Saturday, May 12, 2018

Comparing Living DNA Results to the Others

I received my Living DNA results yesterday. My impression so far matches the opinions of others who have tested with Living DNA. It really shines when it comes to British Isles ancestry. They have pointed to North West Scotland as the source of much of my British Isles ancestry, and that would most likely be correct. The 14% Scottish they estimate is about right. They also found some Cornish admixture, which one of the admix calculators at GEDmatch also came up with. They also came up with trace amounts of admix from other regions of England. I was curious about whether they would come up with any English admixture. I've visited England a couple of times and wondered if I had any ancestors from there. I'm hoping they are right that I do have some English ethnicity.

One of my Great-Great Grandfather's was French Canadian. Living DNA gave me 5% French, which is about right. 23andMe combines French and German, and the other companies don't give me any French estimates, so I can't compare this estimate with any others. 

My Great-Great Grandmother Mary E. Owens is thought to have some Welsh ancestry. The surname Owens is associated with Wales. Living DNA gives me one result for South Wales and one for South Border Wales. The other companies haven't separated out Wales from other results.

I'm skeptical of the 2% Pashtun result and the Mordovian? I don't know, but I haven't found anyone from those areas on my tree so far. None of the other companies have that estimate for me. 

Living DNA points to Northern Ireland as the source of my Irish. I do have some Northern Irish roots. My Irish Great-Grandmother was from Galway Ireland, however. Living DNA didn't show the Irish Republic as a sub-region. 

Living DNA was right in line with the other companies as far as my Native American estimate at 5%. They also estimated around 1.5% West African, which is right on tract with the other companies.

Below I compare my Living DNA results with other companies.

British Isles/ Ireland

My maternal grandfather Charles Forgey was substantially Scots-Irish. He would represent a quarter of my ancestry. On my father's side I have just a trace of British Isles ancestry. One of my great-grandmother's was Irish from Galway, which would amount to the highest British/Irish on my father's side . I would say my British Isles/ Irish should be no more than half of my ancestry, considering one of my grandmother's was Nicaraguan, and another grandfather was Eastern European from Austria. The 68% Living DNA wouldn't be correct.

Living DNA

Living DNA


AncestryDNA 60% total for Irish Great Britain


23andMe 44%





Eastern Europe

My grandfather Rudolph Kapple/Kappel was born in Austria. I've traced his family in Eastern Europe back around 300 years. The Living DNA estimate of 4.8%  Eastern European would be too low. If they had also estimated some German ethnicity, in edition to that estimate, Living DNA's Eastern European would be more accurate.

Living DNA






Iberian/Southern European

My grandmother Graciela Del Castillo was born in the Central American country of Nicaragua. Her ancestors had Spanish surnames such as Del Castillo, Garcia, Granizo, Alvarado, and Lacayo etc. Since I received around a quarter of my DNA from her I would have expected around 15% to 20% Iberian admixture, considering there is Native American and African admixture which would need to be taken into account too. 

Living DNA




Familytree DNA

No Iberian


The Living DNA British Isles estimate is over estimated at 68%. It would definitely be under 50%, maybe around 40%. I know for certain my Nicaraguan grandmother didn't have British Isles ancestry, nor my Austrian grandfather. That would eliminate around 50% from British Isles consideration. Most companies are overestimating British Isles ancestry and underestimating less common admixtures. 23andMe is the best with the 44% British Isles/ Irish estimate.

All of the companies have difficulty detecting Iberian and Eastern European. Again 23andMe is best. Some of my Eastern European ancestors were German. Combining 23andMe's French and German estimates with Eastern European would represent my Austrian grandfather's heritage percentage wise. The Iberian estimate at 23andMe would be more in line with my Nicaraguan grandmother's heritage.

Hopefully with more people testing from more places the Living DNA ethnicity results will become more accurate.

I'm looking forward to getting matches with Living DNA once they begin introducing matching sometime this year. As I understand it they will have a chromosome browser, which will help me collect more segments for my segment map.

You can upload your raw data from other companies to Living DNA for free and receive matches once this service is introduced. Living DNA's "One Family One World" project sounds like a great project to contribute your raw data to. 

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A Final Resolution to a 20 Year Old Brickwall/ Or Not?

Church records for Styria, Austria are now online. I never expected to see these records online. I am now able to verify my Bierbauer/Wagner lines.

My family migrated to American from the village of Inzenhof which is in Burgenland Austria. They lived on the border between Austria and Hungary. Their church is now in Hungary, but their village is now in Austria. I was able to trace all the branches of my Kappel/Koppel family back to the late 1700's using the Felsoronok, Hungary church records, except the Bierbauer and Wagner families. My ancestor Maria Bierbauer was born  in 1850, and was said to have been born elsewhere according to her marriage record. Her parents were said to be Joseph Bierbauer and Juliana Wagner.

With this information I set out to find where Maria Bierbauer was born? I thought the record said she was born in Heidenbergen. I wasn't sure what the writing underneath said? At first I thought that was the name of the church. Thinking this village was in Burgenland I checked the names of all the villages at the Burgenland Bunch  genealogy website. I didn't find an exact match, but a Hackerburg sounded like a possibility. After looking at the church film for that village, and not finding any Bierbauer/Wagners I gave up. After gaining more experience reading difficult writing a couple years later I determined the writing underneath the village said Styria, a different province in Austria. Styria neighbors the province of Burgenland. The word next to it may say Austria? 

Now that I knew Heidenburgen was likely in Styria I looked at an Austrian Gazetteer, a place finding aid I learned about from my Irish research. The closest village name I could find was Heiderberg. I found this name in the footnotes on one of the pages. I found the parish for that area, but their records weren't online. I decided to write the Catholic archives in Graz, Styria, Austria. I decided to just ask for the marriage record for her parents Joseph Bierbauer and Maria Wagner. I received an email transcription of their marriage record. They were married 3 Feb 1850 in Ilz, Styria, Austria. Their daughter was said to have been born about 1850 according to her age on the marriage record. I didn't mention Heiderberg when I requested the marriage record, I just named the Parish as Ilz. I was excited to see what the transcription of the marriage record said. 

24-year-old Juliana Wagner, marital daughter of Josef Wagner, (Bergler u Webermeister z u Klim, parish Sinabelkirchen) and the Barbara geb. Schober (deceased), lives in Heiderberg, community Hochenegg 49.

This seemed to be confirmation that I had the right place, and right couple, because Juliana was from Heiderberg. I wanted a copy of the actual record plus more documentation. I was told that anymore research would cost 50 euros per hour. That was not affordable for me at that time. That was in 2003. A couple weeks ago I learned Sytrian Church record books were now online. I immediately began researching these books even though it was late at night, and I needed to get up early.

Dr. Norbert Allmer's 2003 marriage transcript came in handy. I would never guess the name in the record I found was Bierbauer. The transcript was key to finding the record. I highlighted Josef Bierbauer's name below. The German script B looked like a C to me. The name also has the ending -in. This ending is typical of surnames in these records. 

Wagner and Heidenberg were difficult for me to read in the marriage record portion about Juliana. Actually everything in her entry was indecipherable, because of the unique German Script writing. I needed the transcript.    

I was now able to look for my ancestor Maria Bierbauer's birth record. Now knowing what Bierbauer written in script looked like it would be easier for me to find that record. I found a Maria Bierbauer born 1851 to a Joseph Bierbauer and Juliana, and what could be Wagner?, and what appeared to be Heiderberg?. I was excited until I saw the cross over her name. From my earlier research in Felsoronok records I knew this meant she had died. If she died much later in Inzenhof I would not expect a notation like this. Looking more closely it gave her date of death as 31 March 1862. She couldn't be my ancestor if this was correct.  

I checked the death record book to see if she really did die in 1862; if she did maybe there are some coincidences and these aren't my ancestors?  

Yes, after finding Maria's death record it confirmed she did die in 1862, at age 12, on the date written on her birth record. Catching on somewhat to the German script now the village didn't look like Heiderberg. 

Going back to her birth record I noticed there is a note stating she was made legitimate by the marriage of her parents in June of 1851. My Joseph Bierbauer and Juliana Wagner married in February of 1850. I was not seeing any Maria's born to this couple after their marriage so I checked before their marriage. I hit the correct Maria this time because a note stated that she was made legitimate by her parents February 1850 marriage, and this Maria was indeed born in Heiderberg. Her mother's surname was indeed Wagner. 

I wanted to make sure that there was another Joseph Bierbauer who married a Juliana in June 1851. I did find such a couple. Below is the marriage record for Joseph Bierbauer who coincidentally also married a Juliana, and had a daughter Maria, all around the same time as my ancestors married and had a daughter Maria. 

My unfamiliarity with these different handwriting styles initially tripped me up misreading Maria Bierbauer's marriage record and her birth entry. If the other Maria hadn't died I would have recorded the information for the wrong person. That was a bit of a scare thinking I might have to start my search for Maria's family elsewhere again. 

Being a beginner reading German Script I will need to proceed more slowly and carefully. 

I'm now tracing these families farther back. I found Joseph Wagner's birth record. According to his birth record his father, also named Joseph, was a Leinweber or Linen weaver. According to Juliana Wagner's marriage record her father Joseph was a Webermeister, or master weaver. So weaving was a family trade. 

This is what I had for Maria Bierbauer's family before using the Austrian church records. 

This is what I have two weeks after reviewing records online:

I couldn't have added the additional surnames without the help of the Facebook group "German Genealogy Records Transcription."I can make out first names but many surnames are still Greek to me. 

I'm visiting Austria in a few weeks and I was planning on visiting the archives to do research. I was looking for the archives address when I found these records online. Now I realize I wouldn't have been able to read the records in the archives. The German script takes getting used to. Now I don't need to take time away from sightseeing. It will take me some time to continue to learn how to read German script so I can trace more lines back. I will be inching my way back. 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Courthouse Research

I live in Southern California far from where my ancestors lived. From around the early 1800's most of my American ancestors lived in the Midwest and Kentucky. My families didn't settle in California until the 1920's and 1940's. Their 20th Century departure from the Midwest mean all of the records I need in order to extend my family tree are far from where I live. Many are now online through FamilySearch, but many still haven't been scanned.

My first trip to the Midwest was only last year with my visit to Chicago. My second visit to the Midwest was last week, which was a visit to my grandfather Charles Lynn Forgey's birthplace in Jackson County, Indiana. His ancestors first settled in Indiana around 1814 to about 1830.

I have quite a bit of information on the Forgey family and collateral lines because many of his relatives lived in the area until recently, and we still have relatives in Indiana. I had wanted to see the area and visit family grave sites for years. I also have a very stubborn brickwall on my ancestor Sarah Campbell's, line she was born around 1812. I have not been able to link her to any family. I decided to go through court records to see if I could find any, heretofore, unidentified Campbells living in Jackson County. Last year I had found one Campbell, named James T., who could be a relative of hers, but haven't been able to prove a relationship.

Sarah's husband Anderson Wray had been in court over a case of trespass and battery in the 1830's. I thought if I could find the full case, instead of just the court order book reference, I might find a Campbell witness? Also I was interested in adding anything new about any of my families in Jackson County.

When I got to the courthouse I noticed a new judicial center being built behind the 19th Century courthouse. I walked passed it on my way inside where I made a beeline to the County Clerk's office to ask if there were any old court records from the 1830's onward. The Clerk said yes they did have records from that time period. We went down into the basement where boxes were stacked everywhere. We had to wind our way around them. The clerk told me these were boxes of files being sent for scanning after which the documents inside would be shredded. I asked if the scanned documents would be online for the public to use? She said probably not. I asked if the old documents would be scanned, she said it would cost too much to scan those, and the old documents would probably be disposed of at some point because the cost of storing them would be too expensive. That scared me and made my job of combing through the old records seem critical to accomplish asap.

The scanning project is an outgrowth of the building project I passed. The county clerk's office is moving over there when the building is completed sometime later this year, and there isn't room for all of these documents.

After walking through the box maze we found ourselves in front of these file drawers. At this point the clerk explains finding anything in the early court records is like finding a needle in a haystack, because the 30 or so metal file drawers, with the court records ranging from 1815 to about 1875, aren't in any order whatsoever. Most drawers are only labeled old circuit court records or old criminal court records. Some have date ranges. All of this is deceiving because even those labeled boxes contain mixed civil and criminal cases, and mixed years.

At this point the clerk said she would leave me to it. I then knew I would have to do my best to sort through around 30 drawers, document by document, to find anything. These old drawers were scattered among the numbered drawers, which were created after they adopted the system of numbering cases sometime in the 1870's. If the drawers were all in the same area the task would have been a little easier.

After starting I realized I needed to keep track of the boxes I already searched. Seeing the chalk on the boxes I thought that was a great idea, and was sorry I didn't bring  chalk. I didn't want to write with permanent ink on the labels, although it wouldn't have harmed anything. I decided to just use a torn piece of paper placed in the label frame.

 I was at first hesitant to remove the documents from the drawers while searching. I would just lift up a handful and go through them one by one. I then thought since they aren't in order I could just pull enough out to create space to flip through these tightly packed drawers more quickly.

Below you can see how tightly packed the drawers are. You can also see my snack bag which is another necessity when it comes to long hours at the courthouse. Lucky there is a restroom in the basement so I didn't have to waste much time for bathroom breaks. Lucky the restroom was close to wash my hands. I had been looking through documents for hours before I noticed my hands were black. I guess they turned black from the old ink?

I kept the trash can by the table to swish the broken off pieces of old brittle paper into, as you can see above.

Looking through the records I found some dating back to before Indiana was a state and marked Territory North of the Ohio River. I found a marriage bond from the 1820's, and cut out newspaper articles were attached to some documents like the one below. You will also notice the scratch on the table created by the sharp edge of the a metal drawer. The table was all scratched up.

I found a number of documents bound together with either string or ribbon. Bundles of documents with ribbon generally dated back to the 1850's and 1860's. Not sure if they were red and faded to pink? Took me a minute to figure out how to unwrap these document.

The ribbon became a way for me to quickly date the enclosed documents if a date wasn't visible. Another way to identify documents quickly was the color of the paper. Blue paper was used in the 1850's and 1860's.

Sadly I didn't find the rest of the Anderson Wray court case. Comparing the court order books cases from the 1830's to those in the file drawers many would seem to be missing. Either they were disposed of years ago or it's possible people walked off with some of them. With no one supervising the researchers so it would be easy to just walk out with them.

I did find ancestors in the records which was rewarding for me. I had known about a court case involving the probable brother of my ancestor Andrew Forgey. I have not been able to prove this man James A. Forgey is his brother, but I think the fact they migrated to the same place from the same place, and their close ages would suggest that. I found several court records for James A. Forgey. These records confirm he did indeed live in the same township, Carr, as his likely brother Andrew Forgey. He would later migrate to a different county. According to one record I found he was a constable for Carr township. He was sued by Jesse Hubbard for slander in the 1830's. His witness list doesn't included Andrew Forgey ? The list does include another ancestor of mine Anderson Wray and his uncle William Harrison. These men were neighbors of Andrew Forgey putting them all in the same area and strengthening the case that these two Forgeys were brothers. 

I guess I was meant to find that case because when I opened the first drawer James A. Forgey's  case file was sticking up. The case file didn't contain any additional information about the slander. It did contain the names of witnesses and receipts for payment of the witnesses.

Day 2 I arrived to find most of the maze of boxes gone. I also found a policeman in the basement, gun holster and all moving the remaining boxes. He was telling the clerk all this paper would make a great bonfire. No she said it had to be shredded. I was like holy mother of god I hope they don't move the old files for at least 3 more days. I then thought they are just taking these boxes to be scanned and I'm safe.

On that day I found a case I didn't know about for my ancestor Richard Browning. I knew this was the correct Richard Browning when I saw the list of witnesses. As you see below the documents were folded and the case information written on the back of the outer document. The early case descriptions often just contained the names of the plaintiff and defendant. Criminal cases were recorded as the State of Indiana vs defendant. By about 1850 much more information appeared on this cover document. The cover by then was a printed standardized document. It often contained the names of witnesses as in the Richard Browning case below.

The witnesses on the subpoena below are Richard's in-laws and neighbors in the tiny community of Salt Creek. Ira Cornett appear on the summons. Richard Browning was buried in Cornett Grove Cemetery. Witnesses names can be helpful when it come to identifying a persons friends and relations for further research.

Apparently Richard didn't pay young Mr. Thomas Hill, son and apprentice to his father William, for crafting clothing, such as pantaloons, vests, and shoes etc. in the years 1844 to 1846. He waited until 1850 to sue for some reason? He was asking for the astronomical sum of $90, which might be the equivalent of $2,000 today. Clothing must of have extremely expensive in the 1840's?

Some witness testimony is included for this case. John Brewer stated under oath that the boy's work was worth $3.00 a month. Thomas Shelton's testimony stated that "the boy's work was worth $5 a month." Alfred Brewer stated he "awferred the Boy fore dollar a month to work for him."  Richard's in-law William Winkler "swore that Browning wanted a receipt from Wm. Hill and Hill objected to it." Misses Winkler swore that "Wm Hill said that Thomas mite doe as he pleases with a suit that was pending before Squire Gobles for the same work."

List of clothing Thomas Hill made for Richard Browning

It appears Thomas Hill worked for Richard from the age 14 to the age 16 according to the 1850 Census.

When I visited the Cornett Grove Cemetery with my distant Forgey cousin, Nan, we noticed a tombstone with the name Hill on it. The beautiful design with the opening pearly gates caught our eye. I had forgotten already that Richard was sued by a Hill. The Hill monument near Richard's grave is likely for a members of the Thomas Hill family.

I found a few other cases for my families which I still need to go through. Apparently Richard Browning was sued again years later over the slaughter of a pig. I found several divorce cases, but none for my own family. There were a few murder cases. The notorious Reno family, this family gang was the first in history to rob a train, was well represented in the surviving court records. They were involved in robbery and gaming cases.

I researched in the Courthouse for a few hours everyday for 4 days. I didn't get a chance to look through some of the other books and files in the basement. The estray books could contain some helpful information. The probate files may also have information not scanned by FamilySearch?  There were notary books also, but I believe they are more recent? Sadly there is no inventory of all the old records in the basement.

I'm hoping moving all of those old records will be too much trouble? If they have to dispose of  them I hope they can first be scanned by maybe FamilySearch? And or go to the State Archives? The local genealogy and historical society doesn't have space for all of those records. I'm hoping they don't move these records this year, anyway, so I have another crack at them in the fall?