More Isserstedts

Our Ancestry ThruLines tree for Isserstedt, (I removed more recent names from the chart).

I can hear the question now — “Why, or what, am I looking at?” Well, this is the tree that showed up in Dad’s Isserstedt ThruLines recently. And this ThruLine is telling me that we have a DNA match with a descendant of Fredrick Isserstedt’s Uncle Johann Christian Isserstedt (I know his name because I did a little research). This Johann Christian had a daughter Johanna, she married Heinrich Ernst Koch and so the line continues through their son Karl all the way down to our present DNA match.

Here is Johanna’s marriage as noted in the church record:

Number 21 in the list is Johanna Maria Dorthea Isserstedt’s marriage record to Heinrich Ernst Koch. It lists her father Johann Christian Isserstedt and her mother, Elizabeth Moltzer.

For me this is cool, because it might help with finessing the Isserstedt line with German church records that have been digitized, and are available to research at Ancestry, and the Family History Library.

This is also a useful match, because if I can find out their chromosome location it will tell me which part of our Isserstedt/Sachs line is the Isserstedt segment.

Even all that aside, it is kinda cool that we are getting matches with some of our recent German immigrant lines. (We also have matches with folks whose ancestors were from Schwabsburg, but their lines are the Nehrboss and Knoblochs.)

So much fun is happening with our DNA matches. It’s hard to keep up.

In other DNA news, I finally heard back from our Hamman match. To review, I sent an email to the one and only match with our cousin’s HAMM yDNA at FamilyTreeDNA, and finally, after re-sending my email three times over the last year and a half, heard back. I received a very friendly email from a nephew of the tester. He provided a history of their line with a tree. But, at this time we can not connect the two.

There is a connection, but we don’t know where yet.

I asked if he would be able to get his uncle’s yDNA results bumped up to 111 markers (currently it is only 25). There is a 2 marker difference right now, if this marker difference increases with more markers tested, that means that the connection is likely a bit further back in time. But, if the difference remains at 2 or 3, then we are looking at a more recent connection. Fingers crossed.

Enoch And Esther, Confirmed

I have been obsessed lately with my DNA research, probably because I can’t currently do much in the way of records research, except for what’s available online due to the pandemic, (which contrary to popular belief is not over!) So, in order to feel that I haven’t abandoned genealogy completely, I am focusing on the DNA end of things.

This obsession has also led me to try and learn as much as I can about how to analyze one’s data. Because I will admit, all those charts, lists and matches can get overwhelming! If nothing else, I have learned one thing for sure – focus. Pick one particular problem, or ancestor, and focus on analyzing only data related to that particular answer. Don’t get distracted by all the other pretty little lights.

As I have posted previously here, and here, with the addition of my parents DNA to Ancestry.com, two research puzzles were almost solved, we just have to find the actual records now to suss out exact data.

Now for some more good news! I can also say that DNA has confirmed our connection to Enoch Shepard and Esther Dewey, Hartley Shepard’s grandparents. We have DNA matches with several descendants of children of Enoch and Esther: Luther, Calvin, and Anna – all siblings of Huldah, mother of Hartley.

In the chart above you can see the 5 matches that we have with descendants of Enoch and Esther’s other children.

This is great news, because we have no documents that connect these Shepards to ours other than a yDNA test with 5 markers off on this Shepard line, which made me very nervous about connecting us to the Massachusetts line. But now we have more DNA connecting us. Which makes me breathe a sigh of relief.

In a nutshell this means that the word of mouth story of Hartley’s parents being Henry and Huldah Shepard, was not just a story. This also confirms that General William Shepard of Westfield, Massachusetts was indeed our ancestor. So, yes we can brag about it in full confidence now.

Here is a source mentioning the children of Enoch and Esther: “Colonel Enoch Shepherd, wife and nine Children, Enoch, Daniel, Luther, Calvin, Esther, Anna, Rhoda, Lorana, and Huldah.”

History of Washington County: Residents at Campus Martius – Marietta and at “The Point” – in and Near Fort Harmer during the Whole or Part of the period of the Indian Wars between 1790–1795
Here is Hartley’s tree in a beautiful fan shape. There is quite a bit of cousin marrying cousin in Hartley’s family, up to and including his son Elza marrying his 2nd cousin, Jane Buchanan.

This also means that I will be posting more about this line in the future than I have previously. Having more confidence in the connection to the Westfield Shepards makes me feel much better about researching and sharing this line with family.

Peeking Over Brick Walls

A few months ago I asked my parents if they would do another DNA test, only this time through Ancestry.com. Currently I have their DNA data at MyHeritage, FTDNA, LivingDNA, and GEDMatch, (I think that is all of them) But, of course, greedy Ancestry (what a bunch of wankers) doesn’t allow you to upload results from other companies, so I have to test everyone all over again just for this site. This also means that those relatives who donated in the past, and have since died, are out of luck.

My main reason for doing this was to see if the Irish DNA my Dad carries would show up as from a particular part of Ireland, but also, we would most likely find lots of different matches because so many people get suckered into Ancestry’s universe and don’t use the other DNA sites.

Thankfully they both said yes and the results arrived a week or two ago.

First, to get it out of the way: my Dad’s Irish DNA is too small an amount to even show up (guess I will have to try my sister). My Mother has Irish too, in fact more than my Dad, but I still have no idea where in Ireland these ancestors came from as both didn’t have enough DNA from this ethnicity to sort it out. Bummer.

Now the good stuff. I have to say that the Thrulines and DNA matches have really been exciting.

  1. Our Cross and Warner connection has been reaffirmed with several matches with siblings of our ancestors.
  2. My Norwegian ancestry is 100% correct. Damn I am good!
  3. And Mary Baker/Weekley can stop wavering as she appears to be a Weekley.

A little background on Mary. I talked about her a little bit in a previous post, but the nitty gritty is this. Elzy George and Mary Baker likely were married1 in December 1825. They posted their marriage bonds in November and December. These are the parents of Rachel George who married Ezra Hays, who are then the parents of my great grandmother Rachel, aka Dick. In this bond it clearly states her name as Mary Baker:

But then several of her children’s death records started showing up with their mother’s surname being stated at Weekley. And the confusion commenced.

One of my theories at the time was it was possible that she married a Baker who died very shortly afterward and then married Elzy George. Or she was a Baker. No one in the genealogy circles had developed any theories, at least that I know of. Research into the matter didn’t really clear it up either. I could find no record that connected Mary specifically to either surname other than this marriage bond.

But now we have DNA, and DNA says she was a Weekley:

ThruLines as defined by Ancestry.com: ThruLines uses Ancestry trees to suggest how SJ may be related to their DNA matches through common ancestors.

Now this match does not mean that Mary is a daughter of Thomas, it is merely being suggested because we match all these other Weekleys who appear to be children of Thomas. The DNA only tells us that we match these Weekleys, not HOW we match them. ThruLines are suggestions, that could be correct. It is also possible that Thomas had a sibling who is Mary’s parent.

At Ancestry Thomas shows up in SJ’s list of ThruLines as:

Here is Thomas Weekley and his wife Mary Jones (Polly is a nickname for Mary).

The dotted line around his square means potential ancestor, which is also indicated on the square. If there is no line then that means you have that person in your tree, and we will all assume that it is the correct ancestor. Below is the ThruLines from the top when you first go into your results, scrolling down will bring you to each generation that they have ThruLines for, some of which will also be potential ancestors.

Of course now that we have more of a nudge to the Weekley line, I will have to be more vigilant in researching the Weekley family in Tyler County, West Virginia. She is connected somehow. Maybe she is illegitimate!


  1. Elzy George and Polly/Mary Baker marriage bonds, November 30, 1825 and December 1, 1825. Tyler County, [West] Virginia. Test. Absalom George and John Baker, son of Evan, William George and Deborah George.

DNA Strikes Again

Thank goodness I have had more family than just myself DNA tested.

My sister and I were recently having a discussion regarding our Irish DNA percentages. I knew that I didn’t have much of any, but I wasn’t sure about her’s. Today I decided to check into the matter. The answer is, none to speak of. So both my sister and I inherited miniscule to none of our Irish DNA. That answered that question. [Update: Oooops. Wrong…my sister actually has a good percentage of Irish, they updated the charts.]

But while I was there, I decided to check through her matches and looked at any trees that were available (one of my pet peeves with folks who get their DNA tested is few to none have any kind of decent tree online, which makes their match of no use to us who are trying to find DNA connections to surnames!!!). Anyway, one of her matches that did have a tree included the surname WARNER. Hmmm, that rang a loud bell in my brain. In fact I think my adrenaline started pumping. Further investigation on this WARNER line in his tree showed a Daniel WARNER married to Ann PEMBER, and this match’s ancestor was their son Thomas who was born in 1756 in Tolland, Connecticut. BINGO! Full on rush going on now.

Screen capture of my sister’s match’s tree from FamilyTreeDNA. Daniel WARNER and Anne PEMBER are right there in black and white.

This one little DNA match has broken down one of my brick walls! And inside I am so jumping up and down with great excitement and joy. The best news I have had all year! (Well, other than being able to get my vaccine.)

I made sure to look over his tree with more diligence, but the WARNER surname is the only commonality between us that I was able to find. So, this means that Zerviah WARNER, wife of Joseph CROSS, and daughter of the same Daniel WARNER and Ann PEMBER in our matches’ tree, was indeed our ancestress. No question about it. Which also means that we descend from Joseph Cross, her husband. (We have their marriage record and we know that when he died, she was still married to him.) Unless she had an affair we don’t know about. I’ll assume she didn’t.

Previous to this DNA find, the only connection we were unable to make was that of Zerviah and Joseph CROSS’s possible daughter Clarissa CROSS, (who married Garret ROSA), to this couple. DNA has sorted it out for us.

I am still doing that happy dance inside my head every time I think about it! Thank you many times over to my family for donating their DNA to help in me my obsession, because if they hadn’t, I would have missed this connection. You see, I have no DNA that matches this person, but my sister did.

Doggy DNA Update

Here’s Caesar chillin’ out in the shade. It is a very hot day, 80s+, and humid. He is waiting very patiently for his DNA results. So as promised here they are.

Hmmm, not a bit of Jack Russell in there anywhere! Not surprising. I am surprised by the Australian Cattle dog though, but I love that he has that bit in him, they are wonderful dogs. The Pomeranian I expected, his eyes and tail have those traits. The Shetland Sheepdog, explains the collie-like traits of his coat. All this adds up to a small dog that loves to walk and play. A lot. And chase the cat. A lot. The health results showed a liver marker that the vet can keep an eye on, just because the trait is there in the DNA doesn’t mean it will actually ever present. But now it can be extra scrutinized.

I have to say it is pretty cool that you can do this for your dog. For us, we don’t give a hoot what his breed is, we are not pretentious, or snobby, we like mutts. They are usually better dogs anyway. But now that we know his parentage, this can help us better understand his behaviors, traits and idiosyncrasies. Here is his public profile at Embark.

Embark does a very good job of keeping you informed and presenting their results for you. (They even send you a cool short video of the results.) I highly recommend them if you want to do this for your own dog. I was impressed and very satisfied. One of the benefits of doing this test is it also compares the results to other dogs in their database to show cousins, just like FamilyFinder at FamilyTreeDNA!

DNA Tests. Not Just For People Anymore.

Caesar at 11 months of age.

We have a new puppy whom we have named Caesar. He has been in our family for three whole months now. And things have finally started to calm down around the house. “Breaking in new parents is hard work,” he keeps telling me.

We picked him up from the shelter about 2 weeks before everything officially went to hell in the world (the first time). He has actually been a great distraction while being stuck at home these last 4 months–and counting.

The previous owner said he was a Jack Russell. He doesn’t look like a Jack Russell to me, or my old man, or anyone else I mention it to.

So, because I am all into DNA testing and genealogy, I decided that Caesar is going to have his own ancestral tree to look back on, and ordered a DNA testing kit from Embark a few weeks ago (they received good reviews). The results of this test will give us his breed mix, and for a little extra money, information on his genetic health (they were having a sale I couldn’t resist).

The kit arrived in the mail yesterday. Today we are mailing out the swab. I can’t wait to hear the results. Don’t worry I will share.

“Don’t let his cuteness deceive you. He’s the devil’s minion!” We are informed by Scout, our cat.

Hamm DNA News

This is George Hamm. Taken possibly on his wedding day or shortly thereafter, which would mean late 1874 to early 1875.

About 10 years ago I came into contact with a Hamm cousin who descended from Emil, the youngest child of George and Amelia Hamm. We kept in contact for a while, and then over time, as happens, we lost touch. But, earlier this year, out of the blue, he contacted me again. He had recently moved to Wisconsin to be closer to family, and was interested in re-connecting, now that he was closer to our neck of the woods.

My husband and I dropped in for a visit a few months ago and we all had a nice visit. I was able to go home with a few pictures that I needed to scan (and then send back), and some excellent dried fruit! Which I didn’t have to send back, which is good, because it didn’t last very long.

During our visit I mentioned my hope that he would want to help out in the DNA front by getting his HAMM yDNA tested. Thankfully, he said yes.

And the results have come in.

According to FamilyTreeDNA‘s website the HAMM yDNA’s haplogroup is I-M170:

Haplogroup I dates to 23,000 years ago, or older. This haplogroup is found throughout Europe, although some branches may be present in low frequencies in Northeast Africa, Central Siberia, the Near East, and the Caucasus regions. Haplogroup I represents one of the first peoples in Europe.

There are three very interesting items of note regarding the results.

First, there was only one match to be found, in all the thousands of yDNA results that are available to compare to at FamilyTreeDNA.

Second, that one match is with a man whose surname is Hamman. (This Hamman has only tested 25 markers – and is 2 markers off from our Hamm line, our cousin’s test was a 111 marker test)).

Third, this Hamman surname comes from Hesse-Darmstadt, almost the same place as our Hamm’s (Rhineland-Palatinate they are very close neighbors). Now, these areas in Germany are pretty large, so, you think ‘well that’s a stretch that they are closely related’, but when you look at the two towns on a map and compare the distance. Hmmm. Not so far apart.

This also makes a very intriguing argument in favor of my belief that George Hamm really is a son of Jacob Hamm, and his parents didn’t get married until after he was born.

One can easily imagine the Hamman/Hamm name changing slightly over time, even within the same family. Maybe our Hamm’s got kicked out of town a couple hundred years ago, (our Hamm’s appear to be the type that would get kicked out of a town), and headed west to work in the vineyards. Or, some of the Hamms moved to find better work in a different area.

Of course, this is only speculation, I need to know more about this Hamman family before we can make any definite conclusions.

But I have to say, for me, Yule presents don’t get much better than this!

DNA revisited

I am afraid that I haven’t really been paying attention to my DNA accounts recently. Too much on the ‘lots of other things I have to do’ genealogy list. But this last weekend, between celebrating my old man’s birthday, reading up on the Whiskey Rebellion, going to Avengers, and catching up on my latest game, I had to answer an email from the wife of a cousin, who was looking for his ancestors. I was very happy to help anyway I could, because in his case it was adoption of his mother that was the brick wall.

In the process of answering the question, I started looking around at all the new matches on a few of these accounts, and saw some surnames that were of much interest to me. But one in particular stood out –Amund and Måkestad. “How intriguing”, says my brain to me, “must click.”

I have always had this tiny nugget of doubt that my research had actually found the right Amund Amundson in Norway, and that sometime in the future his whole line would have to be wiped off the board. But, thanks to this one DNA entry in the FamilyFinder matches, all that doubt, as small as it was, has been put to rest.

The reason the entry seemed so intriging was I could see both ‘Amunds(datter)’ and ‘Måkestad’ , (along with other places of common intestest in Norway), entered in this person’s list of ancestors that they were researching. According to my research Måkestad is where Amund had been born.

This is their list of Ancestral Surnames that they have added to their account, not everyone does this, so it was very helpful in determining commonalities. Not only does Måkestad show up in the list, but: Bleie, Børve, Måge, Nå, Reiseter, Sygnistveit, all these places are common to my Amundsons.

Thankfully, they also have added a familytree to their account, so I could better make the connection.

Their tree.
My tree. The common ancestors are in the red boxes on both trees

So our common ancestor is this couple — Amund Grepson and Guro Sjursdatter, both born in the late 1700s. We descend from their son Amund, and the other person descends from his brother, Greip.

This is very exciting for me and I am so glad to share this great news. I have also been confirming in my mind other connections because of DNA matches, like: Buchanan, Mobley, Lemasters, Shepard, George, Shaw, Goble, McQueen, etc.. While we have pretty much known that these surnames are ours, the DNA further confirms that the research is right.

I love science!

DNA strikes again…

Very rarely do I repost articles on my blog, but sometimes a subject of particular interest just cries out to be shared. In this case the article of interest is discussing DNA and the history of the human race. The headline pretty much sums it up:

Oldest Human Genome Ever Has Been Sequenced & How It Could Rewrite Human History

sima_de_los_huesos1
This image is from the Bradshaw Foundation website with no citation.

This is what I love about genetics, with each new discovery we are learning more and more about our origins, how we migrated across the planet, when we started passing on the traits that make us different from each other, yet how we are all still the same. Fascinating stuff.

Thomas Cain, still a mystery…

For Christmas last year I took advantage of a sale going on at FTDNA and upgraded my cousin Robert Cain’s DNA results. I upped his yDNA to 111 markers, added the FamilyFinder test, (which will help find cousins), and had some refining marker tests done to suss out more precise information on his haplogroup.

Because Robert passed away a few years ago, his DNA is all we have left of him. And in honor of his memory. and generosity in helping us to find the origins of the CAIN line through DNA, (along with the possibility of his DNA going bad due to time), I wanted to do these tests.

Robert has many yDNA matches, however none of them are less than 5 markers off and none of them are the same surname. So our common ancestor is way, way, way back in time. His updated refined haplogroup designation is:

R-FGC20561

I added Robert’s yDNA results to the R1b Haplogroup Project a few years ago. Recently one of the group’s administrators provided me with a chart that shows Robert’s new place in this project. All the green cells show how his DNA is being refined until we get to the latest test results. Over time yDNA testing will get even more precise.

What does all this mean? Because the haplogroup R1b is such a huge pool of humans, refining the tests helps group results so that DNA matches are more manageable and more accurate. You can see that none of the group of men with Robert have the same last name. It is assumed that the common ancestor of these men was around about 1100AD, before last names really existed in historical documents. So we know who our CAIN ancestor is, just not his name or where he was from or anything else for that matter, just what his yDNA tells us.

robertsydna
To see the chart more clearly click here.

The FamilyFinder test, which finds cousins and other relatives, I had done on Robert’s DNA so that I could see where our DNA was matching. This also helps when comparing it to other relatives and cousins to see where we are matching on our Smith/Cain/Rosa lines. Here is an example:

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.13.59 AM

The solid blue/black is Robert, he is the base DNA being compared to. The orange is myself and the light blue is my dad. So you can see what DNA I inherited from the CAIN line that my Dad didn’t, and vice-versa. Ignore the gray bits.

I am not sure how many more tests I will be able to subject Robert’s DNA to, but for now this is a nice improvement on his results. So in a nutshell, we still don’t know the specific origins of Thomas Cain, but we are getting closer.