Tag Archives: DNA

Johann Wiese and a DNA Connection

Johann Wiese of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany was sixty-five years old and a widower when he boarded the Borussia in Hamburg on 31 October 1868.1 He traveled with Caroline Wiese, twenty, as well as with a young man whom Caroline would marry within months of their arrival in America.2 All named Wendisch Baggendorf, a landed estate located near the town of Grimmen in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, as their place of origin.3

Interestingly, one day later, several other Wieses departed from Hamburg: Carl Wiese, twenty-three, with his wife, both also of Wendisch Baggendorf, and Joachim Wiese, twenty-seven, with his wife and child.4 They resided in Barkow, an estate located near modern-day Klevenow, which is only a few miles from Wendisch Baggendorf.5 Both Carl and Joachim and their families traveled aboard the Electric, which, like the Borussia, was bound for New York.6

“Kirche in Kirche Baggendorf,” 2009, Kirche Baggendorf (near Wendisch Baggendorf), Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Klugschnacker.

I might not have noted the connection between the Wieses who left Hamburg for New York one day apart if it were not for spotting several interesting member matches within the AncestryDNA results for my grandmother, the great-granddaughter of Joachim Wiese. Each of these matches named Caroline Wiese as a direct ancestor, which led me to the ship manifest that revealed that Caroline had traveled with a Johann Wiese of an appropriate age to be her father; appropriate, too, that a father would accompany his yet-unmarried daughter overseas.

Caroline, as stated, married shortly after her arrival in America; she and Gustav Beth were wed on 10 January 1869 in Dundee, Kane County, Illinois.7 Carl and Joachim Wiese, on the other hand, both settled in Chicago’s 15th Ward with their families.8 While Johann Wiese has not been located in the 1870 or 1880 censuses, and does not appear in the households of Caroline, Carl, or Joachim, it is possible he was simply not counted in the census if, for example, he was en route to the home of another child and was missed by the census enumerator, or if a neighbor provided information about the family to the census enumerator and failed to mention him.

Cook County, Illinois, death certificate no. 28339, John Wiese; Cook County Clerk, Chicago.

Ultimately, it appears Johann Wiese spent the final fifteen years of his life in Illinois, although thus far little is known about how he spent those years.9 Similarly, little is known about his life in Pomerania; records note only that he was a laborer, and as serfdom was abolished in the area in 1820, he was perhaps contracted to work on an estate in Wendisch Baggendorf or the vicinity.10

According to his death record, he died on 02 August 1883 at 144 Newton Street in Chicago at the age of eighty.11 His death was attributed to old age.12 Intriguingly, Carl Wiese resided at this address, further strengthening the potential of a connection beyond their shared Wendisch Baggendorf origins and their emigration one day apart.13 It seems logical to assume that Johann Wiese might have been cared for in his last days by his son.

Johann Wiese is buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery; today, while the location of his grave has been identified, it is unmarked.14

Copyright © 2017 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.
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Y-DNA and the Hall Family of the Colonial Carolinas

When confronted with a common surname and the patchy records of the post-colonial south, it’s all too easy to despair that a family line might never be conclusively traced. This is the scenario I’ve grappled with for years when faced with the vague details of the lives of my presumed fifth-great-grandfather, Isaac Hall, and his son, Elithan Hall. Both spent the later years of their lives in Washington County, Illinois, where Isaac died in 1852 and Elithan died in 1860.1 Their earlier years, however, were spent further south; Isaac was allegedly born in 1776 in Anson County, North Carolina,2 while Elithan was said to have been born in 1813 in Tennessee.3

As in the case of another elusive male ancestor, I knew that Y-DNA would be key in determining the origins of the Hall family. Family Tree DNA explains that as the Y chromosome “is passed almost unchanged from father to son,” it can be useful in determining the origins of a surname and can establish connections with cousins who share the same chromosome.4 I am descended from a daughter of Elithan Hall, so I turned to a direct male-line descendant of one of his sons, who, fortunately, was willing to submit his DNA sample per my request.

The Y-DNA results were more extensive than the results I’d received when pursuing the Hammond surname; clearly, a number of Halls are curious about their origins! In the Hall Families DNA Project, my cousin now has a number of matches who share the Y-DNA haplogroup E-M96 and trace their origins to the border region of colonial North Carolina and South Carolina. An e-mail exchange with several matches reinforced the idea that both DNA and the faint paper trail pointed to a connection.

Anson_County_North_Carolina

Anson County, North Carolina; Wikipedia, Public Domain. At the time of the birth of Isaac Hall in 1776, Anson County encompassed portions of several surrounding counties.

Although little is known about Isaac Hall’s early years in Anson County, North Carolina, I managed to uncover his affidavit for the Revolutionary War pension of one John Hall, who, like Isaac, also migrated from North Carolina to Illinois with a stopover in Tennessee. When called upon to provide an affidavit in 1847, Isaac, then seventy-one, recalled John’s return from the army “with his camp clothing on to wit a black ragged and greedy garment.”5 He also stated that he was present at John’s marriage, which took place around 1784.6 Both of these events occurred when Isaac was still a child, leading me to believe that the shared Hall surname between the men was no coincidence—surely they were related in some way, whether John was Isaac’s older brother, uncle, or perhaps a cousin. I was intrigued to see that a descendant of the same John Hall appeared as a match on Family Tree DNA, but at that point still wasn’t quite sure what to do with so much new information.

It was timely, then, when in February I learned that I was to be the recipient of a DNA analysis by Legacy Tree Genealogists, a prize generously provided for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy’s 2016 Tagline Contest. (I had shared that SLIG was “the perfect way to kick off the year on a genealogical high note,” and in more ways than one, it certainly was!) It took me no time at all to decide that the Hall family DNA would be ideal for the analysis, and the project was undertaken by genetic genealogist Paul Woodbury.

From the completed report, which I could hardly wait to receive, I was introduced to the concept of STRs, or “short tandem repeats,” a type of genetic mutation. According to the report, “Occasional mutations that are introduced in the Y-DNA help to distinguish different lineages, some of which are ethnically and geographically specific.”7 It was noted that my cousin’s DNA sample might share a mutation in particular with several other Hall DNA samples, suggesting a potential recent common ancestor who might be uncovered through recommended further, higher-level testing.8 In addition, by reviewing the lines of descent of other matches, Hall family roots in the Carolinas were confirmed along with suggested distant origins in the British Isles.9

The report also included a review of key matches and further suggestions to pursue the identity of the father of Isaac Hall.10 With so many new ideas and leads to follow, I look forward to learning more about how best to interpret and apply this wealth of information to the Hall family while attending the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree this week!

Copyright © 2016 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Search for Y-DNA for Hiram H. Hammond

For years, about all I’ve known about the parents of Hiram H. Hammond has boiled down to the origins that were reported in four census records over a span of twenty-five years:

SOURCE FATHER MOTHER
1870 U.S. Federal Census1 Foreign Foreign
1880 U.S. Federal Census2 England Scotland
1885 Iowa State Census3 Native Native
1895 Iowa State Census4 Native Native

While Hiram, an Iowa farmer, was consistent in declaring that he was born circa 1813 in Ohio, he was apparently less certain about the origins of his parents. Or was he? Hiram may not have spoken for himself when the census enumerator came to the door; responses could have been given by his wife or another member of his household if he was not available. It’s also possible that some information might have been added by the enumerator after the fact, based on memory alone. Given that Hiram lived among many immigrants, his wife included, his parentage may have been presumed to be foreign as well.

In any case, this lack of consistency leaves me with questions today. Who am I looking for? Were Hiram’s father and mother born in England and Scotland, respectively? Or were they native-born with English and Scottish ancestral origins? If that’s the case, it would not be the first time that one of my ancestors took the question of nationality a little too far.

Now, however, I’m a bit closer to solving the mystery of Hiram’s parentage, thanks to a little something called Y-DNA. The Y chromosome, as explained by Family Tree DNA, “is passed almost unchanged from father to son,” so it can be useful in determining the origins of a surname and to make connections with cousins who share the same chromosome.5 In Hiram’s case, I hoped this would prove to be very useful.

Hiram is my fourth great grandfather; as I am descended from his daughter, thus immediately breaking the chain of father-to-son Y-DNA, I began tracing the descendants of his son with the hope of finding a living male relative who would be eligible to take a Y-DNA test. After reaching out to a distant Hammond-by-marriage in Iowa and an apparent game of hot potato with my letter of inquiry, I finally made contact with a Hammond-by-blood in Arkansas. Bingo! It was time to pull out the genetic guns, so to speak, and test this (wonderful! willing!) cousin’s Y-DNA.

There’s not much to be too excited about right now – as of yet, there are no matches on the 67-marker test – but there is always the chance that someone who shares Hiram’s Y-DNA will choose to test with Family Tree DNA in the future and in doing so establish a long-lost genetic connection. I’m prepared to monitor this account – and the Hammond DNA Project – for years, if that’s what it takes! A more pro-active approach, however, would be to find a living male descendant of another Hammond line that I suspect could be connected to Hiram.

“Old Log Cabin,” Jackson County, Iowa, 2010; digital image courtesy of user dadmw1, Panoramio, Google Maps. This cabin is situated approximately one mile south of the land purchased by Hiram H. Hammond in 1848.

My earliest records of Hiram H. Hammond come from his years in Jackson County, Iowa, where he acquired land in 1848. According to an 1852 Iowa census, Hiram was neighbor to an Andrew Hammond,6 and although Hiram moved away shortly thereafter,7 in 1854, Andrew remained in Jackson County with a new neighbor, Philow Hammond.8 I suspect that these Hammond men may have been sons of War of 1812 veteran Jonathan Hammond, who lived in Ohio, Hiram’s stated place of birth, during the appropriate period of time. Several of Jonathan’s other known sons include Orin Hammond, Reuben Hammond, and Lemuel Brooks Hammond, and intriguingly, a nephew also bears the somewhat distinctive name Hiram H. Hammond.9 However, more research is necessary to prove the relationships among the members of this particular Hammond family and to determine whether Hiram himself could feasibly be a relative.

If such a connection still seems plausible, or if another potential connection is found elsewhere on the paper trail, well, then it will be time to trace another line of male descendants for a willing Y-DNA test participant! 

Copyright © 2016 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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