Lest We Forget

War Memorial 2008

National War Memorial

Today Canadians mark Remembrance Day, the day on which we recognize the sacrifices of those who have gone before us: those who will not grow old as we grow old, the young and the old who have served, and those who struggle as a result of their service. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we pause to offer sober contemplation and thanks. This year’s day of remembrance is particularly poignant for Canadians. One hundred years ago Remembrance Day did not exist but World War I was a few months old. No one thought it would go on for another four years. But today is even more sobering this year because of the events at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on October 23rd, 2014 when one of the young soldiers standing silent guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier was killed, dying at the base of the statue of soldiers and nurses rushing off to serve king and country in 1914. I was but one of many who spent hours in lockdown on October 23rd and for those of us who live and work in this city this Remembrance Day is just a little bit different.


National War Memorial – October 2014

Our National War Memorial was dedicated by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1939 as World War II loomed on the horizon. The memorial became a focal point for our day of remembrance and services are held at this location every November 11th. This year Princess Anne rededicated the memorial. There is a sense of deep sorrow this year but also a sense of defiance, in a way, by continuing to meet and remember in this place we are taking back this place from those who would seek to use this symbol for the opposite of why we have this memorial and recognize the sacrifice of those who have gone before us.

Joseph Langen Draft 1918

Joseph Langen Draft Document – 1918

Neither of my grandfathers served in the military in World War II. My mom’s dad was the son chosen to stay home and work the farm providing service in another and still meaningful way. His six brothers enlisted and somehow only one of those, my great-uncle Fred Jurgens, was sent overseas – to Europe. Our family had incredible luck where others did not because Fred came home. Most of my great-grandfathers would not have been welcome to serve in World War I because they were immigrants from Germany and the government and military would have been highly suspicious of their loyalties. Yet, I did find this document which shows that my dad’s maternal grandfather answered the call when the federal government instituted the draft in 1917. Given the date on the document, August 1918, I don’t believe Joseph Langen ever left Canada. But it is still interesting to note that he came forward when called. My great-grandfather was discharged on demobilization on February 4, 1919.

Funeral Card Friday – A Day Late

Sorry everyone! I’m a day late on this post. We’ve had a fall full of illness in our household and we’re now on round three. So please forgive me for this late post.

This is the memorial card for one of my great-grandmother’s younger brothers, Jacob Stolz. You can see a photo of him as a young man here. As you can see there isn’t much information on the card but for genealogists it does contain good information on his birth date and place. That is a blessing if you can’t find any other source with that information. Here is the relevant information:

  • Name: Jacob Stolz
  • Born: February 8, 1897
  • Birthplace: Westphalia, Iowa, United States
  • Died: August 27,  1962
  • Place of death: Humboldt, Saskatchewan, Canada

Jacob Stolz Funeral Card Cropped



Funeral Card Friday

Apologies to everyone who follows this blog. Life sort of took over – a busy summer for business travel, waves of illness hitting the house, and now prepping for the fall.  But I think I owe everyone a funeral card so here is another one. This is the funeral card for Cecelia Catherine Struck neé Froess. Cecelia married my grandmother’s brother Roman.  I feel like some important information is missing on this card such as the names of Cecelia’s parents but given the large family she and her husband had and the limited room on the card something had to be left out. Here is some relevant information:

Cecelia was born May 25, 1921 in the Conception Church area in Saskatchewan. She died February 27, 2008 in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. She was married to Roman Struck.


Cecelia Struck Funeral Card Uncorrected - Copy

Ancestor Hate Mail

Dear Richter family of Bentfeld near Paderborn,

Why on Earth did you name almost all your daughters Anna Marie? I get that every child was assigned a religious first name such as Anna or sometimes Anna Marie, but why couldn’t you give your children a more inventive or unique second or third name? It isn’t like people in this parish didn’t know how to make their daughters stand out or have relatives to honour when naming their daughters. Other people used names like Wilhelmine, Eva, Agnes, and even Anastasia. But noooo, you had to give your daughters no options so that the Richter’s descendants cannot tell the difference between one Anna Marie and another.

This problem doesn’t just exist with siblings who I know sometimes received the same name as a deceased sibling. No, you made sure to cause eternal confusion by naming female cousins in the same generation Anna Marie. Pre-1803 I have no idea who is who because marriage records don’t list the parents of the groom or bride. I’m quite certain this isn’t a result of bigamy but who the heck knows at this point.

I’m not even going to get into the changing surnames issue in this town. That’s a whole other kind of records hell right there.


A confused, frustrated, and very annoyed descendant.

What is he made of? Dad’s Geno 2.0 results part I

One of the things National Geographic does really well is science for the sake of science. Of course there is more to the science than just science but National Geographic’s Geno 2.0 is great for giving you interesting information on your ancient DNA. It just isn’t so great on the recent stuff that you want to rely on for genealogical purposes, i.e. verifying a paper trail or confirming that you are 3rd or 4th cousins with someone. But no matter what testing company you go with you do need to be prepared for potential surprises no matter what shape they come in. Case in point? My dad.

Geno 2.0 gives testers more than just their maternal and/or paternal haplogroups. The first part of the results page shows you how much Neanderthal and Denisovian DNA you carry. As you can see from the image below my dad carries slightly less than average Neadnderthal DNA but slightly more Denisovian. The Neanderthal was completely expected as almost everyone born outside Africa will carry some Neanderthal DNA.

NatGeo Doug 1 - Copy

The Denisovian was a complete surprise. In my family’s case this must go way back as we have absolutely no paper trail or suspected relationship with places like Indonesia (such as through trade) where someone could have picked this up. National Geograhpic states that these tests, especially Denisovian, are still under development. As the tests become more refined the numbers might change. But one important thing to remember is that if you think you have absolutely no connection to populations outside Africa and your results show Neanderthal DNA then your ancestors met up with some non-Africans somewhere in the past. In my dad’s case calling him a Neanderthal wouldn’t really be an insult. 🙂

NatGeo Doug 2 - CopyThe next section of results deals with direct maternal and paternal haplogroups. Males can test for both as they inherit both the mitochondrial DNA from their mothers and the Y DNA from their fathers. Men will pass on the Y DNA to their sons but they cannot pass on the mitochondrial DNA to their daughters. This is where my dad’s results start to get interesting.

Given what we know from the paper trail I expected common haplogroup results. My paternal grandmother’s direct maternal line is from the area of Speyer, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany, one of the very few lines in my family that did not originate in Nordrhein-Westfalen. My dad’s mtDNA Haplogroup is H11. I was wondering when H would show up in our family and would have been really surprised if both of my parents’ mtDNA haplogroups weren’t H. (We already established that my mom’s is T2.)  H is by far the most common mtDNA haplogroup in Europe and there are now so many subclades I can’t keep up. H11 is most common in the Netherlands which isn’t that far from Rheinland-Pfalz.

NatGeo Doug 7

As you can see from the image above Haplogroups H and V broke off from the R root a long time ago. H and V formed their own branches. H continued into Europe and what we think of as Russia as well as other areas. From there many subclades, all identified by H followed by a number, were created when genetic mutations occurred in mitochondrial DNA.

NatGeo Doug 8

As you can see from the image above my dad’s haplogroup originated thousands of years ago. H11 is considered a European haplogroup. The image below shows you where H11 is found in and near Europe.

NatGeo Doug 9

Now, here is where things start to get interesting.

NatGeo Doug 3 - Copy

Again, my dad’s mtDNA Haplogroup isn’t a surprise. But his Y DNA Haplogroup E-L241 certainly is. My dad is Haplogroup E subclade L241. Up until a couple years ago Y DNA haplogrups were designated in the same way as mtDNA, a letter signifying the main haplogroup followed by an alternating series of numbers and letters. This started getting way too confusing. I think my dad’s designation would have been E1b1b1a1b6. So it was decided by the powers that be that Y DNA haplogroups should be designated by the main group (E) and by the last known mutation (L241).

Haplogroup E isn’t uncommon in Europe but given what we know about our direct paternal line the family is ethnically German. More specifically we’re Prussian and our family became one of many known as German Russians as they moved to the Black Sea area after Catherine the Great invited them. We don’t have any documented evidence to show our family anywhere before 1819 so they may have originated in what is now Poland or they may have moved from elsewhere. However, based on my dad’s Y DNA haplogroup results I now suspect the former. The map below will show you why.

NatGeo Doug 10

Look at all the preceeding known genetic mutations on this branch of the Y DNA tree. Look at how little the branch moved over tens of thousands of years. The white arrows show the movement of E-V13, the parent group of E-L241. Does it look like it originated in what is now Turkey? Yes, it does. Here is what National Geographic says about it.

NatGeo Doug 18

The parent group of E-L241, E-V13, originated 10-20,000 years ago in what we think of as Turkey or West Asia. from there it spread into Europe and a few subgroups including L241 were created. L241 is definitely a European sublcade of E but it is definitely not generally associated with the Germans. Nope. Look at the populations in that image: the Druze, Turkish Cypriots, Greeks, and Albanians. Say what?

Look at these maps:

NatGeo Doug 11


“Haplogroups europe” by selbst erstellt Robertius / Robert Gabel. Original uploader was Robertius at de.wikipedia – Transferred from de.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Ireas using CommonsHelper.(Original text : different scientific publications, map/image own creation). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Haplogroups_europe.png#mediaviewer/File:Haplogroups_europe.png

This map is about four years old and some of the small details might be outdated but the general information is not. Do you see where Y DNA Haplogroup E is most common? North Africa, the Sinai Peninsula, Greece, and Italy. What? As far as this part of my dad’s DNA is concerned he has more in common with Italians, Greeks and north Africans. Our family always joked about a Roman soldier leaving behind his DNA on my dad’s side of the family but we had no idea how close to reality that might be.

My dad is a great example of how haplogroups are not equal to ethnicity. After further research some sublcades might be associated with certain ethnicities, but DNA does not make your ethnicity.

My dad’s haplogroup results also show just how old this part of the test really is. There were many intervening centuries between the mutation that created L241 and 1819 when Peter Still and his family were issued visas to move to the Black Sea region of the Russian Empire. It is completely useless for genealogical research but it is really interesting information to know. It definitely raises a number of questions that we’ll likely never get the answers to because that would require time travel. 🙂 It certainly makes me very curious to know who my dad might match on an autosomal test. I suspect he’d match with people of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African background far more than people on my mom’s side of the family even though both sides are as ethnically German as you can get.

The next post will focus on the basic autosomal test results generated by Geno 2.0. There was a little surprise in there too.

What Am I Made Of? My Haplogroup Results.

I started genetic genealogy testing back in 2012 with National Geographic Genographic Project’s first phase of testing. The Genographic Project began as a 5-year project to study human migration by analyzing genetic mutations passed on the direct maternal or paternal line.  This study proved so popular that it was opened to anyone who wanted to participate. To date almost 700,000 people in over 140 countries have participated.

Back in 2012 the old version of the test would determine your Haplogroup and that was it. Geno 2.0 is a more comprehensive look at DNA and may help determine your subclade plus you get some autosomal testing as well (a look at all your ancestral lines). I’ll post more about Geno 2.0 in relation to my dad’s results in the future.

It took a couple of months to get my results but when I did they were very interesting. I had expected to fall into the most common mtDNA Haplogroup in Europe, H. Definitely not. I and my direct maternal line are mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Haplogroup T2.

NatGeo 1 - Copy

This Haplogroup is estimated to be as high as 10% in Europe but given the voluntary nature of participation in the project only 4.4% of participants share this group.

NatGeo 3 - Copy

Haplogroup T is associated with the Neolithic expansion of farming into Europe. You know, the stuff you learn about the development of farming in the Fertile Crescent? Yes, that history. The diagram above shows that Haplogroup T, and the subgroup T2, split off from Haplogroup R and then women carried it from the area we think of as the Middle East into Europe, Russia, northern Africa, India, and beyond.

NatGeo 4 - Copy

As you can see from the diagram above mtDNA Haplogroup T2 is found at higher percentages in places like Iraq than in Belgium, Denmark, or Wales. This may account for the fact that when you search for information on T2 you don’t find much. That is to say that in the areas with higher percentages of T2 there are fewer people aware of these studies and/or they don’t have the finances to participate. Not to mention political issues ongoing in areas where T2 would be found in greater numbers and, presumably, where the subclades are more diverse.

I seriously doubt I’m simply Haplogroup T2. I believe I have a subclade but without getting a full maternal sequence test I’ll never get that designation. National Geographic just didn’t test enough markers. Nevertheless I still find my T2 designation fascinating. My maternal line traces back to Epe, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany which is very close to the Dutch border. Eventually I will do further testing and it will be interesting to see what subclade I fall in and whether it resembles the results of those in western Europe.

Funeral Card Friday

Today’s funeral card is that of my direct maternal great-grandmother, Anna (Pitzel) Struck. I remember my great-grandmother and a couple of visits to the old farm, the big family reunion, and her funeral. I always thought it was interesting that she was born in a different century and that even though our family is almost exclusively German she was born in the United States before her family came up to Canada.

This card is a good example of how limited the information on the cards can be. With 50 grandchildren and 72 great-grandchildren when Anna died, and more born after her death, there just wasn’t space to list everyone. Researchers would, at the very least, have to be able to get back to my grandparents’ generation to tie into the information in this card. There is, however, other good information on this card such as the actual location of death, date of prayer service, date of funeral, and burial place, which we don’t always see on cards. Here is the relevant information with additions by me to clarify a few things that weren’t included on the card.

Anna Pitzel was born July 30, 1898 in the New Munich area of Minnesota, United States. She married Rudolph Struck who died in 1968. Anna died on August 17, 1984 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Anna was survived by 13 children, 7 sons and 6 daughters. They are: Vern, Mark (Elizabeth), Roman (Cecilia), Ervin (Agatha), Denis (Gladys), Victor, Merlin (Doris), Alma (John) Froess, Helena (Henry) Jurgens, Lorraine, Marianne (Bernard) Diederichs, Erna (John) Diederichs, and Dianne (Ralph) Hopfner. Anna was also survive by two sisters: Bertha (Herman) Frerichs and Walburga (Hubert) Wourms.

Anna was predeceased by her husband Rudolph in 1968, 3 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. She was also predeceased by 5 brothers: Herman, Mike, Leo, John, and Paul Pitzel, and 3 sisters: Mary Ann Lukan, Elizabeth Rieland, and Rose Pitzel.


Anna Struck Funeral Card Uncorrected - Copy

Funeral Card Friday

Believe it or not I had no idea Funeral Card Friday was a thing in the genealogy blogging world. I discovered it here this past weekend after I posted my first card. Funny how that works. Apparently the guideline is to post a card the first Friday of every month. I can certainly do that but I may strive to post cards more frequently depending on how many I can get scanned. Anyway, on to the purpose of this post.

I am posting both a funeral and memorial card for the same person today: Leonard Still, my paternal grandfather. You can see that the cards contain different information yet they both still lack information researchers look for. This side of the family seems to lack a lot of details even on their headstones unlike my mom’s side which traditionally puts very detailed information in funeral cards and on headstones.

Leonard Still Funeral Card Uncorrected - Copy

Relevant genealogical info:

  • Leonard Still, born March 4, 1916, in Burr, Saskatchewan
  • Died: April 1, 1988, in Humboldt, Saskatchewan
  • Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Michael Still (oh, how I hate this type of reference to women in records – her name was Regina Wirachowsky)
  • Wife: Irma
  • Children: Tom, Doug (Denelda [sic]), Harvey (Ruth), and Emily (Terry) Rohrke
  • Grandchildren: 8 (no names given but I’m one of them)
  • Six surviving sisters: Gen Indra, Celia Rushkowsky, Mollie Still, Mary (Bill) McConnell, Emma Paproski, and Agnes Hayworth
  • Predeceased by his parents Mr. and Mrs. Michael Still, sister Bertha in 1906, and brother Herman in 1945

Note that there is no picture on the funeral card but there is one on the memorial card.

Leonard Still Memorial Card Uncorrected - Copy

Plantenberg Adjudged Insane

If you read the following about one of your ancestors would you want to know more?

Plantenberg Adjudged Insane

Fred Plantenberg, the keeper of the village store at Aloys, in Cuming County, has been again adjudged insane and taken to the Norfolk hospital.  This is the second time that Plantenberg has been committed for insanity. About two years ago he was attacked, but after a few months treatment he apparently recovered, but has had a relapse. Inordinate drinking is supposed to be the chief cause of the trouble.

(The Nebraska Advertiser, May 24, 1907, page 5)

I would.

Fred Plantenberg is my great-great-grandmother Mary Plantenberg Langen Ebner’s older brother. He was a store owner, postmaster, husband, and father. Apparently he also liked alcohol a little too much. The Norfolk Weekly published the same date as the article quoted above indicates that my ancestor was taken to the Norfolk Hospital by Sheriff Malchow.

24 May 1907 Norfolk Weekly on Fred Plantenberg - Copy

I have not found reference to the first ‘attack’ and I’m not sure if I will but it does seem the courts were involved somehow. My next step is to determine whether there are any court records associated with Fred and to see if I can get a copy. Following this clue might not get me any closer to breaking through the brick wall that the Plantenberg family represents but the mere possibility that there is an interesting story just begging to be uncovered is motivation enough for me.

Funeral Card Friday

Here is the first funeral card in the series: Henry Jurgens, my maternal grandfather.

Relevant information for those doing research:

Henry Clemence Jurgens: born December 9, 1915 in Fulda, Saskatchewan. Died October 9, 1996 at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Humboldt, Saskatchewan.

Henry was married to Helena (nee Struck) for 51 years. Their children and grandchildren are as follows:

  • Elaine (Al) Wempe: Keith (Stacey), Kirby and Kristy
  • Dr. Margery Jurgens (John Hosak): Rachelle
  • Donelda (Doug Still): Andrea and Sarah
  • Lori (sic)
  • Dale (Cathy): Amy, Amanda, Matthew, and Nathaniel

Surviving siblings: Louisa Frank, Joe (Catherine) Jurgens, Bill Jurgens, Clara (Ed) Brisseau, Elsa (Lawrence) Wehage, and Ida Forsen. Surviving in-laws: Irene Jurgens, Marie (John) Korte.

Predeceased by his parents John and Katharina (Stolz) Jurgens and the following:

  • sister Theresa (Carl) Wittke
  • 5 brothers: John, Carl (Ida), Fred, Herman, Tony (Clara)
  • brother-in-law August Frank
  • sister-in-law Cornelia Jurgens
Henry Jurgens Funeral Card 1996

Henry Jurgens Funeral Card 1996