Ancestry DNA mystery

+6 votes
A few month back I took an Ancestry DNA test. Most of my cousin matches were easy to identify since my paternal grandmother had eleven siblings. There were some results that I cannot explain nor find a connection to my late father's side of the family. Unfortunately I do have three complicating factors. Please bare with me as I explain these before getting to the "meat" of my problem.

First complication is my late father's parents were first cousins. His paternal grandmother and his maternal grandfather were siblings (Knoebel). I know as a result that skews the cM I share with matches.

The second and the third is I know very little about my father's maternal grandmother's family (Oliver). I know the first name of his inferred maternal great-grandmother. She is listed in the 1870, 1880 and Iowa 1885 state census. After that she disappears from the records. His maternal great-grandfather is not in any documentation I can find.  Likewise his paternal grandfather (Enders/Endres) cannot be documented in census records, death records nor any independent "official" record.

I and two of my cousins on the specific branch for my paternal grandfather Enders have matches for a family that connects back to a MCRA of George A Schaller (1801-1895) x Eva Marie Marquardt (1810-1881). both born in Hesse and finally settled in Brownsville, Houson County, Minnesota. None of the few cousin from my paternal grandfather sibling branches match these "mystery" matches. Likewise none of my cousin matches from my paternal Knoebel grandmother's family match these "mystery" matches. Two of these mystery matches come back as 180cm, 156 cM, and 95cM which would put them as 3rd to 4th cousin range. The associated surnames of some of their descendants are Brenner, Marquardt, Schaller, Winslow all with connections to south/eastern Minnesota or Iowa

I've tried contacting these people to see if they perhaps have a connection to my family and haven't gotten a response. I've tried 'reconstructing' their family trees and discovered their MRAC and side branches but have not found a connection. I am not sure where to go from here. I am not sure what conclusion I should take from these results. Can anyone give me some advice?
in Genealogy Help by L. Harrington G2G6 Mach 1 (10.1k points)
retagged by Darlene Athey-Hill
This doesn't answer the question, but I have some related notes:

* It looks to me like there's a certain amount of consistency in the records - it's "Marinda", not "Miranda".

* I don't know if you've noticed this, but there's a very special thing about the 1925 Iowa census: On the second page (and you need to know that there's a second page to go look at) it give the person's PARENT'S names, as well as where they were born.

For Lone Knoebel, it says her parents are "James Olliver" and "Marinda Olliver", both born in OH. I get the impression that this is also the correct spelling for "Olliver", which might be helpful.

* Of course, having mom and dad with the same surname is suspicious, but I think it's actually real. I say that because I looked for James Oliver in OH, and found 5 or 6 of them. Some were clearly the wrong guy - there were records tracing them forward, down a different path. The one that looked the most promising to me was in Washington County (on the southeastern edge of the state).

To back up a little, it seems clear that Marinda, born abt 1840, married James - probably shortly after the Civil War (perhaps he was in it), had Lone abt 1868, and Edward died shortly thereafter, around 1869, before the 1870 census.

One thing this means is that Lone is an only child, so there won't be distant cousins out there in your DNA at that level.

Getting back to Malinda, there's a 1856 IA census with "Marinda Oliver", 19, b OH, living in Millville, in Clayton Co IA. I swear I saw her in the 1860 census in Washington Co, OH, but I can't find it again. She appears alone in these census records. I think I also ran across an "Olliver" from Washington Co who also ended up in Clayton Co. It would have been pretty easy to travel from one place to another, since they're on big rivers that merge.

* The 1870 census says Marinda is the daughter of foreign born parents, and illiterate. The James Oliver I have my eye on lived in Liberty Twp in 1860. His parents, John and Mary, were born in Hanover (which is to say, Germany). There are many other Germans in the neighborhood, so Marinda seems to fit in.

4 Answers

+5 votes
Best answer

If you have a few matches to this family, DNA Painter’s What are the chances of? tool could help:

by Katie Fuller G2G6 Mach 3 (34.8k points)
selected by James Moon
+4 votes
Well I am going to take a stab at it. And a lot based on a few in family trees of people I know, plus my time living in the country back in the early 40s. Let’s go back to around the time of your great grandparents. About 70% of the population lived in the country. Your neighbors most likely are about 3 miles or more away. So your relatives would live closer if possibly, to help each other in duties of the farm. Your brothers lives a 1/2 mile from you. Your kids and there’s are close by to play with and have get togethers., there fore with no one else around  sex experience is with brothers, sisters, 1st and 2nd cousins.. and hardly anyone would go to school. It was taught at home or nearby family.  My mothers family could not read or write. My mother and Her brother only made it to 5th grade. Incest and inbreeding was common, I just recently found a thing about my aunt and who was the kid she had, Now for the one who don’t seem to match.  There lived nearby a family called. Jones, they just had a baby boy, well at a year old his parents had a accident and both died.  There is no other family relationship You know . Of So the neighbors take in the one year old boy. There name is Kelley,  they rename the boy to Kelley. And raise him as there own. No DNA connection.  Or mr Jones and his wife had a boy.  The mother dies, the father is unable to raise him, he gives him to his sister who is married to a Bishop.. they raise him As a bishop. Now this has happen a lot in the early 1700 and 1800 in the country. Then there many reasons that the birth family was unable to care for a child and gave them away. On of our family, the mother was single and alcoholic and gave up her baby to a sister. Another a cousins Kid were given away and the other cousin raised them as there own changing names.    Today a family can be hundreds of miles away And someone is near to take care Of anyone.
by Alfred Smith G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
+4 votes
There are a lot of questions to unpack here. Each family line could be its own question. But ...

Concerning Marinda Oliver, there was a Marinda Oliver living in Millville, Clayton County, Iowa in 1856 shown as aged 19:

She was born in Ohio. This seems quite unusual to me. None of the neighboring families show people from Ohio. She looks to be just by herself. I would believe she has *some* connection to some neighboring family to end up so far from her birth at such a young age. But it doesn't seem clear what that connection is.

But ... I would think this is the same woman. So if she was already an Oliver at age 19 and never remarried, thereby changing her name, it would seem Lone was given her mother's name. I think a reasonable possibility is that Lone was born out of wedlock and that in fact "Oliver" was Miranda's maiden name, or at least her name since 19 years old.
by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (240k points)
I have considered that as a possible until via a death announcement in the local paper a short blurb about Miranda Oliver's death and a mention of my great-grandmother and a brother. I looked for an interment record for her in the local area and cannot find one. Either she was buried with no marker (as in the Pauper field), or she was buried somewhere other than Clayton Co. Both of which are good possiblity given where in Clayton Co. she lived (close to the Mississippi river town and a rail road town).

In researching the brother I found he lists his birth in census records as 1859 in National, Iowa. I've tried finding him in the 1870 census since he'd only be 11 or 12 years old. I didn't exactly find him but I "think" I found a potential lead in the neighboring farm community. Again his surname is Olliver ( the potential lead had a spelling  in that census of Alvord). In following census record he lists his name as Olliver. My DNA does match the brother's line of descendants. I "think" because of the almost ten year gap between brother and sister and the brother on his first marriage, death record and 1925 IA State Census record lists his mother as "unknown", they may have been only half siblings. Neither my grandmother nor her brother give a consistent name for their father on important documents. I have William, James, Edward, and John listed between the two of them.
I'm seeing where those various names are. "William" from his marriage record, "Edward" from his 1925 IA census, "John" from his death certificate, "James" from Lone's 1925 Iowa census.

The birth date and place on the death certificate seem to match other things well enough - born 1859 in National, IA (in Clayton Co). But clearly the informant knows little of Edward's parents - most info is blank. I wouldn't trust it. Then again, his 2nd marriage record has that too, so that muddies the water.

His 1925 IA census doesn't even take a guess at his mother's name, and apparently it just assumes he was a "Jr". Maybe his daughter (who never knew her grandparents) filled it out. I wouldn't trust that one either.

So that leaves us with "William", where I don't even have an image to see exactly what's there, or "James".

In contrast to the others, Lone's 1925 IA census is complete. Probably she was the person who was the informant. So I favor that one.

I'm not sure if it means anything, but the "James Oliver" I'm eyeing in Liberty Twp, Washington Co, OH has a brother named William and a father named John (and a son named Edward). So all these names show up there.

The thing is, it doesn't look like Edward was even raised with his mother, and he would never have known his father (assuming the father died). So maybe his records aren't the greatest. It's really great that you have DNA matches to his descendants though.

The forename of William is on both Edward's 1st marriage record of 1884

and in Lone's marriage record of 1886 (Prairie du Chien, Crawford Co., WI Vol. 2 Reg. no. 2592)

If I had to guess I would most likely say that William is the "best guess" for their father's name.

I have been trying to track down, assuming they still exist, church records for National, Clayton Co., Iowa. So far I have struck out. The local genealogical society doesn't know where they might have gone. They were nice enough to call around to area churches in the hopes they may have been transferred there but no luck. They asked me if I had tried Familysearch or the local LDS library but no records there either. The baptismal records, if they existed, would have been my best hope of having a definitive record of who exactly was Edward and Lone's father and clear up if Marinda was Edward's mother.

I guess I am a bit slow on the uptake but are you researching Ollivers? I so have matches that descend from both Edward's first and second marriage. Most are from his second marriage. It seems that after his death in 1930, his widow fell on hard times and the state took the two children from that marriage. The two little girls were adopted by other families and the one of the girl's family were looking for her biological family. Their DNA profiles are on Gedmatch, Ancestry and FTDNA. On AncestryDNA I match descendants of his first marriage also.

I have been working on a hypothesis about Lone and Edward. If the boy I found in the 1870 census is Edward Olliver in Farmersburg, Clayton County Iowa, he is living in the household of a James Crawford. One of James Crawford's sons, Marshall Crawford is living as a neighbor in Giard, Clayton county, Iowa to the household Lone and her mother is living. In the1880 census, Lone, age 12, is working/living in Marshall Crawford's household.  Lone's mother is living as a boarder with one of the neighbors. In the 1885 Iowa State census Marinda Olliver is living in the Marshall Crawford household. My late father told how Lone always spoke about the Crawfords. At the time I always thought it was because that they perhaps treated her well even though she was "just the hired help". After I got my DNA back I found some very distant cousins that come back to Ralph B. Crawford  & Hannah Frezee. R.B Crawford was a son of James Crawford and a brother to Marshall. I also two distant cousins that come back to John Corlett & Catherine Amanda Crawford, a sister to Ralph Crawford and Marshall Crawford.

I cannot find a "paper record" that connects me to this family but some how there is some type a connection between at least Lone and the Crawfords. What it might be I do not know.

+1 vote
Hi L! Welcome to the G2G side of WikiTree!

Thanks for doing your DNA and starting to sort it all out.  I don't think you should draw any conclusions from the results until you actually conclude your research.  The descendants from Schaller and Marquardt are interesting but your connection to them could could come from further back than that couple.  Are you using a chromosome browser? results can be quite misleading if all we know is that there is a match but can't see which chromosome segment.  I know from personal experience that the actual match can be something other than what you would think from looking at the tree.  You can transfer your DNA results to GEDmatch for tree or FTDNA for a nominal fee, and then you can see what really matches.  

I think it is really important to keep an open mind as you go along.  Don't try to decide too soon what it means.  Just keep building your tree and your matches trees.  Try to get as much info as possible from chromosome browsers and try to discover some triangulations.  Only then can you start to draw some conclusions.  Everything before that are hypotheses that need to be proven or disproven.
by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (227k points)
PS - try to go as far back on your father's line as you can, and then trace as many descendants down to the present time as you can, so that you will recognize where a match fits if you find it. Do check Ancestry's Thru Lines for hints.  Remember they are just hints.
I have loaded my Ancestry results to Gedmatch,  My Heritage, FTDNA. I am a bit frustrated with the other sites since I did the free upload but don't pay for another service (other than Gedmatch) the trees usually don't have any detail (dates, places), they have no tree or  I cannot see their complete tree without paying for a subscription.

I understand many people do a test just for the ethnic view and don't give a hang about genealogy. For someone like me trying to break through a double brick wall on the same branch and you have a DNA "mystery" match its "an itch you cannot scratch" because you cannot work with someone to figure out how you connect.

Since getting my DNA results back in late June, I have discovered three "adoptee" cousins in the 1c1r to 2nd cousin range by contacting matches. (One of which I was able to tell them "Yes this person is in my tree and this is the name of your your late grandfather, his siblings, his parents, your great-grandfather's parents names, where they lived, where they're buried." ) I also came across two late 1c1r and 2nd cousin "adoptee" families. All of them connect to my paternal grandmother's siblings.

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