Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Another Ana-Baptist Ancestress???

I finally have an exact, full segment, mitochondrial DNA match---at all 16,569 locations along my mitochondria! That may not be a big deal to some people. To me it was. I have been waiting about three years for it. 

My first cousin whom I recruited to test for my paternal grandmother's mtDNA had four matches right away and has had another match more recently. Through those matches I discovered that I had a Finnish ancestress who migrated to New Sweden (now Delaware) about 300 years ago.

My son has 27 matches among the H4a1a1 group. My daughter-in-law's father has 40 and counting among the K1a1b1a grouping that seems to account for about 1 in 5 Ashkenazi. I was feeling left out. Although several other H13a1a1 (FTDNA) or H13a1a1a (23andMe) haplogroup members seemed to have been tested, FTDNA continued to report no exact match for me---until this week.

I was not alone, no exact matches had shown up for my wife or for my father-in-law either. Then I was notified that I had not one match but two. As it turns out the two were essentially one. I matched a mother and her son who would be expected to carry identical mitochondrial DNA. However, that match is turning out to be significant genealogically speaking.

I have long known from documentary research that I have a line of ascent that goes back to Ana-Baptist nonconformists who were in Switzerland prior to 1600. Relying on the research of others I have been able to identify 4 8th-great-grandparents who were part of this sect. My mitochondrial match was from Switzerland. My earliest confirmed direct maternal line ancestor was my great-great-grand mother Mary Ann (SHOVER) GROVE who married into the line that descended from the Ana-Baptist nonconformists. 

From my newly found distant cousin, 
If I had to make a wild guess, I'd say that decedents of our common ancestress had moved to the States due to religious persecution. My great-grandmother was a very religious person. She and her husband must have originally come from baptist families who had publicly abdicated their faith generations before but secretly kept on with their beliefs. They kept a 400 hundred year old "Froschauer" bible in their trunk. This bible was forbidden in Berne after the reformation for a long time and only baptists kept on using it. This particular bible had all the verses of the new testament marked in red ink, which suggests that it was used for more than just bible reading at home. I got this piece of information from a book about the farm on which my great-grandmother and her husband had lived on, written by Hand Schmocker.
Then two days later:
I have just hung up the phone with the administration of citizenship in the town, Langnau im Emmenthal, where my great grandmother, Rosalie Gerber, was born in 1871. (Her husband's ancestors I can easily trace back to 1652: the actual family tree already exists, published in the book I mentioned yesterday). I made an appointment at the citizen office for April 30th to study all the possible registers there starting of with my great grandma and then going back. I assume that this will consequently lead me to other towns where more looking up will be necessary. I talked to my aunt on the phone and she will accompany me since she knows much better how to read the so called "Kurrentschrift" in which all the registers around here  before the 20th century were  written in.

Thanks for your fascinating information about your ancestors. The anabaptist movement started in Zurich beginning of the 16th century. But the first anabaptists also already appeared  in 1525 in Bern. The ancestors you described all carry surnames which are not indigenous to the area my great grandmother is from. However my great grandmother carries a typically Bernese surname indigenous to the Emmenthal. So there is a story there to trace.
People moved in all directions once the persecution started. Quite a few moved from the Zurich area towards the mountains (Emmenthal, Berner Oberland), hence so many still live around here where we live (our neighbors in front are "neo-anabaptists"). But there is no knowing in which direction (to or from the mountains) our common ancestress or her offspring have moved.

I will try to find out more. Well, wish me luck on my endeavor.
This is turning out to be a DNA match that was well worth the wait. For now my hypothesis is that the ancestors of both Mary Ann (SHOVER) GROVE and her husband Samuel GROVE, Jr. were part of the Ana-Baptist clan in Switzerland 400 years ago. I know that Samuel's ancestors had fled/migrated to the Baden area (now Germany) by 300 years ago and were in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania a generation later. Samuel's line subsequently spent two generations in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia before moving to Licking County, OH where Samuel was born in 1818 and where he married Mary Ann in 1840. 

Mary was apparently born in Pennsylvania about 1822. I don't know if her family knew Samuel's family before each migrated to Licking County. However, it is beginning to look like this colony of Ana-Baptists may have been very close knit. Was it chance or clan taboo that led them to marry someone within the group? In any case the gene pool may not have been as wide as one might think. 


  1. I am very curious if the Mother and Son you match are my only matches as well.I have not done a full sequence but I assume if they are listed as exact matches to me then its very possible.We have been in contact and cannot tell our common ancestor.The only other matches I have are one in France and one in Germany.Would you be interested in corresponding to see if we have the same matches?

  2. Even exact mitochondrial matches at the HVR1 or both HVR1 and HVR2 levels do not yield much useful information for GENEALOGICAL purposes. A mismatch is meaningful; but a match gives only very general information. FTDNA says:
    "Matching on HVR1 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last fifty-two generations. That is about 1,300 years."
    "Matching on HVR1 and HVR2 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last twenty-eight generations. That is about 700 years."

    In other words exact matches have only a "coin flip" chance of sharing a common female ancestor within the last 28 generations. Such tests can give information about DEEP ANCESTRY by predicting a haplogroup.

    FTDNA tells us, "Matching on the Mitochondrial DNA Full Genomic Sequence test brings your matches into more recent times. It means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last 5 generations. That is about 125 years."

    Matches within this time frame can be meaningful in answering genealogical questions--finding relationships within the last few centuries. Even a match on at all 16,569 locations of the mitochondria may be with cousins with whom you share a common ancestor 4 centuries ago; but the match can be much closer.

  3. Hi Dr D. It appears I am a direct descendant of John Grove who was a 1/2 brother of Samuel. Would like to share my Pedigree with you but have had no luck with you Email @ the Grove Surname Project. You may contact me at Tentag1a AT (email).

    1. Great Tracy!
      Let's compare our pedigree charts. I believe the Samuel to whom you refer is my 3rd great-grandfather and was buried in Licking County, OH in 1845. We were able to locate his tombstone in 2005 next to his wife Mary who died in 1849.