Emmar’s Descendant Has Done A DNA Test and Thinking About What It Means

It’s only one test. While the submitter and I are both third great-grandsons of Clark and Mary (Dingman) Sargent, it’s important not to get too excited about a match. Finding one other relative can help with some DNA sorting, but there are limitations.

To begin with, even though we are 4th cousins, the amount of shared DNA (7.5 centimorgans) was at a level that AncestryDNA predicted that we were between 5th and 8th cousins.

I need to remind myself of a few things:

  • Not all descendants of Clark and Mary (Dingman) Sargent will necessarily be DNA matches for each other. This particularly true if they descend from different children of the couple. The Sargents married in the 1830s in Ontario and testees are likely five or more generations removed from them. That’s a lot of “passings” of DNA in the interim.
  • The three DNA submissions  already in AncestryDNA from the Sargents’ granddaughter, Ida (Sargent) Trautvetter [daughter of their son Ira] who all match each other may not all match with this descendant of the Sargents’ daughter Emmar.
  • Shared matches with this person may be connected to me through either Clark Sargent or his wife Mary Dingman. For some reason,the “relationship chart” autogenerated at AncestryDNA from our trees does not include Mary. We both descend from her as well.
  • Just because I share matches with this person does not mean that that match has to be related to me. In this case, given that Clark and Mary are the only ancestry I have that originated in New York and New England (and the other families are located significantly south of that area), there probably is a connection.

At this point I do not know if other descendants of Clark and Mary have done DNA testing at AncestryDNA.

Three descendants of Clark’s granddaughter Ida Trautvetter (including me) have tests at AncestryDNA. We all share DNA. This descendant of Clark and I have a shared match with one of those other descendants. The other descendant of Ida is not a shared match with this test. That’s not surprising.

Finding a new match I can figure out is great. I just always need to remind myself of what it means and what it does not.

Learn more about analyzing your results in one of our DNA webinars. 



Soundex and Sounds Alike Still Not Working At Ancestry.com–What Gives?

We can only speak for the 1860 census (I’ve not had time to search others), but it appears that the search at  Ancestry.com is still not working correctly. Frautvetter and Frautfetter are Soundex equivalent and certainly sound alike, but broad-based searches for Frautvetter and Frautfetter result in different hits as evidenced by the screen shots which were taken today. This was first noticed a few days ago when searching for these people in Kentucky–but apparently the sounds-based search options are not working correctly.



I should not have to conduct separate searches for these two last name when the “sounds like” and “Soundex” options are enabled. For those of us with names that get spelled a variety of ways this is a problem. I should not have to conduct separate searches to make certain I get the same results.

And it always makes me wonder what else is not working.


Finally Understanding an Administrator

Administrator’s Record, Volume B, page 70. Originally created by the Hancock County Circuit Clerk’s Office, this digital image was made from a digital image at Ancestry.com which had been created from the Family History Library’s microfilm copy of the record.

Sometimes it takes a while to figure things out.

For years I had known that Julius Biermann was the administrator of the 1860-1870 era estate settlement of Michael Trautvetter in Hancock County, Illinois. Michael died without any descendants and his intestate probate was key in understanding the sibling relationship between members of that family who settled in Hancock County, Illinois, in the 1850s. Probate papers made it clear that Michael was one of several siblings (including):

  • Michael–the deceased whose estate was being settled
  • Henry–who lived near Hamilton, Hancock County, Illinois
  • Wilhelmina Kraft–who lived in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois
  • George–who lived in Rocky Run Township, Hancock County
  • and Ernestine–who predeceased Michael and left her own children

One thing that never made sense to me was the administrator: Julius Bierman. He was another German immigrant and was a young farmer living between Hamilton and Nauvoo at the time of his appointment. It always struck me as odd that a “non-Trautvetter” was appointed administrator of the estate and that the appointment was someone who was not a justice of the peace, clerk, attorney, or some other person with a similar background.

The bondsmen on his administrator’s bond also were curious–they were Trautvetters. Christ Troutfetter (who used that spelling) was a son of Henry and John Herbert is probably the man of that name who was married to one of Michael Trautvetter’s nieces. But who was Bierman?

Bierman’s wife’s maiden name was Senf or Serf–which meant nothing to me.

It was years ago when I made the discovery of Bierman and his wife’s maiden name and, when I could not figure him out, I put it aside. Other records on the Trautvetter family allowed me to trace them into Germany and time spent obsessing on the administrator did not seem like time well spent.

I hired a researcher in Germany to locate records on the Trautvetter family. He obtained records on the Trautvetter siblings as listed above and their children when those records could be located.

And then I discovered who John Bierman was.

Actually John Bierman was not the connection at all. It was his wife, Anna Senf.

Anna Senf was born in Wohlmuthausen, Thuringen, Germany on 13 Oct 1838 to Johann Valentine Senf and Wilhelmine Trautvetter. The Wilhelmina Kraft listed as a sister of Michael Trautvetter in his intestate probate case had been married before to Johann Valentine Senf. It was with Senf that she had all her children.

I had assumed (without even realizing it) that Wilhelmina had only married once–to Mr. Kraft.

John Biermann was related after all. He was related to Michael Trautvetter in the same way the bondsman was–the husband of a niece.

Lessons and reminders:

  • Never assume that a person was married only once.
  • Remember that bondsmen are bondsmen for people they know and trust–and that sometimes they are relatives.
  • In-laws may appear in records more than you think.
  • Go back and research a little more those people you’ve put on the back burner.



Join Us in Salt Lake this May/June

There’s still time to join us for a week of research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, this upcoming May/June. Our registration rate is one of the lowest around, our trip is informal and focused on research (not on social or “group” activities), and you can stay next door at the Plaza for $91 a night plus tax. More details are on our site. Registration deadline is approaching.

My Second Cousin Six Times Removed Is Alive and Well–Not!

I’ve used the “Shared Ancestor Hint” in the AncestryDNA several times. It tends to be better than the “hints and leaves” in general–largely because these “Shared Ancestor Hints” come from your DNA matches. That does not mean they have to be correct and will be correct. No. That’s not the way it works. It’s just that the trees that aren’t attached to DNA results are not considered for these “Shared Ancestor Hints.” These hints are being pulled from people with whom you share a DNA connection.  That whittles down the potential matches.

That does not mean they are perfect. The coding used to generate these matches still relies on “same name” is “same person” theory. For those of us who have several ancestors with similar sounding names, that makes it easy for  Ancestry.com to make some weird connections.

The problem is that I know there are people who assume these “shared Ancestor Hints” must be correct because they are only pulled from your DNA matches. That’s not true.

Ancestry.com gave me a shared ancestor hint coming from my 7th great-grandmother, Antje Janssen.


The “Shared Hint” suggested that Antje had sons Gerhardus Geerds and John Gerdes Loschen. Apparently the tree thought she was married twice.

John Gerdes Loschen, according to the descendant was born in 1890 in Illinois. That John had a mother Antje Janssen, born in 1860 and died in 1945.

Gerhardus Geerds, another son of the “same” Antje Janssen was born in 1726 in Germany and also had a mother named Antje Janssen–I just don’t have a birth date for her. That’s partially because if I don’t have information that suggests a date of birth, I usually do not even enter in an approximate one. One would think that the programmers at  Ancestry.com (who apparently have the wherewithal to program the DNA analysis) would be able to check against children born over 150 years apart to the same mother.

The relationship between the other submitter and myself was also suggested. I’ve removed the name of the submitter and his father, but it indicated that we were second cousins six times removed. That is a big stretch and would mean that my 6th great-grandfather and the grandfather of another DNA submitter were brothers. That is another connection that should be flagged in the system as likely not likely.

When I see easy to fix errors showing up in the “suggested hints,” it always leaves me with a nagging question:

if there are errors like this in the “matching” what other errors could there be that I can’t see?


Fraught and Fretting over Frautvetters and Frautfetters in Ancestry.com’s 1860 Census Index

It was supposed to take five minutes to conduct a search of the 1860 census at on  Ancestry.com for a few Trautvetter relatives in Kentucky. I had my list of alternate spellings and renderings. Frautvetter is a reasonable transcription variation and it was on my search list.

Then I got confused.

Frautvetter and Frautfetter (with the Soundex option on) did not return the same results. Unless I am missing something, they should.


A screen shot of my search box follows. The “match all terms exactly” box is checked. That does not mean to only include the spelling as typed in the box. It means do exactly what is typed in the box and what is checked under that box.

No results were obtained for my search:



All that was done was a changing of the “f” in Frautfetter to a “v” for my next search. That’s it. Frautvetter and Frautfetter are soundex equivalent (F631) [check it yourself]. No other box was changed. Since Frautvetter and Frautfetter are soundex equivalent, they should return the same results.

Except they don’t. This time I got results. Freidbecker and Freidthoff are both Soundex equivalent to each other (F631) and to Frautvetter.

But why don’t Frautvetter and Frautfetter return the same results when the “Exact, sounds like, similar, and Soundex” option is checked? The search for Frautvetter did return soundex equivalents to that name–there were no Frautvetters in the index. Since Frautfetter is the soundex equivalent of Frautvetter  and the soundex option was turned on, the results should be the same?

Or what am I not understanding? If I hear anything from anyone ‘in the know” at  Ancestry.com , I’ll post an update or clarification as needed.

And if I am understanding, what else is no working correctly?


A List of Idiosyncracies–and No Counties in FamilySearch’s 1870 US Census Index

I need to start keeping a list.

I wasted fifteen minutes trying to search the 1870 census at FamilySearch by counties and towns until I remembered:

the 1870 census at FamilySearch does not include in the searchable databaseany geographic information smaller than the state

That precludes me from searching by counties, townships, etc.  That inflates my search results with hits from the greater Chicago area–on the other side of the state from where my people live.

FamilySearch is free. I’m not being hypercritical. Just a reminder that not every database may work in the same way.

And that I need to start keeping a list of databases I use and idiosyncrasies with those databases.


Who Do You Contact on FindAGrave?

I’ve used FindAGrave memorials for hundreds of relatives throughout my research (generally only for tombstone image). I don’t contact every submitter for every photograph or every memorial creator. There simply isn’t time. While I do appreciate the work of those who have taken pictures (and I’ve taken some myself), it does not seem like a good use of time (mine or theirs) to communicate with every person who has taken a picture of the stone of a relative.  I don’t communicate with everyone who may have indexed a record on FamilySearch either.


There are times when I do reach out to the memorial administrator or to someone who has submitted a photograph or information on FindAGrave:

  • when I want to use the photograph on my blog or in some other way besides being buried in my digital files
  • when an actual family photograph has been submitted to the memorial–many times these are submitted by relatives and this can be a great way to reach out to potential relatives
  • when I’m “really stuck” on the relative whose memorial I have found and I’m hoping that the submitter may know something more about the cemetery, the cemetery’s records, the area in general, etc.–I’ve received more information (including newspaper clippings) that way.

My initial email–particularly if I think the person is a relative–is usually short and intended to find out if the address is still valid and to gauge the person’s interest. I don’t send a 5,000 word email listing all the family’s information and exploits. That can wait until later.

Even if you think you “know everything” about a certain ancestor, consider looking at their page on FindAGrave. You may be surprised at what you find.



Getting to the Source of an Administrator’s Bond

Images of genealogical records can be obtained from a variety of sources. It’s important to know how something was located. Knowing where “you really got something” isn’t just so that you can source it later–although that is important. It’s not just so you can analyze it later–although that is important as well. It’s also so you don’t obtain several copies of the same record in different ways–that’s a waste of time and money.

There are times when you want to look at a different image of a record (eg. the one you have is of poor quality and different copy may be easier to read). But you should get a second copy of something because that was your actual intent–not because you didn’t really know you had already seen it.

An 18th century administrator’s bond makes for a good illustration. It was easy to locate at Ancestry.com in their probate collection (it’s also available on FamilySearch as well).  

Administrator’s Record, Volume B, page 70. Originally created by the Hancock County Circuit Clerk’s Office, this digital image was made from a digital image at Ancestry.com which had been created from the Family History Library’s microfilm copy of the record.I wanted the specific volume information for the specific item this page came from. To find that I navigated in the images at Ancestry.com using the “filmstrip” option. The illustration below shows the first actual record page on this filmstrip along with smaller thumbnail images for image 1, 2, 3 and 4.

  • Image 1 indicated the Family History Library roll number for the specific roll of microfilm from which these digital images were made.
  • Image 2 is a test pattern used by the filmer.
  • Image 3 is the title plate that is used for each book or item on the roll. The title plate indicates that these materials are from the “Administrator’s Record.” The “item number” means this is the first item on the original microfilm roll (some rolls have more than one item and item numbers were used to distinguish between images on the microfilm)–not the volume number.

On the “detail” screen (obtained when viewing the page that contained Michael Trautvetter’s administrator record) the title of the volume is indicated. If I want to validate that Ancestry.com has the correct title of the item (sometimes they don’t) I will need to navigate to the previous roll of film and look at the cover of the record book. In this case it probably is not necessary, but sometimes it is desirable to view the rest of the original record–just in case something was missed.

I’m not doing this just to doublecheck how Ancestry.com has titled the item. I want to know the exact title (which should be on the cover of the book’s spine which is usually contained on the microfilmed images) so that I know exactly what I’ve searched. As more microfilmed records become available digitally, reducing the number of times I see the same thing is to my advantage. This record is already accessible in more than one way. If the image I obtain is easily readable, I probably do not need to see every version of it. At this point, the page from the administrator’s record is available:

  • in the Hancock County courthouse in the Circuit Clerk’s office
  • on microfilm at the Family History Library
  • on microfilm at the Illinois Regional Archives Depository in Macomb, Illinois
  • digitally at FamilySearch
  • digitally at Ancestry.com

Capturing what I can about this record when I’m accessing it will save me time later.

I can “browse” into the previous roll of microfilm at Ancestry.com. That is done until I get to the title sheet for the volume from which the Trautvetter administrator record was taken. That confirmed I was in “Administrator’s Record” Volume B and that the microfilming was done in the Hancock County, Courthouse in Carthage, Illinois. The office title was not indicated.

I now know what I’ve actually searched, although in this case I was already pretty certain. My citation needs to include the provenance information (at least in my opinion). Once a person has gone through these steps a few times, it does not take as long as one might think. Creating a spreadsheet of microfilm rolls that have already been used, what the actual titles were, the original repository, etc. will save time–particularly for those of us who have several families in the same jurisdiction.






Declaring that the Original Should Be Viewed

It’s always advised to look at the original.

The entry for Charles Gropp in FamilySearch‘s “Ohio, County Naturalization Records, 1800-1977” is an excellent reason why. The index entry indicates that the 49-year old had a “naturalization” in 1868 in Coshocton, County, Ohio. 

That’s not quite what Charles Gropp did on 27 November 1868. What he did on that date was to declare his intention to become a citizen of the United States. The heading on the “cookie trail” in the browser window even indicated that this image came from the Declarations of Intention from Coshocton County, Ohio, between 1862 and 1880 (Volume 1A).

There’s not guarantee that Gropp ever naturalized–at least not on this image. Declarations were filed (usually) shortly after arriving in the United States or at least shortly after realizing they had decided to become a citizen.

The declaration of intent date has a different interpretation than the naturalization date–largely because there’s not the time wait to declare during this time period like there is for those who were naturalizing. This intention gives Gropp’s arrival date. Not all declarations of intention provide this information.

Always read the original and make certain you know what you are looking at. How you interpret a document hinges on it.