few times, but I couldn’t find the actual wedding record. The full records apparently are not available online.

Anna Charlotte Muller

Anna Charlotte was born in 1850. Her father was Ludgwig Muller. He may have had another first name. Anna Charlotte’s mother was Margaretha Hormann.

Johann Georg Schwechheimer

This is probably Otis’ Johann Georg:

I say probably, because there was another Johann Georg born in 1853. This is where a marriage record would come in handy.

This Georg had two Schwechheimer parents: Gerhard and Jacobine. [However, see below where a different wife to Gerhard is proposed.]

The tree is looking better:

Under this scenario there is a double chance of matching Otis on the Schwechheimer Lines.

More Schwechheimer Research

My next step is to look at Gerhard and Jacobine Schwechheimer. I didn’t see their marriage record at Raduraksti. I would expect Gerhard to be born in the 1800-1827 era. Turns out I have a Gerhard in my own tree at Ancestry.

That is enough to get me back to where I wanted to be. Gerhard’s parents were Johann Gottfried Schwechheimer born 31 January 1772 and Anna Charlotte Maria Gangnus born 1 April 1780. This reference was from a book written by Gustav Gangnus in 2003.

A Schwechheimer/Gangnus Tree

I had called this a Schwechheimer Tree but the common ancestors to the tree are actually Schwechheimer and Gangnus:

Here Otis and I are fourth cousins. Otis is a 3rd cousin once removed to my mother. The reason that it is important to have Schwechheimer and Gangnus in this tree is that the DNA that Otis and my family share could be either from one or the other.

[Note: See update to the above here.]

A Few Discrepancies

I should note that I am not 100% sure that I have the right Johann Georg Schwechheimer born in 1847. However, he does appear to be the most likely candidate. For some reason, Johann Georg Schwechheimer was a popular name.

Secondly, my Gustav Gangnus book mentions that Johann Gerhard Schweccheimer married Anna Charlotte März. That means that the record I was looking at may have been wrong or I may have read it wrong. It is also possible that the reference that I have may have gotten the different Johann Georg’s mixed up. Or there may be a third possibility.

Thirdly, as this was a colony, there were only so many families to marry into. There will likely be a matrix of further out relationships which I have not tracked.

Mapping Schwechheimer/Gangnus

Here is my DNA match with Otis:

From what I showed above, it is likely that all or some of this DNA is DNA that Otis and I got from Gottfried Schwechheimer or Charlotte Gangnus. For now, I will assume that all this DNA is from that couple.

I have a profile at There I choose ‘paint a new match’. I copy in the above DNA locations and put in the common ancestors:

Schwechheimer/Gangus shows at the top of the key and the DNA is ‘painted’ in on my maternal side. Those new segments show up on the bottom side of Chromosomes 3, 12 and 17. The color for Schwechheimer/Gangnus is what I would call perriwinkle.

Expanding Chromosome 3

On Chromosome 3, the blue segment overlaps an orange segment. That is fine. The orange segment is my match with my Latvian 2nd cousin Anita. I had mentioned a while ago that we probably triangulated on Chromosome 3. That means that the DNA that Anita and I share, we also share with Otis on that part of Chromosome 3. That means that the three of us get our DNA from that spot from further back in time going to Schwechheimer/Gangnus. Here is an expanded view of the middle of Chromosome 3:

Getting the Numbers Up

I like to look at how much DNA I have mapped. Before Otis, my DNA was 34% mapped overall and 22% mapped on the maternal side. Now I am 35% mapped overall and 24% mapped on the maternal side. For reference, my paternal side is 46% mapped. Here is the whole map:

I now have Schwechheimer in the right section in the key.

Summary and Conclusions

  • There is room for further research. There is some confusion as to who was the wife of Gerhard Schwechheimer born in 1809.
  • I haven’t focused on Schwechheimer Genealogy in the past. This seems to be an area which could use some attention.
  • At some point, it would be interesting to sort out the more distant relationships. I know that I descend from two different Gangnus Lines. Otis like has multiple lines that match mine.
  • I was able to paint in Otis’ match on my chromosome map. This ‘painting’ showed a predicted triangulation between Otis, Anita and myself.
  • Due to some prolific Schwechheimers in the past, there appear to be other matches out there and room for more DNA analysis which will help the genealogical research.
  • I was able to expand Otis’ genealogy and put him firmly in the Hirschenhof Colony in Latvia.

Here is a map of the Hirschenhof Colony:

Wolf’s DNA and Our Hirschenhof Ancestors

I was notified recently of some of my new MyHeritage matches. Some of these matches have been turning out to be very interesting. I was surprised that one of the shared ancestral names was Gangnus. I never see that name in the context of unknown DNA matches. So that piqued my interest.

Wolf’s Many Shared Ancestral Names

Here was one note from MyHeritage:

With all these shared ancestors, it would make sense to look at the closest matches first. All of these names looked valid except for Luther. Wolf matches me on my mother’s side. I have a Luther on my father’s side who lived in Colonial Massachusetts. These names that Wolf has appear to be from Hirschenhof. My Rathfelder and other ancestors lived in this German colony in Latvia. Due to the isolated nature of the area, it appears that intermarrying occurred.

Wolf’s Maternal Side

Wolf has a good tree at MyHeritage. The names I recognize are on his maternal side:

These are the ancestors that I think we have in common. Also Beidermann to the left of the two blank spots. MyHeritage didn’t mention that we have Hammich in common, but the name sounds familiar to me. Also, I have had other DNA matches with Hassenfuss, so I may be related to that name either by direct descent or a collateral family. This helps confirm where those matches could come from. The places we don’t match are on Hassenfuss, and Heusel. The circles are 5 generations from Wolf, so that would be at the 4th cousin level approximately.

My Mom’s Paternal Side

My mom was born as a Rathfelder Here is her dad’s tree:

Perhaps I should have circled the surnames where we don’t match. We don’t match on Rathfelder, Mertz, Muth and Lutz. It looks like I should have circled Schmidt. The last row represents 6 generations from me, so that would be at about the 5th cousin level. By DNA, MyHeritage thinks that we are third to 5th cousin. I would guess it would be more like 5th.

As Wolf was born the same year as me, it seems like I need another generation on his mother’s side. I can create a maternal tree for Wolf, but that will take a while.

A Schwechheimer Connection

Here is part of Wolf’s 6th generation out on his mother’s side:

There are two Schwechheimers, but I am interested in the first one. Here are the details on Wolf’s tree:

Here are two Schwechheimers from my tree:

I have the first Schwechheier as Johann Markus born in Baden. He was a first generation colonist in his family in Hirschenhof. His son was Johann Gottfried. I had that Johann Markus had these sons:

The last one apparently corresponds with Wolf’s ancestor.

Next, I draw a Schwechheimer Tree:

This shows that Wolf is a 4th cousin twice removed to my mother and a 5th cousin once removed to me.

A Look at Wolf’s DNA

At MyHeritage, Wolf and I share 41 cM.

That DNA is shared over four chromosomes in five segments. I suppose some but perhaps not all of this DNA would be Schwechheimer DNA. The fact that we share several segments on the small side could mean that these are for matches that go back a way and it could mean that there is more than one line that we match on. Wolf actually shares a bit less DNA with my mother.

I did not inherit the match my mom has with Wolf on Chromosome 2. I did have a match on Chromosome 15 that my mother did not have. That could mean that the match is on my father’s side, or that it is not a real match. Or perhaps my mom should have matched there. I say it would be better to ignore Chromosome 15.

My Cousin Anita

Anita, Wolf and I form a Triangulation Group (TG). That is when three people all match each other on the same segment. This means that we have a common ancestor.

Here is a chart of DNA-tested descendants of my Latvian great-grandparents:

Rusty, Cindy, and Catherine are not at MyHeritage but have uploaded their DNA to Gedmatch for comparison. That makes Anita and Wolf 6th cousins on this Schwechheimer Tree:

Here is the small area of triangulation as shown on the MyHeritage Chromosome Browser:

The TG is from about position 56 to 60M. My match with Anita is in red and my match with Wolf is yellow above. However, I would hesitate to say that this Chromosome match is from Schwechheimer and no one else.

I mentioned above that I share 41 cM of DNA with Wolf. However, my mother shares 38 cM with Wolf and is a 4th cousin twice removed at least once. Here are some statistics:

My mother and I are both above average for our relationship with Wolf. But as I say, there is more than one line of relationship.

The Biedermann Connection

My 4th great-grandfather Hans Jerg Rathfelder married Juliana Biedenbender. Juliana’s dad was Johann Tobias Biedenbender.

My research shows that Juliana’s older sister was Wolf’s ancestor Elisabeth:

That will lead to a Biedenbinder Tree starting with Tobias:

In this tree, I am actually more distantly related to Wolf as a 6th cousin.

The Niclas Connection

I was curious about the Niclas Connection. I have an Anna Eva, daughter of Johann Jacob Niclas in my tree:

Wolf has a Johann Georg Niclas in his tree. The green leaves are hints in my tree. One of those hints for Johann Jacob is for other people’s trees. There are five trees altogether.  The first tree has Eva Maria b 1757 as a daughter. The second tree is for NIclaus and looks like the wrong guy. The third tree has Johann George and Anna Eva for children. The fourth and fifth trees have just Johann Georg as a child.

Now I need a Niclas Tree:


This is still a 6th cousin relationship for me. The configuration of the tree is the same but the pathways are different.

More Biedermann Research?

Wolf’s tree has an Elisabeth Biedermann born 1856 and married to Johann Georg Heusel.

If the dates are right in Wolf’s tree, Elisabeth had Gustav when she was 15. Here is a possible birth record for Elisabeth:

This looks like an Emma Elisabeth Bidermann born to Georg Ludwig Bidermann and Pauline Alharma? Charlotte geb
Asmus. Born in October 1854. If this is the right ancestor for Wolf, at least she would be 17 instead of 15 when she gave birth to Gustav.

Summing Up

Wolf has a great tree. However, even with a great tree, it difficult to see all the possible places that connections can be made. I was able to make three connections. It appears that there could be more. I would also like to follow up on other leads.

It helped to build out Wolf’s tree at Ancestry. That way his tree was in a format that was the same as mine and made comparisons easier. It also helped to make most recent common ancestor trees to see what relationship we were to each other on the different lines.

Even though I matched Wolf on many Hirschenhof lines, we didn’t match on my two most recent names of Rathfelder and Gangnus. At least not yet.

My New Match with Anita from Latvia

There has been some buzz recently on the genetic genealogy Facebook Pages about MyHeritage and how useful it is becoming. Not too long after uploading my DNA to MyHeritage, a new match, Anita, showed up as my top match. This was MyHeritage’s estimate as to our relationship:

I guessed that Anita was related on my mother’s side as my mom’s dad grew up in Latvia. I wrote to Anita and she kindly and warmly wrote back. Anita lives in Latvia, so she is my first Rathfelder relative living in Latvia that I have a DNA match with.

A Rathfelder DNA Testing Tree

I have had another Rathfelder descendant tested, Catherine. She is even more closely related to Anita. Here are some Rathfelder descendants that have tested.

The Old Rathfelder DNA Testing Tree

This is the tree I have been working with:

Astrid is related, but more distantly than my second cousin Catherine, my mom, my siblings and two 1st cousins. I’ll use a different method to add Anita to the tree:

This chart gives the relationships between each DNA-tested Rathfelder descendant. I am a 2nd cousin once removed to Anita. MyHeritage had me as first cousin twice removed to 2nd cousin once removed by the DNA. They were right.

The Leo Rathfelder’s Line

Anita’s great-grandfather was Leo Rathfelder. Here is my web page on that Line:

Anita descends from Vera. It will be interesting to hear what that part of the family has been up to in Latvia since 1944.

I had asked Anita to upload her results to and she went along with my request. Here is how we match there:

Gedmatch has an estimated number of generations to our MRCA as 3.1. The MRCA is our Most recent common ancestors, Johann Heinrich Rathfelder and Maria Gangnus. I am three generations away from this couple and Anita is four, so that is an average of 3.5 generations away. This means that Anita and I share more than the average DNA for our 2nd cousin once removed relationship. Also I note that quite a few SNPs were used in comparison which is good. The test at MyHeritage is apparently much better than the one at 23andme which does not currently meet the threshold for normal sharing.

The Kitty Munson Chromosome Mapper

One fun thing to do with DNA is mapping. Kitty Munson has an on-line utility to map your DNA. All the DNA I have above will be mapped to Heinrich Rathfelder and Maria Gangnus. Right now my map looks like this:


Heinrich and Maria are a sort of orange color on the maternal (bottom) side of my chromosomes. Anita should make a good contribution to this map. Previously, Catherine’s matches with me contributed to this DNA from these two great grandparents. Catherine has a large match with me on Chromosome 18, so Anita will not add anything there, but she will on other chromosomes.

Here is the new map with my matches to Anita added:

Anita added a lot of DNA to my Chromosome map on Chromosomes 3, 11, 14, 15. 16, and 19.

Anita and the X Chromosome

The X Chromosome is more of a female thing than a male one. I say this because woman have two X Chromosomes and men have one. This is the X Chromosome DNA match that Anita and my mom share:

Gangnus DNA

The DNA that Anita and my mother share is from the Gangnus side. How do I know that? Here is the paternal side of my mother’s DNA inheritance chart:

The maternal side (not shown) does not apply to Anita. My mom inherits X Chromosome DNA from the blue and pink areas but none from the white areas. This shows that at the level that my mom and Anita match each other, the DNA that they share has to be on the Gangnus side. That is because my mother’s father Alexander didn’t get any DNA from his father. He only got a full dose of DNA from his mother Marie Gangnus that he sent down to my mom.

Anita’s X Chromosome DNA inheritance pathway is a bit longer:

Anita got a full dose also of her grandmother Vera Rathfelder’s  X Chromosome from her dad. However, I think that Vera’s X Chromosome would have been a combination of her father and mother’s X Chromosome.

I have mapped out the X Chromosome for myself and four of my siblings:

The Rathfelder part is in green. Lentz is my mother’s mother’s side. That was the part I didn’t show on the bottom side of her X Chromosome inheritance chart. As I mentioned above, all the Rathfelder DNA on the X Chromosome came from Maria Gagnus, so it could just as well say Gagnus instead of Rathfelder. I am on the J bar. I got Lentz DNA from 100 to 140. My mom matches Anita from 114 to 144. That means that I should match Anita from 110 to 114 as my green Rathfelder/Gangnus X Chromosome inheritance starts at 110. When I check gedmatch for an X match with Anita, at first I didn’t get a match. That is because gedmatch sets the SNP level for matching higher than  the other chromosomes. When I lower the SNP level, I get this match with Anita on the X Chromosome:


Anita and Catherine’s Mystery X Chromosome Match

At first, I thought that I had stumped myself with this one, but I figured it out. Anita’s largest X Chromosome match is with her 1st cousin once removed Catherine:

I confused myself by the way I drew the DNA inheritance map:

Here it looks like the X Chromosome is traveling from Leo to Catherine’s father which is impossible. After posting a question to the ISOGG Facebook Page, I figured it out. Obviously Leo had a wife, Lidia Vasiljeva. This DNA was from her. I was focused on the Rathfelder side and forgot the Vasiljeva side that I’m totally unrelated to. So if Anita and Catherine are ever sitting around pondering their X Chromosome match with each other, they will now know that their match is a Vasiljeva match. Mystery solved.

Here is Marie (Maria?) Gangnus.

Other matches with Anita are from Marie Gangnus or her Rathfelder husband and we can’t identify which. Matches with Anita and my family on the X Chromosome would be from Marie’s DNA.

Other DNA Matches

This could be a topic for further research. Gedmatch has a way to look for people that match two other people. In this case, I’ll choose my mom and Anita. When I put these two names into the Gedmatch Utility, I came up with a short list including myself and my siblings.

One prominent DNA match was David. He matched my mom and Anita. This chromosome browser is from the perspective of my mom:

On Chromosome 14, my mom matches #1 Anita, #2 Catherine and #3 David. David tested at Family Tree DNA, so I’ll check there. Unfortunately David has no tree posted at either FTDNA or Gedmatch, so I may write to say hi.

Anita and Astrid

I’m a bit puzzled by Astrid. I had written a few Blogs about her previously. The most recent Blog is here. It seems like the DNA is telling me that Astrid should be more closely related than she is.

This table gives different matches to Astrid. If I have the tree right, then all these people seem to be off by about one generation. At the time I wrote the previous Blog on Astrid’s ancestors, I had thought that the higher matches had something to do with her being related to the Gangnus family also.

Summary and Conclusions

  • I was pleasantly surprised to find Anita through DNA matching. I would like to find out more about her family.
  • I was able to match much more of my Rathfelder/Gangnus DNA thanks to Anita
  • X Chromosome matches that Anita and my family and cousins share is really Gangnus DNA coming through the Rathfelder male line.
  • It is possible that this DNA match with Anita will make it easier to find other Rathfelder relatives.
  • The Rathfelder family has been separated for over 100 years between Latvia, England, and the United State (and perhaps other places). Now thanks to DNA matches and the internet, connections are being made again.


My German DNA Success Story [Continued]

In my last Blog, I wrote about finding a significant DNA match on my mother’s paternal side. This is my rarest grandparent as far as DNA matches. My mom’s dad was a German Rathfelder from Latvia who emigrated to the US in the early 1900’s. As a result, this side of the family appears to have few US relatives. When I left off, I was having trouble finding a common ancestor between the match and my mother due in part to there being more than one Wilhelmine Rathfelder in the mid-1800’s Hirschenhof, Latvia.

The Two Wilhelmine Rathfelders

To recap, my mother’s DNA match had as their ancestor Friedrich Bernhard Spengel. Fried’s birth record in 1859 listed his mother as Wilhelmine Rathfelder. When I looked up the birth record of Wilhelmine Rathfelder, I found that she was born in 1844. This would make her only 15 at the birth of her son. That same record stated that her godmother’s name was also Wilhelmine Rathfelder who was an unmarried woman at the time. For this reason and others, I decided that the 15 year old Wilhelmine Rathfelder was a poor choice to be Friedrich Spengel’s mother.

Since my last blog, I found an 1855 Spengel/Rathfelder marriage that had potential:

Spengel Rathfelder Marriage 1855

The next to the last entry appears to be a Joh. Peter(?) Spengel and Aldene Wilhelmine Rathfelder. One problem here is that Friedrich’s father was Johann George Ludwig Spengel and this groom appears to be Johann Peter Spengel.

I then found this birth record from 1838:

Adeline Wilhelmine Birth

Here is cousin Inge’s rendering:

born on Januar (January) 17. abends (in the evening)

baptized the 19th of January

No. 2 Adeline Wilhelmine Rathfelder

V (father) CW (which means Colonie Wirt = farmer) George Rathfelder;

M (mother) Cathar(ina) Elisabeth geb. Hofmann

Taufzeugen (godparents): Gottlieb Raschefsky und Frau (wife) Anna Charlotta geborene Erhard,

Adeline Wilhelmine geborene Schulz.

Note again the custom of naming the child for the godmother – in this case Adeline Wilhelmine Schulz.

Two Johann Georg Rathfelders

It appears that not only were there 2 Wilhelmine Rathfelders, but also two brothers with the same name of Johann Georg Rathfelder. Just to make it confusing they were both the sons of my ancestor Johann Georg Rathfelder aka Hans Jerg Rathfelder. Here is the genealogical reference with Inge’s note: “Hans Jerg”.

Hans Jerg

This means that Adeline Wilhelmine Rathfelder was the daughter of Johann Georg (but he apparently went by Georg) born 1792. Her uncle was Johann George (my ancestor) b. 1778 and her grandfather was also Johann Georg (aka Hans Jerg). That puts the common ancestor of my mom and her Spengel descendant DNA match back to Johann George (aka Hans Jerg) Rathfelder b. 1752 and his wife Juliane Bietenbinder. Hans is my mom’s 3rd great grandfather in the upper right box below.

Ancestry Alexander Rathfelder

This means that AncestryDNA was somehow right in assigning my mom’s Spengel/Rathfelder descendant 4th cousin status.

The Spengel/Rathfelder Story

I find that if I am able to put genealogy into a narrative and it makes sense, then there is a likelihood that the story may be true.

Hans Jerg Rathfelder and Juliane Bietenbinder had several children in the German Colony of Hirschenhof in Latvia. Two of their sons had the same name: Johann Georg Rathfelder. The older son went by Johann and the younger went by Georg. The elder son Johann was my ancestor. The younger, Georg, married Catherina Hofmann in 1813. 25 years later in 1838 they had a daughter named Adeline Wilhelmine Rathfelder. In 1838 Wilhelmine’s mother would have been about 42.  This daughter may have been a 6 year old godmother at the birth of another Wilhelmine Rathfelder in 1844. In 1855, as a young 17 old girl, Adeline Wilhelmine Rathfelder married Johann Peter Spengel. At about age 21 in 1859 the elder Wilhelmine had a son named Friedrich Bernhard Spengel. However, at this time, Friedrich’s father is called Johann Georg Ludwig Spengel.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I’m betting that Johann [somebody] Spengel married a Wilhelmine Rathfelder in 1855 and that they were the same couple that had a Friedrich Bernhard Spengel in 1859. I do note that the Spengels were also related to the Gangnus family in Hirschenhof. Gangnus is the name of my Rathfelder grandfather’s mother. So that may explain my mom’s larger than average match with her 4th cousin.

Let’s Map Mom

Now that I have a reasonable common ancestor for my mom and her new Spengel/Rathfelder match, I can update my mom’s Chromosome Map using the Kitty Munson tool:

Mom's Chromosome Map Aug 2016

This fills out her paternal side a little more and also gets her first 1700’s chromosome mapping. All the others were “only” in the middle third of the 1800’s! Hans Jerg Rathfelder and his wife Juliane Bietenbinder are now shown in light blue.

My Chromosome Map

It turns out that even though my mom had a large DNA match as well as my 2 sisters, my gedmatch one to one match wasn’t that large. This is one of those rare cases where Ancestry gives me a larger match than Gedmatch. Here is how my match with the same Spengel/Rathfelder descendant show up at AncestryDNA:

Joel Ancestry match

Here is my one to many match at gedmatch:

gedmatch one to many

Gedmatch warns me to do a one to one match which brings my total cM match down from 25.1 to 18.9.

Joel Hilweg one to one

I just found out that the gedmatch SNP threshold went from 700 to 500, so a few days ago, my match would have been only 8.3 cM total. I may have other matches also as my sisters and mother match this same person in areas where I am below this threshold.

Here is my updated Chromosome Map:

Joel Chromosome Map Aug 2016

It seems like my maternal and paternal mapping is evening out. I didn’t think that this would ever happen.

Comparing my mom’s map and mine, I got most of Hans’ and Juliane’s DNA from my mom on my Chromosome 6 and 9, but I didn’t get any of the large amounts of DNA from my mom’s Chromosomes 17 and 18.

More Mapping

While I’m at it, I’ll see what else I can do.

Chromosome 1

Here is how the Spengel descendant matches with my mother, me and one sister on Chromosome 1:

Chr 1 Rathfelder

This is probably one of those segment matches that AncestryDNA had but was below the gedmatch threshold. The first match is my sister Sharon, then my mom, then me. Here is how I had it mapped out (with Kathy Johnston’s help):

Chr 1

The area of interest is from 62 to 68. Kathy has it correctly mapped out that Sharon and I have Rathfelder in there in blue and my other sister Heidi has the other maternal grandparent (Lentz) from 62 to 68.

Chromosome 6 Revised

Here is how the Spengel/Rathfelder descendant matches my mom and all three of her DNA tested children on Chromosome 6:

Chr 6

Note all the matches are between 155 and about 161. Here is my Chromosome 6 map:

Chr 6 map

When I was working on this map, I had noted an inconsistency in my paternal side on the right hand side and hadn’t yet resolved that problem. This proves I was wrong on my maternal side also after 155. Instead of 3 blue maternal Lentz segments after 155, there should be three orange ones as proven by the Spengel/Rathfelder match. I’ll just do a quick fix. There appears to be a double crossover for my 2 sisters where I previously had one for me at 155. I’ll add Sharon and Heidi’s crossover at position 155 and take out mine:

Chr 6 map rev

Perhaps this is not a perfect Chromosome 6 map, but it is much better than it was.

Chromosomes 17, 18 and 19

I covered Chromosome 17 in my previous blog.

Spengel/Rathfelder only matches my mom on Chromosome 18:

Chr 18 mom

Perhaps that DNA went to one of my other three siblings that haven’t tested for DNA yet.

Lastly, here is how mom, sister Heidi and I match Spengel/Rathfelder on Chromosome 19:

Chr 19

The matches are from 56 to 59, so the scale in the image isn’t perfect. Let’s see how my mapping looks.

Chr 19 Map

It looks like I had some trouble on my family’s Chromosome 19. I couldn’t figure out a section and couldn’t map my maternal side to a specific grandparent. Well, now, thanks to our Spengel/Rathfelder descendant match, things will be clearer. Heidi and Joel match a Rathfelder and Sharon doesn’t from location 56 to 59. That means that I can map the orange to my Rathfelder grandfather’s DNA. That leaves my maternal grandmother Lentz who will be in the green areas.

Chr 19 map rev

So here we have identified Maternal grandparents 1 and 2. This information should be useful. For example, if my sister Sharon in the top bar has a Chromosome 19 DNA match on the maternal side, I will know not to look for any Hirschenhof ancestors.

Summary and Conclusions

I believe that this is how it is supposed to work. The DNA helps target the genealogy and the genealogy identifies the DNA. One side leverages the other and back and forth we go between DNA and genealogy. Hence the term genetic genealogy.

My German DNA Success Story

I recently had a breakthrough on my mother’s side with an autosomal DNA match. It was on her Rathfelder side which is the rarest as far as DNA matches go. Apparently there aren’t many Rathfelders around and very few that have taken DNA tests.

Here is the summary of my success:

  1. My mom’s Rathfelder ancestors lived in Riga, Latvia. Based on this I did a search under my mom’s results at AncestryDNA for matches from Riga, Latvia.
  2. I was fortunate to find someone with a large match.
  3. I got in touch with the match and asked the administrator to put the results on
  4. The administrator of the match put the results up on This is the step that happens rarely – to me at least.
  5. I checked the results against a Rathfelder 2nd cousin’s DNA I had tested and there was a good match there also.
  6. I did some genealogy and found where the match likely was.

The Ancestry DNA Riga Search

When I put in Riga, Latvia, under the AncestryDNA search criteria for my mom’s kit, I found the match. It was the largest Riga match she had after my my 2 sisters and myself. Here is a screen shot of the match with cM’s shared and my note that the match was in Riga.

Match in Riga

I was a little surprised that AncestryDNA had the relationship at 4th cousin, based on the 6 segments shared. I would think that it would be closer than that.

The Match in Gedmatch

Here is the same match at gedmatch:


Note that Gedmatch shows fewer segments (4) but a higher total cMs. Gedmatch estimates 3.8 generations to a common ancestor. That sounds like a 3rd cousin to me.

All Roads Lead to Hirschenhof

My mom’s match had as the most distant Riga ancestor someone by the name of Spengel. I knew that all my mom’s ancestors lived in Hirschenhof, Latvia, prior to moving to Riga. That meant that the match was likely in Hirschenhof. I did a quick Google search for Spengel and Hirschenhof and came up with some results. I tried the match’s other ancestors with Hirchenhof and found no results. Here are my mom’s Hirschenhof 1st and 2nd great grandparents. They would represent 2nd and 3rd cousin matches:

Hirschenhof Ancestors

Time for Some Hirschenhof Genealogy

Here is the Linden Evangelical Lutheran Church outside Hirschenhof where my mom’s ancestors got baptized, confirmed, married and had their funerals.

Linden Church

I like the photo because it appears to show people sledding down the hill by the Church. Also because it looks like this picture could have been taken in New England where I live as well as Hirschenhof, Latvia.

Raduraksti is the website I like to use for Latvian genealogy. That is where I was able to find the Linden Church records. They are listed under Draudzes, Liepkalnes. I had to look up draudzes. It means congregations. Liepkalnes is apparently the Latvian name for Linden. My mom’s match’s grandfather was Friedrich Spengel. I was able to find his birth and baptismal record here:

Friedrich Spengel Birth

I could tell that Friedrich, Bernhard was born in 1859 based on the index and note at the top of the page. I could tell that his dad was Johanne Georg [something] Spengel married to a Rathfelder. However, I had no idea what the first name of Friedrich’s Rathfelder mother. I wrote to a Rathfelder relative in Germany named Inge for help. In the meantime, I discovered that there was a Wilhelmine Rathfelder in the index to the church records. Here is her birth record in 1844.

Wilhelmine birth

Now that I know it says Wilhelmine, I can read it. Before that, the ‘W’ looked like a ‘Dr’ or ‘Lr’ to me! Here I recognized Wilhelmine’s parents as my mother’s great grandparents: Johann Rathfelder and Rosine Schwechheimer. Here from my web page is the family:

Johannes family

This shows that in my research, I was missing Wilhelmine. However, there was plenty of time for her to be born between February 1843 and 1844. It seemed clear that my mom and her match had as their common ancestors Johannes Rathfelder and Rosine Schwechheimer. However there were a few problems.

the problems with WILHELMIne
  1. There were 2 Wilhelmine Rathfelders
  2. With the above scenario, my mom and her match would be 2nd cousins. Ancestry showed them as 4th cousins and gedmatch seemed to indicate that they would be closer to 3rd cousins, but not 2nd cousins.
  3. If Friedrich Spengel’s father married this Wilhemine, then this Wilhelmine would have been 15 when Friedrich was born.
Two Wilhelmine Rathfelders

I’ve heard it said that you learn something new every day. In looking up information on Lutheran Church records, I discovered that it would be normal for a child to be named after the godparent. This was certainly true here. Friedrich Spengel was named for his godfather Friedrich Niclas.

Here is what Inge tells me concerning her reading of Wilhelmine’s baptismal record:

You found out yourself, that no. 58 of the Linden churchbook is an entry like follows

I am sure, you still are knowing:

Wilhelmine Rathfelder,(born July, 2nd, baptized July, third (dritten)

Vater Tischler Joh(ann) Rathfelder, M(utter) Rosina geb. Schwechheimer

Taufzeugen Jungfer Wilhelmine Rathfelder, Tischler Heinr(ich) Lütken und Fr(au) Philippine geborene Rathfelder

A Jungfer is an unmarried female.

So what I get out of this is that Wilhelmine Rathfelder had an unmarried godparent with the same first and last names that she had.

So Who was Friedrich Spengel’s Mother?

Prior to writing this blog, I was leaning toward the younger Wilhelmine as being Friedrich’s mother. Now I am leaning toward the older godmother. This is based partly on the DNA results. I am guessing that the godmother could have been Wilhelmine’s Aunt. Here is what I have for Johannes’ family. I think that he actually had other siblings that I don’t yet know about. Perhaps he had a sister named Wilhemine.

Johannes' Parents

That’s as far as I got on the genealogy. There is more work to do.

The Spengel Match Helps With My Chromosome Mapping

I have mapped most of my chromosomes and my 2 sisters’ chromosomes to my 4 grandparents. This shows for each chromosome the portion of DNA my sisters and I received from each grandparent represented in 4 different colors. I used a method developed by Kathy Johnston. For example, here is how I had mapped out Chromosome 17:

Chromosome 17

My sisters are S and H. I am J. Note on my mother’s side (on the top of each bar) I have maternal grandparent 1 and 2 because I could not tell who was who. Now with the known Spengel descendant match, I can tell which is Rathfelder (my mother’s father’s line) and which is Lentz (my mother’s mother’s line). Here is how gedmatch shows the Spengel match. Remember that Spengel had a Rathfelder mother, so will indicate the Rathfelder line.

Chr 17 Gedmatch

Above, #1 corresponds to my sister Heidi (H) and #2 corresponds to my sister Sharon (S). My mom is #3. Note that The green matches for daughters #1 and #2 shouldn’t be larger than the mother #3, but they are. I show no match to my mother’s match on this Chromosome. Due to the the location of the Spengel matches above, this tells me that MG2 above has to be Rathfelder. That leaves MG1 as Lentz. Now I can add the real names of the grandparents that my sisters and I got our maternal DNA from on Chromosome 17.

Chr 17 Rev

That means if my 2 sisters have a maternal match with anyone after 9 or 11 on their Chromosome 17, it would be with someone who is a Rathfelder or Rathfelder ancestor. If I have a maternal match with anyone in that area, it would be with a Lentz or Lentz ancestor. This is quite helpful to know.

My mom’s Spengel descendant match will also help in updating my family’s Kitty Munson Chromosome Map. However, before I do that, I will want to confirm which Rathfelder is the common ancestor between my mom and her new match.

Summary and Conclusions

  • I’m grateful that this Rathfelder match showed up as one of AncestryDNA’s 2 million customers
  • I may have been able to find out the same information in the first part of the blog leading up to the Rathfelder common ancestor without using gedmatch.
  • Gedmatch gave me more confidence in where to look. I knew I needed to look for Rathfelder ancestors in Hirschenhof.
  • I wouldn’t be able to map any DNA without gedmatch. AncestryDNA does not tell me on what Chromosomes that I match. For me, this is where a lot of the fun is in genetic genealogy.
  • This genetic match has pointed out a some holes in my genealogy. In order to nail down these DNA matches, one has to also nail down the genealogy and include many siblings.
  • I didn’t have either Wilhelmina Rathfelder in my genealogy, so this helped improve my Rathfelder genealogy.
  • The Spengel descendant didn’t know of any Rathfelder or Hirschenhof ancestry, so that has helped my mom’s match learn more about their genealogy.
  • I am grateful for AncestryDNA in supplying the match; I am grateful for the match in posting to gedmatch; I am grateful for gedmatch; I am grateful for the Raduraksti web site; and lastly I am grateful for my German cousin with Hirschenhof Rathfelder roots for helping me to understand the Church Registers.


My Mother’s Rathfelder DNA: An Initial Look

My mother is a Rathfelder. That is a fairly uncommon name. According to, it is the 413,549th most common name in the world. By comparison, my last name, Hartley, is in the 6,000’s. My mother’s father Alexander grew up in Latvia. He worked on a ship and jumped ship in New York City in the early 1900’s. So he doesn’t have a lot of relatives around here. My mom’s family tree at looks like this:

Gladys Ancestry Tree

On the bottom left, are the Nicholson and Lentz families. Ann was born in Sheffield, England. The Lentz family was in current day Philadelphia by the time of the American Revolution.

Here are the DNA testers:

  • Me – tested at all three DNA companies for autosomal DNA. I also tested for mitochondrial DNA. This covers the line on the bottom of the chart only.
  • My 2 sisters – Tested at AncestryDNA and transferred to FTDNA
  • My mother – tested separately at FTDNA and AncestryDNA
  • Judy – a second cousin. She tested at 23andme, but hasn’t uploaded her results yet to for comparison. Our common ancestors are Jacob Lentz and Annie Nicholson.
  • Catherine – a Rathfelder second cousin in England. Our common ancestors are Joahnn Rathfelder and Maria Gagnus.

I have also test results from my father’s side. When I put all my known test matches together, it looks like this:

Chromosome Map 2nd

The matches we are looking at here are on my Maternal side, so that would be the red (Lentz/Nicholson) and flesh colored (Rathfelder/Gagnus) segments at the bottom of each Chromosome. Note that we receive DNA from both our parents on each chromosome. This means that if someone matches me and Catherine on the same segment of Chromosome 13 that is colored in, I will know that person matches us on my mother’s side. And more specifically, the match will be along one of the ancestors of this Rathfelder/Gagnus couple.

My Mother’s Rathfelder/Gagnus DNA

My mother will have more Rathfelder/Gagnus DNA than I do, because my DNA is watered down with my father’s DNA. If I look at cousin Catherine’s DNA matches with my mother, me and my sisters, this should show us the DNA the 3 of us got from this Rathfelder/Gagnus couple that were born in the mid 1800’s. That’s what I did, and it looks like this:

Catherine Chromosome Browser

Here, my mother, Gladys, is in orange, I’m in blue. My sister Heidi is green and sister Sharon is pink. On Chromosomes 2, 8 and 14, some of the Rathfelder segments didn’t make it to me or my 2 sisters. Also note, that I am missing Rathfelder segments from Chromosome 4, 6 and 10, that the rest of my family have.

Does Anyone Else Match the Rathfelders?

As one might guess, this line is German. I checked at using a utility showing people that matched both Catherine and my mom, Gladys. Then I compared them in something called an autosomal matrix to see how they all matched each other.

Gladys Catherine Autosomal Matrix

The upper left part of this matrix represents matches between Catherine and my family. The upper right part shows our matches to others that match Catherine and Gladys. The lower right part shows how the people that match Catherine and Gladys match each other. This is important for triangulation and finding common ancestors. From this, we can see that Michael and Tara match each other closely. In fact, they have the same last names, although I don’t show it here. Christine and Kenneth match each other at 20.8 cM, so let’s look at that. It turns out that they don’t match Catherine or my family where they match each other, so there is no triangulation there.

Let’s try something else. On the Excel spreadsheet I have created of my mother’s matches, I show where she has triangulated groups already. Here is the most promising Triangulation Group as seen from Gladys’ matches:

TG Gladys

I went in to and made sure that Catherine matched the last 2 matches and that the last two matches matched each other. All these overlap on the same Chromosome 13 and at the same areas of that Chromosome. This makes a TG or Triangulation Group. This means that these last 2 people will have the same ancestors as Catherine and Gladys, somewhere up on our shared Rathfelder or Gagnus family tree. Perhaps these 2 people have good family trees and it will be easy to see. Or they may not know much about their family history. At this point, one could contact these people by email to try to find out if they know where we match.

What About the Lentz/Nicholson DNA?

This is a bit more difficult. Cousin Judy has tested at 23andme. I have tested there, but no one else in my family has. I have downloaded Judy’s results to my spreadsheet. There I can check other matches around her matches to see if they match on my mother’s side. Not many do. Here is one spot where there are a few matches at Chromosome #17:

TG Lentz Nicholson 17

The blue matches are on my paternal side. We can ignore those. The pink is my maternal side. The white don’t match either side so are IBC (Identical By Chance) or they go below the threshold when checking which side they are on. At any rate, I can ignore the unhighlighted names for now. LinnyLou and Douglas are closely related. However, they do triangulate with my mom and Judith. That means we likely have a set of common ancestors out there.

DNA the Ancestry Way: Trouble With Schwechheimers

Ancestry automates all this work: easy for me and easy for them. Right? Actually, easy, but not accurate. Here is another mistake I notice that they’ve made. They see where I have a DNA match and then they find if there are common ancestors in our trees and say this is a likely match. The problem is is they don’t triangulate. And Ancestry doesn’t know if our trees are correct. For my Ancestry kit, this is what they found:

Schwechheimer False Match

Ancestry found that I (represented by the line on the left) matched the person represented by the line on the right. We matched at 5.4 cM on one segment. That is tiny, but Ancestry puts the results through a filter, they reason, which filters out the bad matches. So what is wrong? The problem is that I tested my mom and she doesn’t come up with the same match. That means if she doesn’t match, I can’t match with this Schwechheimer as I would have gotten all my Schwechheimer DNA from my mom.


  • I’m glad to have the testing results of Judy and Catherine because they each represent one side of my mother’s family – Paternal for Catherine and Maternal for Judy
  • Even with these testers, it is difficult to find many matches that triangulate
  • Don’t always trust Ancestry. Upload your results to where you can see where the match is on the Chromosome and check for triangulation there.