My Beginnings with AncestryDNA Circles: Part II

Ancestry DNA “Circle” for descendants of Hinrich Jansen Ufkes as of 2 August 2017

The circles AncestryDNA at are still in beta stage (part I on the “circles” appeared here earlier).

The content in this post is current as of 2 August 2017. These comments reflect my own experience with the circles. That experience is largely based upon the amount of research I’ve already done, what families I’ve concentrated on, and my own ancestry.

There are six of us in the AncestryDNA circle for Hinrich Jansen Ufkes. While we are all descendants of Hinrich, we all do not have “matching DNA” for each other. Given that Hinrich was born in 1797 and is my third-great-grandfather (and the second great-grandfather for MJN Match 1 with whom I have communicated) that’s not surprising. We all cannot contain all the DNA of all of our ancestors.

The circle shows which of us share matches. I only match three of the others in the circle. The diagram indicates which individuals match each other. Everyone matches at least two others in the circle and we all have Hinrich in our tree.

Some comments about DNA Match 1:

  • we are both actually descendants of Hinrich’s son Johann–my great-grandfather and DNA Match 1’s grandfather were brothers. Our Ufkes connection therefore is closer than Hinrich.
  • we are related in more than one way besides being Ufkes descendants. DNA Match 1 and I are actually triple cousins:
    • My great-great-grandfather Goldenstein and DNA Match 1’s great-grandmother Garrelts were brother and sister.
    • My great-great-great-grandmother Fecht and DNA Match 1’s great-great-grandmother Bruns were sister and brother.
  • based on how far back AncestryDNA goes to put people in circles, we’ll be in several together.

I have similar multiple “reasonably close” descents with several of my maternal relatives all of whom hailed from Ostfriesland, Germany (That’s what happens when small villages from Europe essentially migrate to form new small villages in the United States). How that will impact my circles I don’t know. At this writing, AncestryDNA only has a circle for one other set of my Ostfriesen ancestors. DNA Match 1 is in it as it is for the Johann Luken Jurgens Ehmen Goldenstein, father of the two siblings from which we descend.

I’m waiting for AncestryDNA to put people in the circles who do not have “trees” associated with their account. As of this writing I’m not seeing any individuals of that type in any of my circles.

While the circles are interesting, at this point I’m not making any great discoveries from them.  I will continue to look at the circles and write about them as warranted. I’m waiting for them to get out of beta stage as there are several couples from whom I descend where I am in the circle for one but not a circle for their spouse.

At this time I am not certain if that is because the circles are incomplete or if there are surprises in my tree. Based upon sharing DNA with relatives that I know, but who have not submitted trees, I’m leaning towards the conclusion that the circles are incomplete.

Your mileage may vary.

My mother-in-law’s maternal grandfather was adopted and “ran off” when the youngest child was under the age of 10. He was never to be heard from again. Her DNA test results will be very interesting because he could have both sibling and children of which we are not aware.




Ostfriesen First Names Poem

I first encountered this poem while searching the issues of the Ostfriesische Nachrichten for something or other in the 1903 issues. To find a poem comprised entirely of Ostfriesen first names was highly unusual, so I made a copy and transcribed it.

I’ve always loved the sound of the Platt first names–interestingly enough, my great-grandmother’s name of Tjode is not on the list, but most of my other Ostfriesian ancestor’s names are. The name of Uf(f)ke, from which my mother’s maiden name is derived as a patronym is not on the list either, but most others are. My maternal ancestors all hail from Ostfriesland, most from in and around Wiesens, Holtrop, Wrisse, etc.

Any errors in the transcription are mine.

From the 1 September 1903 issue

of the Ostfriesche Nachrichten [Breda, Iowa]

Ostfriesen Names

Men’s Names

Berend, Borjes, Himel,

Tonjes, Dorjes, Ihmel,

Oeke, Eike, Wielf,

Esdert, Gerjet, Stielf,

Untel, Garbrand, Wiebrand,

Ifebrand, Haat, Siebrand.

Evert, Ulfert, Eilert, Klaas,

Luppe, Mehme, Onke, Staas,

Onntje, Tiele, Harm, Tettrino,

Janto, Lubbert, Rickert, Krino,

Geffe, Remier, Dicke, Meimert,

Eielt, Swittert, Swirt, und Weinert.

Pupt und Koert,

Ulpt und Loert,

Jibbe, Jabbe,

Hibbe, Habbe,

Reipert, Focke,

Geike, Ocke,

Koob und Sweert,

Jan und Geerd.

Wirtje, Watje, Woltje, Wene,

Uptet, Eiffe, Henffen, Hene,

Suntje, Jurke, Steffen, Ee,

Silke, Liebte, Engelke, Thee,

Meine, Hootje, Harber, Hedlef,

Sjamme, Lutet, Aalef, Detlef.

Hilfert, Uelert, Ulert, Girk,

Tinnelt, Remert, Lammert, Dirk,

Eicke, Wilcke, Brunte, Weert,

Zobe, Zebe, Ehren, Leert,

Wiebt, Wobias, Wenert, Meus,

Folkert, Frerich, Uidt, Thaleus.

Lutjen, Casjen, Soke,

Melchert, Garrelt, Foke,

Luhre, Ucke, Tamme,

Ubben, Fehde, Mamme,

Ede, Jelde, Onne,

Danje, Eute, Bonne.

Tato, Fiepto, Thilko,

Onno, Otto, Wilko,

Odo, Poppe, Renko,

Jarto, Enno, Menke,

Fieke, Ockje,

Dirtje, Focktje,

Almt, Gertje,

Olligtie, Weertje,

Moderte, Elske,

Jenningtje, Knellste.

Thalke, Sarke, Lamke,

Reenste, Brechtje, Samke,

Eie, Roolfte, Ecke,

Tonna, Wilmke, Becke,

Meemte, Lootje, Lientje,

Jantje, Harmke, Mientje.

Jabbo, Hano, Emme,

Habbo, Nanno, Hemmo,

Jibbo, Dodo, Eicko,

Hibbo, Uno, Henko.

Meiel, Weffel, Ottig, Meine,

Melmer, Bohle, Seven, Heine,

Tebbe, Eiffe, Eve, Ecke,

Hauwe, Weintje, Jellste, Decke.

Jbeling, Eitl, Bemer, Bene,

Folkert, Jellrich, Hinrich, Meme,

Tone, Jilde, Borchert, Fiehe,

Hennsmann, Oltmann, Tard und Hene,

Louth, Cozard, Siefke, Enne,

Julf, Eggo, Remmer, Menne,

Sede, Brune, Freert, Eteus,

Mennte, Mimke, Roolf, Poppen

Women’s Names

Wibke, Wocbke, Wubcke,

Roste, Imte, Lubke,

Swantje, Feentje, Haute,

Geelte, Tiede, Bauke,

Aaltje, Jilfte, Petje,

Tjabbend, Lieste, Gretje.

Bilda, Wea,

Wiemda, Kea,

Thea, Mina,

Hilka, Stina,

Tjalde, Manna,

Truda, Sunna,

Bena, Sina,

Hemke, Tina,

Berenda, Peta,

Lumka, Reta.

Antje, Geske, Gebke, Baufte,

Abte, Tatje, Rante, Aafte,

Hiemke, Hinte, Rerte, Theeste,

Rinnett, Wendel, Engle, Reeste,

Meifte, Jellfte, Greitje, Hientje,

Amke, Anke, Hille, Stientje.

Barber, Sieber, Dever, Hemke,

Bartje, Moder, Meite, Wemke,

Eimde, Lubje, Sieverte, Feike,

Sjante, True, Boke, Jeike,

Bete, Rinne, Betje, Lumke,

Aalfte, Tatje, Infe, Wumke,

Tede, Diene, Elmerich,


I have often used the poem to help me tell whether a first name is a male or female name, although after some years of experience, I am pretty good at name differentiation without having to refer to the poem.

Platt first names are unusual and I’m glad to have the poem as (in some cases), it helps me to get an idea of how a certain name was said.

The author is not listed on the poem.

And as my ancestors used to say, “Eala Frya Fresena.” 

Lever dood as Slaav”

Sometimes There Is Not Enough Writing

Reading handwriting can sometimes be a tricky business.

While it can sometimes be difficult to transcribe the handwriting of a court clerk, census taker, church pastor, etc., often there are several pages of handwriting to use as a point of reference. On those other pages there are names that are known, legal phrases that are common, boilerplate text that is used repeatedly, and other discernible items that can easily be transcribed. Those transcriptions can assist in the development of a “handwriting style guide” for the individual who wrote the record. That can assist the researcher in interpreting those words or phrases that look difficult on the surface.

Being familiar with common legal terms, especially when transcribing legal documents, goes a long way to improve a researcher’s transcription ability.

Sometimes that is not enough. Sometimes there is not much on which to go.

The researcher may only have on copy of an ancestor’s signature. Other records either did not require a signature or are record copies of documents that do not contain the real signature anyway. There can be problems with other records as well. The pastor may have written very few entries in the church register before he moved on to another location. The Justice of the Peace completing a marriage license may only have had a few blanks that needed to be filled and did not leave behind a significant amount of handwriting.

Sometimes one can search for other records the individual may have written or may have written in. There are times when these records can be located and other times when they cannot.

If one knows the time period and location in which the person grew up that may help in determining how the person may have been trained to write (particularly if the script they learned to write initially was non-English). Knowing the person’s probable educational level may help. But sometimes even this information is not really enough.

Sometimes reading a person’s handwriting is part science, part academic study, and part art.

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Editorial License

In “There’s a Story Behind the China,” I intentionally left out the name of the antique mall where the set of china was located. It was not germane to the story and I felt, given the situation and that the story really wasn’t about the specific location, that it was best to leave it out.

It’s editorial license. Some may say that any genealogical story needs to include every fact and every detail. It does not matter how banal, how trivial, or how potentially hurtful–include it all. While I understand the desire for genealogists to know everything, I also understand that sometimes certain details really are not necessary to tell a story. There are even times when the deceased need their privacy.

Even professional genealogists who abide by the genealogical proof standard occasionally do not include information in their written up proof based upon their evidence. Information not considered relevant to the problem is not included. Information having any bearing on the conclusion should be included.

There are other details, especially those obtained from personal interaction with a person, that can be left to the dustbin of history.

If you have personal knowledge of a relative whose behavior changed while they were ill or under some medical treatment, or under the influence of drugs, is it necessary to pass that information on to future generations? The specific details of some interactions are not necessary for future generations to know one blow at a time. Sometimes it is sufficient to indicate that the individual had certain challenges or issues as the result of some treatment, trauma, or medication and leave it at that.

In “Dealing with the Strain” ways for handing and discussing “falling outs” were discussed. That discussion is relevant here as well.

When writing up a family story ask yourself how much detail is necessary to tell the story?

Would you want every detail or your life recorded for future generations?

There’s a Story Behind that China

[This is a little different from our usual fare here, but maybe it will give readers the impetus to record their own stories about living family members while the details are somewhat fresh in their minds. Hopefully this makes for a colorful story for my daughter to tell her children and grandchildren.]

Two days ago, late on a Friday afternoon, my daughter sent me a text message regarding an important discovery she’d made at the local antiques mall. She and her fiance had found a nearly complete set of china that both of them liked.

Her message included a picture of the set the store had for available. She told me how much it was and included a detailed inventory. The set was in good shape and would be less expensive than buying individual pieces. There was one more advantage to this set of china.

It had her fiance’s blessing.

I wasn’t in a place where I could quickly call the antiques mall so I did the next best thing: I messaged them on their Facebook page using my cellphone.  I told them that my daughter had been in, roughly described the china, told them how much it was, and asked if I could pay for it over the phone with a credit card and pick it up later. I received a response within the hour and was told to call the store and that they could handle my request over the phone.

It all seemed so easy.

So I made the call.

I explained to the clerk on the phone what I wanted to do. I described the set of china and told her that it was a fairly complete set and how much it was. I told her that I had a picture of it and a listing of the specific items if that would help. I mentioned that I had communicated with the store via Facebook and they said I could call to complete the transaction.

Mentioning Facebook was the mistake.

“I don’t know anything about Facebook and I don’t know anything about the items we have for sale on Facebook and do you know how many items we have here?”

I wanted to say “No, I don’t know how many items you have, but I’m trying to make it so that you have one less set of china.” I thought better of making the remark.

I explained that the item was not on Facebook but that was how I had discussed things with the store. Mentioning Facebook again did not solve the problem.

“I don’t know what items are for sale on Facebook.”

It was clear I was getting nowhere and decided to communicate with the store via Facebook. I told the lady I would call back on Monday. She said that was fine. It was nearly closing time on Friday by this point and I wanted to communicate with the store before they actually closed.

I messaged the store on Facebook again. They apologized for the clerk being unable to help me and , would hold the dishes for me, and told me that they would be glad to help early in the week when I came to the store. I thanked them.

I made a note to call them again on two days later on Monday and had decided to keep the entire thing to myself. This was supposed to be a surprise for my daughter. I didn’t think too much about it.

Sunday afternoon rolls around. I’m in Moline, Illinois,  and getting ready to head home I get a text message from my daughter.

She apparently has the china in the trunk of her car. The trunk of her car.

Her fiance’s grandmother found out about the china after church that morning and told them she would get it for them as a wedding present. The daughter had made a beeline to the store to be there when it opened on Sunday.

“Apparently they were  supposed to pack it up but hadn’t.” The clerk told them that “some lady called the other day asking about it.”

Some lady?

I guess that lady was me.

I guess they hadn’t saved it or marked it or anything. And since the “lady” didn’t come for it, my daughter could have it.

Always the bargain hunter, the fiance was going to ask if they’d take 10% off the price, but didn’t when it was discovered that someone else wanted it.

So I cost them 10% of the price on top of it.

The sales clerk told my daughter that it was “meant to be” for her to have the china since she got in there before the other person came in to get it.  She was lucky she came to get it when she did.

The sales clerk had no idea how ironic that statement was.


Will I Know If I’m Not in the Clique?

I’m in eight circles on AncestryDNA as of this writing:

  • Christianna (DeMoss) Rampley (born in the early 1770s probably in Harford County, Maryland.
  • Hinrich Janssen Ufkes (born 1797 Ostfriesland, Germany) and the circle for his wife Trientje Eilts (Post) Ufkes (born 1803 Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany)
  • Riley Rampley (born 1835 Coshocton County, Ohio) and the circle for his wife Nancy Jane (Newman) Rampley(born 1846 Rush County, Indiana)
  • Johann Friederichs Hinrichs Ufkes (born 1838 Wiesens, Ostfriesland, Germany)
  • Johann Luken Jurgens Ehmen Goldenstein (born 1814 Wrisse, Ostfriesland, Germany and his wife Tjade Anna Focken (Tammen) Goldenstein (born 1824 Buhren, Ostfriesland, Germany)

While the AncestryDNA circles are still in beta mode, I’m a little bit curious. 

I’m not in a circle for the husband Christianna (DeMoss) Rampley or the wife of Johann Friederichs Hinrichs Ufkes.

I am hoping this is because the results are in beta mode and that the circles for these people have not yet been compiled.

But will I be told if there’s a circle for Christianna’s husband or Johann’s wife and that I’m not in it?

Because I think to get in a circle at AncestryDNA, one has to be a DNA match for someone first and then their trees are compared to see if there’s a shared ancestor. It is a two-step process, beginning with the DNA match. I realize that once the ancestor is a significantly back in the lineage I may share no DNA with them and they may still be my ancestor. There is a difference between paper ancestors who appear in my tree and DNA ancestors with whom I share DNA–especially after one gets back beyond the third great-grandparents or so.

So if I’m not a DNA match for the “circle” of one of the ancestors on my tree will I get a notification?

And if I’m not in the circle how worried should I be?

It partially depends upon how far back the connection is. That’s the best answer I have at this point.

Note: I do match with known descendants of all my great-great-grandparents who have tested with AncestryDNA as follows:

  • Frederich and Trientje (Janssen) Ufkes (great-grandparents)–two children of my grandfather’s brother have also tested. We all share significant DNA and AncestryDNA predicted that each of them and I are between first and second cousins (which is correct).
  • Mimka and Tjode (Goldenstein) Habben (great-grandparents)–one child of two separate siblings of my grandmother have tested. We all share significant DNA and AncestryDNA predicted that each of them and I are between first and second cousins (which is correct).
  • George and Ida (Sargent) Trautvetter (great-grandparents)–the child of one of my grandmother’s siblings has tested. The grandchild of another of my grandmother’s siblings has tested. The relationships suggested AncestryDNA by are consistent with our known relationship.
  • Charlie and Fannie (Rampley) Neill (great-grandparents)–I am the only descendant who has tested. However four other known descendants of Charlie’s parents have tested–we match and the relationships are correct. Several other descendants of Fannie’s parents have tested and we share matches (that’s the circles of Riley and Nancy (Newman) Rampley as shown above.




Thoughts About the AncestryDNA Circles and Why Didn’t They Do Circles Before?

I’m still playing with the AncestryDNA circles that are showing up on my results.

While I realize the circles are still in “beta,” I’m still not certain how helpful they will be for me at this point as entry into the “circle” is contingent upon the user submitting a tree in addition to their DNA. I’m more interested in what “circles” some of my treeless or incomplete tree matches fall as I can figure the ones with trees out.

It is the people who have no trees or significant gaps in their trees that I’d like to establish specific connections for. I’ve used the shared match feature of AncestryDNA in an attempt to do this, focusing on DNA submitters whose identity and relationship I know and trying to see what other matches we share. There are some difficulties with this as once the connection gets beyond a certain point all descendants do not necessarily share DNA.

It could just be that my family is not that representative.

I’m also curious about the circles when it starts pulling in more of my double and triple cousins. I have quite a few of relatives who fall into this category. Our connections in many cases are not that far back. A fair number of my maternal relatives and I have two or three sets of ancestors who are siblings in the great-grandparent through great-great-great-grandparent generation. That’s close enough that we may share DNA on multiple branches. I have one triple cousin who is already in two of my circles.

But couldn’t have created this “circle” concept before they had DNA?  After all, it is using the trees submitted by users as a key part of the process.


Trautvetter-Derle Research in Germany On Hold

The researcher who located records on my Trautvetter and Derle families in Wohlmutshausen and Helmerhausen in Thuringia for me has taken a full time job elsewhere and is no longer able to perform the work.

Fortunately she recommended another researcher and I’m in the process of reaching out and deciding where the research should go moving forward.

This is a good time for me to review what my goals were with the research. Even when one is reasonably familiar with the records in an area where a professional researcher is being hired, it’s good to concentrate on the specific goals and not just think about the records being obtained. Local researchers familiar with the records may be aware of other sources or materials that the client is not. While it is important for the client to understand the records being used and have an idea of what they want to have researched, the goals matter.

The goals direct the research.

And they help keep the client focused and make it easier to stay on task and on budget.

So I’ll be reviewing what I want to accomplish with the research.

And as we will see in future posts, the Trautvetters were not German peasants who stayed put in the same village for centuries.