My Mom’s Lentz Family and Roberta Estes’ Lentz Family

Roberta Estes has blogged about her Lentz family. I have also blogged about my Lentz family. Roberta and I have checked to see if there was an autosomal DNA match between our two families, but we were unable to find any significant match. Recently, in checking my 23andMe results, it seems like there may be a way to see if we are related by YDNA.

My Mom’s Lentz Family YDNA

I have tested my DNA at 23andMe and have a few Lentz matches there. One good thing about 23andMe is that when you take an autosomal test, they also give you a rough estimate of your YDNA haplogroup. I have has two Lentz matches at 23andMe who are brothers. They both have this Haplogroup:

I’ve sent off messages to the two brothers. I don’t know exactly how we are related, but based on the size of the autosomal DNA match and where they live, my guess is that our common ancestors must be Jacob George Lentz and Annie Nicholson:

I don’t have record of William Lentz born 1892 as having any sons. William did have a brother named Stanley who had sons, so that may be where the two matches fit in. At any rate, their YDNA would go up through the Lentz side.

What is R-Y4355?

I would expect that 23andMe has an accurate haplogroup though not recent. Here is what YFull has on Y4355:

Above the tree, YFull gives the YDNA Line for this branch of Lentz back to Genetic Adam (listed as Home). This shows that Y4355 is about 4200 years old, so fairly old. I recognize R-U152 in that line as a major branch.

Roberta Estes’ Lentz YDNA

Here is what Roberta has in one of her Blogs:

Roberta has invested in the Big Y test for her Lentz relatives, so this is likely to be extremely accurate and fairly recent. YFull does not have BY39280, but has some information on KMS75:

Actually KMS75 is listed as +1SNPs above. The equivalent at YFull is Y20993 which was formed 4800 years ago. So this particular SNP is not that recent. BY39280 would be more recent but perhaps not by much.

The Short Answer

I would say that based on the 23andMe Haplogroup and the work that Roberta has done, these two families are not related. The common ancestor is R-L23 which was formed 6400 years before present. I’ll draw a tree for the two Lentz families:

I would have thought that Roberta’s Lentz Line would be longer, but it must be an older branch or a branch with less branching in it. So from the top of the tree to the bottom is about 2,000 years, but we still have about 4,000 years to get to the useful genealogical time.

Here is an R1b Tree:

I have an arrow pointing to where my Mom’s Lentz family and Roberta’s Lentz family split. The split goes to Western Altantic for my Mom’s Lentz family and Eastern for Roberta’s Lentz family. Interesting. U152 is a major branch. U152 begins below the ‘ic’ of Atlantic. Checking the YDNA was pretty easy. That concludes the YDNA part of the Blog. Next I’ll add my Lentz autosomal DNA to DNAPainter

Adding Lentz DNA to DNAPainter

I can add the autosomal DNA to DNA Painter for the two Lentz matches I have at 23andMe. Here is one match added to my Lentz/Nicholson common ancestors:

Jereme adds important DNA that I didn’t know about before. I didn’t have any DNA from these two common ancestors previously on Chromosomes 2, 3, 4 and 15. I have less of a match with Jereme’s brother Will:

I’ll paint in Will also even though he doesn’t add new information. Jereme matches me by 95 cM compared to Will’s 72 cM.

Jereme and Will upped my percentage of maternal mapped DNA from 30 to 32%. That is a significant jump at this stage of mapping:

Here is the maternal and paternal side:

I changed Lentz/Nicholson to a sort of pea green because it was the same blue as Clarke on my paternal side. I now have 41% DNA painted overall. I assume that this went up although I didn’t check to see what it was previously.

Summary and Conclusions

  • 23andMe has a useful feature that predicts your YDNA Haplogroup at no extra charge.
  • This feature can be used to see if you are related to male relatives of the same surname. In this case, I was related to two Lentz brothers with a predicted haplogroup. Roberta Estes had Lentz relatives tested for YDNA resulting in a known Haplogroup. I checked on Roberta’s Lentz relative’s YDNA haplogroup and it didn’t match up with my Lentz relative’s Haplogroup. I then found the common Haplogroup for the two Lentz families. The common haplogroup was over 6,000 years old.
  • It would be interesting to see if this could be used in other situations.
  • This Blog was short so I painted the autosomal DNA of my Lentz relatives using DNA Painter.




A Rathfelder DNA Match at 23andMe: Iain

I recently noticed a good match I had with Iain at 23andMe. 23andMe predict that Iain and I are 2nd cousins. Fortunately Iain put down some of his family names:

My names are on the left and Iain’s are on the right.

I recognized Rathfulder as a form of Rathfelder. I had already written a Blog on Donna and what was our almost certain relationship. Here is how Donna fits in on my Rathfelder tree:

Here I have added in Iain. He would be Donna’s brother or cousin. Donna did mention that she had a cousin. This shows that Iain is a second cousin once removed to me. Here is my grandfather Alexander Rathfelder on the left and Iain’s great-grandfather Leo Rathfelder on the right:

Donna tested at AncestryDNA. Iain tested at 23andMe. One difference between the two companies is that AncestryDNA does not show detailed DNA matching and 23andMe does. That means that I can compare Iain’s DNA matches with other Rathfelder matches.

My DNA Match with Iain

My DNA match with Iain represents the DNA we both got from our two common ancestors. Those common ancestors are Johann Heinrich Rathfelder born  1846 and his wife Maria E.L. Gangnus born in 1856. Heinrich and Maria were born in the German Colony of HIrschenhof in Latvia. They had nine children in Hirschenhof. Some time between 1890 and 1894 the couple moved to Riga, Latvia where they had their last two children Alexander and Leonhard.

Here is how 23andMe shows my DNA match with Iain:

Those DNA matches look like this in table form:

I can add these matches to my master match list. I can also paint these matches onto my Chromosome map.

DNA Painting Iain

Here is what I have painted so far using an on-line tool called DNA Painter:

This shows all my matches. I’m about 38% painted. Here is just my maternal side where I get my Rathfelder DNA:

Here I am only 28% painted. Iain and I will match on the orange segments. Normally, DNA Painter only adds segments at 7 cM and above. However, there are a few matches I have with Iain just below that cutoff that I want to add:

The differences are difficult to see, but this brings my painted (or identified) DNA up to 39% overall and up to 30% on my maternal side. Not many new orange segments have been added, but segments have been expanded or filled in:

Above is a more detailed view of Chromosome 3. Iain has added to the match that I have with Anita. Iain has also filled in a space in the next segment. Iain does not share DNA with Otis that Inese and Anita do. This would represent more ancient DNA. Otis and I match on the Schwechheimer and Gangnus ancestry. This could mean that even though Iain also has Schwechheimer and Gangnus ancestors,  Iain didn’t get the same Schwechheimer/Gangnus DNA at this portion of his Chromosome 3. Nigel and Carolyn above represent DNA that I got from my mother that would not match with Iain because it is on my mother’s non-Rathfelder maternal Lentz/Nicholson side.

Iain and DNA Triangulation

As shown above, Anita and Iain both match me in overlapping segments on Chromosome 3. This suggests DNA triangulation which means the three of us share common ancestors. Those common ancestors are here:

The same thing happens with Catherine and Iain on Chromosome 7:

Iain will match Catherine, Anita and Inese more closely than he matches me as Iain is a 2nd cousin to Anita and Inese and 1st cousin once removed to Catherine. This will show if Iain uploads his DNA results to Gedmatch Genesis for comparison.

Summary and Conclusions

  • DNA has tied together Rathfelder descendants in the US (my family), the UK (Catherine, Donna and Iain) and Latvia (Anita and Inese).
  • Iain tested at 23andMe. His results show specifically how our DNA matches and where. This allows for some DNA comparison.
  • The DNA that Iain and I share represents our common ancestors Johann Heinrich Rathfelder and Maria Elisabeth Laura Gangnus.


A Latvian Match at MyHeritage – Patrick

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.

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.

Wilma Schmidt

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.

Painting Patrick

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.

Sorting My Mom’s DNA with AutoCluster

I already sorted my mom’s DNA with AutoCluster last week. However, since that time, Genetic Affairs has changed the look of their AutoCluster Chart. They now cluster the clusters which makes it easier to tell which ancestral groups go with which

My Mom’s Ancestry

Mom, Gladys’, father is German but his German ancestors lived for quite a while in a German colony in Latvia. His parents were Rathfelder and Gangnus. My mom’s maternal grandfather Lentz was also German but his ancestors had been in Philadelphia since the American Revolution. Gladys’ maternal grandmother was Nicholson. Her family moved to Philadelphia from Sheffield, England.

The First AutoCluster

My first AncestryDNA AutoCluster for my mom looked like this:

  • Thresholds: 20-600 cM
  • Matches: 323
  • Matches not used in clusters: 29
  • Clusters: 48

I started writing a Blog on the results, but didn’t finish. Here is a spreadsheet for the above chart:

These clusters were sorted by the size of the cluster and I didn’t identify the first three clusters.

Mom’s New AutoCluster Results

I expect the new results to be more organized and show where the groups of matches belong compared to the other groups of matches:

  • Thresholds: 20-600 cM
  • Matches: 330
  • Matches not used in clusters: 28
  • Clusters: 49

I used the same thresholds in the new AutoCluster run. The results were similar but now the clusters are organized. Here is the new spreadsheet:


I note that Elise and Rowena are in twice. I don’t know if that messes up the results. I didn’t show all the clusters as they go off the page.

Elise shows as being in Clusters 5 and 6 which doesn’t make sense. She doesn’t show in Cluster 5 but shows as a dark gray row to the left and above Cluster 6. Rowena shows as being in her own Cluster 15 which I don’t show above.

Unraveling the Mystery of Mom’s DNA

The unraveling the mystery of mom’s DNA involves trying to figure out which parts of her DNA go with which common ancestors. The common ancestors are the common ancestors of her common matches. Her common matches are grouped together and those groups are grouped together, so let’s get started.

Here are mom’s four grandparent lines:

These shown are the first and 2nd great-grandparent levels. By location, the top two grandparent are Latvia and the bottom two grandparent lines are Philadelphia and Sheffield, England.

Cluster 1: Nicholson/Ellis

Cluster 1 is easy. It is headed up by mom’s 2nd cousin Carolyn on the Nicholson/Ellis Line:

Cluster 38 – Rathfelder

Next, I’ll go all the way down to Cluster 38. I believe that this is a Rathfelder Cluster:

I may only have one Rathfelder Cluster with the two sisters, Astrid and Ingrid.

Mom’s Maternal and Paternal Clusters

The above two Clusters may have set the edge for Mom’s Clusters, but I’ll check in more detail later. Here is my assumption so far:

Again, this is a guess based on two clusters. I will need to check this out. I also will want to try to identify Lentz and Gangnus matches, if possible.

Finding Lentz

Lentz matches have been difficult to find. Here is the Lentz tree with some of the descendant who have had their DNA tested:

The left branch has the closer matches, but they are also half Nicholson. Here is Radelle’s mom at Ancestry:

This is a little confusing because Radelle took the test and her mom, Delores shows in the tree. I became suspicious when I saw that Delores died in 2011. Radelle is in Cluster 32:


I now have three of my mom’s grandparents. However, does that mean that Nicholson has 31 Clusters?

More Nicholson

I can fill in one Cluster with Nigel. He has a large match with my mom going back to 1765 in Sheffield, England.

I should have John Nicholson’s wife as my mom could just as easily be sharing her DNA. Here she is:

I’m getting stuck on my mom’s maternal side, so time to switch to paternal:

Otis and Cluster 39

Here is Otis:

Here Otis is 3rd cousin once removed and 4th cousin once removed on my mother’s Rathfelder side. This Chart describes Otis’ relationship to my mom as 5th cousin, once removed on the Gangnus side:

That means the Rathfelder side wins out (I think).

Otis and the Colony Effect

The Colony is effect is this. You put a bunch of Germans in a Colony in Latvia and they want to marry other Germans:

Here is Otis’ Cluster 39 in blue highlighted. Astrid is in the cluster above and to the left of Cluster 39. Otis is the top left match of the blue cluster. He also has shared matches with mom in other clusters below and to the right.

Doing Some Latvian Genealogy

I did a search for Latvia at my mother’s AncestryDNA match page:

Robert shows his maternal grandparents coming from Latvia. That means I could try to do some genealogy on Roberts tree if I want. Robert is also in Mom’s Cluster 45.

The All-Latvia Database

I was able to find the Resch family at:

This is a good web site for Latvian research.

The Latvians like to Latvianize names. So I don’t know if Retsch is a German name changed to Recs or if Recs changed to Retsch. I also found Zamuels birthplace and birth date. The last column is place of origin. This shows as Riga for father and son. I usually look for Irsu Pag. which is Hirschenhof. That would link with my ancestors.

Robert has that Alma was born in Dresden, Germany, so I’ll look to Mazur and Rosenbach. I couldn’t find Rosenbach in the list. I did find some Martin’s in the Latvia Inhabitant list:

The closest Martin has his dad as Jēkabs.

A Latvian Secret Weapon

I was ready to give up but remembered I had a book on the Gangnus family. If Robert is related to me through that family, perhaps I could make a connection there.

I left out the bottom where it says Darmstadt 2003.

I looked up Retsch in this book and found one reference:

This reference says that Samual was born March 22, 1872 which is close to the April 3, 1872 I had above. Now all I have to do is make the connections. I have a feeling that the connections go back a way. What the above says is that Samuel married Charlotte Alma who was born 2 March 1867. Her parents were Johann Georg Gangnus and Marie Jacobine Schilling.

I see what happened. Robert had Charlotte Alma Gangnus as Alma Magnus. That makes sense. When I first saw my mother’s grandmother’s name written, I think it was written as Youganis.

Gangnus Production Update

Now I have two Gangnus/Gagnus families:

The good news is that I was about to give up on the Robert tree and then I remembered my Gangnus book. The bad news is that I’m getting lost in all these Gangnus families. However, I am starting to see our trees coming together in a confusing and interesting way.

If I understand this correctly, Robert and I are double 5th cousins. Robert and my mother are double fourth cousins, once removed. The other thing is that Robert is related on my mother’s paternal grandfather’s and grandmother’s side.

In order to display this on my spreadsheet, I added another row for Cluster 45:

Summary and Conclusions

  • The new autoclustering look helped show where the clusters grouped with each other. I wasn’t able to identify many more clusters specifically, but now I know in what area they should belong.
  • I was able to make a guess where my mother’s shared matches went from maternal to paternal
  • I looked at some paternal clusters. However, intermarriage in Hirschenhof, Latvia made it difficult to nail down DNA to a specific grandfather in at least one case.
  • I was able to build out Robert’s tree. Robert was in my mother’s Latvian Cluster 45. I used the All Latvia on-line Directory and a book I had on the Gangnus family in Latvia. However, after all that work, Robert appears to be equally related to my mom on both my mom’s paternal grandfather and grandmother’s sides.






Fun With an AncestryDNA Lentz Circle

My Lentz Line has been difficult to nail down. The genealogy has been difficult and it has been difficult to assign a lot of DNA to Lentz ancestors

My Lentz Circle at AncestryDNA

Ancestry has been helpful in the Lentz area. Here are my AncestryDNA Circles:

Lentz is one of my smallest circle with 9 members:

Six of those 9 members are from my family. That leaves two other groups with a total of three people in them. In the Deborah Family group, there are two Deborah’s. They appear to be mother and daughter. I built out the tree of the mother and found a common ancestor in John Lentz. Then I found the tree of the daughter Deborah and she had already built out her tree as seen here:

John Lentz is on the younger Debbie’s mother’s father’s father’s line or her great-grandfather Davenport’s Line. This matches up well with my Lentz Web Page:

I was unclear as to whether John had one or two wives. Debbie has identified the wife as Elisabeth Riehl. I didn’t follow the line down of William Andrew. However, I have more information on my Ancestry Tree, which puts my Web Page out of date:


Lentz DNA

One interesting thing is that I do not match either Deborah at AncestryDNA. They do, however, match my mother and some of my siblings. Here is my mom’s match with the elder Deborah:

What is more interesting is that the younger Debbie uploaded her DNA results to Gedmatch. This is what the match looks like between Debbie and my Mom:

By DNA, my mom, Gladys and the younger Debbie could be fourth cousins. However, Debbie and her mom match my mom at about the same amount of DNA. That means Debbie’s mom passed down all the Lentz DNA that matches my mom to her daughter. This DNA match is on the shortest Chromosome.

Visual Phasing for My Siblings – Chromosome 22

I performed visual phasing on my DNA. Here is what I had for Chromosome 22:

This matches up with what Gedmatch shows as Debbie’s matches with my family:

In this case the reportable matches start at about 15M, so that is where Jim, Heidi and Lori have Lentz DNA shown in green on the left hand side of my Chromosome 22 map above.

A Lentz DNA Tree

I have drawn a tree of the Lentz descendants who have had their DNA tested. I had missed Debbie, so she is not there yet:

I am on the left side of the tree. I also descend from the Nicholsons and get a lot of matches with that family. The right side of the tree is more specific as I have no Nicholson relatives there, but the relationships are further out. I am already tracking two people from the William Andrew Line there.

Here are the two Deborah’s added in:

This shows that my mom is a fourth cousin to the elder Deborah and I am a 5th cousin to the younger Deborah.

Here is how Debbie matches Radelle, Al and Stephen on Chromosome 12:

This suggests triangulation between these four people which would indicate a common ancestor:

My mom matches Radelle and Deborah, but on different Chromosomes. Hence, the Ancestry Circle.

Painting Debbie’s Match to My Mom

This is what I had previously for my mom’s John Lentz DNA based on her match with Radelle. That match is in dark green.

I need to add Mom’s Lentz DNA to Chromosome 22:

This doesn’t look like much, but it doubles what my mom had on Chromosome 22 previously.

Summary and Conclusions

  • Reviewing my AncestryDNA Circles lead me to a Lentz descendant who I had overlooked.
  • One of the people in the Circle had uploaded her DNA to Gedmatch. I had seen her match before, but didn’t know exactly how we connected on my mother’s line.
  • Because Debbie uploaded her DNA to Gedmatch, I was able to tell exactly where she matches different Lentz descendants.


My Closest DNA Match at MyHeritage with Unknown Connection

Blaine Bettinger has a knack for posting polls at the Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques Facebook page. A recent one was:

TODAY’S POLL: how much DNA do you share with your closest ‘unknown’ match at MyHeritage? Unknown = you haven’t yet placed them in your tree. 

My Closest Unknown Match: Molly

It turns out my closest match is Molly. She also matches my mom which is a good hint. Here is how Molly matches my mom by DNA:

On interesting thing I just noticed about Molly is that she is age 20 or below. My mom is 96. I am guessing that there could be a two generation gap between Molly and my mom. Molly was born in 2003, so there could even be a three generation difference. Molly has a tree, but her parents and grandparents show as private. I assume that they are all still living. I have sent a message to Molly, so perhaps she will write back.

Shared Matches between Gladys and Molly

MyHeritage shows shared matches between my mom, Gladys, and Molly:

Beth is mom’s second closest unknown match and also matches Molly – though more distantly. Danielle and Bridget show icons which means that they have triangulating DNA. This is specific matching DNA that has come from a common ancestor.

Beth’s Family Tree

Beth has a pretty good family tree:

Here is my mom’s tree:


Beth’s Schroek side is from Pennsylvania. My mom’s mom was from Pennsylvania, so my theory right now is that the common ancestor is on my mom’s mom’s side on the bottom side of her above tree.

A Pote Connection

Looking a little more closely at Beth’s family tree, I see a Pote connection. My mom has no Pote in her ancestry, but she does have Nicholson and a collateral line married into the Pote family. That seems like a likely connection. Here is what I have at Ancestry:

This shows the Schroek/Pote/Nicholson connection differently than the tree Beth has.

Here Beth has Martha N. Schroek. Her maiden name by my tree should be Pote. Beth also has Sarah Pote whose maiden name should be Nicholson. So the issue is mainly one of maiden names. However, Beth has Sarah Pote’s father as Sampson Pote, where I believe her father should be William Nicholson who is my mother’s great-grandfather.

Beth must have already been on my radar as here she is in a Nicholson Tree:

Beth shows as a 2nd cousin once removed to my mother.

What About Molly?

I mentioned above that I don’t have Molly’s tree. However, I can make a good guess as to where she is on the tree. Molly is probably at the level of Joshua and has as her ancestor Annie Nicholson born 1865 in Sheffield, England. That would make Molly a 1st cousin, three times removed to my mom.

Here are some statistics:

Molly would be at the top end of a 1st cousin three times removed or in a more reasonable range for a 1st cousin twice removed from my mom.

Going Down Molly and Gladys’ Shared Match List: Annette

Annette is after Beth on Molly and Gladys’ shared match list. It looks like Annette has a good tree with some common ancestors.

This shows that Gladys and Annette share Baker, Faunce and Peol ancestors.

The Philadelphia Bakers

Annette and Gladys are third cousins:

From what I can tell, Conrad Baker was a successful fisherman in Kensington in present day Philadelphia:

Here we see in the 1850 Census: Catherine and Mary and even a Pote. If I have it right, this part of Kensington is called Fishtown today.

Painting the Baker/Faunce common ancestors.

I use DNA Painter to paint common ancestors. Here is what I have for my mom so far:


Here’s my mom’s “new” Baker/Faunce DNA in light blue on Chromosomes 3 and 11:

I don’t think this DNA got passed down to me as I didn’t see a match between Annette and me at MyHeritage. This brought my mom’s mapped DNA up from 22% to 23%. On Chromosome 3, the change from brown to blue represents a crossover my mom has from her Nicholson grandparent side to her Lentz grandparent side.

Molly’s Next Shared Match with Gladys: Danielle

The good thing about Danielle is that she triangulates with my mom and Molly:

The area where the triangulation occurs is on Chromosome 3.

Here is Danielle’s tree:

Here is another tree I found at Ancestry:

This was more filled out but was missing Leon Edwards. Ancestry has Danielle and my mom as distant relatives. So it may be difficult to find common ancestors. However, I didn’t see any obvious family name matches to people in my mom’s known ancestry. I’ll just have to wait until later to solve this mystery. Danielle’s ancestors were from the same areas as my mom’s, so the potential is there for finding a common ancestor.


Summary and Conclusions

  • A question by Blaine Bettinger lead to some DNA and genealogical research at MyHeritage
  • I didn’t figure out how I am related to Molly but guessed at a relationship to my mom and a possible Nicholson or Lentz ancestry.
  • I re-found Beth with a shared Nicholson ancestry.
  • I found Annette who has an interesting connection to my mom on the Baker/Faunce line from early Kensington in current day Philadelphia. I was able to “paint” this DNA to my mom.
  • I found a person triangulating with Molly and my mom, but was not able to find a common ancestor.

More on My DNA Matches with My Latvian Cousins

In my previous Blog on Anita and Inese, my Latvian cousins, I went answered some questions that they had on DNA. However, I didn’t get to look at other common matches that I have with Anita and Inese.

Latvian Matches from Different Testing Companies

Anita and Inese tested at MyHeritage. This is a good testing company. However, other people test at different companies, so different analyses are needed based on what the companies have to offer. One good solution is to upload your DNA results to where the results from different testing companies can be compared. Anita and Ines have done this.

Otis  with Schwechheimer and Gangnus Ancestry

One of my closest DNA matches is Otis. His ancestors are from Latvia. My Latvian ancestors are for the most part German and lived in the German colony of Hirschenhof. This is the somewhat complicated tree showing how I am doubly related to Otis:

Now I need to add some closer relatives:

Note the double relationship to Otis. I also notice an extra Gangnus connection:

This shows that Charlotte Gangnus married a Schwechheimer and had Rosine who married a Rathfelder and had my mother’s grandfather Heinrich Rathfelder. Heinrich married Maria Gangnus. Here is a Gangnus tree:

This shows that Heinrich Rathfelder married Maria Gangnus who was his 3rd cousin. On the Gangnus side, I am a 4th cousin and a distant 6th cousin to Otis. On the Schwechheimer side, I am the same 4th cousin and a 5th cousin. This tree could also be drawn out wider to include Rusty, Cindy, Catherine, Anita and Inese. However, it would be quite wide as much of the tree would be repeated twice.

Otis and Triangulation Groups (TGs)

Otis is in several triangulation groups (TGs). Here is one of the largest ones on Chromosome 3:

A triangulation group is where three or more people match each other. It means that they have common DNA that came down from a common ancestor. When there is only one pair of most common ancestors, this makes things easier. In this case where there are three sets of common ancestors, I assume that the match is on the most recent of the common ancestors. This represents DNA from the latter part of the 1700’s.

It is also less likely that the match represents Markus Schwechheiner or Georg Gangnus. However, Otis and Gladys (my mom) and Otis and Cindy have relatively large DNA matches which likely represents the closer relationship. I didn’t include myself or my siblings in this analysis as each sibling gets half the amount of DNA each parent has.

Astrid’s Rathfelder DNA

Here is a tree I worked out for Astrid:

This was a difficult tree. The strangest thing was that Hans Jerg Rathfelder had two children both by the name of Johann Georg. He must have really liked that name. Apparently one child went by Johann and the other by Georg. Here I should note that Hans Jerg married Juliane Bittenbinder. This is important because a DNA match to Astrid could be either from Hans Jerg or Juliane. The good news about this tree is that there aren’t any obvious double relationships like we had with Schwechheimer and Gangnus.

A Few Problems with the Rathfelder Tree and with Astrid’s DNA

The problem with Astrid’s tree is that there were two Adeline Wilhemine Rathfelders. One was born in 1838 and one was born in 1844. If the 1844 Wilhemine was the mother of Friedrich Spengel, she would have been 15 at his birth.

In my Blog on Anita, I pointed out that the DNA matches as reported at Gedmatch showed that there should be a closer relationship to Astrid based on the DNA:

Here is what the alternative (younger Wilhemine) tree looks like:

This changes Astrid from a 4th cousin to my mom Gladys to a 2nd cousin once removed. Using the same analysis as above, I get this:

Here, the young mother tree seems to be a better fit by the DNA as seen at Gedmatch. This was the original idea that I had. So for now, I will just put those two trees out there until more information comes to light. In summary, the first analysis showed that the actual DNA matches were one generation closer than shown by the tree. By the second analysis, the DNA suggested that the relationships were about 1/3 generation further away than the young mother tree.

Any Help from Ancestry on Astrid’s Tree?

Astrid’s sister Ingrid has been tested at AncestryDNA, but the results have not been posted to Ancestry estimates that both Astrid and Ingrid are 4th cousins to Gladys. That would support the tree #1 theory.  Here is my mom’s match to Astrid at AncestryDNA:

Here is how that same match looks like at

Gladys and Ingrid’s DNA at Ancestry DNA

This shows that my mom’s DNA match with Ingrid was 75% lower than my mom’s match with Astrid.

This table shows that AncestryDNA favors Tree 1:

Under Tree 1, my mom is a fourth cousin to Astrid. AncestryDNA estimates a fourth cousin by DNA. My siblings and my cousin Cindy are all fourth cousins, once removed under Tree 1. By AncestryDNA my siblings are a fourth cousin and Cindy would be a fifth cousin.

Another consideration is that if Tree 2 or the young Wilhemine Rathfelder tree were the correct one, perhaps Otis above would be more likely to be matching with Astrid by DNA on their Schwechheimer side. Under the young Wilhemine scenario, Otis and Astrid would be 4th cousins and would have a greater than 50% chance of matching each other. However, at Gedmatch, they don’t match each other. This is not proof that Tree 1 is right, but just possible supporting evidence. Unless, I think of another reason, I will stick to my original tree for Astrid and her sister Ingrid.

Triangulating with Astrid

On Chromosome 10, Astrid matches Catherine, Inese and Anita:

If we have the right tree, the TG would look like this:

Anita’s TG on Chromosome 17

Perhaps Alexander got the Chromosome 17 Rathfelder DNA and Leonhard got the Chromosome 10 Rathfelder DNA.

Wolf at MyHeritage

Wolf had his DNA tested at MyHeritage. This is the same place where Anita and Inese had their DNA tested. I wrote a Blog about him here. Like many others descending from the colony of Hirschenhof, it seems like I match Wolf on different lines. The closest match is through Schwechheimer, like with Otis above.

The difference is that I match Wolf a generation earlier than I match Otis. Here is how Gladys and Wolf match at MyHeritage:

Gladys’ Latvian Matches at AncestryDNA

It is possible to group matches by looking at shared matches at AncestryDNA. I have done that and tried to look at just my mother’s father’s side. He was the one from Latvia.

The point of this is that my mom has a lot of Schwechheimer matches, but only two matches that are on the Rathfelder line. Those two matches are sisters: Astrid and Ingrid. Some of these people fell easily into groups and some did not. I also see tha I have two columns for Schwechheimer in orange and blue. It could be that the blue line has Schwechheimer in it, but I am more closely related on another line. Someone named Valdis matches both the orange and blue group.

Summary and Conclusions

  • My grandfather was a Rathfelder, but I am not finding many DNA relatives with the Rathfelder name.
  • My great great grandmother was Rosine Schwechheimer from the German Colony of Hirschenhof. I am able to find many DNA matches with people who have Schwechheimer ancestors.
  • I took a second look at Otis. He is a close DNA match on the Schwechheimer side. However, we also share Gangnus ancestry.
  • I looked at one of my few Rathfelder DNA matches: Astrid. I compared two possible trees with two Wilhemine Rathfelders. One tree would have favored a Wilhemine giving birth at an early age. Based on a match I didn’t have with Otis on the early birth tree and suggestions by AncestryDNA matches, I favored my earlier tree which had Wilhemine giving birth at a more reasonable age.
  • I took another look at Wolf. He also matches on the Schwechheimer Line, but one generation further back than Otis.



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).