Tuesday, February 26, 2013


While I was OK with my test results (above), I was a little bothered by Dave's (below).  I knew my French, English, Scottish ancestors lived along the coast and were probably Viking, but the Vikings did not settled much of Wales where Dave's ancestors were from (on two sides of his family).  Even his "Uncertain" didn't bother me because he has American Indian rumored on both sides of his family.  "Uncertain" just means there isn't a big enough sampling, but over time we may have a better idea.

Although I can't totally explain my Eastern European, I do have an idea.  It could have hopped along with the Viking or it could be that crazy J2 on the Williams side of the family (Click here for more explanation of the J2).  It could even be part of my Reiter heritage---Northern Germany and Switzerland should have registered Central Europe, but tribes wandered and paid little attention to boundaries.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Saga of Johannes Reiter Part III

This is from the "Saga of Johannes Reiter" by Amos. O. Reiter.  Although we don't KNOW this is our family, I am pretty sure we are related to them.  My DNA matched up with one of Johannes' descendants, my ancestor was from Cassel/Kassel Germany, we believe the village my ancestor was from to be near Martinshagen where Johannes was from, but most convincingly, my grandfather repeatedly said the Reiters were Swiss and not German.  Louis, also, did not want to fight German wars. This part of the saga emphasizes how being Swiss was so important to the family even having lived in Germany for many years.  One final note, this also describes the family as being "above that of most people."  Mary Reiter Long (Louis's oldest daughter) on her deathbed told her son Roy to go back to Germany to re-claim the family estate.

Returning to Martinshaagen, Johannes Reiter at last settled down to peaceful pursuits.  Six sons were born between 1814 and 1826.  These were named John, Conrad, John Henry, John Dietrich, Jacob and George [my ancestor Louis Reiter was born in 1827 and I believe was a cousin of these men].  He prospered.  His station in life was above that of most people.  He owned a two story stone house and a large blacksmith shop in the town and thirty-four acres of good land nearby.  He had every reason to be satisfied and content.  That is, every reason except one.  Over him and his home hung ever the menacing cloud of compulsory military service.  he had been forced to give up fourteen of the best years of his life, and his inherited Swiss blood had boiled hot at the wrong and injustice done him.  He wanted freedom and independence.  He could not endure the thought that his six boys might be forced into subservience to a like tyranny.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Saga of Johannes Reiter Part II

Martinshagen (to the left) is still surrounded by forests and is about 8.5 miles from Kassel, Hesse, Germany.  One of the Louis Reiter genealogists had decided that Carkert (on Louis Reiter's Civil War records) was probably Korbach---it was near Kassel and had mining (Louis Reiter was a miner).  Please note on the map above the name of the street that goes through Martinhagen.  Korbach is maybe another 10 miles down that road. (Double click on the photo to enlarge)

Continuing "The Saga of Johannes Reiter"...I am repeating this story because it also indicates why Louis Reiter came to the USA.   According to Louis Reiter's great-grandson David Long, "He came so he didn't have to fight German wars and then he fought in the American Civil War."  This is a well-written commentary that reflects why Johannes and, later, Louis Reiter emigrated.
When Johannes (b.1780) reached the age of 18, he was called into the military service, as were all the youth of Hesse at this time.  He served for two years entirely without pay.  Doubtless, this was no surprise to him.  He knew that the Swiss people of his village of Martinshaagen had been promised immunity from military service:  but he also knew of how little worth was the promise of a prince.  From his earliest childhood, he had heard the story of how the Prince of Hesse had sold 15,000 of his young men at thirty-six dollars each to the British, to be sent off to fight against the American colonists.  He had also been told how the officers had come at midnight to the village of Martinshaagen and taken away all the young men and they had never come back.  He could expect nothing less than the two years of enforced military service for himself.  But these two years were only the beginning.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Saga of Johannes Reiter, Part I

Here is in part what this booklet had about the Reiter family:

 This was recorded by Amos O. Reiter D.D. in 1946 who heard these stories from his father and his father's double cousin Elizabeth Koch Schweigert who was born in Germany and grew up there.  This is significant for our family because it proves that family was still living there in the early 1800's when our Louis Reiter was born in 1827.

According to this tradition, the Reiter family was of Swiss origin.  A prince of Hesse Cassel, alarmed by the rapid disappearance of timber from his principality, and fearing there would soon be neither lumber for building nor wood for fuel, planned an extensive system of conservation.  He seized all the remaining forest lands, and issued decrees controlling the cutting and distribution of all forest products.  Not trusting his own people to make a fair and impartial distribution, he followed the example of nearly all the kings and potentates of that era, by importing Swiss foresters for that work.  To them, he gave quite liberal terms.  They were to be allowed to use their own German-Swiss dialect, have their own schools, their own 'Reformite' Church, their own Heidelberg Catechism, and maintain their own social customs.  Moreover, they were to be free from all, except local taxation and from all involuntary military service, even in time of war.  It was the breaking of practically all of these promises that impelled Johannes Reiter in 1832 to leave his native place and, with his six sons, come to a land of freedom where none was ever compelled to render military service against his will.

Friday, February 22, 2013

DNA Ancestry.com

Although my brother and various cousins had their DNA tested by Familytreedna, I couldn't resist a special by Ancestry.com that claimed it could get results from women AND link me up to other family trees available.  Since I already had a good idea of what my ancestry was, I decided to give it a try.

My ancestors came from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, France and Germany, so shouldn't I expect to have French, German, Celtic, British ancestry?  Other than the Eastern European, I was not surprised that I was 81% Scandinavian because all of my ancestors came from those parts of the countries settled by Vikings.

But, I have been very surprised at how well, ancestry.com has been able to give me leads on lines where I had hit brick walls.  For example, we had given up on trying to find where Louis Reiter was from in Germany.

His Civil War records said he was from Cassel, Germany and Carkert Co. Germany (the latter does not exist) and that was the best we could hope for.  Sure, his grandson Roy (my grandfather) used to insist he was not German but Swiss, but we always thought that was the anti-German sentiment of WWI talking.  For more on Louis Reiter, click here.

Imagine my surprise when ancestry matched me up with an individual with Reiter ancestors from Cassel/Kassel Germany.  I wrote the individual, told him of Grandpa's belief that he was Swiss, laughing it off.  He sent me a document about his ancestor which stunned me.  His Reiter family was originally from Switzerland.

A Reiter with a DNA match from Cassel Germany has ancestors from Switzerland!  I may never make the actual connection with this family---I suspect Louis might have been a nephew or cousin---but I have had to apologize to Grandpa Roy many times this past week.