A DNA Surname Study Coming Together

A descendant of Lata Grinberga has volunteered to take an autosomal DNA test. This could be huge for my quest to break through a brick wall of missing records on my Akerfelds family line. We’ve got an impressive little group of testers representing this group from rural Nikrace, Latvia so far – 3 descendants of Jekabs Akerfelds (including myself), 1 from his older brother Ernests (maybe 1 more on the way) and now, maybe the key to more information – potential sister of Ernests and Jekabs, Lata Grinberga.

What makes Lata so special is that there is a gap in church records at Embute between 1854 and 1869 – both my great great grandfather Jekabs and his brother Ernests were born in that time period, so the typical records I’d have used to identify their parents (baptisms) are not available. They also happened to live at an estate (Lieldzelda) for which no revision lists are available at Raduraksti.. that would have been my second choice for record. However… Lata was born in 1872, and I have found her baptism.

The case for Lata being a sister to Ernests and Jekabs is strong. She had 3 illegitimate children  and named them after Ernests, Jekabs, and Ernests’ second wife Anlize. She lived near the brothers, first on the same estate – Lieldzelda, but moving northward to Skrunda when Ernests also made a similar move (Jekabs’ family moved to a Latvian colony in Siberia at this time). She was baptized as Lata Grinbergs, but her children (at least her sons – her daughter married and took her husband’s surname) adopted the surname Akerfelds, or Grinbergs alias Akerfelds, just like Ernests and Jekabs.

What’s extra interesting is that Lata, being mother to 3 illegitimate children, was also born out of wedlock. She was born in July of 1872 to an unmarried woman named Ilze Grinberga at Gruzenieki farm at Lieldzelda. There’s not a ton of information about her in the baptism, but her godparents were Lata Kristhold, Margrieta Ehrlich and her son Ernests Ehrlich. Her mother Ilze was born in 1843 at Dinsdurbe, a neighbouring estate to Lieldzelda, and she was a twin – sister Karline was born the same day.

SO the results of Lata’s great grandson’s DNA test should be very telling. If Lata was a full sister to Ernests and Jekabs, our new tester should appear as a 3rd cousin to our other 3 Akerfelds testers (3rdcousin, once removed for me, the fourth tester). It’s also a possibility that maybe, since she was illegitimate, she had a different father than Ernests and Jekabs and our new tester would be a half 3rdcousin. And of course, it could turn out that Lata is not biologically related at all, maybe just a distant Grinbergs cousin who decided to jump on the “alias Akerfelds” bandwagon.

Whatever the result, it will surely bring about more questions. Who is the mystery father? If she is a full sister to Ernests and Jekabs, why did their father never marry their mother despite having 3 children with her? Was his surname Akerfelds? Where was he from? Was he perhaps a different religion than Ilze Grinbergs and that’s why they didn’t marry? A soldier maybe, often away? Was he perhaps a baron or an estate owner, or an affiliate of one who would visit Lieldzelda/Dinsdurbe?

The DNA test results will not be able to answer those questions for me… but it will offer some very good clues, a couple more new footholds to launch new little investigations and possibilities.Presentation1Akk

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My Personal Autosomal DNA Results

Just two weeks shy of a year after receiving the results of my first foray into DNA – my mother’s autosomal test, I received the results of my own autosomal test recently. Almost surprisingly, results were pretty much as expected with regards to my paternal side (my father is an adoptee, I blog about my research on that side of my family HERE). And of course, there is nothing new to report on my Latvian family, since I didn’t receive any extra genes that my mother did not. There are, though, a few tidbits to be gleaned from these results.

The first thing that caught my attention was that many of my mother’s DNA matches with deep Latvian roots did not make the cut when I received 50% of her DNA. Most of her matches who were predicted to be closer matches to her based on total shared cM and segments rather than longest solid block of shared DNA have deep Latvian farmer roots, and now I have to guess at an interpretation of that: either a) by chance I didn’t get handed down those particularly Latvian genes, or b) those matches to my mother are predicted to be closer than they really are due to being from a relatively small country/population and likely sharing multiple ancestors further back in time than DNA can “see”. The second thing that made me scratch my head was that, the group I call “my mother’s southern European sticky genes” did pass to me. A Hungarian, Romanian, Croatian, Slovenian, Austrian… There is a pileup on my mother’s 3rd chromosome of people who’s roots are decidedly un-Baltic, and it seems like that segment was passed to me relatively unbroken.

Sticky 3rd

An example of 5 of my “southern” DNA matches on that “sticky” 3rd chromosome.

Which is also interesting because I inherited a fairly large chunk of unbroken Akerfelds DNA on the 7th chromosome also from my mother relatively unbroken. I know this because we also share it with my mother’s third cousin, an Akerfelds 3rd cousin (he genealogically shares only the furthest back set of Akerfelds great grandparents I have found so far with us, so any DNA shared between us is from that couple). The Akerfelds male Y-DNA line is I-P37, which also carries a southern European/Balkan hint. Are both these two segments “strong” or “sticky” genes, by chance passed down many generations and indicative of a northward migration at an earlier point in history?

Akerfelds -Kris

Strong Akerfelds segment on the 7th chromosome. My mother is represented by the orange, me in the blue and my 2nd cousin is green. This chart is shown from our 3rd cousin’s “point of view”, so to say. Myself, my mother, and our 2nd cousin are all his 3rd cousins (I am 1x removed) along the Akerfelds line, meaning any highlighted spots here in any colour represent genes from the parents of Jekabs and Ernests Akerfelds.

Another interesting group of genes that were strong enough to make it to me belong to a defined group of Finns, and another too seems to be a chunk of Polish. This is all well and good and interesting but… I haven’t figured out how this is helpful yet, as all known genealogy is pretty darn Latvian so far!

Thankfully I do have some Latvian DNA matches as well, and I am working on their family trees so that I might find our shared ancestors!

Y4460 Positive

It was suggested after testing my mother’s 3rd cousin’s Y DNA and receiving a haplogroup designation of I-P37 that I test some single SNPs to further categorize our results into more detailed subclades.
First I tested S17250, which grouped us in amongst males possibly descended from the Venedes/Wends/Weneci/Vistula Veneti people. Next it was suggested to me that I test SNP Y4460. Well, I did, and the results just came in as positive for this mutation. This result is consistent with the theory of the project administrator who suggested the Venedes as our ethnic origin. It’s put us into a small subclade that includes one other Latvian male line, one that originated in Riga in the late 1600’s and migrated to Sweden from there.
A few things intrigue me about this – one, there’s that Sweden theory I had in the beginning regarding our origin and the name Akerfelds/Akerfeldt. And two, the surname of the other male line is Sternfelt. I know it’s a longshot, but it is interesting that it’s a “-felt” name, just like Akerfelds. This Sternfelt line is not closely related to ours, since it’s modern day descendant does not show as a cousin autosomally or as a Y DNA match, but they might have shared a male ancestor many hundreds, even thousands of years ago. What’s interesting is the old territory in Latvia populated by Weneci peoples, is pretty much bang on where our Akerfelds have traced back to – Nikrace pagast – and a bit east/south. It seems like this subclade is both foreign and exotic but also deeply Latvian.

To be continued…

Akerfelds Y Haplogroup: I-P37

My mother’s 3rd cousin’s Y DNA test placed him (and therefore the Akerfelds male line) in haplogroup I, the oldest haplogroup originating in Europe. Specifically the I-P37 branch, most commonly found in South Eastern Europe – Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Romania, etc. This I found fairly interesting. The 3rd cousin’s Y DNA cousin matches span a huge expanse in Europe, with the closest being a man from Omsk, Russia. Others are scattered from Italy to Ukraine, Poland to Bulgaria. Intrigued, I joined several Y DNA projects within FamilyTreeDNA’s website. Projects are run by project administrators who are typically researchers of a certain geographical area, haplogroup or surname with which they have a special interest. Many of them are very knowledgeable and aside from being able to help you understand your results, when you join a project you also contribute your results for comparison amongst other project members which can help researchers learn more about the haplogroup, surname, or area in general. They are able to see patterns in Y DNA results and group members together accordingly, another way to learn more about subclades and mutations etc.

Two of the projects I’ve joined have been especially helpful so far – the I2a Haplogroup project and the Baltic Sea project. After initial testing was completed (Y37 only, just to try), it was suggested that I could further categorize the Akerfelds line into a more detailed subclade by testing single SNP S17250. Haplogroups have these clades and subclades, which are basically like branches of a tree, sects of people who grouped together and branched off the main line of their original group to mutate a certain way separately. In our case, I is the main haplogroup, but through time it split up off into other directions with unique mutations, much like a tree . We started with I, then split off with I-P37, then we tested negative for S17250 which threw us into another subclade.

At this level of testing, I received an email from a project administrator suggesting that the patterns in our Y DNA together with the negative result for S17250 could mean that our male ancestral line traces back to the Venedes, Vistula Veneti, Weneci, Wends, a smaller tribe that lived within the land that is now Latvia between the 12th and 16th centuries. The cities of Cesis (German: Wenden) and Ventspils (German: Windau) as well as the river Venta are named for these people. They also have a claim in the creation of the Latvian flag. They are actually a bit mysterious, but are thought to have originated south, on the Adriatic sea, moving up along the Amber Road to the Baltic, around the river Vistula. This could help explain all the southern matches, anyway!

Comparing Cousins

Part of my research I have been slacking on posting about is my ongoing adventure with DNA testing. In addition to my mother’s autosomal testing, her third cousin has completed autosomal and Y DNA testing now (including two separate single SNP tests, S17250 and Y4460), as well as a second cousin along the Akerfelds line and now myself! I recently took an autosomal test and am excitedly awaiting the results.

The autosomal tests between the 3 cousins so far definitely show them as being related, within the correct estimated ranges of shared DNA for 2nd and 3rd cousins. Interestingly, the 2nd cousin is sort of a “double cousin” to my mother, as her grandparents (Janis and Anna Akerfelds) are brother and sister to his grandparents (Arturs and Katte Ziverts), meaning they share 4/8 great grandparents, while 2nd cousins usually share 2/8. This means they should have even more DNA in common, and they are indeed in the higher range of values for a second cousin relationship. What else is interesting is my mother and her 2nd cousin share more total DNA, across many more smaller segments, while my mother and her 3rd cousin (he shares 2/16 great great grandparents) share a much longer unbroken segment (57cM). My interpretation of that is that longer segments shared between two people indicate a strong inheritance from less people while a greater number of smaller segments shows two people share many of the same more recent ancestors – this could either mean two people are closer cousins and therefore share more ancestral lines OR they may be more distant cousins along several different family lines without knowing it.

Having these other tests to compare known relationships to is handy when looking at unknown cousin matches. Size and amount of DNA segments can be compared to interpret genetic distance, or to compare other unknown matches and where they share DNA segments – chances are good a shared segment amongst two known cousins and a third unknown could all come from the same ancestor, same family line. The 3rd cousin only shares one known family line with my mother and the 2nd cousin – Akerfelds, while my mother and her 2nd cousin share Akerfelds, Ziverts, Dzerve and Bitners – her entire paternal side and his entire maternal side (which is his only Latvian side, his father is a different ethnicity, making it even easier because this tidbit means that ANY Latvian cousin matches he has is from a line he shares with my mother).

chrbrdfsadfa

Chromosome browser for my mother and the two cousins mentioned above. Orange is the 2nd cousin while blue is the 3rd cousin. Note the long matching segment on chromosome 7 shared with the 3rd cousin, and the multiple smaller segments shared with the 2nd.

Arlava Draudze

Finally, some answers to overcome the brick wall that was my great grandmother’s family! It wasn’t easy – the documents I needed to ensure I had the right people were not available online and I needed help from a professional genealogist stationed in Riga – Antra Celmina. She found my great great grandparents Fricis Ozolins and Matilda Ozols’ passport applications (complete with pictures) from 1920 at the Latvian State Historical Archives. They were listed one after the other suggesting they had applied as a couple, and listed children’s names that match what I know of my family. And they were from the right area – Lubezere village in Arlava parish, just a bit north of Talsi, where most documents say they were from.

According to his passport application, Fricis Ozolins was born November 23, 1868. His (much younger)wife Matilda was September 18, 1890 – which means I actually already likely found her baptism record before when I was searching the nearby parish of Nurmuiza for the family of a DNA match of my mother’s.

I went to Arlava’s parish books and found Fricis’ baptism right where it should be near the end of the book for 1868. Fricis, son of Kristaps(1841), son of Ans (1815), son of Gotthard (circa 1785). A long line of men all from Lubezere estate. Residents of Arlava parish frequently mingled with those from neighbouring Nurmuiza parish, and it seems like female lines woven into these Ozolins all hailed from Nurmuiza. There are two Grietas – Grieta Nikodemus, wife of Kristaps Ozolins, and Grieta Olms (Olmans?), the wife of Ans Ozolins (Gotthard’s wife was named Anna). Arlava kept detailed marriage records – unlike most of my family’s parishes so far – that actually denote birthdate, parish and page number of baptism. Mysteriously, Grieta/Margrieta Nikodemus’ information doesn’t check out – her marriage claims she was baptized in 1839 at Nurmuiza but there is no record to be found. Her last name intrigued me, since it doesn’t have a very traditionally Latvian sound, so I poked around some neighbouring parishes and found a larger Nikodemus family at Kuldiga. Perhaps she was originally from Kuldiga – time will tell.

Ozolins, Fricis - Baptism

210. Fritz (Fricis) son of farmer at Essern (Lubezere) estate, Smilkti farm Christoph(Kristaps) and his wife Margareta. Godparents: Fricis Ozolins, bachelor and Julie Frohlich, maiden.

Matilda’s family is more of a mystery still. Her father was Janis Ozols – a name that might as well be the “John Smith” of Latvia, since it is so common. Her mother is a glimmer of hope – Madlena Briedis. Briedis is also a very common surname but at least the first name Madlena stands out a bit. Still, no baptism to be found for a Madlena Briedis at Nurmuiza, although I HAVE located one that would fit for a MaRlena Briedis, but it seems too big of a spelling error to accept. Janis and Madlena were married in 1886 at Nurmuiza parish, which kept sadly detail-less marriage records – literally just first and last names and date of marriage. They had a daughter in 1888 and Matilda in 1890 and then disappear from records – aka moved or died. Another loose end waiting to be tied up!

A few details about the setting here – the town of Talsi is fairly inland, but the parish of Nurmuiza to it’s east included residents right from the Talsi city limits over west to the Baltic coast on the Gulf of Riga. There was a decently busy port at Roja, just to the north along the coast, and Nurmuiza residents were actually sometimes shipbuilders and fishermen as well as your typical farmers. This could potentially be a reason for Fricis’ advanced age at marriage – he was 22 years older than his wife. I had previously figured it was possible that he had been a soldier, but now sailor is also a possibility. Of course, there’s always personal preference too, I suppose!

More to come…

Grenci Estate, 1700’s

I traced my Veisbergs line back to an estate called Grenci (Grendsen). Mikelis Veisbergs, my 3x great grandfather (father of Emilija) was born in October of 1861 at Sprungi farm on Grendsen estate. He was baptized at Zemite parish, while the rest of his siblings were baptized at Satu parish, the traditional church of Grenci residents. His parents were Jekabs Veisbergs and Liba Meiers, a fairly productive couple with upwards of 10 children over a fairly long period of time. Jekabs and Liba were married in 1834 at Satu and baptized all their children there except for the last one, which happens to be my ancestor Mikelis. It’s unclear to me yet why they baptized him at a different church, especially when they were still living on the same farm.Mikkel

No. 110 Mikelis, Grenci estate, Sprungi farm. Son of Jekabs Veisbergs and his wife Trine Liba. Godparents: Mikelis Weickner, spirdzenieks(??), Kriss Meiers of Spinni farm, and Trine Meiers

marr

No. 24. October 21, 1834 Jekabs, farmer from Sprungi farm, Grenci estate married Liba, Kriss daughter from Spinni farm, Grenci estate.

Jekabs was the son of Andrejs Veisbergs and had one brother named Janis, but both Andrejs and their mother must died at an early age because on the revision list for Sprungi farm, Jekabs and Janis are listed as step sons of a man named Janis Sohne, wirt (head or master of farm) of Sprungi. Whether this means their mother remarried to Mr. Sohne, or he adopted them as orphans somehow is yet to be discovered.

Sprungi

1850 Grenci estate revision list showing Jekabs Veisbergs and his brother Janis Veisbergs, sons of Andrejs, living with Jekabs Sohne, his family, and their families at Sprungi farm.

Liba Meiers was from Spinna farm at Grenci estate, the daughter of Kriss Meiers and his wife Trine. From the Grenci revisions I know that Kriss is the son of Otto Meiers – my 6x great grandfather. Since Liba Meiers was married in 1834 and had children up until 1861, she was probably married fairly young to continue having children that far into the marriage. So I’d assume she was born between 1810 and 1814 (Sadly, church books from Satu are missing from this time period). Her father Kriss, was therefore born ~1785. And HIS father Otto can be predicted to have been born ~1760. That’s about as far back as you can hope to go with purely Latvian peasant genealogy!

Spinna

1850 Grenci estate revision list showing Kriss Meiers, son of Otto and his family living at Spinna farm.