How DNA Results Helped Discover Luxembourg Emigrants

Earlier this year I wrote about my 4th great-grandparents Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY in 52 Ancestors: #45 Missing Parish Records in Mamer Leave Unanswered Questions. As the title suggests there were things which were left unresolved in the article. No trace was found of their son Franciscus “Franz” FRISCH  born in 1796 after the 1849 census nor of their son Nicolaus FRISCH born in 1798 after his birth. Franz married and had a family as seen in the census but Nicolaus was completely off the radar.

One of Franz’s sons, Peter John FRISCH was known to have come to America in 1854 as seen in Sandra L. Hammes’ From Luxembourg to La Crosse And Beyond 1851-1910, however, I did not find a birth record to connect him to his parents Franz and Magdalena.

Last month I found a DNA match with a FRISCH ancestor in her family tree. This post is about how I discovered the match, which new website I used to confirm relationships, and how both helped me to prove the missing brothers of my 3rd great-grandmother Elisabeta FRISCH emigrated from Luxembourg to America on the ship Pauline which departed from Le Havre, France and arrived in the port of New York in May 1854.

“New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” (database with images), FamilySearch (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), NARA microfilm publication M237, 140 – 23 May 1854-11 Jun 1854 > images 131 thru 134 of 651. (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:939V-55J8-K?cc=1849782&wc=MX62-X3X%3A165779201 : accessed 12 October 2018).

DNA Match Labeling

It all began in mid-September when Blaine Bettinger announced his Chrome extension DNA Match Labeling was now available in the Chrome Web Store. This extension lets you use eight colored dots to label your AncestryDNA matches. Michael John Neill wrote an interesting post Label Your AncestryDNA Matches stressing the necessity of giving thought to how to use these on the thousands of matches we have. I decided to use them to label ONLY the paternal matches of the test results I manage.

Different tools used to sort and analyze matches on AncestryDNA

An example of several matches which have been labeled with the red dot:

Matches labeled with the red dot for the line back to William A. W. DEMPSEY

Why not the maternal matches? Our mother is Luxembourgish and all of her ancestors were from Luxembourg or the surrounding regions of Germany, France, and Belgium which were once part of Luxembourg. Compared to the number of paternal matches, the maternal ones are few and far between. The top maternal match is a 4C1R (4th cousin once removed) on page 3 (50 matches per page) with 44 cMs. Since there are so few at this time, I’m using Ancestry’s star feature for maternal matches because it lets me pull up all of these matches and sort them by date or relationship. The colored dots, which I am saving for paternal matches, are only visual aids and cannot be sorted.

Kate, a new match, starred to indicate possible Luxembourg ancestry and Shared DNA amount information open in black box.

While starring the matches, I checked the Shared Matches of the highest maternal cousin and found a new match with a great-grandmother named Anna Katrina FRISCH. Unfortunately, there were no dates and places of birth, marriage, and death in the tree and no parents for this FRISCH young lady.

Kate’s privatized Ancestry tree with the in common with surname: FRISCH.

The new match, Kate in honor of her great-grandmother, is a Shared Match of Mary, a 4C1R who descends through my 4th great-grandparents Jacob FRISCH and Regina HUBERTY. Mary had first gotten in touch with me in 2009. We have been in touch about the DNA match but she has not uploaded to GEDMATCH. This is important to note as shared matches do not necessarily share the DNA on the same segment of a chromosome. The only way to determine this is to do a comparison using a chromosome browser which at this time is not available on Ancestry.

Building Kate’s Family Tree

Building out a DNA match’s family tree is like playing connect the dots. The first run through is all about piecing together hints and bits of information for a temporary tree which can later, if it turns out to be the correct family, be filled out with care and sourced.

I found Joe and Anna DAVIS in Sanborn County, Dakota Territory, in 1885 with a daughter named Lena. I continued to find them in the same county in the state of South Dakota from 1900 to 1930. These helped me to determine I was on the right track and these were Kate‘s great-grandparents. Anna K. as she was seen in the census was born in Iowa with parents born in Germany. This is in conflict with my FRISCH family being from Luxembourg.

Working backwards I searched for Anna K. FRISCH born about 1861 in Iowa and found a promising family group. John and Lena FRISCH in Johnson County, Iowa. They had a Catherine born about 1858 and a Kate born about 1859. In 1860 and in 1880 the father John was seen as born in Luxembourg while in 1870 Holland was listed. The most interesting census listing was the 1860 where the young family was in the household of Francis FRISH (sic), a 60 years old farmer born in Luxembourg. Was this Franz who I had not been able to locate after the 1849 Luxembourg census? When did Franz and his son Jean come to America? Perhaps at the same time as Peter John FRISCH mentioned in the La Crosse book?

A search for a passenger list with FRISCH individuals who arrived in America in the 1850s turned up the list featured at the beginning of this post. Two family groups with the surname FRISCH were on the Pauline in May 1854: François, Pierre, Jean, and Angelique as well as Nicolaus, Catherine, Paul, Canada (sic), Marie, and Catherine. Had I found both of my 3rd great-grandmother Elisabetha FRISCH’s brothers?

Members of my genealogy society Luxracines have been working on a project to index the marriages from the 10-year tables of the civil records of the Luxembourg municipalities and former municipalities for the years 1797 to 1923. Using this new online database (available to members only)  I found Nicolaus FRISCH married Catherine WESTER in Reckange-sur-Mess in 1825. I searched the birth and death records in Reckange and found nine children, five of whom died by 1853 leaving four living: Paul, Jeanette, Maria, and Katharina. All names with the exception of Jeanette (Canada on the list) matched the passenger list.

What about Franz FRISCH? Where was his wife? I found she’d died in 1850 in Capellen. Their oldest son Franz was found marrying in 1851 in Steinsel to Margaretha REUTER. [This is a recent find and I have not spent much time searching for more information on this couple and their children, if they had any.] 

This left two unmarried sons, Pierre and Jean, whose names matched those on the passenger list. But who was Angelique? Pierre married Angelique TRINKES on 4 September 1856 in Dubuque, Iowa, according to the La Crosse book. No marriage record has been found to confirm this date and place. Is it possible she came over with the FRISCH families or did Pierre marry her before their arrival in America?

Matricula Online

Not all of the dots have been connected. The church records are missing on FamilySearch for the parish of Mamer and the affiliated villages. A family register for the parish of Mamer was found on FamilySearch over two years ago when I worked on Elisabeta FRISCH’s family. Would I ever be able to find records to confirm the information in the handwritten register?

This past July the Catholic church records for Luxembourg went online on Matricula Online. Included in this new database are Mamer’s missing church records. The baptismal record of Petrus FRISCH, son of Franz FRISCH and Magdalena MORRET was found on Matricula Online. He was born 25 May 1830 in Capellen.  This is not the date found in the La Crosse book (29 Oct 1832), in the Mamer register (25 March 1830), or on the 1849 census (30 May 1830). I can only hope Peter married his first wife Angelique in Luxembourg as the record would include his correct date of birth. But I feel confident the Pierre seen on the passenger list with François is Petrus found in the baptismal record and Peter who lived in La Crosse County.

The Incomplete Story

Franz and his brother Nicolaus came with their families to America in May 1854. By 1860, everyone was in Jackson County, Iowa. Franz’s son John had married Lena WEBER and was the father of two young girls. Peter had married Angeline TRINKES and did not have children. Nicolaus was with his wife Catherine, son Paul, and daughter Maria. Their daughter Jeanette had married Jean FORRET. They had two children as well as Jean’s mother and two siblings in their household. Nicolaus’ daughter Catherine is the only person from the passenger list who has not been located.

Nicolaus died in 1862 leaving everything to his son Paul. His widow Catherine died in 1872. Franz died in 1867. John was widowed in 1877 and followed his brother to La Crosse County, Wisconsin, after the 1880 census.

Now that I know there are descendants of my 3rd great-grandmother Elisabeta’s brothers living in America, I will continue to fill in the family tree and check for new DNA matches. I looked for Jeanette’s married name and found two matches! Messages have been sent. I can’t wait to see these on my chromosome map.

© 2018, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

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Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

14 thoughts on “How DNA Results Helped Discover Luxembourg Emigrants”

  1. Amazing work, Cathy. How did you know which were your paternal v maternal matches? I can’t even do that on Ancestry, let alone figure out how any of my thousands of matches are related to me (except those I already knew about). The lack of a chromosome browser really is a short-coming, as you noted.

    And now you get to do some more US research!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Amy. Before I began blogging I did a lot of descendant work on the paternal side. I would work my way down from the most distant known ancestor through each generation. For most of my paternal lines I was able to fill in the post-1930 (this was before the 1940 census was available) generations from obituaries etc.
      My mother is an only child and she has only 4 first cousins, one died without issue. I have no maternal 1C and 19 paternal 1C (only 3 of these have tested and they are siblings).
      On Ancestry for many, with only a small or no tree, I recognized their names from the descendancy work. For the top 50 matches only 11 have shared ancestor hints (same ancestor in tree) so I have to work out the trees of people who have matching surnames to be sure they are paternal. I have access to about 10 paternal cousins’ DNA on Ancestry. These are from 2C to 4C1R and coming from different branches. The AncestryDNA Helper extension adds an icon to all matches who match the ones I have access to. This filters a lot of the paternal matches.
      Ancestry does not make it easy for us (by offering a chromosome browser) but the shared hints, shared matches, and the map help with sorting as do the different Chrome extensions (the Helper mentioned above and MedBetterDNA which keeps all notes open).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am not familiar with those extensions. And even though I have traced virtually all of my paternal lines back at least to 1800 if not before and traced them forward to current descendants, I have literally hundreds of “second to third” cousins on Ancestry whom I know are NOT my second or third cousins. And very few of my actual known cousins show up on Ancestry (or elsewhere). And almost all my matches have so many shared matches that that is not at all helpful either. The curse of endogamy. 😦 MyHeritage at least shows whether two matches actually match each other and where on the chromosome browser, but so far even that has not helped turn up anything new.

        I mostly hoped DNA would help me with my maternal side since I’ve been able to trace my paternal side without DNA help. But alas, no help there at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks. I am so envious when I read about those who actually can use DNA to break down brick walls. There is one match to my mother with 178 cM and a segment of 38 cM, and I cannot find the connection. And when I tried contacting the kit manager or friending her on FB, she ignored me. I’ve tried building a tree backwards, but so far no clue if and how we might be related. I have one other close match who I have been in touch (we actually met in Poland and traveled together for a day), but she and I can’t quite get far enough back to prove the connection because there are no records in Poland that go back far enough.

        Liked by 1 person

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