R-ZP121 Schmidt and Ammerman

I’m labeling this Schmidt family as R-ZP121 because there is another Schmidt family that is down a different branch of R-DF95/CTS12023. As an owner of a common name (Thompson) I get the common name conundrum presented by being a Smith or Schmidt.

I’m one of the Y-DNA STR outliers in the Elmer family. I’m one of two members of the group that have a higher number of mutations away from “Normal Elmer”. There are two of us who kind of bookend the results for the descendants of Ed Elmer. Because of my particular mutations, I have always picked up a larger number of German matches at higher testing levels than my Elmer and Elmore cousins. I’m not sure which STR causes that (or why I would particularly pick up German testers), but it offers me an opportunity to contact an important (and I think under-represented) group of testers.

British and particularly British Isles American testers dominate Y DNA. Currently, R-ZP121 has four German families represented by testers and 18 British (and colonies) testers. We’re clearly missing Big Y testers from the continent, not only German testers but certainly other countries as well. Roughly half our testers under R-DF95/CTS12023 report unknown origins. There are hidden treasures there too.

The Schmidt/Ammerman branch (defined by R-FT233425) illustrates the promise of Big Y testing.

Big Y testing can be a leap of faith. There is no telling what you will learn. If you’re the first person down a line to test, it can be exceedingly lonely. You may sit with dozens of SNPs all to yourself for years, but if you don’t fish in that pond, you’ll never catch anything.

Many people, do what I do; they try to find Y STR matches and see if they will test Big Y to help figure out how closely we are all related. Your Y STRs suggest the closeness of a relationship and then Big Y proves it. There are sometimes surprising results where families who do not have Y STR patterns that are close prove to be closely related.

Each test has value, and I think there is something to be learned from all of them. It’s hard to write anything off as a given.

Ammerman and Schmidt R-FT233425

Our Ammerman tester is one of the hidden treasures, his test lists unknown origin, but we’re lucky enough to know the family is from Northern Germany. the Ammerman family blazed a trail with Big Y that initially left them at R-ZP121. Well down the R-DF95 tree but still far away from the genealogical timeframe and the common use of surnames. We’re talking about the pre-Anglo-Saxon invasion timeframe.

As luck would have it, the Schmidt family walked down that path and helped define 19 new SNPs before the Schmidt and Ammerman lines split. FTDNA estimates that the two families shared a common ancestor around 1760 CE, which is within a genealogical timeframe. With these two tests, they’ve spanned roughly 1500 years of shared ancestors in a direct line from the estimated formation of R-ZP121 around 230 CE. One leap from the Roman empire to 1700s Germany.

FTDNA Time Tree showing ZP121 and R-FT233425.

That’s a lot of time, and I would bet there are more families tucked in there that are yet to be discovered.

Landing in a Genealogical Timeframe

If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll note that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to wrap my brain around the connections between the Lunsfords, Knowltons and Elmers. Part of the mystery is because our families split during the middle ages (we suspect in Britain).

I think one joy of the Ammerman/Schmidt family is that we’re in a time period when it may be possible to trace families (depending on the records available). Some of that genealogical work has been done by the Schmidt family, and they’re looking at a likely common location of Otterndorf Germany.

map showing Otterndorf in context with Schleswig Holstein to the north.
Otterndorf Germany

Obviously, given all my recent posts about the Anglo-Saxon DNA study, I noted that Otterndorf is right there in the genetic heritage zone for our Anglo-Saxon cousins. With 1500 years to play with there can be a lot of movement. With more testers from the continent and hopefully more ancient DNA, we can add branches and more pins to our map. Each Y DNA branch and pin also represents connected families and the story of our journey.

We’re slowly sussing out the times, places, and events that shaped our families.

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