Lichnerewicz family

Recently, I received the death certificates for Frank and Julie (Lichnerewicz) Winarski, my maternal great-great grandparents (Margaret Winarski Schoudel’s parents). They have kind of been a brick wall in that I have not been able to determine who each of their parents were until I received these death certificates. I really wish the clerks years ago who hand wrote death certificates had been more careful and printed instead of using cursive. There is a lot of illegible fancy flourish in the cursive writing and this is a common complaint among genealogists and not just me. I complain about this because, although I now have the names of four more ancestors, at least two of them are slightly illegible so that there could be five different variations of their names.

For example, Julie’s mother’s name appears to be Jula Subenhaas. But is it Subenhaas? Or could it be Siebenhaas? Or possibly Subenhar? Subenhaus? A person could go crazy trying to figure it out.

Frank’s death certificate is not much better. His last name is spelled differently three times on the certificate. The last name is Winarski, but look how sloppy this is –

Although I will say it doesn’t help my research when people change their names or the names become more Americanized along the way. I have seen a birth document from Berlin for one of his kids and he signed his name as Franz Weinarski.

Here’s another example, Julie’s father’s name. It appears that it starts with an S on the death certificate, even though his last name is actually Lichnerewicz. But it’s not always the clerk’s fault, it could be the fault of Frank who reported the information, who may have not known the correct spelling of the maiden name of his wife, although he really should have (snark snark snark).

But at least I have four more names and leads to see where I can go from here to get even further on these lines.

I have done searches on Ancestry or Family Search for all of them, and have had the best luck with the Lichnerewicz side, although that name was a little problematic because of various spellings. I found both Ignatz (it’s actually not Ignat) Lichnerewicz, her father, and Anna Isbrandt (with a t), her mother, and that led to the birth records of Julie’s brothers and sister. During the process, I thought I had found all of the siblings but then decided to look closer at her brother, Adam’s marriage certificate. I found some names of relatives on the second page who would have been witnesses (and did Adam’s wife spell her married name incorrectly? She added an “e”. Oy!!)

The most interesting thing I discovered is this marriage was performed in what is now Poland, which at the time of the marriage was under German control and known as Prussia. It took place in Radmannsdorf, which is now known as Trzebieluch, a village in the north-central part of Poland, and Ignatz and Anna are listed as residing in Ruda, a village in the southern part of Poland!!

It is really, really very difficult to find confirming documentation from Poland. First, records are usually labeled as being from Prussia, Germany, or even Galacia because Poland didn’t exist from1772 until 1918s; second, name variation problems; and third, many records were destroyed during WWII. I’m figuring this is where my Eastern Europe DNA is from. On 23andme, it states that my Eastern European DNA is most likely from the years 1750-1840, so Julia’s family probably had lived there for awhile. That definitely helps me now as to where to focus further research.

After all of this, I continued on with my searches and was finally able to use birth records to piece together Ignatz and Anna’s little family. They had six children: Agnes, born 1857; my family’s Julianna, born 1859; Joseph, born 1865; Stanislaus, born 1868; Adam, born 1870, who died young; and Adam, born 1873. All of the children were all born in Neudorf (Konighlich, Kr. Briesen), West Prussia, Germany, which is now known as Nowawies, in northern Poland.

This was a really enjoyable research project and what I most enjoy — being able to solve a brick wall, finding out where people have been, where they went, discovering new parts to the history of my family.

Thanks for reading!!

Ancient DNA Comparisons

Recently I was thinking that instead of jumping around back and forth from family to family, I may concentrate on one family line for two weeks and then work on another family line for the next two weeks, and so on and so on. It seems like I kind of started that already with my Dorwart research and then last week’s posts about genetic genealogy. I’m going to continue on today with another genetic genealogy post about comparing my DNA to ancient DNA.

Scientists have gathered ancient DNA from individual remains who lived thousands and thousands of years ago. I’ve mentioned Gedmatch before and how it focuses a lot on this deep ancestry. Since I downloaded my DNA’s raw data to Gedmatch, I can use its Archaic DNA Matches tool to compare my DNA with the ancient DNA that has been collected and sequenced on Gedmatch. I am so obsessed with this tool!

Using the tool, I put in a segment size of 1-2 cM, choosing this size increases the likelihood that a match has been passed down. The sum of the genetic length of DNA segments that a person shares with a match is reported as the total number of centimorgans (cMs) shared. There is no rule about how many segments a person should share with someone, and a person cannot come to a definitive conclusion about how s/he is related to someone based simply on the number of shared segments. What it then takes is research to confirm or verify that match. Matches also are not matches to direct ancestors. Generally, they are matches to a common ancestor, so it would be like cousins, hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of generations back. Another kind of segment is known as population match and means a person’s common ancestor came from a common population with the other person, back in time, but you just cannot find the common ancestor.

This may be difficult to see but I ran the tool and there are a few matching segments in orange. They are LBK Stuttgart, BR2 Hungary, Ust’-Ishim Siberia, and NE1 Hungary. From here on, I can use another tool to compare these to my own DNA.

Using the One-to-One comparison tool, I compared my DNA kit, dropping the values until I obtained a match of some sort. Generally when looking for matches in genetic genealogy, default matching thresholds are set high. But when looking for deep ancestral connections, the thresholds should be lowered.

Again, as a cautionary note, the matches don’t prove heritage and it’s possible there may be no verifiable matches. It’s also possible the matches on small segments could be from a common population in a certain area long ago, it’s an unknown but a possibility. For example, in a common population match, a match to let’s say, the Anzick child from 12,500 years ago that has Native American heritage doesn’t prove anything, except that a person matches Anzick. Anyway, it would take more research and work to confirm connections, if there are any. Still pretty neat though!

Remembering now that I am completely of European origin, let’s begin looking at the matches.

LBK Stuttgart, 7ky

This is DNA from an individual’s remains discovered in Stuttgart, Germany. This individual has been identified as a female, probably between 22-30 years old, who probably died about 7,500 years ago, and who was a member of a Neolithic farming community. The LBK culture has been identified as one of the first farming cultures in Europe.

Since a big part of my maternal ancestors are from Germany, I was extremely curious about this sample. It turns out I do have shared matches on a number of chromosomes with this individual as you can see in the above photo, six shared segments on multiple chromosomes with a total of 19.8 cM. It’s very possible that my German ancestors lived there a much longer time than I realize.

BR2 Hungary, 3.2ky

This is an ancient sample from remains from 1110-1270 BC from the Ludas-Varju-dulo site in Hungary. I have read that the Great Hungarian Plain was a crossroads of cultural transformations that shaped European history and that this may have been from a migration into Europe from the east. Anyway, a transect of human genomes was analyzed and sampled from bones from thirteen Hungarian Neolithic, Copper, Bronze and Iron Age burials.

There are 36 shared segments on multiple chromosomes with this sample, with a total of 139.4 cM.

Ust’-Isham Siberia, 45ky

This DNA is from a 45,000 modern human male from Siberia and probably belonged to the first wave of humans to migrate out of Africa and into Asia and Europe, before or at the time of the East-West Eurasian split. The individual carries a similar amount of Neanderthal ancestry as present-day Eurasians.

I share many segments with this individual, 20 shared segments on multiple chromosomes, with a total of 79.9 cM with the largest segment being 6.0 cM.

NE1 Hungary, 7.2ky

Like the Hungarian DNA above, this is a 5,000 transect of human genomes that was analyzed and sampled from bones from 13 Hungarian, Neolithic, Copper, Bronze and Iron Age burials.

I share multiple segments to this DNA sample. The largest segment is 6.8 cM, there are 31 shared segments, and the total is 127.0 cM.

Other interesting potential shared matches that came up are from remains from Sweden, Luxembourg and many small segments to remains from Russia.

In the end, this information won’t really help me build my family/genetic tree but helps to see how I may possibly share DNA segments with ancient inhabitants of the continent where my ancestors lived. Some say that we all will share DNA with all of these people, but it’s a fun tool to play with anyway!

Thanks for reading!

More Genetic Genealogy

Earlier this week, I posted about my Neanderthal DNA, today’s post is going to be about my maternal line DNA and haplogroup.

What is a haplogroup? Haplogroups relate to our deep ancestry, this is again looking at very ancient roots (i.e., Neanderthal DNA) from tens of thousands of years ago. Haplogroups show us where we fit into the genetic tree and groups us into ancient family clans, they are generally associated with particular geographic regions and can tell us about our ancestor’s migration routes out of Africa.

All living people share a common female ancestor who lived in Africa, oh about 200,000 years ago. Males have a paternal and a maternal haplogroup. Their paternal haplogroup is inherited along a direct paternal line, i.e., your father, your father’s father, and so on. The maternal haplogroup is inherited from your direct maternal line. Females only have a maternal haplogroup. I currently only know what my maternal haplogroup (or clan) is, classified as haplogroup H. Would love to know my paternal line if my father and brother would only get tested!

Haplogroup H is the most common all over Europe, probably about 40% of the population. It is believed to have originated in Southeast Asia. Scientifically, studies suggest that this group arrived in Europe from the near east area prior to the last glacial maximum, which was the most recent time during the last glacial period, and survived in southwest Europe before undergoing an expansion after the glacial period. It still remains unclear how it became the dominant haplogroup in Europe.

This map, courtesy of FamilyTreeDNA, shows what part of the world these groups are associated with. See where H is concentrated in the European area? This all makes sense compared to my paper genealogy research.

The reference to the origination in Asia makes sense as well when looking at my DNA. Although the DNA tests I have taken through 23andme or Ancestry do not show Asian DNA, when I submitted my raw data from 23andme to Gedmatch (which is an online website service that focuses more on a person’s deep ancestry), and used the admixture calculator, it came up that I have 2.50% South Asian DNA and 2.93% West Asian DNA.

I have read somewhere that supposedly the common ancestor of my haplogroup is a woman who lived in the Caucasus/SW Asia area between 33,000 and 26,000 years ago. I have also read that H is a daughter group to N, which branched off maybe 75,000 years ago, which is a daughter group to L, which goes back 200,000 years to Africa. If this is correct, it would make sense then why my admixture test also shows that I have a very very tiny bit of DNA from that area.

One book I have on my reading list is The Seven Daughters of Eve, by Brian Sykes. The book goes into detail about how researchers have identified seven ancestral matriarchal groups from which all Europeans are descended from.

What does all of this mean? It means basically that I am of European descent, like many other women of European descent. It’s not really that useful but I find it just fascinating!

Thanks for reading!

Me and my Neanderthal DNA

One of the interesting things that some DNA tests show is whether or not a person has Neanderthal DNA. I have about 2% of Neanderthal ancestry in my DNA, I don’t know from which side or both. It turns out about six billion people have about that much, and what it means is that as early humans migrated out of Africa oh a gazilion years ago, the genes recorded interbreeding events that took place at the early stages of that migration. So….early humans interacted and mated with Neanderthals who lived in Europe and parts of Asia. And my ancestry is completely of European origin. Interestingly the first Neanderthal skeleton that was found was in the Neander Valley near Dusseldorf, Germany (I am very German).

People of European, Asian and Australasian origin all have at least some Neanderthal DNA. It was thought African populations did not have the DNA but this was recently debunked as it was found for the first time that African populations do share some Neanderthal ancestry. Right now I’m reading a book “The Neanderthals Rediscovered”. It is a small but engrossing book and describes how the Neanderthals’ story is being transformed because of new fascinating scientific discoveries, including DNA.

Neanderthals have really gotten kind of a bad rap over the years. What scientists have been discovering is that while there are some differences in terms of skeletons, i.e., prominent brow ridges and protruding noses, etc., they may really not have been that different.

Some surprising facts about Neanderthals: they buried their dead and left grave markers; they were artists; they were extremely skilled hunters; they looked after sick and elderly family members; they had loud, high-pitched voices. However, one drawback is many modern day genetic illnesses likely came from them, one example being a gene that heightens the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

So the next time you tell someone they are acting like a Neanderthal, you might think twice about that. You may be be one of those six billion with Neanderthal DNA! 

Thanks for reading!

Family Recipe Friday: Corn and Tomato Chowder

I love this soup – I’ve made it so many times I don’t even need the recipe. This recipe was given to me by my father,  who used to make it, and came from his father. Thanks for laminating it Dad/Mom! I’m sure glad because it would have fallen apart by now, look how worn it is.

Here’s the recipe:

Corn & Tomato Chowder

Saute – 1/2 tsp. grated onion
             1 cup kernel corn
             1-1/2 Tbls. shortening

Add – 1 Tblsp. flour and cook for three minutes
          1 pint tomatoes
1 cup water
          1-1/2 tsp. sugar
          1/2 tsp. salt
          dash of pepper and paprika

Cover and cook on low heat for thirty minutes. Just before serving, stir in 1/8 tsp. of baking soda and 1/2 cup of milk. Do not boil after this has been added. Serve immediately. Serves four.


Thanks for reading!



Tragedy Tuesday

Sometimes I don’t like what I find in my research. Scandals are always interesting, until something so dreadful happens it feels like it is getting too sad and I question the reasons for my research and whether or not to continue. But families aren’t families without drama or tragedy and today’s is a doozy.

Since I’ve been researching my Dorwart line, I began research on the Nixdorf part. Sarah Nixdorf was married to George Dorwart and they lived in Lancaster, Pennslyvania (maternal fourth great-grandparents on the Conner side). Sarah was born to Henrich and Catherine (Maier) Nixdorf. Henrich and Catherine had five other children besides Sarah: Joseph, Henry, Elizabeth, Johannes (John), and Jacob. Since there wasn’t a lot of information on Henrich or Catherine, I began a different process of research, starting with one of her brothers and his family, that I had verified information on, and then moving outward through her siblings and their families and upward. Sadly, it seems like there was a lot of tragedy among many of Henrich and Catherine’s grandchildren. Not only did their granddaughter, Sara, die in that boiler explosion, but three other grandchildren landed in prison and one committed suicide.

It seems that Jacob’s son, Levi and William Nixdorf, were arrested for robbing the United States mail (I’ve lost track of the year). Apparently, they were employed as mail carriers and twenty-three letters were found hidden in their employer’s livery stable, and money was stolen from them. The two young mean were carted off to jail.

The next one is a read at your own risk if you have a strong stomach (no pun intended). Joseph’s son, Frederick, Nixdorf, was carted off to jail for five days because of public drunkenness. In my opinion, from reading this, he was not just an alcoholic, but obviously severely mentally ill, which is why he may have been an alcoholic actually. Anyone that can cue themselves open and pull out their intestines is very ill. His alcoholism was so severe before this, that his wife and children had to leave him because he could not take care of them. What I find so horribly sad is that the details of this would even be printed for the public to see, where one of his children may read it, or others, and who knows what they would hear and repeat what they read. It makes it even sadder to learn that one of his children also died by his own hand 20 years later. There was a lot going on on the Nixdorf side.

It’s a little illegible but maybe that’s a good thing.

Thanks for reading!!

Roseland 1849

It is interesting reading about what the founders of Roseland went through after arriving in America. It certainly makes me appreciate so much more the conveniences we have now, I cannot imagine the constant physical hard work. To say I am semi-lazy is true. Of course I do my share of  physical work – I clean, do laundry, work full-time (remotely now), but it is not that physical, and nowhere near what the past was like. One of the major conveniences I appreciate is owning a car. Sometimes I may grumble about the cost, but I am very grateful to have a car, and expressways, and clean roads, etc.

Here is a map of a portion of the pre-Roseland Calumet area around 1845, from the book “Down An Indian Trail” by Marie K. Rowlands. Ms. Rowlands actually published this as a series of 50 articles in the Calumet Index in 1949 for the Roseland Centennial. It’s such a fascinating account of what the founders went through.

You’ll see in that little square box near the bottom center where the original land purchase was made by the original founders in 1849.

It is mentioned in this book and also by Simon Dekker in his book what settlers went through to travel anywhere. There was a way if there was dry weather and a different way in wet weather, and there were stops along the way to let the horses rest, or get a cup of coffee. Simon Dekker elaborates in his book a little bit about a trip into town (Chicago):

When the farmers went to town with their produce they mostly went in clubs to take the monotony out of the long drive. There were taverns on the way where they could rest and feed their animals, either oxen or horses, and get a cup of coffee and eat some lunch themselves, for I was told a trip to town took almost twenty-four hours back and forth. The place where they generally stopped was called the five-mile house. Then there was one called the seven-mile house. There were two ten-mile houses. The one was German, the other American. Then there was another one called the eleven-mile house. But I don’t think this place ever meant much as a farmers hotel. To me it looked more like a boarding house.

On the map above, you can see as they would travel east where the eleven-mile house is located from the original settlement, and one of the ten-mile houses. I was looking for a photo on the internet for any of these houses and found a photo of it in the Down an Indian Trail Book —

The book says that this was called the William Smith Tavern and was made of log construction and was a regular stop for farmers and other traffic for generations. It was built about 1838 and moved at least twice, once for surveying of State Street sometime in the 1840s and then later in 1891 for the widening of State Street because of the Calumet Electric Street Railway construction. It was still standing at 9250 State Street until sometime in the 1960’s when it was demolished for the building of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

Thanks for reading!

Hans Herr

As I mentioned recently, I’ve been researching my Dorwart line (maternal side). I am working on verifying that I am connected to a man named Hans Herr, this guy here. So far my research is correct, plus I certainly have a lot of DNA matches with his line.

His birth name was Hans Prefiot and he was born in Zurich, Switzerland on September 17, 1639. He became a bishop in the Swiss Brethren (later known as the Mennonites), and was the very first Mennonite bishop to emigrate to America. Because of religious persecution in Switzerland, and then later when he moved to Germany, he and others bought 10,000 acres of land, and colonized a portion of the western frontier of Pennsylvania, which is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Eventually they told their families and others that they should come and join them.

He married and had a number of children. There is a question about who his wife really was, and I will be reading about that during my research. How I am connected is through John Dorwart, the son of Martin and Maria (Spitzfadden) Dorwart, my maternal fifth great grandparents. I am not directly related to him as John’s brother George is my connection. But John married into the Herr family. Here’s a schematic to make it easier:

I’ve also seen some Nixdorfs thrown in his family history, so it’s very possible there is a connection through that line of mine.

In 1719, Rev. Herr’s son, Christian, built a stone house that is now known as the Herr House. It is the oldest surviving house in Lancaster County. According to the Herr House Museum’s website, it is also the oldest original Mennonite meeting house still standing in the western hemisphere, as it was also used to serve as a place for worship services. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here’s one of the inside:

Rev. Herr died on October 11, 1725 in West Lampeter Township, Pennsylvania at the age of 86.

Thanks for reading!