Saturday, November 12, 2016

Walsh Y-DNA Project


I realized I should update this blog as it has been a while.

My Walsh Y-DNA project has been successful. The main goal with doing to DNA testing was trying to prove a theory that my ancestor John Walsh (b. ~1811) had a half-brother, Martin Walsh (b. 1837). Sue Welch had shared records of my cousin, Thomas Leslie "Les" Welch that indicated Les believed John and Martin to be half brothers. In his papers, he wrote the following:

"My great grandfather, John Welch, came from Ireland and arrive in Wisconsin about 1851. With him were his wife Bridget and three children: Thomas 12, Judy 6, and Mary 2.
 "They settled in the Township of Springfield, Dane County, Wisconsin. The map of about 1861 shows that they were located in section 1. Nancy or Ann as she was known was born shortly after they arrive in Wisconsin and was shown as age 8 in the 1860 census. Bridget was born three years later and was shown as age 5 in 1860.
"There seems to be no record to show who the parents of John were but Martin Walsh, who came to Wisconsin about 1856 and who had previously gone to New Orleans after coming from Ireland, was a son of Patrick and Mary (Whalen) Walsh and this Martin was a half brother of John. Since the names were both originally Walsh it means that both were the sons of Patrick and that Mary (Whalen) Walsh was the stepmother of John. Martin and John had a brother who was a priest in Westport and a sister."

The document continues but these are the paragraphs most relevant to the discussion here. I found it really interesting that Les mentioned not only that Martin was John's half brother, but that it also mentioned two more siblings. I only wish he had mentioned who the siblings were! I have not been able to determine who the "priest in Westport" was. I assume he means Westport, Wisconsin, but it's unclear- could he mean Westport, County Mayo?

So, with Y-DNA testing, I sought to confirm Les Welch's statement that Martin and John were half-brothers. He hadn't mentioned where he got that information. I have not found any records that directly state that, but I had long thought that Martin was either a brother or son of John Walsh. I set out to prove that.

Not long after my post in January here, I got in touch with Steve Walsh who is a direct male descendant of Martin Walsh. After exchanging a few emails, we kicked off our project! He was generous enough to take the test for my project and split the costs with me. Then, with Sue's help we recruited a direct male descendant of John Walsh to also test.

I'm pleased to announce the project was a success! At 111 markers, our two lines matched at a genetic distance of 2. This fits with our theorized relationship. There is very little DNA shared at the autosomal level, but this is expected with what would be a half 3rd cousin once removed relationship between our two test takers. This is what makes Y-DNA so valuable. Based on the results I believe that John and Martin were half-brothers. I believe that if they were half brothers, or if Martin was John's son, we would have different results (particularly in the realm of autosomal DNA shared). I would be curious to see how other Martin Walsh descendants would match to us via autosomal DNA.

The other aspect to report is the haplogroup for our Walshes is R-Z255 at this time. There are more subgroups on the haplotree but we have not yet tested those SNPs to get the most specific haplogroup available to us right now.

On other testing fronts, I did find a Tice cousin willing to take the Y-DNA test, too. The test finished processing but no close matches yet. Too bad. I am hoping there will be others who test in the future!

I'm excited that I've had the chance to get most of my brick wall lines to Y-DNA test. I'm hoping that more matches will test in the future.

This year I have also received some new matches to Hurst cousins that have helped to prove my theories on James Hurst's siblings! We've received DNA matches to descendants both of Patrick Hurst as well as Ellen Hurst Rice, which have helped prove that we are on the right track with our information. DNA is changing so much of what we can do with our genealogy!!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Hess Family: Brick Wall Demolished

About a month ago I decided to try to act on a little notation I had found among information online, mentioning that my ancestor Louis Hess had married Theresia Kaiser at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Chicago. Louis has been a brick wall for me for several years because no document I had been able to locate for him, ever listed where he was born. His death record mentioned he had been born in Alsace-Lorraine, and also mentioned that his father's name was Killian Hess. No mother's name had been listed.

Beyond that, I had no other hints as to where he was from. I had located the civil marriage record for Louis and Theresia and that gave no information. Their daughter Rose's birth record, similarly, gave no information. His naturalization information gave no information as to his birthplace, nor did his obituary. I had not been able to definitively locate immigration information such as a passenger's list. I had found a list for a ship called the "Denmark" which had a 22 year old Louis Hess on board, arriving in New York on 10 Sep 1872. On this ship were a Charles Hess, aged 18, and an Oscar Hess, aged 17. I had thought that if this was my Louis Hess, perhaps Charles and Oscar were siblings. But I had not been able to locate information on these other two men to prove any sort of connection.

So, just about a month ago now, I started digging into the Chicago Catholic church records on to see if I could find the marriage based on that random tidbit of information... a marriage at St. Anthony's Catholic Church. This was essentially a last resort after failing to find what I needed in every other record for Louis, so I did not have high expectations. I at first struggled to find the correct parish, but with the help of some folks on the Chicago Genealogy facebook group, I was able to find it (actually St. Anthony of Padua, and it was combined with another church in the records, which explains why it had been difficult for me to find the correct parish)..

And then I found the marriage record....

Wow. Interestingly-- and I never knew this until I found this record-- this was a double wedding! Theresia's sister, Anna Maria Kaiser, married a man named Jacob Michels on this same day at the same church. A good lead, since I knew that all of Theresia's sisters had immigrated, but had no idea what happened to them after they arrived, other than her oldest sister, Adelheid, who moved to Kansas.

Anyway, the marriage record above states that Louis was from "Niederneh, Elsass." Theresia's origin is listed as "Lingen, Hanover." This would be Kreis Lingen, and she was born in the town of Listrup, which is within Kreis Lingen in Hanover. Having that correct information on this record helped validate the new piece of information regarding Louis. 

So, what is "Niederneh?" I started Googling the name and determined that it may be an abbreviation for a town called Niederehnheim (in German) or Niedernai (in French) [Niedernai Wikipedia page]. This town exists in the Alsace region and changed back and forth between Germany and France, hence the two different names for the town. Nowadays the town is in France and is called Niedernai permanently.

This was good news for me, because the Alsace records are all online free here, including the civil and Catholic church records for Niedernai. I signed in to the site and in the Niedernai records immediately started seeing records for Hesses, which was a good sign. And then, I found it.. the civil birth record for my ancestor Louis Hess (named Francois Louis Hess on this record.. thanks to the French). I had known his middle initial was "F." so this fit. His family was German living in French-ruled Niedernai at the time of his birth, which is why the record is in French. His German name would be Franz Ludwig Hess, and his Rufname was Ludwig/Louis  (Rufname explanation).

I could not believe it when I first saw this record. I admit that I had a nerdy-emotional moment. I had searched so long that I had not thought it was possible for me to break down this brick wall. But, here I was, looking at his birth record, and seeing the name of his mother for the first time: Maria Elisabeth Lutz.

Since I discovered this record, I have been slowly filling in my family tree for this branch of the family, as time has allowed with a busy work schedule. It turns out that the Hess family (and associated ancestors) had been in Niedernai for over 150 years before Louis left in 1872. I have been working on getting the tree back as far as I can and so far have most lines to at least 1700 if not further back. It's still a work in progress as I work to interpret more records. Some records are missing so there are a few lines that may not extend as far back as the others.

I found that Louis did have a brother named Charles, and he was two and a half years younger than Louis. I believe now that the passenger list I had found is of Louis and his brother Charles immigrating, but I have not figured out yet who Oscar Hess is.

I'm very excited to see how much further back I can trace these lines! This also give me hope that someday I will figure out where in Alsace my ancestor Johann Diebold came from..

Thursday, January 21, 2016

DNA testing and Germans Records

Hello all,

Apologies for neglecting this page.. sometimes my life and research are so busy that I can't find the spare time to write here. 2015 was a busy year and also ended in some sad times for my family, as for the first time I lost some close family members, my grandfather Robert Mayville, and my young cousin Sydney Kratochwill. As a genealogist it's a strange thing to go through. I have been working hard to preserve my family's history and trying to document the memories and experiences of my remaining grandparents as best as I can. 

As far as my genealogical research in 2015, it all boiled down to two main things, DNA testing and German records!

I have been attempting to use DNA testing to try to break down some brick walls. I first tested my dad, in an attempt to find out more about our Paternal line, the Walter/Walters/Walther family. Our furthest back paternal ancestor is Simon Walter, who was supposedly born 10 Apr 1810 in "Neubeuren bei Wiesenfeld" and is a complete brick wall for me. No idea where that place is, as there doesn't seem to be a real place with that combination of place names, and I have no idea who his parents were.

Based on my grandpa's autosomal test results, which had quite a few matches with mostly English ancestry, I had suspected that perhaps Simon might not be from Germany as he had said he was. He was over 40 when he came to the U.S. and married Margaretha Kaemmlein, so I wondered if he had something to hide, if he perhaps had another family elsewhere. My grandpa's ancestors all immigrated immediately from Germany, so I had no other explanation for the matches with solely English ancestry.

So, my dad agreed to do a Y-DNA test, which traces only the direct male line. I did not get answers that I expected to get, and unluckily, no close matches to help solve my mystery... The results mention that my dad has the haplogroup 1-P37 (I2a). Interestingly this haplogroup is more common in eastern and southeastern Europe, and rare in Germany, but it is one that can occasionally be seen in Germany. We don't have any close matches but have some further away, with a genetic distance of 6 or more, which is not beneficial for my research. The matches have most distant ancestors from Poland, Ukraine, and Greece to name a few. 

I next wanted to try my luck with the Diebold brick wall. I asked my cousin to help me out, who is a direct male Diebold. He agreed and took the Y-DNA test for me. Our brick wall ancestor is Johann Diebold b. 18 Jul 1828, supposedly in "Elsass-Zabern." His parents were supposedly named, Joseph and Margaret Diebold (no maiden name given), but that's not much to go off of. Records for Bas-Rhin are online, but are not indexed. So, without an exact town name it's been impossible to find him.

The test results came back and from it we learned that the Diebolds have a haplogroup of E-L117. This haplogroup is most common among northern Africans but is also present in some Europeans, indicating a possible direct male ancestor who came to Europe from Africa around 10,000 years ago (or sooner, but for us that will be nearly impossible to determine). We unfortunately have NO matches at this time, so that also doesn't help in my quest right now.. so, for now I wait patiently and hope that someone will take the test.

On the Mayville Y-DNA front we have worked with the "French Heritage DNA Project" to map the genome of the Miville line. We are also hoping to find some Mieville/Miville descendants who still live in Switzerland today, in hopes that we can confirm where our immigrant ancestor, Pierre Miville, was from. We had a new, close match pop up earlier this week so we are excited to work out the connection with this new match.

Additionally, I am working on recruiting male Walsh descendants to take the Y-DNA test at, too. We may be able to convince one person who is known to descend from my Walsh line, and I am hoping to find a descendant of Martin Walsh (b. 1837) to take the Y-DNA test, also, as he is supposed to be a half brother of my ancestor John Walsh (b. 1810). I am hoping to find other Walsh descendants to take the autosomal DNA test.. it would be nice to get others who descend from the many Walshes who were in Dane Co., in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, to take the autosomal test in hopes of connecting our lines together and perhaps finding the place of origin for the Walshes in Ireland. 

It would be nice to find a male Tice descendant to take a Y-DNA test, too.

I also managed to take a test at 23andMe recently. I previously had autosomal kits at Ancestry and FTDNA, but had not yet tested with 23andMe, so now I am in all three major databases, plus (free comparison site). Below, for fun, are the ethnicity estimates provided by each company. On left is Ancestry's estimate, middle is 23andMe, and on the right is FTDNA. It's interesting to see how different their algorithms are.

(Click to view the full image)

My other big project of 2015 was to try to track down as many records or family books for the German towns my ancestors lived in, as I could. I spent quite a lot of time doing this, especially in locating records for Duengenheim and nearby towns where my Hagemann, Emmerich, and other associated families were from. I made a lot of progress with this and also made some new friends from across the pond who have been immensely helpful in tracing my lineage. I owe a lot to Gerhard and Remy.

There are still a lot of records to be found and requested from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. They have many German records on microfilm, but it is a time consuming task, so I will probably have to wait until the summer to order more microfilms. That will certainly keep me busy.