Monday, July 24, 2017

Has My Prussia Origins Theory Gone Up in Smoke?

My maternal grandparents, Gustav Lange and Wilhelmina Schalin, considered themselves German, wrote to their siblings in German, read a German Bible, and spoke German in their home until their eldest daughter came home from her first day of school in tears because she could not speak English. However, only Gustav Lange lived in Germany, briefly, for five years from 1906 through 1911 when he worked in Essen in order to send money home and save for his passage to Canada. At this time I do not know from where in Germany our Lange or Schalin ancestors originated

The Lange-Ludwig grandparents of my grandfather, Gustav Lange, were born near present day Lodz, Poland, in the 1840s and moved to the Volyn Oblast in Ukraine in the early 1880s. The paternal ancestors of my grandmother, Wilhelmina Schalin, lived in the Greater Poland Voivodeship, about halfway between Poznan and Lodz since at least the 1790s. They moved to the Volyn Oblast in Ukraine between 1861 and 1863. I know nothing of Wilhelmina Schalin's mother beyond her name.

Migrations of the Lange (red circles) and Schalin (green squares) families;
created using Google Maps

But from where did the Lange and Schalin families originate? I assumed Germany since Grandma and Grandpa Lange spoke German as their native language, but I wanted to know more. I spent a lot of time delving into the history of Poland and Ukraine. I learned the area of Poland where the Lange and Schalin families lived was known as South Prussia after 1793 and the Second Partition of Poland by Prussia and Russia. So perhaps they were from Prussia.

When Ancestry unveiled its genetic communities, I looked at them for all the Lange-Schalin DNA tests I administered.

Lange-Schalin relatives I have DNA tested (red outline); created
using Microsoft Powerpoint

On the day after genetic communities were launched, we all shared at least one genetic community and it was Northern Germans, which included Prussia. But as Ancestry has continued to refine the genetic communities, the picture has gotten muddier. As of 30 June 2017, the genetic communities are now:

Genetic communities of the Lange relatives' DNA tests; created using
Microsoft Excel

It appears as if some genetic communities were refined and some of my Lange relatives lost some or all of genetic communities and new ones were added.

Map of Northern Germans genetic community; courtesy of Ancestry.com

Northern Germans was the genetic community we all shared when Ancestry launched its genetic communities though it does not reflect the eastern migration of hundreds of thousands of Germans to current day Russia, Poland, and Ukraine.

Germans, Netherlanders, Belgians & Luxembourgians Ancestry genetic
community; courtesy of Ancestry.com
The Germans, Netherlanders, Belgians & and Luxembourgians was a new genetic community and likely a refinement. It has a great deal of overlap with Northern Germans but extends more westward, which does not support my Prussia origins theory.

Northern (yellow) and southern (red) origins of Germans in the Midwest
Ancestry genetic community; courtesy of Ancestry.com

Germans in the Midwest originated from both northern and southern Germany. So it could still support my Prussia theory.

And the problem...

German origins of the Germans from Baden-Wurttemberg in the Dakotas
Ancestry genetic community; courtesy of Ancestry.com

There is no way, Germans from Baden-Wurttemberg may be considered northern Germans from the area that was once Prussia. So at this point my thinking is the genetic communities are interesting but not helpful. Pretty much what I have found ethnicity estimates to be. Sometimes they make sense; sometimes they don't.

On the settings page of each DNA test is a privacy section. That section states the following about ethnicity:

"Show the participant's complete ethnicity profile to their DNA matches. This means the participant's DNA matches will see both the participant's full ethnicity estimate and all the Genetic Communities. (If left unselected, the participant's DNA matches will only see the portion of the participant's ethnicity estimate and the Genetic Communities they share in common.)"

I have not selected this for any of the tests I administer, but I changed this setting from my test and my mother's test to select it. Then went to Mom's match from the home page of my DNA test. I could see all of her ethnicity estimates but not her genetic communities. And I should have been able to see them. So there is still work for Ancestry to do in this area.

Monday, July 17, 2017

DNA Discoveries: Rediscovering John Muir (1905-1978)

John Muir was born on 24 November 1905 in Hamilton, Scotland, to James Muir and his first wife, Janet Lees Syme. James was a coal miner and grandson of my three times great grandfather, Robert Muir (c1800-1869). James and Janet had two more sons -- Hugh Syme in 1908 and Thomas in 1910.

When Thomas was three months old, the family boarded the Allan Line's RMS Pretorian on 31 December 1910 in Glasgow and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts, on 11 January 1911. Their destination was Mystic, Iowa, to join James' brother, John, and his uncle, also named James Muir, who was my great great grandfather. Mystic was in the Walnut Valley area of Appanoose County and was described as "one continuous mining camp." The Mystic coal seam was on the surface and drift mines were opened and abandoned so often the place looked like a honeycomb.

Mystic, Iowa, in 1909; photograph source unknown

Less than two years after the family's arrival in Mystic, James' wife, Janet died on 29 September 1912. She was buried in a local cemetery two days later. James decided to return to Scotland and traveled to New York with his three young sons, boarding the Anchor Line's SS Cameronia bound for Glasgow. They arrived in Scotland on 11 May 1913.

James joined the Gordon Highlanders regiment in 1914 but was released within 90 days. He remarried in 1927 and died in 1967. His eldest son, John, returned to the United States at the age of 20, arriving in New York on 16 January 1926. He was an iron molder and was headed to Detroit for work. On 19 January 1926 he declared his intention to become a U.S. citizen at the district court in Detroit.

He must have traveled back to Scotland some time after settling in Michigan because on 20 October 1928 he and his brother, Hugh, boarded the Anchor Line's RMS Transylvania in Glasgow.[1] He returned to Scotland the next year as well, returning aboard the Anchor-Donaldson Line's SS Leticia. He arrived in Quebec on 31 August 1929 and crossed the U.S. border on 3 September. His appearance was described as being 5' 7" tall, of medium build with brown hair and green eyes. He lived at the YMCA in Detroit and worked as a clerk.

Detroit skyline as seen from Windsor, Canada, in 1929; photograph courtesy
of the National Photo Collection held by the Library of Congress

When the 1930 census was enumerated, John lived at 80 Vernon Street in Mount Clemens, Michigan. He rented a room from the Alore family and worked as a laborer in a refrigerator factory.

On 4 February 1933 John married Roselyn K. Malcolm in Detroit. She was the daughter of William and Margaret (McCartney) Malcolm, and was a bookkeeper. She was born in Queens, New York, to Scottish immigrants. The year after their marriage, the couple lived in Buffalo, New York, at 995 Lafayette Avenue. Eventually, they settled in Hamburg, New York.

John Muir died in April 1978; Roselyn died on 8 August 1989. They had two sons.

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I rediscovered John Muir because of a DNA match who had two people in his family tree -- himself and his father, who was deceased. Using the death date and place of the father, I was able to find an obituary, which included his parents' names and then an obituary for his father's mother, Roselyn K. (Malcolm) Muir. Once I knew her maiden name, I found the marriage license and realized I already had her husband, John Muir (1905-1978), in my tree but had had not yet spent time researching him after he returned to Scotland with his father and brothers in 1913.

[1] I am suspicious about this UK outward bound passenger record as his brother Hugh's age is listed as being older than John rather than being three years younger.

"Not Likely to Become an Efficient Soldier"
Anchor Line: Scottish Ships for Scottish Passenger