Friday, July 26, 2013

Locating Our Families Old World Origins with DNA

I've been buried deep in Haplogroup research since my cousin's DNA results came in last Friday. Eupedia has been the best resource for finding maps and explanations of the origins of Haplogroups. I've also been looking for test results posted by distant cousins of some of my other lines using the Family Tree DNA surname projects. I found a number of surname groups for family surnames at Family Tree DNA. I had forgotten how to see the results at first. I then remembered you have to use the menu in the bar near the top of the page. I also Googled to find more family surname projects. I managed to find a few outside Family Tree DNA.
I was able to locate DNA Y results for several family lines including Melvin, Owens (which I already had), and Callahan. There were also groups for the Browning surname and Wray surname.
R1B and L21 Maps
All of the Haplos I located were for the most common Haplogroup R1b. My Callahan distant cousin had some deep clade results, meaning many SNPs were tested to narrow the families place of origin. His terminal SNP was L21. It's difficult to narrow R1b results without extensive SNP testing. If more SNPs are found then the area may be able to be narrowed further. It does look like this SNP L21 is highly concentrated in Ireland, and constitutes about 90% of  the male population in parts of Ireland. Some call it a Celtic clade?
We were lucky on our Forgey side because the I2 M284 L126 Haplo is far less common. I2 is found throughout Europe. The sub clade M284 is most common in the British Isles and probably originated there 3,000 years ago according the Eupedia. The terminal Haplo L126 is centered in Scotland and Ireland, and probably originated in Scotland according to some sources.
Depending on the rarity of a Haplogroup and related SNP's it is possible to narrow down an old world ancestral location.
Forgey Family Ancestral Haplos

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

DNA Testing Companies Database Sizes: How many people in their databases?

The Genographic project has a counter on their homepage 

I've have been curious about the total number of people who have tested with the major genealogy testing companies. It's difficult to find these numbers at most of the company sites. The numbers are important because they will affect the number of matches you'll get, and your predicted Haplogroup. Here are some of the numbers thrown out by the major testing companies:

  1. Family Tree DNA has sold 300,000 kits as of Saturday July 20, 2013
  2. As of May 2013 23 and Me sold about a 250,000 tests (their goal is 1 million by year's end)
  3. The National Genographic Project has 600,000 DNA samples as of June 2012
  4. DNA Tribes makes reference to comparing your results with 560,0000 people but doesn't say whether all these people purchased kits through their company?
  5. Haven't found any numbers for
After researching all of these DNA companies I've come to the conclusion that the The Genographic Project offers the best most accurate DNA testing, which tests Y, MT, and Autosomal DNA for $200. You get much more for less money testing here. You get your deep clade at no additional cost. Deep Clade testing helps narrow down your ancestral ethnicity. Since the Genographic Project is affiliated with Family Tree DNA you can transfer your results to Family Tree DNA for free. With the size of the database and their advanced testing the Genographic project is the most reliable test available. 
I wish all of the testing companies would provide the numbers of people who have taken each of the tests they offer, so we can get a better idea of the size of the comparison pool. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hurray! I confirmed I'm a member of a persecuted minority!

The passenger list for the SS Vaderland which sailed out of Antwerp to the Port of New York in 1909.
My Grandfather Rudolph is 10 months old and is returning with his mother Maria and siblings from a trip to their Grandfather Kurta's house.

For years some family members have been in denial over possible Jewish origins. I was told by my Grandmother Kapple not to worry, she looked it up and we weren't Jewish (but she also told me to get married and get rid of the "Jewish" surname). I guess there is good reason to worry about possible Jewish ancestry considering still present anti Semitism, and centuries of persecution. I really have wanted to know for certain whether our family had been Jewish at some point despite the burden of having connections to a persecuted minority. 
My Aunts with my Grandfather Rudoph Kapple
My first step in trying to find our Kapple family ethnic roots was taken after reading the book 

My Sixteen: 

A Self-Help Guide to Locating Your Sixteen Great-Great Grandparents, by Robert W. Marlin . After reading that I got a clear idea of how to proceed with my research. Using Naturalization records for my Great-Grandparents I found out the name of the village they came from. Searching the Internet I found the Burgenland Austria, Burgenland Bunch, genealogy website. My ancestors' village was in the groups area of specialization. Their website gave helpful tips on researching in that area.  They pointed me to microfilm available through the LDS Family History Library. I ordered Catholic Church records and Jewish Records. I didn't find my family in the Jewish records like I expected. They did appear in Catholic Church records for 100 years. This really puzzled me. Many of the names I found in the Catholic Church records for Ronok Parish, where my family attended church, contained surnames associated Ashkenazi Jews. I figured that my family likely converted to Catholicism, and many of my collateral  families likely did too. 
So I was stuck for a dozen without any proof regarding the true ethnic origin of my family. I got involved with a DNA project for my Forgey family a couple years ago at Family Tree DNA (by the way, congrats on selling their 300,000 test kit today!). I hesitated testing my Kapple side because I was afraid the results might be inconclusive. A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and asked my cousin Darryl Kapple to test and he happily agreed. We just got the results yesterday and it's obvious the family does have Jewish origins (at least tracing strait down the Kapple male line). My cousin tested as Haplo group J2 M178. This is a fairly common Haplo group among the Jewish population (although some non Jewish groups in the Mediterranean also carry it). This along with other clues would point to a 99.9% probability of Jewish ancestry.
An as yet unanswered question is whether the family was Ashkenazi or Sephardic? My cousin had one match of Portuguese origin, another of Spainish origin, another of Italian origin, and the fourth was Swedish. These were all perfect matches at 12 markers. I will need to upgrade to find out if they remain close with more markers.
So at this point the 12% middle eastern in my Autosomal results looks like it's Jewish. I'm waiting for MtDNA results which will hopefully come back next week.
All of this is a very appropriate way to mark what would have been my late father Robert Kapple's 80th birthday today, July 20, 2013.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hanging Out the Zirkle Dirty Laundry

Witness List Zirkle Case
The Zirkle Family Home
Like many families the Zirkles had their share of dirty laundry which was aired in court in early 19th Century Shenandoah Valley, Virginia. A full accounting of this court case can be found at Virginia Memory. It is comprised of 57 pages, which include 4 wills made by Lewis Zirkle, and the testimony of friends and neighbors. Some members of the Zirkle family came away better off than others in his last will. Changes in his wishes at the end of his life were construed by some as resulting from coercion by those living with him in his household.
My own ancestor Mary Eva Roller, Lewis Zirkle's daughter, seemed to make out better in his first wills. She would get less than 50% of the money she would have received in his first wills in his final will. You can see her declining fortunes here:

  1. Exhibit A. Will dated May 21, 1806 Will Mary Eva Zirkle/Roller received 130 pounds current money
  2. Exhibit B. Undated Will  the same Mary Eva receives 130 pounds current money
  3. Exhibit C. Will dated 1812 Mary Eva's fortunes are somewhat on the decline she now receives 110 pounds
  4. Exhibit D Will dated 10 July 1814 Mary Eva now receives only 24 pounds?

Many of her other siblings saw a similar decline in their inheritance. This spurred them to file the court case to  "break the will". Lewis and Daniel Zirkle were given the bulk of Lewis Zirkle Sr.'s property along with their mother. They lived with him before his death and may have exercised undue influence over him?
To "break the Will" the family would need to prove that Lewis Zirkle Sr. was incompetent to execute a will when the 1814 will was written. Both sides called witnesses supporting their side of the story (see image at the top of the page).
At the outset of the case the family didn't want to injure Lewis Zirkle's reputation (or their own)
so the original complaint stated he was incompetent due to illness. Later it came out that he often drank Whiskey and was sometimes drunk. Here is some of the testimony:

All of those testifying agreed that Lewis Zirkle was "fond of drink".  But they also agreed he stayed away from transacting  business when he was drinking. 

According to this Lewis Zirkle was in advanced old age when he died. He was debilitated in mind and body.
This man thought he witnessed a possible "fit" which would point to ill health.
This testimony seems to speak to the issue of bullying. Son Daniel refuses to help his father Lewis, and calls him a childish fool
This testimony states Lewis' wife Mary Magdalene also called her husband Childish and Stupid, but in a playful way
More testimony by a defense witness that the Mrs. Zirkle would tease her husband in a "romancing way".
Here is prosecution testimony demonstrating that Lewis Zirkle could be bullied by his wife. This person had to screen him from her.
According to this Mr. Zirkle was worried about his will being broken before his death.
This witness said he offered a donation of $50 to break the will because it was an "unjust will".
According to this testimony Mr. Zirkle was a kind father but his children did not altogether obey.
According to Mr. Zirkle's Reverend he seemed to be sensible right up to the time of his death
According to this testimony Mrs. Zirkle ruled over Mr. Zirkle.
According to this witness Mr. Zirkle would give in to his family to avoid trouble.

Some of the witnesses may have had conflicts of interest. At least one purchased land from Daniel Zirkle from the estate, and might have to return it if the will was broken. It's tough to know who to believe without Lewis Zirkle Sr.'s testimony?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Don't White Wash the Past

Somewhat to Lewis Zirkle's credit he did free one of his slaves, George, and gave him some land in one of his wills
I have found that relatives have wanted to distance some of our families from the institution of Slavery. I was quite surprised when I first found my Forgey family's name linked to Slavery. I found Forgey wills in Tennessee naming slaves as part of the family property. My family had been in the Midwest for so many generations that our family didn't have any memory of slave ownership in our family.
Here Lewis leaves a Mulatto boy to his wife
My cousin Nan Harvey found more family related documents at Virginia Memory for our Zirkle family. This Palatinate German family settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in the 18th Century. The documents Nan found relate to a court case to set aside the will of Lewis Zirkle (husband of Mary Magdalene Roush).  Lewis had made 4 wills during his lifetime. Several references to slaves can be found in these documents. Only 3 slaves are named but he seems to allude to even more? It's interesting that Roush family historians stated Johann Roush, Mary Magdalene's father, was anti slavery. I've found no written evidence that he was against slavery, and felt that this was wishful thinking on the Family Historian's part. The fact that his daughter was a slave owner makes me tend to think her family wasn't actually against slavery. I had thought myself that German Lutherans might steer away from owning slaves so I was surprised to find they did in fact own slaves. Slave ownership was much more widespread than many would like to believe. Even those who didn't own them would sometimes lease them.
Closing our eyes to slave ownership in our families is a shame. I think looking at this terrible episode in our family history can make us more sympathetic to plight of oppressed peoples, and should make us more humanitarian. I personally try to vote for those who support equal treatment for all.

Here Lewis leaves his slave Margaret to his wife

Alluding to Slaves not named

Monday, July 1, 2013

Old Search at Ancestry Better for Slow Internet Connections

One reason why I liked's old search is because you could get to a scrolling menu when you clicked the record catagory in the browse records side bar. Scrolling through the records is quicker than clicking through pages of lists. If you have a slow connection you don't have to wait for the pages to load. Sometimes I have a quick internet connection and sometimes it's slow ( very slow lol).
It's not that big a deal but it was nice! It's still easier than microfilm lol.

Scrolling Menu

With New Search you need to click View in Card Catalog, and you need to click through  a number of pages to see all records