#52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Favorite Find

It’s inevitable, entering a third year of the 52 Ancestors challenge, that the prompts will evoke stories I’ve told previously. I’ve written about several favorite finds before. Today will be a tale of two cities.

Well, one’s more of a village than a city.

Last year, I wrote about the Y-DNA tests that I hoped would at least weaken the structure of a couple of brick walls. My favorite find from the results is that Germany has two locations known by the name of Berlin.

William F. Hahn’s obituary published in the Pensacola newspaper.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote up the details that I know about William F. Hahn. One of those details was that, according to his obituary, he was a native of Berlin. I venture to guess that many people in Germany, when given the name of Berlin, would picture the capital city. The other Berlin is that small.

Once I knew about Little Berlin, as I think of it, I went to Google. It took some maneuvering – figuring out the county and state, basically – to get it to come up on the map. It’s like if you Google Pensacola, you’re not likely to get the city in North Carolina unless you’re really looking hard for it and add some extra terms to the search.

The Y-DNA test I purchased was the cheapest option, the Y-37. In my fantasy, I would open up the results and find several other people named Hahn – or with Hahn ancestors – in Germany, and I would look at their family trees and find the branch that had a son named William who ran off to the U.S. when he was barely a teenager. The mystery would be solved. The brick wall would come tumbling down.

What I got was a match named Glander, and another match whose earliest known paternal ancestor was named Glander.

At least I got consistency.

Incredibly, both matches did respond to emails, but of course, they have no idea how my Hahn is connected to their Glanders. Both matches are 3 genetic steps from my uncle, which means the common ancestor could be way back.

One of the matches has an ancestor in Posen, which was in Prussia in William. F. Hahn’s time and is now in Poland. The other match lives in a town about 20 miles from Little Berlin.

Next, I searched for autosomal DNA matches to myself and my other uncle who tested for me several years ago, before he passed. I found one person with a Glander in her tree, and that person hailed from Little Berlin.

That really clicked – because it makes perfect sense. William F. Hahn, according to his naturalization document, was about 13 years old when he came to the United States. We have an 1870 Census, presumed to be our William, in which he’s boarding in the home of a ship’s captain, and is identified as working as a sea captain. He lived in downtown Pensacola and in the Perdido Wharf area, and is listed on another document as being a bayman. He made his living on or near the water, and Big Berlin is nowhere near the ocean.

Granted, there are rivers that were – and probably still are – used for commerce but it’s a bigger jump to get from Big Berlin to an ocean-going vessel than it is to get from Little Berlin. It’s a 14-hour walk to the major port of Hamburg, according to Google Maps, and less than 10 hours to Kiel.

Then there’s the ethnicity results for my atDNA tester: MyHeritage: 24% Scandinavian. 23andMe: 29.6 French and German (with a note about Switzerland) and 1.2% Scandinavian. FamilyTreeDNA: 14% Scandinavian.

I know we have to take ethnicity with a grain of salt, but Little Berlin is very close to the Danish border, and that part of Germany was, at one time, part of Denmark.

I’m just saying, Little Berlin makes a lot of sense.

Birth records from that area in the right time frame are in the hands of churches, and they have not yet been digitized. I’m told that they could be made available online within the next five years. That’s something to look forward to.

In the meantime, I’m very excited to have learned about Little Berlin. I’ll continue to look for connections to that area both in documents and in DNA matches. Hopefully, I’ll someday be able to share a new favorite find – William F. Hahn’s parents.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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4 Responses to #52Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Favorite Find

  1. Eilene Lyon says:

    Is Little Berlin close to Lübeck? That would explain an obituary to me!

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