The known ancestors of my maternal grandmother, Elisabetha Antoni, have all different family names. For this reason, I was not thinking much about endogamy in my family until recently, when the results of two of my grandmother’s second cousins came in.
The idea behind testing V.A. and E.A.S. was the hope to map additional DNA segments to the line of my great grandfather Heinrich Antoni. To my surprise, however, the amount of shared DNA was unusually high for a relationship this distant.
According to the Bettinger table https://dnapainter.com/tools/sharedcm, the average amount of shared DNA for a 2C1R is 123cM and 74cM for a 2C2R.
However, the results of my family looked like this:
What was going on here?
After telling my family about the results, my mother remembered that Klemens’ older brother was a very close friend of both of my great grandparents, Ottilia Arnhold and Heinrich Antoni, because he was a first cousin to both, Ottilia and Heinrich, on different sides. I contacted other family members, who confirmed the story, and learned that the name of Klemens’ mother was Sophia Arnhold.
So that was the explanation for the higher amount of shared DNA. Even though it still seemed a bit too high, I thought it was due to the randomness of DNA inheritance typical for such a distant relationship.
But then I noticed that V.A. was also matching K.M.Q., one of my American cousins on Ancestry. (E.A.S. tested at 23andme and could not be compared to K.M.Q.)
That was not supposed to be the case. A while ago K.M.Q. and I found our common ancestor quite quickly – which was remarkable, because that ancestor was a MILLER. According to a marriage record, Simon Miller and Rosa Louis were the parents of my great great grandmother Sophia Miller. According to the documents K.M.Q. received from her uncle (and also forwarded to me) her line can be traced back to Simon and Rosa as well. Their son Johann (John) Simon Miller emigrated to the United States and was the great grandfather of K.M.Q.
I just learned that the Antoni sisters were also related to Johannes Arnhold. And now also to his wife? And, if yes, then how?
Then a light bulb went on. I was never interested in V.A.’s and E.A.S.’s maternal side of the family, because I always assumed our relation was through their paternal side only.
I asked what the maiden name of their mother was and got “Anna Miller” as an answer. Everything made perfect sense! I quickly checked our family tree to see how many brothers my great great grandmother Sophia Miller had. Apart from John Simon, there were also Matthäus and Raimund. I then asked about Anna Miller’s patronymic. “Anna Raimundovna” was the answer…
So that’s what it was!
V.A. and E.A.S. are related to our family through three different lines instead of one. Their father Klemens was a first cousin to both, my great grandmother Ottilia Arnhold and her husband Heinrich Antoni, on two sides. In addition, Ottilia was a first cousin of his wife Anna Miller.
This means that I cannot assign DNA segments my family shares with the Antoni sisters to a single line, because it is a mixture of Antoni, Arnhold and Miller segments. (A long overdue update: Most of these segments were assigned to the right family lines with the help of visual phasing!)
The colonies on the banks of the Volga River were close-knit communities, where intermarriage within the colony or between befriended families often took place. The idea behind it was to strenghten the family bond. It seems to have mattered though that bride and groom were themselves not related (at least not closely) the way it was the case with Klemens and Anna and also my great grandparents. However, they still married into the same families, so that their descendants are linked in many ways today.