Another one of my long-standing brick walls was the origin location of my second main surname, Thielke, my maternal grandfather’s line. For the longest time, the most detailed origin location we had was Schwerin, Germany, which by itself is a city, but also can be considered a larger area. Though, another record indicated Baden-WÃ¼rttemberg which is on the complete opposite site of Germany.
Searching in some of the old 1819 Mecklenburg-Schwerin Census records did find some Thielkes, but nothing else to go on. At least we knew roughly the general area.
Last night, since I was working on some of the other Thielke lines to try to pad things out, I decided to run another FamilySearch search on my furthest ancestor, Henry Peter Thielke. I used WikiTree’s RootsSearch option which just makes it easier by automatically plugging in all of the vital data for me and searches FamilySearch.
Yesterday, the big news across the Genetic Genealogy community was the release of Ancestry DNA’s Genetic Communities. According to Ancestry, these communities are built like this:
We find Genetic Communitiesâ„¢ by looking at a network of DNA connections we build using millions of AncestryDNA members in our database. When we build a network like this using millions of AncestryDNA members with billions of DNA relationships between them, we find groups of people in the network that have more DNA matches to each other than to people in other parts of the network. We call these groups Genetic Communities. We use a popular network analysis method called community detection to discover them.
So, it’s sort of a mix of DNA matches along with information from the millions of family trees built on the site. Together they can find a community in the more recent past. Previously, we only had ethnicity estimates to work with, but those were usually more broad and much deeper in the past. For example, here are my ethnicity results.
That Scandinavia one still confuses me a bit. but who knows where my deep ancestry came from. Those Scandinavians were known to travel.
I have two active Genetic Communities, as do most people it seems. My first one is Germans in Brandenburg & Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (very likely >95%) which matches up very well with my known ancestry. The other one is Poles in Pomerania, which also matches up very well though their confidence is only at 20% for this one at the moment.
The German community points to this area, which is the original location of a lot of my German ancestry. The Pomeranian community points to a majority of northern Poland, which also has a lot of my ancestry. As always, click the images for a larger view.
You can also break down the communities into time periods to find out more information about what happened in that area during those years. If I open up the time period when most of my ancestors migrated, it talks about that exact thing and also talk about how they came to the Wisconsin area.
So far these communities have been helpful and surprisingly specific and on the right track. Based on a lot of the messy, incorrect trees I see on the site I’d expect some skew, but I imagine those are not the majority. If you’re looking for much more insight on these communities, check out the great post over at The Genetic Genealogist. Ancestry has also put together a short video introducing the feature.
The second ancestor in my 52 Ancestors project this year is my maternal great-great-grandfather, Carl Friedrich Herman LAST, also known as Charles. I’m related to Charles via my mother â†’ her father (LeRoy THIELKE) â†’ his mother (Madora LAST) â†’ her father (Carl LAST).
From the information we have, Charles was born in the small town of Döringshagen, Naugard, Pommern, Germany on 26 September 1851. This area is now known as Wo?owiec, Zachodniopomorskie, Poland. He was the second child, and first son, of Johann & Charlotte (STRASSMAN) LAST. Even though I’ve found the baptism and marriage records for both of his parents, I have yet to find his baptismal record in the Germany/Prussia/Pomerania church records available online.
When Charles was 5 years old, his family left Germany and traveled to the United States from Hamburg to New York, arriving on 14 September 1857. From there they made there way to southeastern Wisconsin, settling in the town of Grafton in Ozaukee County.
Charles and his family lived in the Grafton area from 1860 through the 1880 census records. On February 25, 1883, Charles marries another German girl, Augusta LUEDTKE in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I have yet to figure out why they were married 25 miles south in Milwaukee. It is possible that Charles was temporarily living there. I think Augusta lived there at the time, but I have no proof of that as she immigrated in 1881, just after the census record.
I think Charles and his family ended up taking over his parent’s farm as it seems they were in the same area in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 census records.
On June 5, 1926, Charles passed away at the age of 74, of what they labeled as “Apoplexy.” Today, they would probably call that a stroke. It is said to have been caused partly by senile dementia. He is buried nearby at Union Cemetery in Port Washington, Wisconsin.
I do actually have some info on the DNA I possibly received from Carl and his wife. I have a DNA match that is related to me through Carl and his wife Augusta, through one of their daughters (my great-grandmother’s sister.) I actually received a few photos of Carl and his family from them.
Chromosome 15: 50 – 60
Chromosome 23: 118 – 134 & 146 – 155
There are a few other matches that overlap this area, but I have yet to confirm anything with them.
The twenty-eighth ancestor in my 52-week challenge is my maternal 3rd-great-grandfather, Henry Peter THIELKE. He is the last ancestor that I have information for in my Thielke line. I am hoping to find more information about him back in Germany to expand my Thielke line.
The most documented date of birth for Peter, as he usually went by, is October 1813 in the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern area of Germany. His parents are unknown. He was assumed to have been married sometime before 1840 in this area to Marie D SPECHT. They had 6 documented children, their first was Sophie, born in about 1840. My ancestory, Johann, was born next in 1843. Another one of their children was Minnie, whom I wrote about previously in this challenge.
Their immigration happened sometime between 1854 and 1856 as their son Frederick was born in Germany in 1854 and their next child, Herman, was born in Wisconsin in 1856. Between 1860 and 1880, the family lived in the Grafton/Port Washington area of Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.
There is a closely named individual in the 1817 Schwerin, Mecklenburg census that matches up closely with Peter, but without any more information about his parents or siblings, I can’t verify that it is him. But, I’ve kept that record tagged so I can always go back to it.
Peter was listed as a farmer for all of his life and passed away of 13 February 1899 of bronchitis along with what was then called Bright’s disease. He is buried, I think, next to his wife (stone is very worn) at Union Cemetery in Port Washington, Wisconsin.
The thirteenth ancestor in my 52 week challenge is my paternal 3rd-great-grandmother, Maria (KLEGIN) BRAATZ.
The only documented evidence that I have seen of Maria’s birth was from her death certificate which states that she was born 15 Februrary 1842 in Schoenwalde, Germany. Trouble is that there is no modern city with that name and multiple historical cities with that name. Some basic research from other experts suggests that it may be somewhere in the northern area of Germany, as Klegin is a somewhat rare surname. Though, I also don’t know how solid the evidence is that her surname is actually Klegin as that is also from her death certificate, so it was given by a third party.
A glimmer of hope, though, is that her son, my great-great-grandfather, Frank Braatz is listed as having been born in Bavaria, Germany. I did a search for Schoenwalde and Bavaria and it turns out that there is a municipality in Bavaria named Schönwald. I may be on to something.
She married Wilhelm BRAATZ at some point, probably the mid 1860s, and gave birth to their first child (and my ancestor) Frank. Shortly after, they decided to leave Germany and head to Wisconsin. On 15 June 1868, they arrived in New York aboard the Ship Auguste traveling from Bremen, Germany. They first settled in New London in Waupaca County, Wisconsin where their next child, William, was born. Next, their third and final child, Ida, was born.
They seemed to have stayed in Waupaca County as Maria passed away there in March 1890 and is buried there at Little Wolf Cemetery. Mysteriously, I lose Wilhelm after 1880. I’m assuming he passed away and is also buried there, but I have yet to find documentation on that.
I think the photo at the right is a photo of Wilhelm, Maria, and Frank as the photo was in a frame that my grandmother had. It was also labeled something like “Grandma and Grandpa Braatz” assuming it was originally in the possession of my great-grandmother as they look nothing like my grandmother’s Braatz grandparents. It’s also labeled as being taken in a studio in the New London/Oshkosh area of Wisconsin, where the Braatz family lived for quite awhile.
Over the last few months I’ve put together a lot more information about what my grandfather did in World War II. As previous posts mention, he never really talked about the war, not even to my mom. Though, he has kept a lot of items from the war and I guess he was starting to put together a map before he started to have health issues. Sadly, my grandfather passed away on November 1, 2015. I did not get any more time to talk to him about his time in the war, but I’ll never stop researching his service to my country.
Outside of that, I’ve put together a rough history based on letters, notes, photos, and maps that he kept along with some tricky Google searches and Wikipedia. I am posting this for both posterity and to maybe get some searches coming this way to open up more history from other researchers.
This will be an ongoing post as I find and update the information, but I want to get it posted. There is an updates section at the end of the post where I will note what I updated or edited.
I have also recently put this information into a Google Map since they have released the custom map engine for their new map system.