More Nicholson DNA

I am happy that my Nicholson cousin Joan had her sister Linda DNA tested. Here is my mom’s tree showing people that have tested their DNA:


Linda and Joan share a red box as they are sisters. Most of this tree is on my mother’s mother’s side. The blue is her father’s side. On my mother’s mother’s side, yellow represents Lentz, red represents Nicholson and orange represents cousins that have Lentz and Nicholson ancestry.

Comparing DNA at Gedmatch

When I compare all the people above at Gedmatch, this is what I get for overall matches:


Linda, who recently tested, matches my mom less than her sister does. However, she matches cousin Judy more. The chart also shows that 4 of the people in the group are Nicholsons and not Lentz. One is a Lentz and not Nicholson and three are Nicholson and Lentz. However, our Lentz tester, Albert, had low results – which were consistent with the distant relationship. From the above charts:

  • If Carolyn, Joan and Linda match each other, it may be from a Nicholson or Allen DNA
  • Where Carolyn, Joan, Linda, or Nigel match Joshua, Judy, or Mom, it must be from Nicholson DNA
  • Where Joshua, Judy or Mom match each other only, it could be from Lentz or Nicholson DNA.
  • Where Joshua, Judy or Mom match Albert it would represent Lentz DNA
Looking for triangulation

Next I looked at the detailed matches between all the DNA of the people above. The purpose is to find triangulation. A Triangulation Group (TG) is three or more people that have matches along the same segment of a Chromosome. This TG indicates a unique common ancestor.

Here is a summary of past five TGs I have looked at:


  • Lentz only – Yellow
  • Nicholson only – Red
  • Lentz/Nicholson – Orange
any new TG’s due to linda?

Here are some of the new DNA matches that I downloaded from Gedmatch at Chromosome 5 from about 39M to 84M:


It looks like there should be a TG here somewhere. Looking through my old Blogs, I see that I did previously identify a TG at Chromosome 5. It looks like we have a TG with Carolyn, Joan, Mom and Linda. But what about Joshua and Judy below? I didn’t do a detailed analysis, but the both descend from William Lentz b. 1892 and Clementina Hodder. So their match is likely on the Hodder side.

unraveling chromosome 8

Here is what I have at Chromosome 8 from about 102 to 143M


Here for some reason, we see the number 133 repeated and it is associated with Carolyn. Here is what Carolyn’s Chromosome 8 matches look like on Gedmatch’s Chromosome Browser:


  1. Linda
  2. Judy
  3. Joan
  4. Mom

Note that my mom (4) doesn’t overlap with Linda, Judy, or Joan, but matches with Carolyn up to 133M. What does this mean? I will give a possible explanation.


Remember that a TG represents a specific ancestor. However, we don’t know if it is William Nicholson or Martha Ellis in this case. Let’s suppose that the TG for Carolyn, Judy, Joan and Linda represents Martha Ellis. I have that TG represented in dark circles and lines. That means that before 133M would represent where Carolyn (and my mom) got their William Nicholson DNA that they shared with each other. That relationship I have represented above in light blue circles. The other explanation would be the exact opposite scenario where Mom and Carolyn share the Ellis DNA and the others share Nicholson DNA. In order to know for sure, we would have to have someone who is a Nicholson but not and Ellis or Ellis but not a Nicholson to check.

A less likely scenario would be that the starts and stops at 133M for Carolyn are coincidences.

Updating the Triangulation Group Summary


I didn’t add Linda in every case as sometimes her results were the same as her sister’s results.

Revising Mom’s Chromosome Map

Based on Mom’s new matches with Linda representing William Nicholson and Martha Ellis, here is her new Chromosome Map thanks to Kitty Munson’s software:


I have put mom’s ancestors in chronological order with most recent ancestors on the top. This has made the William Nicholson b. 1836/Martha Ellis segments show up in a better color also.


An Ancestry/Gedmatch Success Story: Lentz DNA

This story starts with a plain genealogy match – just the tree. Al contacted me last April through Ancestry about our possible Lentz connection. I suggested a DNA test. We went back and forth and saw that our Lentz locations, names, occupations and churches sounded familiar. We decided that we had a common ancestor in John Lentz born 1792. Here a portion of my Lentz web page:


Al descended from William while I descended from Jacob. Where I left off with William Andrew, was about as far back as Al had gotten.

Lentz DNA

In early July I noticed that Al had an AncestryDNA match with my mom. It wasn’t large, but it was there:

This was good news, as my Lentz DNA documentation was sketchier than I thought it should be. Maybe sketchy isn’t the right word, but there were some ambiguities. I had trouble nailing down John Lentz as it appeared that there may have been two of them in the same area.

Here is the connection between Al and my mom:


The Lentz side is in yellow. My previous Lentz DNA testers were also part of the Nicholson family (in orange above), so Al was an important link to the non-Nicholson Lentz side. Al is in the bottom left box.

upload to gedmatch

My next step was to ask Al to upload to gedmatch. Sometimes this step is easy, sometimes not. Al had trouble uploading but just recently, I discovered that he had actually uploaded his results. When I checked the results, there was no match between Al and my mom. I had to lower the thresholds to find the match:


The interesting point here is that I would have never seen Al’s match with my mom at Gedmatch, because their match is below their threshold.

yes, but do we have triangulation?

If Al were to match with another person that matched my mom, we would have a triangulation group (TG) which would make this match all the more solid. Fortunately, one of my mom’s first cousins, once removed also uploaded her 23andme results after some initial problems many months ago. I had to lower the thresholds even further to get her match, but it was right where it needed to be for triangulation:


In order to close the loop, Judy had to match my mom at this location. This was not a problem:


My conclusion is that the TG merges in on John Lentz:


Technically, the match could be with John Lentz or his wife Elisabeth, but we will say John Lentz. Further, I am now able to identify the match on Chromosome 14 between my match and Judy as a Lentz match – or more specifically from my mom’s grandfather Jacob Lentz:


Here is Jacob with bow tie and cigar:


How AncestryDNA and Gedmatch Worked Well Together

AncestryDNA told me I had the match. They also provided a way to get in contact with someone with the same ancestry. However, Ancestry says this about the match:


They thought that Al and my mom would have what I would assume to be a 15% chance of having a recent common ancestor or couple (John Lentz and his wife Elisabeth). That is where Gedmatch came in. If I could show that Al, my mom and someone else triangulated, that should significantly up the odds that there was indeed a common ancestor. Due to Al and Judy uploading to Gedmatch, I found that to be the case.

More Lentz/Nicholson DNA and the 1st Cousin, 2nd Cousin Combo Rule

A little over a year ago I decided to test my autosomal DNA at 23andme. I had tried the other 2 testing companies and was curious as to what 23andme was like. Perhaps I would have some more matches that I didn’t know about. The most interesting match that I found was my mother’s 1st cousin once removed. Her name is Judy. I was asked  her if she would  upload her results to for analysis. She tried a few times without success. Recently, she went back and successfully uploaded her results, so now I can write about them.

Lentz/Nicholson Lines

Judy descends from our common Lentz/Nicholson Line. Others that I have been in touch with and have tested for DNA are just from the Nicholson Line. The Nicholson Line is in red. The Lentz line is in yellow. The Lentz/Nicholson Line is in orange. From my early school days, I recall that if you mix yellow and red, you get orange. Judy and Joshua are on the orange line. My mom shows as green, but for the purposes of this Blog, can be considered orange also.


The bottom row indicates people that have had their DNA tested. There is also a further out line of Nicholsons that I don’t have included here.

I haven’t identified anyone yet who is only from the Lentz Line.

Here is Judy’s match with my mom at Gedmatch:


comparing cM’s for first cousin once removed

Their total match of 269 cM is actually on the low side for 1C, 1R. Here is a Bettinger study showing the average DNA shared between 1st cousins, once removed as being in the 400 cM range:


Not to be outdone by Blaine Bettinger, I also looked at some of my own family relationships to see how they compare:


So with just 8 people, I came to the same conclusion on the average amount of DNA that 1st cousins, once removed shared. Blaine took thousands of people to come to his result. Another side point of interest is that my brother Jon shares over 150 cM more with my dad’s first cousin (583.7 cM) compared to what my sister Sharon shares with my dad’s first cousin (421 cM).

Chromosome Mapping for Mom

Judy’s new DNA results update my mom’s Chromosome map in many of the red areas below:


More About Judy’s DNA

Based on the tree, we can see a few things.


  1. If Judy matches Joan or Carol, that means the DNA has to be from the Nicholson side.
  2. If she matches my mom and no red people, then the DNA could be from Lentz or Nicholson.
  3. If Judy matches just Joshua, the DNA could be from Lentz, Nicholson or from the wife of William Lentz.
  4. If she matches my mom plus Joan or Carol, the match would be from the Nicholson side. If Judy matches Joshua plus Joan or Carol, the same should apply. However, this would have to be a triangulation group.
Judy’s Nicholson (or Ellis) DNA

William Nicholson

Here is an example of Judy’s Nicholson DNA. She matches both Carol and Joan who are not descended from the Lentz family.


These 3 are also in a triangulation group (TG) which means they match each other on Chromosome 13. Here is what that TG looks like on a family chart:


The same segment of DNA from Chromosome 13 has come down to these 3 women. We know that the DNA was from either William Nicholson or Martha Ellis but we don’t know which. So when I said that this was her Nicholson DNA, it could really be either Nicholson or Ellis DNA – but not both.

In addition, like the next example below, Joan and Carol can know something else. They can know that the 51.4 segment that they share on Chromosome 13 is with Carol’s grandmother, Nellie Nicholson and not with Nellie’s husband. Before this match with Judy, they wouldn’t have known this.

a fine distinction on the Nicholson DNA

Here is an example of case #4 above where Judy matches both Carol and my mom, forming another triangulation group on a portion of Chromosome 18:



Again Mom, Judy and Carol all Share this specific segment of either William Nicholson or Martha Ellis. There is something else interesting about this chart. Judy and mom share that same DNA from Ann Nicholson. Usually when Mom and Judy match, they wouldn’t know from which of the couple the DNA came from. In this case their Chromosome 18 match came from Annie Nicholson.

That means Judy and my mom could assign that part of their DNA to Annie Nicholson. Also I could modify the Chromosome map for my mom that I did earlier in the blog. I think that I will do that.


On Chromosome 18, what I had as red is now in yellow. That means that the information is more specific. Interestingly, the orange on that Chromosome would also be from Annie, but because of who was matched to get to that, we say that it would be from one of Annie’s parents. It gets a little confusing. So at the point where the bar goes from yellow to orange, we are seeing further into the past when we see the orange part.

The practical part is that whenever someone matches my mom’s maternal side on that portion of Chromosome 18, she will know that it is a Nicholson (or Nicholson ancestor) match and not a Lentz match.

What about me?

I wonder if I share any of this Annie Nicholson DNA. Here is how Judy matches my brother Jon and 2 sisters Sharon and Heidi on Chromosome 18:


Below is a chromosome map that I updated now that my brother’s  DNA results are in. This indicates the DNA that my 3 siblings and I got from our 4 grandparents. The maternal side is in orange and green and the paternal grandparents are shown in purple and blue. My brother Jon’s yellow match with Judy above is within the orange area of the bottom F bar below. Sharon’s green bar match with Judy above corresponds to the second orange segment below on the S row. Heidi’s blue bar match above corresponds to her second orange (Lentz) segment below on the H row. I match my mother’s father’s Rathfelder side for most of Chromosome 18. That is shown in green in the 4th bar below (J row). So I didn’t inherit any Annie Nicholson DNA here where my 3 siblings did.


This method maps to our 4 grandparents, so Nicholson is not shown. Annie Nicholson is one of my 8 great grandparents. However, we now know that two of my sisters’ and my brother’s orange bars came from our great grandmother Annie Nicholson by way of her Lentz daughter.

Judy’s Lentz (or Nicholson) DNA

Speaking of Annie Nicholson, here she is with her husband Jacob Lentz:

Jacob Lentz

Below is another triangulation group from Chromosome 1 that Judy is in with my mom and Joshua:


Here is the family chart again:


This time the DNA may be from either Jacob Lentz or Annie Nicholson – but not both. This same segment of DNA came down 2 generations to my mom, 3 to Judy and 5 generations to Joshua. We might guess that this is Lentz DNA. That is because there are no Nicholson only matches there, but we don’t know for sure.

The Rule of the 1st and 2nd Cousin Combo

In two of the examples above, there was a 1st and 2nd cousin combo – including a triangulation group.

In the first case, Carol and Judy are 1st cousins, once removed. As such, they couldn’t tell which grandparent’s DNA that they shared (Nicholson or Nicholson spouse). Enter my mom as Carol’s 2nd cousin. She is further out relationally and they match on the Nicholson Line at Carol and mom’s great grandparent level. This identifies Carol and Joan’s DNA as coming from the Nicholson side. How is this helpful? Now anytime that Joan and Carol match someone on that same segment, they will know that the match has to be along the Nicholson Line going up through the Nicholson ancestors. This narrows down the possibilities a lot.

The rule: In a triangulation group between a 1st cousin and a second cousin, the second cousin will be able to identify which grandparent the 1st cousins share.

I’m sure that is why it is said that it is important to test second cousins. The reason that I haven’t come upon this situation before is that this combination hasn’t come up on my father’s side. I have results of my father’s first cousin’s DNA and my own 1st cousin’s once removed, but no second cousins to compare.

Summary and Conclusion

  • Cousin Judy has been helpful in filling in my mom’s Chromosome map
  • Judy’s DNA results will also be helpful also as I fill in my siblings’ and my own chromosome maps.
  • Judy’s results have partially phased the DNA. That means, for my mom she can tell at least for one area, not only where she has a maternal match, but also that it is a maternal grandmother match (Nicholson).
  • I had thought that there would be a way to identify some of the Lentz DNA. However, I don’t see a way without finding a Lentz cousin who doesn’t descend from the Nicholson side. This would have to be a second cousin or further out.
  • Once Nicholson DNA is identified, it is more likely that the remaining non-Nicholson DNA could be from the Lentz side. However, that is not sure, it just represents more than a 50% likelihood.

Can 83 cM Last for 7 Generations?

Recently, I came across a DNA match at Ancestry. This match was on my mother’s side. Here is how the match showed at AncestryDNA:

Nigel at Ancestry

The match, Nigel, showed as a predicted 4th cousin. However, the range stated he was possibly a 4th to 6th cousin to my mother (and my sister). Further, the matching surnames looked familiar based on my mother’s ancestry. However, the Ellis on Nigel’s side was a female from the early 1700’s. Any possible Ellis connection would be before the Nicholson/Staniforth connection.

Shared Surnames

The Common Ancestors

I wrote to Nigel and mentioned that it looked like we were related on at least one line. I had a bit of trouble figuring out exactly how we were related as did Nigel. It helped me to map it out – especially as Nigel has 4 Johns in a row in his ancestry.


It turns out that Nigel was not just a 4th cousin as predicted by AncestryDNA, but a 4th cousin, 2 times removed to my mom. Our common ancestor based on the chart above is John Nicholson baptized 1765. That is where the 7 generations comes in. John Nicholson is 7 generations before Nigel and 5 generations before my mom. However, my sister Heidi and Nigel have the same DNA as my mom and Nigel and Heidi is 6 generations away from the probable common ancestors of John Nicholson and Sarah Stanisforth.

Nigel at Gedmatch

I mentioned my Nicholson webpage to Nigel which he enjoyed. Nigel was willing to upload his DNA to Gedmatch for my research. Here is how his match looks like with my mother:

Mom to Nigel Gedmatch

Here is where the 83.8 cM comes in. Hence the title of the Blog: “Can 83 cM Last for 7 Generations?”

A chromosome 1 map

Here is a map of my Chromosome 1 kindly produced by M MacNeill – The top portion of this map was based on raw data DNA. It shows how my 2 sisters and I inherited our DNA from our 4 grandparents.


The four light blue bars at the bottom of the above image show the DNA matches that Nigel has to my mom, my sister Heidi, myself and my sister Sharon near the beginning of Chromosome 1. Nigel is related on my mother’s mother’s side. Notice how Nigel’s light blue matches below correspond to the DNA mapped to my mother’s mother’s light blue regions above. Heidi inherited a large maternal grandmother segment in this area of Chromosome 1 from our mom that had the large match to Nigel. The entire segment mapped to my maternal grandmother’s side appears to make up the match I have with Nigel.

A Nicholson Triangulation Group

My mother forms a Triangulation Group (TG) with her 2nd cousin Carol and 4th cousin, twice removed, Nigel. The TG is on Chromosome 3. To show the TG, I have to take the Gedmatch threshold down a little.

My mom’s match to Nigel


Likewise, the threshold was reduced to show the match between Nigel and Carol.

Nigels’s Match to Carol


No threshold change was needed for the match between my mother and her second cousin Carol.

Mom’s match to carol


Here is what the TG looks like with the likely common ancestors of Nicholson and Staniforth:


Are There Other Possibilities?

83.3 cM is way off the charts for 4th cousin or 4th cousin, 2 times removed. I brought the question to the ISOGG Facebook Group. The prevailing wisdom there is to check for other closer relatives (which makes sense). If there are missing ancestors on either side of the match (my family or Nigel’s), that may leave room for other more recent common ancestors.

my ancestry

First, the match is on my mother’s side. So that narrows things down. Secondly, my mom is 1/4 English. Therefor, I am only looking at 1/8 of my ancestry and 1/4 of my mom’s.

Mom's ancestry

Above, I have circled in yellow the one out of 4 grandparents of my mother that could match Nigel as Nigel has not shown any German ancestry. Annie Nicholson is 2 generations back from my mom (my mom’s grandmother).

Here is an enlargement of Ann Nicholson’s ancestors:

Ann Nicholson Ancestors

This shows that in the 5th generation from my mom where the assumed common ancestors of our match is found, most of the ancestors are identified. Mary doesn’t have a last name and I’m missing parents for Charles Ellis. So even if the new common ancestors were in this generation, they would be in the same generation of our currently assumed common ancestors. But what if Nigel has an unidentified ancestor in his 6th generation that matches someone in my mom’s 4th generation? That would be a closer match. So let’s look at Nigel’s tree.

Nigel’s tree

Nigel’s father’s side appears to be from Scotland. His mother’s side is from England. Nigel’s maternal grandmother is from the Derbyshire area and his maternal grandfather is from the Sheffield area. So that narrows things down to 1/4 for Nigel. My mom’s only English ancestors were from the Sheffield area, so we will concentrate on Nigel’s maternal grandfather’s side.

Here are Nigel’s maternal grandfather’s Sheffield ancestors:

Nigel's Maternal Grandfather's Line

The tentative common ancestors between Nigel and my family is one generation off this chart. The John Nicholson married to Martha Jow had as parents another John Nicholson who married Sarah Stanisforth. The ancestry above shows that Nigel has 6 out of 16 Sheffield ancestors 6 generations away. Is this a problem?

Nigel’s missing ancestors

Above, I had said that if Nigel had missing ancestors in generation 6 that matched with my mom’s generation 4 ancestors, then there could be a closer match. I’ll look at thee various possibilities and we will decide if they pose a problem.

  1. A problem that I hadn’t considered previously would be if Nigel’s unknown 6th generation matched with my mom’s 2 unknown ancestors in her 5th generation. Those unknowns are the parents of Charles Ellis born 1795. I don’t think that scenario is very likely. First, it would not likely be on the Ellis side. Charles Ellis’ father would also be an Ellis and Nigel doesn’t have any Ellis’s in his known generation 5 ancestors. But what about Nigel’s unknown female ancestors in generation 5? They were already married and having the children that are known in Nigel’s generation 4. So any unknown common ancestor there would have to be in Nigel’s generation 7 which is back where we started.
  2. Another scenario would have a missing female ancestor of Nigel remarrying. However, usually in this case, there would only be a 1/2 match and thuse 1/2 the DNA coming down to Nigel and my family. I would rule this scenario out based on the very large DNA match between my family and Nigel.
  3. When I look at other scenarios the reasoning seems to be similar as what I mention in #1 above. The options appear to bring us back to Nigel’s generation 7 again. That means that we either have an additional set of common ancestors in addition to the one that we have identified or we don’t. It makes sense to me to go with the ancestors that we do have rather than worry about missing ones we may have. Put another way, I’m gambling on the possibility that there were not additional common ancestors in Nigel’s generation 7 and my mom’s generation 5.
ON the other hand: Our non-conformist ancestors

One thing that Nigel and my family’s Sheffield ancestors had in common were that they were non-conformists. This means that they attended a church that was not the official Church of England. In their case it was the  Congregational Church. Perhaps there were other types of churches that they attended during the family history. What I don’t know is if people in these these groups married cousins to keep within the faith, or if there were enough of these non-conformists around that this wasn’t necessary.

So, Where Are We?

  1. The prevailing wisdom is that if there are missing ancestors, then the matches could be in a closer generation in those missing spots.
  2. I would like to push back the prevailing wisdom a bit. Even if we are missing some ancestors, there are things that can be deduced about those missing ancestors based on known ancestors in the next more recent generation.
  3. In genealogy research and DNA matching, things are not usually known 100 percent. I believe that there is a high probability that John Nicholson and Sarah Stanisforth are the common ancestors between Nigel and my family represented by a relatively large amount of DNA that made it down through both of our lines from the 1700’s.

Kitty Cooper’s Chromosome Maps

Above I have shown the genealogy and a Triangulation Group for the Nicholsons. I have also shown that the match between Nigel and my family is through my correct grandparent’s (mother’s mother’s) DNA. Now that I have convinced myself that John Nicholson and Sarah Stanisforth produced the matching DNA between Nigel and my family I will add that couple to my Kitty Cooper generated Chromosome Map:


The Nicholson/Staniforth connection on my map above is shown on Chromosomes 1 and 3. Note that this is not the oldest DNA that I have and that the matches are in line with 2 other ancestors (Frazer in Green and Rathfelder in purple) from around the same time period.

Of course, I can’t leave it at that. Now I need to show my mom’s updated Chromosome map:


Note the following:

  • My mom’s segments are larger than my corresponding maternal segments as she is one generation back from me
  • My mom’s Nicholson/Stanisforth DNA is shown in purple.
  • My mom does not show DNA from that couple at Chromosome 3. That is because her match came in at 6.9 cM which is just under the 7.0 Gedmatch threshold. If I wanted to be more accurate, I would have added that match also – especially as that is the match that resulted in the triangulation group.

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.


Nicholson DNA

Great news. My 3rd cousin, Joan, who is a Nicholson, posted her 1st cousin once removed, Carol’s DNA to Carol is also a Nicholson descendant and my mother’s 2nd cousin.

This does 3 things:

  1. Improves my Chromosome mapping a la Kitty Munson
  2. Identifies my DNA by grandparent that I have mapped as per the Kathy Johnston method
  3. Creates a great link to the Nicholson side of the family that has been lost over the years.

In addition, these matches between Carol and my family are all higher than average. So even though my sisters and I are 2nd cousins once removed to Carol, we have about the amount of shared DNA to make us look like 2nd cousins.

William Nicholson born 1836 Sheffield England and Martha Ellis His Wife: Our Common Ancestors

The common ancestors between Joan, Carol, my mother Gladys, me and my 2 sisters are William Nicholson and Martha Ellis.

Gladys Relative Chart

Judy and Joshua have tested also, but they are from both the Lentz and Nicholson side. Joan and Carol are helpful in that our only connection is Nicholson. That is the advantage of testing 2nd cousins. They usually can limit your matches to one of your 4 grandparents – or in this case, one of my mother’s 4 grandparents.

A Brief Sketch of William Nicholson

William Nicholson

I am happy to have a photo of William. William was born in Sheffield, England in 1836. Working conditions were deplorable in Sheffield at this time. William’s father died in 1840 when William was 4. According to the newspaper, “On Thursday the 30th April, after a severe indisposition, aged 41, Mr. Matthew Nicholson, late of Suffolk road, leaving a numerous family to lament their loss.” The family was numerous with 12 children. William was number ten. William’s mother Martha made some money operating a beerhouse. Beerhouses were promoted at this time in England to counteract the effects of drunkenness due to gin consumption.  This article was written about a year and a half after William’s father Matthew died:

Beerhouse article

William married Martha Ellis in 1854. William didn’t manufacture pen knives like the older generation but manufactured saws. He had 4 children in Sheffield, England between 1860 and 1869. After the Nicholson’s made the big move, he had 3 more children born in Philadelphia between 1871 and 1879. In Philadelphia he continued with his saw making skills. William’s wife Martha died in 1887. William married Emma Gardiner and had 2 more daughters. William died in 1919 in Philadelphia at age 83 – more than twice the age of his father when he died in Sheffield. I think William made a good decision to leave those unhealthy work conditions in Sheffield.

Updating My Chromosome Map

Here is what the DNA of my ancestors looks like mapped out:

Joel Chromosome Map

My mother’s side is on the bottom of each chromosome bar. The DNA I got from the Nicholsons only is in light yellow. The light yellow also represents the DNA matches I have with Joan and her first cousin once removed Carol. Note on Chromosome 18 that the color goes from orange to yellow. There, the DNA I got is switching from my mother’s father’s side (Rathfelder) to my mother’s mother’s side (Nicholson).

Mapping My Chromosomes a la Kathy Johnston

I have also mapped my chromosomes using a method developed by Kathy Johnston. This method compares the matches that I have with my 2 sisters. From this, I can figure out how I inherited each of my 4 grandparents’ DNA. However, to distinguish the 4 grandparents, I need to have reference points. Carol’s DNA matches with me and my sisters provided many of those reference points for my mother’s mother’s side of the family. Where before on many chromosomes, I only knew I had maternal grandparent 1 or 2, now I know that they are Rathfelder or Lentz. [My Lentz grandmother’s mother was a Nicholson.]

For example, here is the same Chromosome 18:

Chr 18

My Chromosome is the bottom one. The other two are for my sisters. I match Carol from 71-74. So that confirms that the orange segment on the bottom right is from my mother’s Lentz side.  And then more specifically through my mother’s mother’s Lentz mother’s Nicholson side. This change at positions 71 from green to orange on my mother’s father’s side to my mother’s mother’s side corresponds to the actual previous Kitty Munson DNA map where the color went from orange to light yellow.

There will be more time to look at Nicholson DNA in the future. For right now, I am glad that DNA has brought back together a family that settled in the Philadelphia area from Sheffield, England in 1870. My mom has only mentioned fond memories of her Nicholson grandmother. Those included Annie Nicholson Lentz’ cooking abilities and bringing my mom to church as a child. I expect other Nicholson branches have similar great memories.

My Mom’s Autosomal DNA on the Lentz Side

I’ve written a few blogs on my mom’s DNA. I did an initial look in December 2015 and wrote more in February 2016. These are listed under Rathfelder/Lentz/Nicholson DNA. This blog will look at my mother’s Lentz mother’s side of the DNA in a little more detail. This is the red side in the chart below. Since my last blog, there has been a newly found relative.

Mom's DNA Lines

That new relative is Joshua. Unfortunately, he makes me feel a bit old as he is 2 generations below me. I made a distinction in my chart as there is a Joan from the Lentz Line shown as Joan(L) and a Joan (N) from the Nicholson line. I have a photo of Annie (Ann Eliza) Nicholson Lentz with Florence and Joan (L).


Joshua’s grandmother Joan(L) is the littlest girl. Florence is the girl behind her. Florence is Annie Nicholson Lentz’s granddaughter.  Annie Nicholson Lentz is Joan’s great grandmother. So that makes Annie Joshua’s 3rd great grandmother!

Splitting the Lentz Family from the Nicholson Family

It would be interesting to try to determine what DNA comes from the Lentz family vs. what comes from the Nicholson family. That way, we will be able to tell which branch our DNA matches are on. At first, it looks like Joshua should not help as he is on the same branch as Judy. Both Judy and Joshua descend from William Lentz.

Mom's DNA Lines

However, Judy has not uploaded to yet, so Joshua does help. Plus he contributes different Lentz DNA than Judy does. Also he matches on the X Chromosome with my mom. In the above chart, Catherine, my mom, Judy, Joshua and Joan(N) have tested. Here is what their results show. Judy’s results are from her match to me.

Mom's Chromosome Map Apr 2016

It gets a little confusing as the peach colored regions can only be Nicholson. The red sections are Lentz, but the Lentz family is also descended from the Nicholson family.  Note also that the red DNA (Nicholson) is one generation older than the peach colored Lentz DNA.

The X Chromosome

As I mentioned above, only Joshua and my mom share the X Chromosome. It appears that Judy or Joshua could have gotten the X Chromsome, but only Joshua, 2 generations down did. Joan(N) has 2 males in a row in her ancestry, so that means she would not have a chance to share the X Chromosome. There is one other point about the X Chromosome. The red DNA shown in the Chromosome map above on the X line. This DNA shared by my mom and Joshua has to be Nicholson DNA from Annie Nicholson (Lentz). This is because no X Chromosome is inherited male to male. So no X Chromosome was inherited from William Lentz from his father Jacob. Any time we can tell that DNA came specifically from one ancestor and not the other, it is a good thing, so I will change the Chromosome Map a little.

Mom's Chromosome Map Apr 2016 rev

Here Annie is now shown to be the sole owner of the X match between my mom and Joshua. The match is shown in yellow, which isn’t the greatest color, but I don’t feel like changing the default.

Is the X Match a real match?

Sometimes small matches can be false. The match between my mom, Gladys and Joshua barely meets the thresholds. So let’s look at that. Here are a few considerations.

  • Gladys and Joshua have a path to match on the X Chromosome. That is, they do not 2 consecutive males in their ancestry leading up to Annie Nicholson.
  • Joshua’s X matches are more likely to be real as he is male. That means his matches are already phased. Joshua’s X matches can only be from his mother’s side.

If any of my mother’s children also match Joshua, that would also give weight to the validity of the match. When I ran Joshua against my 2 sisters and myself at standard thresholds, I got no match. But perhaps that is because my mother was already close to the thresholds. Let’s look a bit more closely at this. Below is how I have mapped out my X Chromosome and my 2 sisters based on how we compared with each other. The maternal matches are on the top in green and orange. I had guessed that orange may be my mom’s Lentz side which leads up to Nicholson.

X Chromosome Map

S is my sister Sharon, J is me. H is my sister Heidi. Here is where Joshua and my mom match on the X Chromosome:

Joshua Gladys X match

If I guessed right in my orange-green chromosome map above, then Sharon and I would not have inherited any X Chromosome in the region from about 5 to 10. My sister Heidi would only have inherited a tiny amount. This amount would be likely less than the lowest amount that gedmatch would allow. So that was inconclusive. I will just assume that my mom and Joshua are a real match.

Nicholson/ellis DNA

This is the easy part. Anyone that matches with Joan(N) and my mom has to be a Nicholson/Ellis and not a Lentz. I can find this using a utility at gedmatch called:

People who match Gedmatch

When I run that, the people who match both include myself and my 2 sisters, which I already knew about, so I do not need to consider those. Here is the list. The first three are myself and my 2 sisters. My mom is represented by the 1st 3 columns and Joan is represented by the 2nd 3 columns. My 2 sisters and myself are 1 generation away from my mom, so that makes sense as a reference. We are actually all 4 generations to a common ancestor with Joan, so my family members all share a bit more DNA with Joan than expected. There is nothing wrong with that.

People who match Mom and Joan

Now these matches are in general out about 5 generations from my mom and 5 from Joan. That doesn’t make total sense as Joan is one generation away from my mom which would translate to one half a generation further out when considering a common ancestor. I’ll take a worse case scenario and look at ancestors 5 generations out from my mom.

Nicholson Line

Remember, they have to be on the Nicholson Line. No Lentzes allowed. Ann is my mom’s grandmother, so we are starting here at 2 generations. That means that 5 generations is out to the 1700’s and I am missing 3 last names.


I chose those people that matched both my mom and Joan at Gedmatch. Then I chose the Traceability Utility. This gives me 3 things. It gives a chart of how the people match each other, it gives a physical representation of how they match and then show on what chromosomes and at what level they match. Here is the chart. I see probably 2 ancestral families represented here. I’ll call them Family One and Family Two.

Mom Joan Trace Chart

The last 3 on the list may belong to Family One or Two, but not have the DNA match to show it. Or they may belong to another family. The DNA is inconclusive. Based on my mom’s Ancestry Tree, chances are these two families could include the following families: Nicholson, Clayton, Ellis or Roebuck. That is assuming I did my genealogy right. All of these families were from the Sheffield, England area, so that is also a clue. Here is how the physical representation looks. I call it the Globe.

Nicholson Globe

My mom is at the bottom and Joan is to her right. The yellow lines show a Triangulation on Chromosome 5. Unfortunately, this utility doesn’t always work well. There should be a gray line line between the close relationship of A324950 and A793540. Also there are too many yellow lines. Here is my correction:

Nicholson Globe

So that exercise gave me some new names that I may follow up on.

My Mom’s Lentz DNA

My mom’s Lentz DNA should be trickier to find. As I mentioned, the Lentz family is descended in part from the Nicholson line, so how do we separate the two? Here is what I will try. I will look at my mom vs. Joan(N) as above, but this time, I will take the comparison between the two and then look at the names that don’t match Joan. This will be quite a long list. Then I will look at the list of people that do match between my mom and Joshua. This is the Lentz list which could include Nicholsons. Hopefully, the names in common with both lists will tend to be Lentz.

I took the first list of 348 matches and put them in a spreadsheet. Again, these were the ones that didn’t match Joan aka those that don’t match the Nicholsons. The second list was very short. There were only 2 people in it when I took out myself and my two sisters. Hopefully, these 2 will match the people in the other list. It turns out that they did. So was it a waste of time finding the 348 matches? I don’t think so. The correlation in the two lists gives me extra confidence that the 2 in the second list are Lentz rather than Nicholson matches.

The other good news that the 2 matches triangulate with Joshua. Here is a part of my mother’s DNA match spreadsheet, so these are matches to my mom.

Joshua Triangulation

These are matches on Chromosome 6. Pink means my mother’s mother’s side. Green means a match of over 15 cM. Joshua is the first match and the other two below him match each other. This gives more credence to a common ancestor that is on my mother’s Lentz side.


While I’m on Chromosome 6, I’ll mention crossovers. On any particular Chromosome, we get half our DNA from our mother and half from our father. Here we are looking at my mom’s mother’s DNA. Further when my mom got her DNA from her mother, her mother’s parents’ DNA mixed in alternating segments. I showed that in my orange and green map above of my sisters’ and my X Chromosome. Here is part of my mom’s chromosome map based on her cousin matches:

Mom's Crossovers

Notice on Chromosome 6, the segments turn from red to peach on my mom’s Maternal side. On Chromosome 9, they turn from peach to red. That is where my mom got her DNA from her 2 maternal grandparents. The red should represent the DNA my mom got from her grandfather Jacob Lentz and the peach should represent the DNA my mom got from her grandmother Annie Nicholson (though through Annie’s 2 parents). If my mom had more cousins tested, more of these crossovers would show up.

Summary, Comments and Questions

  • My analysis only turned up 2 potential Lentz matches. That is the question part. I’m not sure why.
  • There were more leads on the Nicholson side, even though, or perhaps because of, the common ancestor was one generation further back
  • Both lists resulted in good leads.
  • My best lead had nothing to do with DNA. While I was writing this blog, someone saw my Nicholson Web Page and informed me they had the Nicholson family bible showing the exact time of day and dates when many in the Nicholson family were born in the 1700’s!
  • Chromosome mapping can be fun and educational
  • X Chromosome matches can be helpful. One needs to know the inheritance patterns of both the matches to see if an X Chromosome match is even possible.
  • A Chart showing relationships like the one I have at the beginning of the Blog is very important. That way one can know which DNA matches with which common ancestors.
  • Everyone says the more known relatives that test, the better. Everyone is right.





All My Mother’s DNA

A lot of my writing has been on the Frazer DNA Project. That Project involves DNA on my Father’s side. I’d like to focus on my mother’s DNA in this Blog.

Mitochondrial DNA

I have had my mitochondrial DNA tested in myself, so it would be the same as  my mother’s. mtDNA is interesting as one can trace the mutations down from genetic Eve. My haplotype (and my mom’s) is H5’36. I like the fact that there is a prime [‘] in the designation. I think this is because they ran out of room in the place where it belonged among the other haplotypes. I have 2 exact mtDNA matches. Both of their ancestries trace to Ireland. This is interesting as I have not traced my mother’s maternal line back to Ireland. As far as I know, her maternal line went back to the Sheffield, ENG area or just outside of it. However, the focus of this blog is not mitochondrial DNA.

Autosomal DNA Testers

Unlike mtDNA, which goes up the mother’s mother’s mother’s line, atDNA can go in any and all directions up the ancestral ladder. It is much less focused. Sort of like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In analyzing atDNA, it is best to have known testers that can be used as a reference point to sort the scattered matches into the right families. The testers I have with known genealogies are:

  • Catherine – She is the lone 1st cousin once removed representing my mother’s father’s Rathfelder/Gangnus side.
  • Judy – She is also a 1st cousin once removed representing my mother’s mother’s ancestral grandparents: Jacob Lentz and Annie Nicholson. Judy is my 2nd cousin. She tested at 23andme and matches me there but has not uploaded to Gedmatch yet for more comparisons.
  • Joan – She tested at Ancestry and is my mother’s second cousin once removed. Her common ancestors with my mom are William Nicholson b. 1836 and Martha Ellis b. 1835. Joan is also 3rd cousin with me and my 2 sisters which I have had tested. She is 3rd cousin to Judy through the Nicholson line but not the Lentz line as she has no Lentz ancestors.

Here is how the relationships look in a chart:

Glady's Cousin Chart

Here are 3 of my mom’s grandparents: Maria Gangnus; Jacob Lentz and Annie Nicholson. The last is her great grandfather, William Nicholson.

Maria GangnusJacob LentzWilliam Nicholson

Ancestor Chromosome Mapper – Kitty Cooper

Kitty Cooper has developed a popular Chromosome Mapper. We should be able to map my mom’s paternal side from her DNA matches with Catherine and her maternal side from her matches with Judy and Joan. Judy has not uploaded to gedmatch, so I just used her match results with me at 23andme to represent her DNA matches with my mom. The actual DNA Judy shares with my mom is much more than shown for Jacob Lentz and Annie Nicholson.

Gladys Chromosome Map

Some observations:

  • There are 8 autosomal chromosomes with no matches from these 3 cousins
  • The map phases the results into paternal (top part of the bar shown in blue) and maternal results (bottom part of the bar shown in red and peach)
  • Chromosome 9 –  On the maternal (bottom) side the 2 close segments indicate where my mom, Gladys, has a crossover point. the color goes from red (the DNA she got from her Nicholson grandmother) to peach (the DNA she got from her Lentz grandfather)
  • Chromosome 9 and 14 – Here we see results stacked up on top of each other. Without our testers, we would not know which side the results my mom’s matches came from. In these areas, at least, we will know for sure whether the matches are on the paternal or maternal side
  • All other matches – We will know if the matches between mom and anyone in these areas are maternal or paternal.
  • If anyone matches my mom in the red areas (and also matches Joan), we will know it is not with an ancestor of the Nicholson family.
  • Anyone who doesn’t match the people mapped out above in the area where they should match probably represent a match from the other side. For example, a large match along the area of Chromosome 18 that doesn’t match Catherine (who is on the paternal side) would likely be a maternal side match. The only other option would be a false match (Identical by State IBS or Identical by Chance IBC).
  • In the areas where there are no matches, it is a guess as to whether those are paternal or maternal matches. If someone has a tree showing that all their ancestors have been in Germany, that would be a hint that the match should be on my mother’s father’s side. He was German and born in Europe.

More on Joan and the Nicholson Matches

I have already written about Rathfelder matches in a previous blog. I haven’t yet addressed Joan’s Nicholson matches. I’d like to do that now. One way to look at how my mom and Joan match is through Gedmatch. They have a utility that will show the people that match 2 other people. I ran that and came up with myself and my 3 sisters as well as several others. One spot that looks like a Triangulation Group is found on Chromosome 5:

Joan Chromosome 5

#1 is Joan. I didn’t include myself and my 2 sisters, but I know they match Joan here. In fact, here is Joan’s match with me, my younger sister, my mother and my older sister on the same Chromosome:

Joan Chr 5 match w Hartleys

Now, back to the previous image. In order for my mother’s green matches above to be in a triangulation group (TG), they have to match Joan and each other. I’ll check:

  • Joan matches green #2 above at around 11 cM
  • Green #2 matches green #3 at about 10
  • Green #3 matches green #4 at about 15 cM
  • For comparison Joan and my mom match each other at about 30 cM

I didn’t do all the comparisons, but did enough to suppose that this is a TG. Technically, I’m supposed to do every comparison. I didn’t check the pink match as it was small and didn’t line up with the other matches.

What Do the Green TG Matches Mean?

A TG should indicate a common ancestors. Likely this common ancestor will be one of the ancestors of Annie Nicholson:

Nicholson Ancestors

All I have to do now is write to the 3 green matches. Then hope that the common ancestor isn’t too far back and that they have good family trees. Hey, it could happen.


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.