Feb 24, 2013

A long-lost relative!

One thing I've hoped to find through this research are our long-lost relatives on the Ortman side.  If you remember, Great-grandpa William John Ortman Sr. (of CDE) was the youngest of nine children of Joseph and Anna Ortmann.  When he married our grandmother, because he was Catholic and she was Lutheran, they disowned him and he never had contact with any of his eight brothers and sisters again.  So, as you can imagine, we have many great-aunts and uncles, cousins second and third, that we have never, ever heard of.

Well, we have uncovered a relative.  I won't name him, to preserve his privacy, except to call him B.  His grandmother, Mary Theresa Ortmann, was the second oldest sister of our great-grandfather, William John.  He has posted a picture of her, which I'll include here:


I don't have a picture of Great-grandpa when he was young, unfortunately, but I'll try to find one of him so we can put them side-by-side and see if they look alike.

I'm excited to have made this connection.  Although I have no intention of showing up his doorstep, I'm happy to know that B. exists and to have this picture.  I'm very touched by the whole thing.

See you soon -- 

Feb 15, 2013

The DNA mystery --

Hey, everybody -- I've been slacking off here, what with the beginning of school and so on.  After two weeks of teaching, I finally have a little space to breathe, especially since I'm sitting here with a cold, and I can't possibly do schoolwork when I don't feel well, right??

Last September, I ordered a DNA kit from ancestry.com, sent them a sample (had to spit in a tube until it filled up to the line), and on November 5, received the results.  We OrtBerns are all German, right?  We think so, right?  Here are the birth places I've found:


Looks pretty German, right?  That one over in Poland is where I think Joseph Ortmann (great-grandpa to EDC) was born, in what was called Prussia or Pomerania when it was part of Germany, but I don't know the town, so I can't be sure.

Well, the DNA results I got from ancestry.com were rather surprising, because here's how they say it breaks down:


Huh?  No Western European at all!  We are mostly from the British Isles, then next Eastern European (the Pommern connection, perhaps?), then almost 20% Scandinavian (from Denmark, very close to northern Germany, maybe?) and finally, almost 15% Southern European, that is, Italy, Spain, or Portugal!  How can that be?

Well, as far as I've gotten with the genealogy, it's only to 1685 on the ancestors of our great grandmother, Matilda Hug, which goes back to Matthias Bell, father of Daniel Bell, who was born in 1685.  A DNA family tree goes back hundreds or even 1000 years back into history, I guess before our ancestors even migrated to Germany.  But I am puzzled by the British Isles thing -- I can see German people migrating to England, but the other way around?  Hmmmm.

So far, I haven't gotten a lot out of this DNA thing from ancestry.com; every week they send me new connections to possible distant cousins, but so far I've only confirmed one, a very distant cousin descended from our mutual ancestor, Blasius Hug (b. 1725).  They've sent me a lot of possible connections, but so far that's the only one that's panned out.

Here's a video you can watch about it on ancestry.com, and the totally cool thing about this video is that Devin's company created it, and he was the one that did the animations!  (Correct me if I'm wrong, D.)  They won't let me embed it, so scroll down on that page to see it.  Here's what it looks like:


Soooo, through my connections in the genealogy world at this point, I found a much more interesting project at National Geographic:  The Genographic Project.  They are testing DNA and so far have tested almost 700,000 people, and are doing what looks like a more finely grained analysis.  They actually identify your "haplogroup," a group of people that all have a mutation in their genes that links them back to a single ancestor, long, long ago.  I think they have identified seven haplogroups that cover most of the people in Europe, and some of those go back all the way to the Middle East (like in Biblical times) or other places you would only come from in the way distant past.  What made me start fishing for my credit card was this:  The Genographic test can reveal whether we are related to a Neanderthal ancestor!  The Stone Age!!! Or there's another Stone Age ancestor in Russia that we could be related to.  Neanderthal!  When I knew that was possible, I was in.  

I sent in my sample -- this one from cheek scrapings (and don't scrape too hard!), and I see on their website that they're working on it.  So, two weeks down, four to six weeks to wait -- I'm excited about this.

Now, here's the one hitch to this thing:  My DNA only reveals the family history that comes from Mom/Grandma Walli, because I am a woman.  To get Dad/Grandpa Bill's side, we need a male member of the family, as close a relative to me as possible, to do the test.  So . . . my credit card is still out.  I'm buyin'.  Let me know.

Love to everyone, and stay tuned for those results --


Feb 4, 2013

Random Monday

Since school started last Monday, I haven't been able to post much, so I thought I'd do a "Random Monday," in which I share a few things I find interesting or meaningful.

First up is an essay that my D wrote when he was five -- he was in a Montessori school and had to write an essay every weekend.  Can you read this one?


His teacher encouraged him to use "invented spelling," which is why the spelling is a bit eccentric.  Hope that he still remembers it, now that he has a motorcycle!  If you can't read it, let me know in the comments and I'll translate.

Here's a beautiful picture of a Christmas tree that I received from Z2 (you know who you are!).  I love it -- look at the beautiful ornaments, and how the artist shows all the branches of the Christmas tree.  Thank you for sending it to me!  Send more, please!



Remember cootie catchers?  Do you still remember how to make them?  Do kids make them any more?  We used to tell our fortunes with them.   I still remember how to make them.  Why the heck were they called "cootie catchers"?


I'm sure EDC remember how Grandma Walli liked to do paint-by-numbers paintings, before she got all into not-by-numbers paintings herself.  We had several hanging on our walls on Virginia Circle, including this one:

Klicken Sie, bitte!
These are collectible now!  Except we don't have them, and even if we did, I'm sure we wouldn't sell them.


Please click to see the whole picture!

 On Sundays, our dad used to like to take a drive; sometimes we went to church or community fairs or bazaars -- and that was where I had my first beer-battered onion rings.  They must have been fabulous, because I remember them to this very day, and it must have been 55 or so years ago!  One of our favorite places to go was the Stage Coach, a Western-style restaurant we would stop at every now and then.  DD, does it still exist?  I can't find a website for it.  This article, sadly, says it's gone.

Klick away, please, to see the whole moonlit scene!

I ordered a bunch of old postcards from a place in Germany, and I really like this one.  It shows the wharf at Geestemuende, part of Bremerhaven, where GGrandma Sophie and her sisters, Grandma Walli, and Uncle Erich were born.  I like to think of them walking on the wharf in the moonlight, enjoying a beautiful evening.

Well, that's all for today.  Since school started last week, I've been going about 100 mph each day -- I wish I were retired again!  But I'll keep plugging away and post every time I get the chance.

See you next time --


Subscribe to our newsletter