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Archive for June, 2013

Update:

On the Ancestry Facebook page, somebody posted this information about using your raw data from Ancestry to compare outside their site:

On your DNA page top right is an option to download your raw data. You need to select and then they will email a link with the address on file. Once you have that, you can go to GEDmatch and follow the instructions to upload. Unfortunately, they are not accepting new data until on or about August 15th. FamilyTreeDNA also has the transfer function. Go to their page and scroll down to almost the bottom. FTDNA charges, GEDmatch is free.

Click this link to get to my DNA post.

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Before I took a DNA test, I didn’t know anything about DNA. Now that I’ve taken two DNA tests, maybe I know even less than nothing.

First I took 23andme, as it had been recommended to me. When I got the results, I was tickled to get some health information, but I didn’t take it too seriously. After all, it was fairly general, and it wouldn’t catch any of the thousands of rare diseases lurking out there in some of our genes. It certainly didn’t predict that rare tumor discovered in my foot eight years ago. Nor did it foretell the hereditary lymphedema I have (thanks, Grandma). Then I also found out that even if you have a particular gene, it often takes a certain “something” to happen to trigger an illness.

So I turned the virtual page on the health information and looked at the information which shows what areas of the world my genes come from. A few genes were identified as coming from particular places, such as one gene that 23andme insists is a Polish gene. I also learned that a lot of my genes are “unidentified Northern European.”

They identified my Haplogroup, which is the mitochondrial DNA I inherited through the maternal line, meaning from my mother and her mother and my grandmother’s mother, all the way back. Interesting, but what do I do with that info? The exact classification they gave me I can’t even find online.  Am I the only person with this mitochondrial DNA–well, are my mother and I the only people with it?

Should I order this from 23andme?

Should I order this from 23andme?

Remember how we thought Neanderthal were a totally unrelated species that died out? Apparently they didn’t really die out. I was told that I am 2.6% Neanderthal. The average European is 2.7%. Kind of hard to put your mind around that. I don’t have a lot of Neanderthal traits, having a high, rather than low, forehead, a narrow frame, and am not particularly strong. I’m sure my husband has some joke in this somewhere. But he doesn’t have the guts to take the test himself.

After I got the results of this test, I realized that it wouldn’t “mesh” with the Ancestry.com test results other people have taken. I didn’t know why they couldn’t be meshed, but I accepted that as fact. It seems that it’s because different companies test for different things. I decided to take the Ancestry test as well because I wanted it as part of my family tree on Ancestry in case I had any DNA matches with people whose trees could provide me with leads.

When I got the results of the Ancestry test I was really disappointed. It doesn’t provide anything except general regions your ancestors came from. Not even any specific countries. No medical information.

And the areas my genes come from are quite different according these two different tests. Ancestry claims a large percentage of my genes are from eastern Europe and about a quarter from Britain. Um, no. Their explanation is that this analysis might represent the location of my ancestors thousands of years ago. So what good is that then?

The one good thing that came from my very overpriced Ancestry test was finding an actual Waldeck relative through our matching DNA. Pretty cool, yes? And the fact that we both have a big chunk of eastern European DNA coming up on the Ancestry test points us in the direction of Prussia, so that was helpful. Unless I spend too much time looking back at my 23andme test, which shows a tiny percentage from eastern Europe. Confusing?

Something interesting about both DNA tests: the results continue to change as the companies get more and more information. They collect knowledge from people. This seems pretty hit or miss to me. But it’s kind of cool to watch things change every so often.

Finally, both test results netted me hits from 4-6th cousins, and most of them have absolutely no surnames in common on their family trees. So how is it possible that they are 4th-6th cousins?

Hmm, this science is still in its infancy, methinks.

###

Update:

On the Ancestry Facebook page, somebody posted this information about using your raw data from Ancestry to compare outside their site:

On your DNA page top right is an option to download your raw data. You need to select and then they will email a link with the address on file. Once you have that, you can go to GEDmatch and follow the instructions to upload. Unfortunately, they are not accepting new data until on or about August 15th. FamilyTreeDNA also has the transfer function. Go to their page and scroll down to almost the bottom. FTDNA charges, GEDmatch is free.

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I wrote about my great-grandmother Clara Waldeck Mulder in The Lost Bracelet. At the time I posted about her, I didn’t really have a lot of facts about her, other than that I lost her bracelet because the clasp didn’t hold while I was at work.  Ironically, I was selling costume jewelry at Jacobson’s, in downtown Kalamazoo.

Since then my mother gave me some notes about her grandma:

  • She regularly did heavy farm chores, especially after her children were old enough to stay in the house alone. She was a big strong woman.
  • She cooked without recipes, but the food tasted very good.
  • In the evening she served us homemade ice cream that she and Grandpa made.
  • She cared for the chickens, including slaughtering them to cook and eat.
  • Along with family help, she kept a large vegetable garden.
  • She let us go wildflower picking in the “woods” across the road from their farmhouse and barn.
  • She let us play the player piano as much as we wanted. It used the perforated paper rolls.
  • Her family, both sides, seemed to carry a glaucoma gene; many experienced at least some loss of vision.
  • Some of her relatives were farmers.
  • Her family met for a family reunion with extended family every summer–it went on for many years.
  • When she got sick in her sixties and died, I felt a great loss.

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Although I never got to meet my great-grandmother Clara, I did visit her farm and even stayed there for a week once with my great-grandfather and his second wife Margaret.  I remember my grandmother, Clara’s daughter, taking me wildflower picking in the woods across the street from the farmhouse.

By this time you might wonder what the clue could be about the Waldecks.  Well, the information I had been given was that Clara’s father was Godfrey (probably Gottfried) Waldeck and her mother’s maiden name was Alvena Neffka.

I had met a brick wall trying to trace these people back to Germany. I even talked to a German genealogist who has helped me in the past. He said Neffka couldn’t be a German name.  He questioned if that was really the name.

The only clue I’d found was on Alvena’s death certificate which indicated that her father was Louis Koffler and her mother Dora Couch.

So I started picking and probing at the name Neffka (on Ancestry), trying to figure out what else it could be.  That’s when names like Gniffke, Koffler, Knoffka started showing up all over the place.

Then suddenly I started getting hits on Noffke right and left, especially in Caledonia, Michigan, where my great-grandmother was from.  I changed the name to Noffke on my tree and I was showered with little green leaf hints from Ancestry.

For the first time, I found tons of Noffke relatives right in southwestern Michigan, where they ought to be.  I am still going through this treasury of information.

I’m a little closer to breaking through that brick wall.

Also, I had a DNA match at Ancestry with a verifiable relative—we are both 2nd great-granddaughters of Godfrey and Alvena.  She and I inexplicably showed up with eastern European DNA.  That, and some documents which say “Prussia,” seem to indicate that my grandmother’s Noffke family—and probably the Waldecks as well—are actually from Prussia, not Germany proper.

Onward in my search.  Polishing up my Nancy Drew microscope for the Noffke leaves.

Leaving you with a photo of old Caledonia, Michigan:

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For Father’s Day, I am reblogging a post my father wrote for the adoption blog my daughter and I write. It also fits with my last post about my father and his military service.

Don't We Look Alike?

by Rudy Hanson

My story is about my family and how it has been greatly blessed by adoption. Adoption is a recognition of the needs of children, and I first saw these needs when I was still quite young.

My first recollection about this was when I witnessed poor children in Korea while I was serving with the U.S. Army during the Korean War. My mother had sent me a shoebox filled with candy, popcorn, and a Ronson cigarette lighter. The children in this old Korea had very little in the way of housing, food and other basics of life. A friend of mine and I walked over toward the children and I distributed the candy and popcorn to them. My friend had a camera and took a photo of me with the children, which I’ve cherished all of my life. For me, this is where the idea of…

View original post 398 more words

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This post is dedicated to my father, Rudy Hanson.

When I was a little kid, I hung out in my dad’s basement workshop, watching him work. He kept army green sleeping bags there, and when I asked about them, he told me about trying to sleep in the freezing cold of Alaska and Korea.  He explained that he had been in the Korean War.  In the U.S. Army. I didn’t understand too much, although he shared some apocryphal stories about ears being bitten off and seeing it rain fish.

I’m not sure I understand too much more today, but I have the deepest respect for my father serving in the United States Army.

Dad looks so young in his official Army portrait. And below.

Thank you for your service, Dad! xo

My father and other veterans are honored with bricks with their names at the Rose Park Veterans Memorial Park–a memorial park which my father and the Kalamazoo Sunrise Rotary Club were instrumental in bringing to the city.

My daughter points toward her grandpa’s name on the park plaque.

And here she is by the beautiful U.S. Army memorial at the park.

At long last, my dad has the medals he earned from serving our country in the Korean War.


HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, DAD!!!!

Dad has a twin brother, too–my Uncle Frank Hanson. He was in the U.S. Navy.

I hope Uncle Frank has a good Father’s Day, as well.

We’re coming up on the twins’ half birthday.  Since their birthdays are the day after Christmas, they like to celebrate in June.  I thought this was a phenomenon unique to my family, until I just this moment discovered that the event warrants a Wikipedia entry!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AUNT RUTHANN

We hope your day is as lovely

as you are.

Count the candles:  89 of them!!!

Ruthann and Charles (Chuck) Mulder

Ruthann and Charles (Chuck) Mulder

For a circa 1980s photo of that whole Mulder (Waldeck) generation, my father took a lovely photo I shared here.  As far as I know, Aunt Ruthann was the last secretary of the Waldeck family reunion “club.”  (Thanks to Michelle for that info!)

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In my last post I wrote about my great-grandmother Clara Waldeck Mulder, of Caledonia, Michigan.

Today I have a confession to make.  The Waldecks are my most unknown branch of the family.

And why?  Waldeck is a fairly common name.  There are two Castle Waldecks. Lots of places share the name Waldeck.  There are many Waldecks listed on Wikipedia, including the first Waldeck, who was a count, and some Waldeck princesses.  I bet there are a lot of paupers named Waldeck, too.

But so far I can’t find the town or region in Germany where my Waldeck family came from.

Look at the sorry state of the family tree:

Godfrey Waldeck family treeeGodfrey (Gottfried) and his wife Alvena (Alvina) immigrated to the United States with their family and then had more children. I don’t even know if all those children listed on this tree are theirs! Clara is.

And so is Godfrey (junior) because I remember him when I was young.  He managed a grain elevator or something like that, but he also farmed his own land.  He was blind from glaucoma when I met him, and he still walked down the road each day and drove his tractor in the fields.  As an aside, glaucoma runs rampant in their family.

I know that Grandma used to like to go to the Waldeck family reunions, and I went to at least one myself, at a lake (of course).

Look at Alvina Waldeck above.  The tree lists her as Alvina Neffka, as if that is her maiden name.  But is it?  I’ve also seen it listed as Noffke and on her death certificate her father was listed as Louis Koffler.  Her mother was listed as Dora Couch.

Noffke is a German name, and so is Koffler.  Neffka is not German.  Neither is Couch.

One person I’ve spoken with has wondered if the family was more Polish than German, but I have no proof of that either.

I need some help with this and hope that somebody reads this blog and gives me some clues about the family!

 

I am going to take a stab at identifying the people in the photo.

Back row:  Fred (according to a rumor, he was in a terrible accident), Ada Steeby (who had a daughter Ruth), Anna (did she marry a Stewart or Christianson or both), August (died in WWI, a bachelor)

Front row: Gottfried, Clara (my great-grandmother), Alvina, Godfrey

Looking at this photo and the names, can we write off Adolph, Rudolph, Max, Herman? Are they not part of our family?  Or were they older, born in Germany, and already living their own adult lives when this photo was taken?  And why isn’t Fred even on the family tree?!

You can see that I am going to need some help with this project!

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