Monday, August 5, 2013

My first DNA triangulation!

I have finally triangulated a fragment of my genome through two DNA relatives!

I connected with the first match, Cathy, on AncestryDNA back in May. We quickly compared trees and immediately noticed the Moyer connection. She is a descendant of John Moyer, son of Johann Peter Moyer. John (or Johannes) was the brother of my own ancestor, Peter. This makes Cathy and I fifth cousins exactly.

Cathy was nice enough to also send me her raw DNA file, which I used to find our matching DNA. The biggest segment was on chromosome 7, positions 93M to 106M.

Then, just a few days ago, I got a new match on Family Tree DNA. My matchPatwas predicted to be at an incredibly close 2nd to 4th cousin level. I was very excited about this and immediately set about the chromosome analysis (FTDNA, unlike Ancestry, has a chromosome browser and displays matching segments). Lo and behold, this match was also on chromosome 7, with two big segments running from 93M to 131M totaling 30.8 cM. This segment wholly overlapped the one I shared with Cathy! Another Moyer link, then?

I contacted Pat to determine our connection. As a predicted 3rd cousin, I expected this to be easy, but nothing jumped out. In fact, both her tree and mine were so filled-in as to completely negate the possibility of a 3rd, or even 4th, cousin connection. So I looked further back.

I was immediately drawn to a Nathan Myer in her tree, born 14 September 1818 in Heidelberg Township, Lehigh, Pa. Pat gave me a quick rundown of what she knew of Nathan:
He came with his family to Wayne County, Ohio at the age of 14. When he was 17 his father died and he assumed responsibility for his mother and several younger children. He married Elizabeth Wright in Medina County, Ohio in 1841 and they lived there for almost 40 years before moving to Ashland County. His obituary says he was one of 9 children but much to the dismay of myself and several other Myers descendants there has never been any record of a name for either his parents or any of his siblings. Nothing!
Among the vast army of Moyers in my tree (all descended from Johann Peter), there are four named Nathan. My first thought was that Nathan Myer must be one of them. The closest (date-wise) was Johann Peter's own son Nathan, but he was born in 1819 and ultimately moved to Michigan. I had to expand my search.

I found my answer in an Excel spreadsheet I had made containing all the Helffrich Pastoral Records from that contained a variation of Moyer: Nathan Meier, born 14 September 1818 in Heidelberg to "Johan" and Magdalena Meier.

Woo! Found him! Wait...who the heck were Johan and Magdalena? I scoured more baptism records and found more of the pair's children, all in Heidelberg:

Name Parents Born Baptized Sponsors
Johannes Mayer, Johannes & Magdalena 28 Jun 1807 19 Jul 1807 Jacob Fritzinger & w Susanna
Daniel Mayer, Johannes & Magdalena 28 Jun 1807 19 Jul 1807 Jacob Muller & w Catharine
Nathan Meier, Johan & Magdalena 14 Sep 1818 22 Nov 1818 Jacob Fritzinger & Catharina Miller
Abigail Meier, Johan & Magdalena 18 Dec 1821 3 Feb 1822 Daniel & Margaretha Kern
Rachel Meier, Johannes & Magdalena 25 Mar 1825 22 May 1825 Heinrich & Eva German

To my eye, there is clearly a relation between this Johannes Meyer and my ancestor Johann Peter Moyer. The names of four of Johannes' children (Johannes, Nathan, Abigail, and Rachel) were shared by children of Johann Peter! But how, exactly, are these two men related?

One possibility is that Johannes is Johann Peter's brother. In my post on Johann Peter's father, William, I mentioned a baptism I found in the Weisenberg records: Johannes, 8 weeks old, baptized 9 October 1761; parents Wilhelm Meyer, Elisabeth, Lowhill; witnesses Johannes Meyer, Maria Elisabeth. As I mentioned in that post, I am not at all sure that this William is the same one that fathered Johann Peter. But let's hypothesize that it is, and that his son Johannes is Pat's ancestor. What would this mean?

First, the children listed in the baptisms above would have been born while Johannes was between the ages of 46 and 64. This seems a bit old, but Johann Peter fathered his youngest child when he was 60, so it's not unprecedented. Second, according to the facts relayed by Pat, Johannes would have moved his family to Ohio when he was 71, and died three years later at 74. Again, this seems a bit old to pack up and move so far away, but not impossible.

If this pans out, then Pat and I are 5th cousins, once removed. Here's the pretty graphic:

Another possibility is that Johannes is Johann Peter's nephew. Sticking another generation in there would bring Johannes' age down. Clearly more research is needed to determine which hypothesis is correct, if either.

The next step for Pat was to find these potential siblings of Nathan Myer, as listed in the baptism records above. She set about doing this and located a woman named Abigail (Myer) Etling in Wayne County, Ohio, whose birth date exactly matches Johannes' daughter's. One hurdle is that most Ancestry trees list her as being born in Washington County, Pa., instead of Lehigh, which is at the opposite end of the state. Conventional wisdom can be wrong, however.

To me, one unsolved mystery here is that FTDNA predicted Pat and I to be 2nd to 4th cousins. We share a total of 49 cM, with nearly 31 cM being in basically one big segment. In reality, though, we are actually further than 5th cousins. My question is: Is it possible for this massive chunk of DNA to be passed down, unbroken, through seven generations? It's more than one percent of my genome! If you are a geneticist, help me out here!

DNA triangulation is clearly going to be one of the most powerful tools in the genealogist's toolkit in the future. Pat now has a chance to break through a brick wall that has been plaguing her. And it is helping me to learn more about my ancestors' families as well.

Friday, August 2, 2013

William Meyer of Lowhill/Lynn, Lehigh County, Pa., late 1700s

William (or Wilhelm) Meyer was my 5th great-grandfather.  The bulk of what I know about him comes from Charles Roberts' History of Lehigh County Pennsylvania and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of its Families (p. 930):
Moyer (Meyer) Family
Among the early settlers of Lowhill township was Wilhelm Meyer, who lived in the southwest corner of that township and it appears some of his land extended into Lynn and Weisenberg townships. William P. Moyer, a prominent citizen of Allentown, Pennsylvania, has among his cherished heirlooms, a parchment deed, which was given on the sixteenth day of June, 1764, by John Penn, Esquire, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Pennsylvania, to his great-great-grandfather above named, for 53 acres of land situated on the east side of Weisenberg township, but this pioneer had already owned land before this time, as his name appears among the taxables of Lowhill in 1762.
On March 17, 1765, the records of the Ebenezer church at New Tripoli, Pa., mention the baptism of Johann Peter, son of Wilhelm and Barbara Elizabeth Meyer, born Dec. 19 1764.
Church Records
William's son Johann Peter was my 4th great-grandfather.  I have not located that baptism record myself.  However the baptism records of Weisenberg Church contain some intriguing entries:
  • Wilhelm Meyer, an adult, Lowhill, baptized 9 October 1761; parents Johannes Meyer, Maria Elisabeth; witnesses Andreas Riess, elder of Lutheran congregation & wife Barbara [Andreas Riess' wife was named Barbara, so this is likely his wife and not William's]
  • Johannes, 8 weeks old, baptized 9 October 1761; parents Wilhelm Meyer, Elisabeth, Lowhill; witnesses Johannes Meyer, Maria Elisabeth
  • Susanna, born 22 February 1765, baptized 14 April 1765; parents Wilhelm Meyer, Elisabeth; witness Dorothea Winck, Grandmother
  • Andreas, born 19 September 1767, baptized 18 October 1767; parents Wilhelm Meyer, Elisabeth; witnesses Andreas Meyer, Catharine Hartmann, single

What we might have here are the baptisms of William himself and several more of his children.  At first this seems unlikely since Susanna was born early in 1765 and, according to Roberts, Johann Peter was born in late 1764.  However Johann Peter's tombstone gives a date of 1763, so it's possible Roberts mis-read the dates.  I don't have a copy of the original record, so I don't know.

If this is William and family, then some interesting facts jump out:  William's parents were Johannes and Maria Elisabeth; William's wife's last name was Winck and her mother was Dorothea; and the witness Andreas Meyer could have been a brother of William.  Furthermore, son Johannes' birth date puts an upper limit on William's own, around 1741.

In addition, William and Elisabeth were sponsors for:
  • Elisabeth, 2 years old, baptized 9 October 1761; parents Christian Kneip, Agnes, Lowhill
  • Elisabeth, Lowhill, born 16 October 1765, baptized 3 November 1765; parents Andreas Sintell, Anna Maria

If we cast a slightly wider net, there are some records from the Jordan Reformed Parish in South Whitehall that might be pertinent:
  • Hannah, baptized 6 March 1791; parents John Koch, Magdalene Koch; sponsors William Meyer, Maria Hofman
  • John, baptized 5 October 1788; parents John Koch, Magdalene Koch; sponsors William Meyer, Elizabeth Meyer, sponsors are married

Tax Records
Here are all the mentions of William I could locate in tax records:

Year Town land horses cows Other Meyers Source
1762 Lynn None Roberts, p. 1463
1762 Lowhill None Roberts, p. 1464
1772 Lynn 80 Andrew, Engel, Peter Ancestry
1781 Lynn Andrew, Engel, Charles Ancestry
1781 Lynn Andrew, Engel, Carl Ancestry
1785 Lynn 260 3 2 Andreas, Daniel (single) Ancestry
1786 Lynn 260 2 4 Andrew, Daniel (single) Ancestry
1787 Lynn 160 2 4 Andrew, Daniel Ancestry
1789 Lynn 260 1 5 Andrew Ancestry
1789 Weisenberg 300 1 1 John Ancestry
1790 Lynn Andrew Ancestry

William does not show up in later tax lists (e.g. 1798, 1800).

Census Records
Census data for William is sparse.  A 1786 septennial census of Lynn Township lists William and Andrew Meyer.  The 1800 Federal Census for Lynn lists a William Meyer (1 male age 10-16, 1 male over age 45, 1 female over age 45).  That census also lists Andrew Meyer and Peter Meyer.  William is not enumerated in the 1800 septennial Lynn census, but Andrew and Peter are.  It's possible that this is because he died that year, but that's just a hypothesis.  Certainly it seems that 1800 is the last time William shows up in any documentation of any kind.

The will of John Hartman (1777) "mentions William MEYER's place in Lowhill and Heidelberg Twns."  According to the Strieby Genealogy and History site, "Conrad Riedy and William Meyer were two of the acting administrators of the Michael Strieby [of Lynn Twp.] estate, the final settlement being exhibited Sept. 13, 1791."

Land Records
I found a land deed on Ancestry reading, "November 28th 1766 William Meyer 100 acres adjoyning the Proprietor's mannor, Mark Wannemacker, Philip Westman, Jacob Beel, and Mathias Schutz in Lynn Township Northampton County, Including his Improvement."

Military Records
In 1777 Pennsylvania passed a law requiring "all white men between the ages of 18 and 53 capable of bearing arms to serve two months of militia duty on a rotating basis."  The 3rd (1777) and 6th (1780, 1783) Battalions of the Northampton County Militia were made up mostly of men from what is today western Lehigh County.

Thomas Lynch Montgomery's Muster Rolls, etc., 1743-1787, lists the name William Meyer quite a few times in the Northampton militia.  There are two distinct men.  The first is a captain and unlikely to be my ancestor.  The other is a private and a much more likely candidate.  The towns from which men were called are generally known, and the private William Meyer was drawn from Lynn.

Name Bn. Co. Town Rank Class Date Notes p.
William Mayer 3rd 1st Lynn private 4th 1778 muster roll 228
W'm Moyer 6th 1st Lynn private 4th 1780 Oct 26 muster roll 443
William Meyer 6th 5th1 Heidelberg private 1780 pay roll 459
William Meyer 6th 1st2 Lynn private 4th 1782 Jul 27 willing to march 499
William Meyer 6th 1st3 Lynn private 4th 1782 Jul 27 muster roll 501
Will'm Meyer 6th 1st Lynn private 4th 1782 muster roll 503
  1. William is mentioned as being on the "pay roll of Capt. Conrad Reders company on the frontiers ag't the Indians being the 6th Battalion of Northampton Co. Militia."  Captain Reader was in charge of the 5th Company, drawn from Heidelberg.  This is despite William being on the muster roll of the 1st Company under Captain Adam Stahler, out of Lynn, that same year.
  2. William is "willing" to march with "Capt. Staler Companiey" (Stahler being in charge of 1st Company).  The list also notes, "For Captain to march is Henry Greeklow. Lynn Township."
  3. William is on a list of those mustered in Captain Henry Kregloh's Company in the 4th class of the 6th Battalion.  Kregloh is certainly the same as Greeklow, above. A note under the list says, "Penn Township, 28th September 1782, then mustered the above Company."  Under the column "Substitutes" is listed William Krämer.
Because men older than 53 were not called upon to serve, this helps further bound William's date of birth, putting it no earlier than 1729.

Final Caution
I've pulled all these records together and talked about them as though they all refer to the same man. This is certainly possible.  But it is also possible that the lives of two or more William Meyers are reflected above.  It pays to be cognizant of others nearby who could be getting mixed up.

For starters, there was another William Meyer living in Penn Township, just north of Lynn.  He is in the septennial census in 1786 and 1800. and in the tax records for 17731779, and 1784.  He's also in the Federal census in 1790, but had apparently moved on by 1800.  I think it's possible that this might also be Captain William Meyer, previously mentioned, in charge of the 2nd Company of the 3rd/6th Battalions of the Northampton Militia, drawn from Penn Township.

And while it appears that, just before the turn of the 19th century, there was a single William Meyer living in Lynn, the case might have been different in the 1760s.  There could have been two—one who fathered my ancestor Johann Peter, and one who fathered Johannes, Susanna, and Andreas.  Certainly there is some evidence for that: different churches, possibly overlapping dates, and a wife named Elisabeth vs. Barbara Elisabeth.