Finding My Latvian Cousin Raimonds at 23andMe

Occasionally, I check 23andMe to see if I have any matches. The last time I checked I was happy to find Raimonds. Raimonds lists his location as Riga, Latvia. That got my attention as my mother’s father was from Riga.

How Raimonds and I Match By DNA

Here is how we match by DNA:

Under 23andMe’s advanced DNA comparisons, I see this:

Another thing that jumped out at me was the X Chromosome match that Raimonds and I have. This seemed significant. Here are the places on my tree that Raimonds and I could have an X Chromosome match:

This is the tree of my grandfather who was Alexander Rathfelder. As both Raimonds and Alexander were from Riga, it makes sense to start with Alexander’s tree. X DNA is not passed down from father to son, so that rules out the Rathfelder line. As we go back it eliminates the Gangnus and Lutke Lines. However, with intermarriage, these could possibly be added in later back in time.

Raimonds’ Genealogy

I wrote to Raimonds at 23andMe and he was nice enough to write back. Here is what Raimonds told me:

I do see a Carl Heinrich Lutke in my tree. However, based on the X Chromosome inheritance, I don’t think that our DNA match reflects that ancestor. In addition, Raimonds’ maternal Lutke grandfather would have not gotten any X Chromosome from his father. That means that the X Chromosome match could as easily be on Raimonds’ maternal grandmother’s side.

So How Am I Related to Raimonds?

The answer appears to be at the Raduraksti Web Page that has a lot of the Latvian Church records. I think that the records are listed under the Linden Church at that web page. Here is the Linden Church:

Here are two links that are in the right time period:

Unfortunately, I don’ t know what the L (l, v) means. Also the more recent records are in Russian. I also checked the Linden Church in 1890 for Lutke. Here is one entry:

However, this is not Johann.

I then went back a year to 1899:

This appears to be the birth and baptismal dates for Johannes Ernst Lutke. He was the son of Johann Marcus Lutke and Wilhemine Catharine Schwechheimer. I left out the sponsors names from the next page:

Here is a Lutke marriage from 1910:

It seems like this Johann is different than the one above. I read Johann Jacob Lutke married to Emma Maria Apollonia Gempfer.

Here is an 1891 birth to Johann Marcus Lutke:

That is what I found looking through 1889 – 1891 births and baptisms.

Things Are Moving Fast

I got another message from Raimonds:

That means that I can draw a Lutke DNA tree. Here is what I have so far:

I just need to add Raimonds. He has told me who his grandfather’s grandparents were, but who were his grandfather’s parents? Based on what Raimonds says, we should be third cousins once removed.

MyHeritage has an Instant Discovery for me:

Ironically, the hint they want me to use has a photo that I have on my Gangnus web page:

I think MyHeritage wants me to pay them money before I can use their “discovery”.

I did find a tree on Ancestry with a Johann Otto Lutke:

He was born 1879. Raimonds thinks his Johann was born around 1885.

Painting in Raimonds’ DNA Match

I use a utility called DNA Painter to track my identified DNA. I don’t have all the documentation, but Raimonds says that our common ancestors are Lutke and Fuhrmann. Here is part of what I have so far on my maternal side:

This shows that I am 34% painted maternally. Overall (paternally and maternally combined), I am 43% painted. In the key above, I have a color for Lutke/Fuhrmann already, but also one where I wasn’t sure, because I was related to the person both ways. For some reason, Patrick is in the second category and his mother is in the first. I’m not sure if this is a mistake or not on my part. I don’t know enough about Raimonds’ genealogy to know which category he will be in. For now, I’ll put him in the first category also.

Here are the segments that Raimonds has added. These matches don’t currently overlap with existing DNA matches, so Raimonds is in uncharted territory. I didn’t add Raimonds’ X Chromosome match as that is unlikely to be on the Lutke side. It looks like I need to change some colors due to the similarity of the blues of Schwechheimer and Lutke. Once I find out how Raimonds and I are related on our X Chromosome, I will paint that in also.

Here I made the color change and moved Silvia to the more ambiguous Common Ancestor Group:

Overall, this upped my overall painted percentage to 44%:

An Update from Raimonds’ Granddaughter

Raimonds’ granddaughter sent me a family tree showing how our Lutke Lines connect. This information was from someone that Raimonds had gotten in touch with through MyHeritage. This person apparently has done a lot of work with Hirschenhof genealogies. Here are Raimonds’ maternal grandparents:

All I have to do is find Johann Peter Woldemar’s birth in 1881. Fortunately for me, he is on the first page of the Linden Church Register:

Actually this may be the 5th page of the Register for the year. I didn’t see pages 2-4. There is a lot of information here. For some reason the last name is given as Lütken. Before the father’s name is the occupation. But I’m not sure what it is.

Going Back a Generation

This connects with the tree I have for Silvia and Patrick.

I re-typed the Lutke DNA tree:

So it turns out that Raimonds is more closely related to Silvia and Patrick than me. Silvia and Patrick tested at MyHeritage. That also means that some of what I wrote in my Blog about Patrick applies to Raimonds. This also means that I am doubly related to Raimonds like I am to Patrick.

Raimonds and the Gangnus Connection

I don’t want to re-type this tree, but here are two more ways I am related to Raimonds:

The first way is through Johann Jacob Gangnus and Biedermann. This is important because it is at the same level as my Lutke/Fuhrmann match with Raimonds. The second way we are connected is two generations further back, so that connection is not as important as far as the DNA matching goes.

Back to the X Chromosome

Now that I see how we are related on the Gangnus side, I can see how the X Chromosome match between Raimonds and me may have happened:

It actually worked out quite well. Note that between me and Biedermann above, I go male, female, male, female, male female. That is the way I would get the most X Chromosome DNA from the furthest back. Normally autosomal DNA will recombine. However, when a father gives his X Chromosome to his daughter, he only has one Chromosome to begin with. So when Johann Philip Gangnus gave his one X Chromosome to his daughter Maria Elisabeth Laura Gangnus, it was the same one that his Biedermann mother gave him. Also, it is important that I descend from the male Johann Philip Gangnus. Because of that we know that the X Chromosome that he got could only be from his Biedermann mother. That means that the X Chromosome that Raimonds and I share is likely from the Biedermann side. I say likely, because there is a small possibility that it may come from an ancestor of Antonie Elise Marie Schiller. I haven’t looked into that line and Raimonds doesn’t know about that side.

Fixing DNA Painter

Here is some more information on Biedermann:

I took out the entry for Lutke/Fuhrmann at DNA Painter. Now I just have Lutke/Fuhrmann or Gangnus/Biedermann. Now I will need an entry for Anna to paint the X Chromosome match that Raimonds and I have.

Unfortunately, I have pink on pink for Biedermann, but I have painted Biedermann onto the X Chromosome. Notice that this segment overlaps with my maternal first cousin Rusty. That means that this part of Rusty’s X Chromosome must also be from Anna Biedermann. Here is a better color:

Summary and Conclusions

  • I was happy about finding this DNA match with Raimonds
  • It is rare that a X Chromosome match works out so well. So many things have to align correctly in both my ancestry and Raimonds.
  • It is also rare that I am able to figure out who our common ancestors are so quickly – especially with Latvian genealogy. This was due to information I already had plus genealogies that Raimonds was able to get through MyHeritage.
  • I am glad to see that a lot of the Linden Church records are back on-line. These are the records for Hirschenhof residents.
  • If Raimonds uploads his DNA results to and MyHeritage, he will find more DNA matches.


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.






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).


A New Latvian DNA Match – Otis with Schwechheimer Ancestry

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

The Known Genealogy

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

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

Otis’ Schwechheimer Line

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

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

Otis’ DNA

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

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

This is how Otis matches my mom at Gedmatch:

Otis also matches my 2nd cousin Catherine:

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

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

AncestryDNA’s Shared Matches

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

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

Back to the Genealogy

My favorite source for Latvian genealogical research is:

It would make sense to try to find Antonija Schwechheimer:

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

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

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

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

Here is the record for Alexander:

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

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

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

Finding Antonie’s Grandparents

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

It appears that Antonie’s parents married in 1871:

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

Anna Charlotte Muller

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

Johann Georg Schwechheimer

This is probably Otis’ Johann Georg:

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

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

The tree is looking better:

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

More Schwechheimer Research

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

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

A Schwechheimer/Gangnus Tree

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

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

[Note: See update to the above here.]

A Few Discrepancies

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

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

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

Mapping Schwechheimer/Gangnus

Here is my DNA match with Otis:

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

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

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

Expanding Chromosome 3

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

Getting the Numbers Up

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

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

Summary and Conclusions

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

Here is a map of the Hirschenhof Colony:

Wolf’s DNA and Our Hirschenhof Ancestors

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

Wolf’s Many Shared Ancestral Names

Here was one note from MyHeritage:

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

Wolf’s Maternal Side

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

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

My Mom’s Paternal Side

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

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

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

A Schwechheimer Connection

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

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

Here are two Schwechheimers from my tree:

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

The last one apparently corresponds with Wolf’s ancestor.

Next, I draw a Schwechheimer Tree:

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

A Look at Wolf’s DNA

At MyHeritage, Wolf and I share 41 cM.

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

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

My Cousin Anita

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Biedenbender Connection

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

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

That will lead to a Biedenbinder Tree starting with Tobias:

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

The Niclas Connection

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

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

Now I need a Niclas Tree:


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

More Biedermann Research?

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

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

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

Summing Up

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

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

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