Monday, March 14, 2016

The Ludwig Breakthrough: DNA and Chocolates

Continued from The Ludwig Breakthrough: Finding Some Great Greats

Sometimes DNA matches are like that box of chocolates Forest Gump's mother talked about in the iconic movie of the same name. The scantiest information coupled with a DNA match can lead to great things.

My Mom graciously provided a DNA sample for testing in 2013 less than a year before she died. When the results came back, they were disappointing, but not unexpectedly so. Mom's ethnicity is 64 percent Europe East and 26 percent Great Britain. The surprise is the amount of Great Britain ethnicity. We expected it to be much lower or non-existent. Figuring out that mystery is a story for another day.

My mother's ethnicity map; image courtesy of AncestryDNA

Mom also had three shared matches and that was the disappointing part. Those three matches were her children -- my two siblings and me. She was very pleased to have proof we were her children though!

I was able to figure out two matches without a shared ancestor, but both of them were on her maternal Schalin side of the family. Thanks to the book, Our Schalin Family -- 1770-2003, written by cousin, Lucille (Fillenberg) Effa, we knew enough about this part of Mom's tree to identify some third and fourth cousin matches. 

I would review Mom's DNA matches every few months to see if I could make any headway with the new ones I received. Usually, they were distant cousins and I knew I had no hope identifying them. Image my surprise when a second cousin match appeared! I was crestfallen, though, when I opened up the match and saw three people.

Family tree of Mom's only second cousin DNA match; image courtesy of

The Lade and Missal surnames did not sound familiar but I checked my tree for them, as well as any variations, and came up empty. I was so disappointed, but I sent a message to the owner of the DNA match and hoped for a replay. Weeks passed.

One morning I was deeply involved in creating a timeline when the phone rang. I answered it without bothering to look at CallerID, something I rarely do. But I am so glad I did. A gentleman introduced himself and said he was the DNA match. He was 85 years old and could not remember his maternal grandmother's given name. Only that her maiden was Ludwig. As we talked about the Lange/Ludwig family, I learned that my grandfather's younger brother, Richard Lange, had paid for Mom's DNA match to immigrate to Canada after World War II. So we had two points of connection and I surmised Mom's paternal grandmother, Caroline Ludwig had a sister, who I affectionately named "Daughter Ludwig" in my tree.

A second phone call a month later, after Mom's DNA match had spoken with his older sister in Germany, revealed more details. Daughter Ludwig was Juliane Ludwig, who married Emil Missal. They had six children, one of which was Ida Missal, who married Friedrich "Fritz" Lade. They were the parents of my Mom's DNA match. He was born in 1930; joined the Hitler Youth at age 14 to defend Germany and was taken prisoner by the Russians in 1945. Two years later, he joined the East German police force but escaped to West Germany in 1949.

I am struck by the differences in the lives of my Mom and her second cousin, which I put down to the fact her father decided to immigrate before World War I and her cousin not until 1952.

To be continued...



  1. I had to smile when I read your Mom was pleased to have proof you were her children! Looking forward to the continuation... ~ Cathy

    1. She absolutely loved having scientific proof and had a lot of fun with it.

  2. I shared your interesting post in my favorite reads of the week. I'm fascinated with everyone's DNA breakthroughs. Thanks for writing it!