Voices from down the Brandenburg line.

I have received a couple letters from Lara Day of Wisconsin, a vet and a genetic genealogy fan. I have an autosomal connection to her of 33 centimorgans, and using that and our public tree, found that we are related through the Brandenburgs. Elias Tidwell Myers, son of Charles Myers (1789-1857), married Nancy Ann Brandenburg on the 28th of November, 1839, in Lafayette Missouri.

I tend to think that the payoff for doing this kind of genealogy are the stories you receive, and in this case, Lara has a great one.

I didn’t know about Nancy Ann Brandenburg until I saw her on your tree and looked to see if others had her in the extensive Brandenburg line. I have matched other distant Brandenburg cousins, so we either have sticky segments that get passed down intact through the generations or we have a genetic disposition for genealogy research (or all both). The Brandenburg family has a lot of interesting history, some fact and some fiction. As a child, I remember my Grandmother telling me we were German royalty. As I got older, I found out we were supposedly descended from the Hohenzollern line (Frederick I and Frederick II “The Great”). During the late 1800s, a large number of the Brandenburg family met to plan on how to get their part of the estate in Germany. There are letters upon letters how money was collected for the supposed legal fees to get part of the estate supposedly worth $10,000,000. Sounds like the old fashioned version of the email scams we get in Spam. The scam was restarted in the 1900s, so more people gave money hoping for riches. Who knows how this rumor of Royalty got started, but it isn’t true, but the belief persists today. The truth is Matthias came over from The Palatinate sometime before 1764 when he married Hester Wolgamot (differing spellings) in then Frederick Co Maryland. They proceeded to have a large family and moved to VA then KY. Matthias was not a soldier in the Revolutionary War, but did supply leather goods to the Continental Army, so many have used this in their applications to DAR. Your ancestor, Samuel Brandenburg, was Matthias and Hester’s 6th child, born in VA and followed the rest of the family to KY. A younger brother, Solomon, started a ferry service in KY to cross the Ohio River. This ferry service prospered and a town was formed which became the Meade County seat. Matthias had died after a fall from a horse, and his widow Hester, moved with her son Solomon. She is buried on a hillside overlooking the Ohio river and her tombstone is in remarkably good condition.

Family Tree DNA is recalculating Big Y results

I only knew about this because of an email that began..

Dear Big Y Customers,

We are still recalculating your Big Y results. We apologize for the delay and appreciate your patience during this exciting update to Big Y.

We anticipate this taking approximately 7 more days. During this time, you will continue to see “Results Pending” in the Big Y section. You will be notified by email once your results are processed and ready.

Below is a refresh on the changes we are implementing. We can’t wait for you to experience the new Big Y!

I will note that I got this email 10 days ago, so once again, Family Tree DNA has underestimated the effort required, in terma of how long this will take.

There is extensive discussion of the issue on Anthrogenica. Overall, I think the best approach is to be patient. People have noted the recalculation has changed terminal SNPs in certain cases. The standard for having a unique DNS change has also been adjusted. Again, dirty details are discussed in depth in the Anthrogenica thread.

Jesse Horne 1854-1934

Among my matches at 67 markers is a Mr Horne (removing his first name for privacy, as I’ve sent him email but haven’t heard from him as of yet), whose terminal relative is Jesse Horne 1854-1934. I didn’t pay much attention to this match, in part because it was a lesser match at 37 markers, with a diff of 3 at 37. At 67 markers, though, the diff is 4 and the match is thus closer.  So, I sent the man an email and then looked up what I could on Ancestry.

Jesse Horne 1854-1934 is matched to a man in the 1880 census in Shelby County, Tennessee. He is married at this time. In 1900 he is in the same county and state and now has several children. Unlike the previous census, they note that he can read and write and he says he was born in Kentucky. He claims his mother and father were born in Kentucky as well.

The same Ancestry source has a 1850 US Census entry for a possible father. This ‘Jessee Hornes’ is living in Perry County, TN, but a closer read of the census data shows that this Jessee Hornes claims to have been born in TN, about 1820.

In 1820 there are a fair number of Myers in Tennessee. By 1840 most of them are gone, to Missouri for the most part. But I can’t eliminate the possibility that a Cove Creek Myers (or close relative) fathered this Jessee Hornes, or alternatively, was the parent of Jessee Hornes’s father. In fact the few times I’ve looked at a TIP calculation of these possibilities, those odds were substantial.

And if the father is actually born in Kentucky, I’ll note, as just one example, that David Crockett’s autobiography speak of various traveling Myers selling wares out of Greene County, Tennessee.

To note, this match may be a product of luck. If I had any advice for a male Horne who is a direct descendant of Jesse 1854-1934, it would be to get an accurate YDNA haplotype. A P312 test at YSEQ is pretty cheap. Z39300+ tests don’t exist in isolation, and someone would have to decide if the $600 or so for a BIGY would be worth it. And if the Horne males are P312+, they can join the P312 project at ftDNA, and then let the experts there guide the search. I will note that my line of Myers YDNA is rare. If we are matched, it will stick out like a sore thumb on the BIGY test.

Update: While I didn’t initially realize it, ‘Horn’ can be a German name. Horn and variants of Horn (Hornung, Hornberger, etc) can be parsed from Pennsylvania German Pioneers. My first try picked up about 92 males with ‘Horn’ or some variant thereof. So one possibility, which I hadn’t initially considered, is that a common ancestor, if he exists, would be found on the other side of the Atlantic. A German Horn would come to the states in the 18th century, and migrate to Kentucky in the late 18th, early 19th century.

Y111 results. The meaning of laborer in the 1772 tax rolls.

Both Rayedene Graves, who manages Artie Myers DNA samples, and I extended our YDNA STR markers to 111 markers, and the results are that we match each other to 107/111 markers. We both match to Ross in 107/111 markers. The ftDNA TIP calculator can get us some indication of how close we are. To make things simple, I’ll note that the odds for being William Myers Sr’s son or grandson is somewhere between 44 and 52% and the odds of being his first cousin once removed, or closer, is between 74 and 79%. This is closer than the 50% per first 4 possible matches we were assuming before. If I recall right, the odds that John Myers b 1742 is Charles Sr’s father is about 30%, that being his father’s brother or closer is 60%, and that being the father’s first cousin or thereabouts is also in the 70s. This is a fairly closely knit group.

At this point, I suspect that both John Myers b 1742 and William Sr come from Germany, perhaps on the same boat and as part of the same group. Again, they could have come separately, but both would have been minors during the peak of German immigration and likely bound (indentured) after arrival, to pay for the trip.

The book “Beyond Philadelphia” has a section on the Lehigh Valley, which discusses the 1772 tax rolls in Northampton. They note that the occupation lab’r is most likely a farm hand. This now leads to the question of who in Tennessee (or perhaps Philadelphia, if Charles was the son of a cousin that stayed behind) trained Charles in smithing. I notice a number of apprenticeships were starting at the ages of 9 and 11 in those days, so looking in the Greene County minutes during the time span 1798-1800 would not hurt.

Charles Myers 1789-1857. Is his mother a Girdner?

My original source for the Conrad Girdner obit was an email from Rayedene Graves. Later I found a link on Ancestry and there is also this little bit of info from RootsWeb. The story goes as follows (emphasis mine):

OBITUARY of Conrad Girdner
Died, at his residence in the 9th district of Greene County, Tennessee, of old age and a consuming sore, on the 12th day of May, 1882, Conrad Girdner, aged 95 years, 2 months and 22 days.
The subject of this sketch was born in Hedrick Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania, on the 20th day of February, 1787. He was of German extract. His father’s name was Michael. He was born in Northampton County. His father married Huldah Beach, and they had nine children, whose names were: David, Conrad, Joseph, Christena, Michael, Charlotte, Geroge, Mary and Naney.

The writer was at Mr. Girdner’s residence the very last days that his memory was anywise good and was able to snatch from the mind of one who, only a few weeks before possessed a most retentive memory of past events which had come to his knowledge the past ninety years and I will give what follows in quotations in his own words:
“I was five years old when my parents, with the oldest and two younger than I, left Pennsylvania for the wilds of Tennessee with two horses and a wagon. They were accompanied by two brothers-in-laws one named Myers and the other Cook, and their families.
“I walked all the way from our old home to Flag Branch, in Greene County, where my father settled on one hundred acres of land. He afterwards added to it by purchase. The distance we traveled was seven hundred miles, and I now well remember every step of the journey. We left in February, 1792, and were fully seven weeks on the way. —
When we arrived there was just a little cabin on the purchase, which property is now owned and occupied by the widow Perman. When we came the Indians were still in possession of portions of East Tennessee, and continued to annoy the white settlers til 1805, when a treaty impelled them to go elsewhere, and leave the white men in full possession of this portion of our wide domain.
“During one of the Indian wars Charles O’Neal, an Irishmen, taught school in our neighborhood, and I attended three months. He said he had taught thirteen hundred different schollars and that I was one of the very quickest to learn. But our facilities for schooling were very limited. I learned to read, write some and could cast accounts sufficently for my purpose through life. The elder children had to get up before daylight and break flax and perform other labor before school, in order to enable my mother to spin and weave cloth with which to clothe us.
I lived with my father til 1807, when I married Elizabeth George, daughter of Yost George, who came from Germany when he wwas but four years of age. I was twenty years old when I married. A portion of father’s land was set off to me and I settled down for life. My wife and I had eleven children-six daughters and five sons-viz: William, Catherine, John, Delilah, Luther, Eliza, Mary Jane, Stephen, Alexander, Nancy and Sally.
“Years after my father came out grandfather, David Girdner came to Greene County {c1798) with a span of horses and a wagon. Grandmother drove the team and grandfather sat by her side. He died on the estate I now occupy, on Richland Creek.
“I was engaged in the war of 1812 under Gen. Andrew Jackson. And so was my father, though he was a man well stricken in years. He died in 1814, aged sixty years. After his death my mother married Lewis Ball.”
During the recital of the above his mind several times wandered, and I had to give him rest. The next day he was incompetent to tell anything, and rapidly grew worse, til soon his mind gave way entirely.
I had intended to have drawn out of him and rescued from oblivion many facts in his knowledge which have gone out with his mind.
Mr. Girdner came to town for the last time in September last to prepare his pension papers. His mind was vigorous til about February, when it began to weaken, as well as his body. On his 95th birthday, February 20th, he gave a dinner party, which was attended by his son, Dr. William Girdner, his wife and some others. he had been very feelbe previous to that occasion, but seemed quite cheerful and much better on that day. He commenced growing worse till at last the once brilliant mind flickered out and he was totally ignorant of everything going on around him.

About fifteen years ago he was afflicted with a cancerous sore on his nose between his eyes, which he was admonished was dangerous unless he would submit to an operation, but he would not, and the sore continued to eat into his flesh till it consumed his nose and caused blindness, and ultimately spread through his whole system, till death came to his relief at the time above stated.
J.S. WARNER – WRITER
THE GREENEVILLE HERALD – MAY 1882 – PUBLISHED IN GREENEVILLE, TENNESSEE.

So, just for yucks I got onto Ancestry and looked for matches to folks who had the name ‘Girdner’ in their family trees. I had six matches. Of these, three were related to David Girdner and three to women in eastern TN, in places like Moore County, that easily could have descended from these folks.

These results need to be confirmed. They are not close but distant matches, and only one rated as ‘Good’ by Ancestry. Understand, we’re getting to the point DNA information gets lost, and just by matching, I can’t eliminate an accidental match. I can’t even check to see if the match is paternal, by myself.

On the other hand, my autosomal data does not preclude the possibility that Charles Myers’s father is the Myers spoken about in the Girdner obit, and his mother is an unknown Girdner female.

Update: A really good Girdner link.

Charles Myers 1789-1857. The “Out of Northampton” hypothesis.

This is the idea that Charles Myers (1789-1857) is born in Northampton County Pa to someone related to Captain William Myers (1735-1823), and that he comes down to Greene County TN along with the rapid migration of Myers into the region. It does not require that William Sr fathers Charles, though in some ways that makes the idea the easiest to assume.  One of the reasons this blog has been pursuing narrowing the gap between PA and TN is that it makes it easier to understand where Charles may be, and at what time.

Tax roll data from the Easton PA genealogical library places the time that William Sr leaves to between 1792 and 1794. Oral testimony by John Myers’s widow places their time of departure to 1790. The internet story ‘Conrad Girdner obit‘, places the time of departure of a Myers married to a Girdner to 1792. Barnabas Myers is born in TN in 1795. Elizabeth Kocher, William’s grand daughter, marries in 1795 in Greene Co TN.

This hypothesis makes some things easier. The appearance of Charles Myers in TN is no longer an unexplained mystery. His family takes him into TN. Other elements of the story become harder to research.  Oral testimony by George Myers makes it clear that the Myers didn’t have church weddings performed.  Now church studies by the Easton library are ongoing but nothing has been returned yet. People don’t even know the name of Cap William Myers’s spouse before his marriage to Nancy Carter in 1800.  And children, for the most part, don’t exist in records so long as they are cared for. Only if they inherit property do they end up in court records, as courts assign guardians to them.

Let me point out that this whole idea is not new, that Wayne Myers was talking about this at least 15 years ago.  The new element is DNA evidence that Charles Myers Sr is related to George Myers and William Sr.

So, where to look? I would suggest looking at Greene Co court records in the 1803-1805 time frame, to see if Charles Myers formally requests apprenticeship. I think the end of Charles’s stay in Green Co needs to be documented. The first time I can locate Charles Sr in Giles County is the 1820 federal census. The second part of his journey needs to be better elucidated.

DNA rarity and Myers YDNA

This was a concept I wasn’t entirely familiar with, the idea that someone’s STR data set could be so rare that you don’t match anybody. This was striking enough I started looking for ways to measure rarity, and found this link.  On this site, they have a spreadsheet you can download, and I fed my Dad’s Y67 values into this sheet. Results were interesting enough, to say the least.

wheaton_average

One of the rarity measures is called a Wheaton Average, and I calculated this for my Dad’s YDNA. At 12 markers it was 28.7, at 25 it was 22.7. At 37 it was 16.4, and at 67 it was 11.1. Looking at the chart, in order that would mean, Rare, Rare, Uncommon, Average.

This is the deal. Rare at 12 means rare, period. Same with 25. And if someone can’t begin to match you at Y25, it’s not as if the match gets any better at 67.

This article by Roberta Estes (back in 2012, so with a much smaller pool of tested folks) is illuminating. She says,

The average person has about eight hundred 12 marker matches, just under 200 25 marker matches, fourteen 37, thirteen 67 and not quite one 111 marker match. There still aren’t a lot of folks who have tested at the 111 marker level. The good news is that if you have a 111 marker match, it’s generally a very solid genealogical match.  Most people use the 111 marker test to resolve 67 marker matches or to find line marker mutations within a family to identify specific ancestral lines.

To make the point, my Dad and I have 9 matches at Y25.

Yfull results and YDNA calculations at the 50% level.

Yfull emailed me and my results are in.  Yfull calls me R-PH2278, which is their labeling of Z39300. This is a slow outfit, and there will be more results in coming months. I’m especially looking forward to these guys digging out the STRs they can fetch from the BIGY data.

yfull_summary_panel

I also spent just a bit of time looking at the 50% limits of a Y37 test. Artie and I are a 36 of 37 match, and his terminus is Cap William Myers, through George. 36/37 at the 50% confidence average 4 generation apart. Folks who test like us are about equally as close or closer than 4 gens, and 50% past that point. Now, the point to remember in this kind of calculation, is that George Myers could be Charles’s father in this deduction. We cannot exclude him as a potential father. George is 23 years old when Charles is born, and if we assume a Northampton PA birth, then yes, George fathering Charles is possible.

So, the 4 gens are: George, William, William’s dad, William’s granddad. At the 50% mark, Charles Sr is, compared to William Sr, his grandchild, his child, his nephew, or his first cousin, once removed.

At this point, there is still plenty of regular genealogy and genetic genealogy to do.

The book “Trade in Strangers” and other genealogical notes.

I have read this book through the first half, the part talking about German immigration. The latter half is about Irish immigration.

tradeinstrangers

From the book: about 110 thousand Germans come into the US in the 18th century and over 80 thousand of those come from Germany into the Delaware Valley. Of these, half arrive in the five year span from 1749 to 1753. Afterwards, the French and Indian Wars cut off the immigration path for a time, and German immigration never again reaches the peak during the 18th century.

Almost all the Germans were from the Rhine. It was a war torn region and the region was shot through with small feudal entities. The typical German had a bond to the land, and had to pay his feudal lord to leave. It is relatively simple for these folks to get to the sea, as they could take barge traffic down to Rotterdam. By the mid 18th century, specialists were in place that ship these folks (referred to as “freight”) as it helped pay for the westbound traffic (eastbound ship traffic was much more lucrative).

Only a tiny fraction of the Rhenish head to America, perhaps 10% of the total emigration out of the Rhineland states. The three largest states contributing to the exodus were Hesse in the North (where Hessians come from), Palatine in the middle, and Würrtemberg in the south. DNA evidence suggests a more southern connection.

Also suggestive are the location of the Myers in PA and TN. They’re both in the vicinity of water and next to mountains, and at least in PA, not in the flattest of lands either. Consequently, I ask myself if our German roots don’t come from people near mountains as well.

The Northampton county history I’ve been reading notes that in the early 1770s, between 80 and 85% of the population of Northampton county was Pennsylvania Dutch.

I have received an email from Easton. They have my check and their research on William Myers Sr will take between four to eight weeks. In about three weeks I’ll head to Greene Co TN, to their genealogical library, to do some research on my own. I’ve also asked Yfull to analyze my Big Y data, and for the second time, they’ve pushed out the date. For now, it’s the middle of August.

Big Y tested. R-BY15581. Z38300+

I had decided that if my work gave me a bonus, I’d have the BIG Y done. It was frustrating not having a known terminal SNP, and I wasn’t sure what else I could do to get there. Just, BIG Y is expensive. In this case, I’d say it was worth it.

Turns out the TX Myers Y-DNA is rare. We were the first family with a BIG-Y test that was Z39300 positive that claimed continental European origins. All others were from the Britain/Scotland/Ireland cluster. So that means we’re pretty unique, and that we changed, in a small way, the Y-DNA tree. The data are here. And that small portion of the tree changed when our data were added.

We’re not the only family with this cluster. There are close STR matches on familytree that likely have it as well. Some are found in the Feichts of Pennsylvania, and perhaps other families as well.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that genetic genealogy is illegal in France and Germany, and so we’re not going to be given help from overseas. It’s going to require more grunt work on our side of the Atlantic.