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Roger Lee Bagula (Wendish DNA): Kristin Ownby, Lower Sorben names ( northern names); Niedersorbische Personnennamen aus Kirchenbüche…
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Richard Gruetzner… (Wendish DNA): The unexpected is often the result of DNA testing, but one of the first things to keep in mind is th…
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« Spirit of the Wends | Home | The Remnant Of A Grea… »

Wendish DNA

Tuesday 10 October 2017 at 01:15 am.

I have been tracing my family for some years, including the Roggenbucks. (Roggenburk is a variant adopted by those Roggenbucks who emigrated to the Cleveland area.)  My great grandfather Albert emigrated from Flötenstein, a small town three quarters of the way along a line from Berlin to Danzig, where many Roggenbucks lived.  Flötenstein was in West Prussia and today is called Koczala in Poland.  Other names in the Roggenbuck line I know of include Mischnick, Kanthak, Spors and Dorau.

I have been tracing my family for some years, including the Roggenbucks. (Roggenburk is a variant adopted by those Roggenbucks who emigrated to the Cleveland area.)  My great grandfather Albert emigrated from Flötenstein, a small town three quarters of the way along a line from Berlin to Danzig, where many Roggenbucks lived.  Flötenstein was in West Prussia and today is called Koczala in Poland.  Other names in the Roggenbuck line I know of include Mischnick, Kanthak, Spors and Dorau.

Roggenbucks were originally found in the 13th Century in the marshes east of Hamburg (Bütlingen), then in the Stralsund (Greifswald) area, but appeared to have moved slowly eastward, usually within 60 miles of the Baltic Sea.  There was never any doubt that I was German.

Recently, however, I took a DNA test which showed surprisingly few German genes —  inasmuch as my maternal grandmother was also German.  Another two of my Roggenburk second cousins — who have no relation to my maternal grandmother — showed no German genes! (My results: 48% Great Britain, 19% Ireland, 11% Eastern Europe, 10% Western Europe, 6% Scandinavia.)  My maternal grandmother's surname was Wuthenow.

So here is a theory:  Perhaps the Roggenbucks are genetically Wendish and not German.  The area occupied by the Wends coincides with the area where Roggenbucks are found. The absorption of the Wendish culture by German culture must make it difficult to determine nowadays who is German and who is Wendish.  Also, I can’t explain why no German genes didn’t get into the pool.  It seems odd that some Roggenbucks did not marry ethnic Germans, but maybe living in Wendish villages favored marrying other Wends.

Ancestry.com has a Beta program to further isolate your origins.  My sister generated the genetic community Poles in Pomerania. This appears to reinforce the notion that perhaps the Roggenbucks are of Slavic origin, not German.

So my questions to you are:

1. Is it likely that my ancestors are really Wendish and not German?

2. If Germanization of the Roggenbucks occurred early on, would the Wend roots likely be unknown to recent generations, and

3. Among the historic documents you know, is there any evidence that some Wendish people adopted the name Roggenbuck in response to German pressure to do so?

I remain grateful for any response you can offer.

thirteen comments

Kathe Richards

Good Morning, Ronald!

It is certainly possible that some or many of your ancestors are Wendish or possibly Polish. They were in the right place at the right time! And the Wends did intermarry with Germans. It’s a possibility worth exploring.

In general, the predictions made by the major genealogical services regarding ancestry should be taken with a grain of salt. They all use different formulas to make their predictions, and the predictions are based upon current populations, which could vary significantly from the genetic profiles of the people who were there in the past. Ancestry classifies Wends as Eastern European, which could cover a lot of ground. Ancestry’s recent “genetic communities” tool, by the way, has been well accepted by the genetic genealogy community. The persons in your sister’s match list could give you some clues.

Probably the best way of evaluating your results would be to look at your matches. The origins of your matches are likely to give a better picture of your history than the heritage estimates from the testing companies.

Some Wends used German names since from time to time it was politically and socially useful to do so. And it is quite possible that recent kin would not know of a Wendish heritage. I thought I was German until my mother told me the story of the Wends and the migration to Texas. Many Central Texas Wends still think they are German.

Have you considered uploading your DNA data to GEDmatch? This is a volunteer run site that offers tools to do genetic analysis that are not available on Ancestry, including a chromosome browser, which allows people to compare specific chromosomes and segments and find the probable ancestors from which these were inherited. Another GEDmatch advantage is the data comes from people who have tested at other companies and tend to be more interested in the genealogical aspects of DNA. You can find out quite a bit about it by googling “GEDmatch”. The International Society of Genetic Genealogists” (ISOGG) site is particularly helpful. To register and upload data, go to GEDmatch.com. If you are interested, I can send instructions, though the instructions on the site are quite good. My kit number there is T831490. (I am 50 Polish) is also on GEDmatch. One or the other might produce a match with your data.)

The Roggenbuck name is not familiar to me. That would not be surprising since most of my research has been in Texas. There are major communities of Wends in Texas and Australia in addition to the original community that continues to exist in Upper and Lower Lusatia. Maybe Weldon and Richard are more familiar with the name.

I hope this information has been useful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me!


Kathe Richards - 10/10/2017 01:22
Richard Gruetzner

Hello Ron,

Kathe’s comments and suggestions are spot on. I also recommend uploading your results to GEDMatch. Not only can it be useful to you but it expands the database and thus can help everybody in the genealogy research field.

Now to expand on Kathe’s comments and give a little history along the way.

If you go back in time, say to around the 7th or 8th century AD, and look at the peoples of what in the late 20th century was called East Germany or the German Democratic Republic, you will find the “Wends” as the major population group in that area. They occupied everything from the shores of the Baltic to south of modern day Saxony. They comprised numerous tribes of Slavic peoples, all of which were later called Wends by the Germans. There really isn’t a single “Wendish” people. That term today is used by us to refer to the remnants of these old Slavic tribes that had managed to avoid being completely assimilated by the Germanic forces in the and retained the use of the “Wendish” language. Today, these are found in the Lusatian areas of the eastern portions of modern Germany. The big German push to remove the Wends was initiated in the late ninth and early tenth century. This was actually referred to as the Wendish Crusade and was a bitterly fought battle, especially in the area along the Baltic coast where the Roggenbucks originated. The Wends were either killed, driven-off or Christianized by the Germans who then settled the area, inter-married over time and “Germanized” the area.

Another thing we must keep in mind is that the area called Germany has been a cross-roads for population migrations and marching armies since time began. The Goths marched across East Germany from Scandinavia down to Rome in order to sack Rome. They left DNA all along the way, some of them likely dropping off and settling in the area as well. The Vikings settled along the Baltic coast in trading outposts and in raiding expeditions. (More about them later.) In more recent times, French and Russian armies marched back and forth across Germany. You get the picture. So there has always been intermingling of DNA from various groups and no “pure” strain has ever existed.

Now back to DNA test results. As Kathe mentioned, the results reported by the various testing companies vary due to the way they define the result areas, the number of people taking their brand of test and the samples of current populations they use as a standard.

I have tested with Ancestry and with Family Tree and the results as reported are not identical. In actual fact, the percentages reported have actually changed over time as their databases have grown! I started my testing with Ancestry, which offered only the one test and then later took a full range of tests with Family Tree who offer more specific tests in addition to a similar test as offered by Ancestry. Let me compare the results from the two tests:

Ancestry Family Tree
West European 23
East European 47
Scandinavia 11
Great Britain 11 Not present
Ireland 3% Not present
Finland/NW Russia

Richard Gruetzner - 10/10/2017 01:25
Richard Gruetzner

(continuation of previous response)
Not present Southeast European 4
East European 10
Southeast European 7%

Now to speak about my family tree as documented by genealogical research: Of the 16 2x-great grandparents, 6 are proven Wendish, 9 are German and 1 is believed to be English. Of the 9 Germans, 3 are from the Mecklenburg-Schwerin area close to the Baltic shore and could very well be “Germanized” Wends. The other Germans came from non-Wendish areas of Germany.

So how does one make sense of this mish-mash of percentages and groupings? I have found it useful to delve deeper into the DNA that that given by the test from Ancestry. I took the Family tree tests for the Y-DNA and the one for X-DNA. These tests give you what is called your haplogroup. This is the genetic branch that you are descended from. Alphabetic letters are assigned to the haplogroups by the genetic age of the groups. Older lines have letters closer to A, newer lines are farther from A. The lines are the results of genetic mutations which create new variations and these various groups can be tracked via genetic migration patterns showing where groups went and the “races” that developed out of those lines over the eons.

Note that tracking the male lines is simplified by the fact that the Y chromosome always comes from the father, thus your surname line can be tracked easily. A female’s line will be mixes of X chromosomes that may have come from the mother or the father and thus can get much more genetically diffused. The haplogroup assigned by Family Tree to my Y chromosome family is I-M253 with I being the major group and M253 being a sub-group assigned to my specific variation group. The I-M253 haplogroup has been determined to be what is named the “Norman” line by Family Tree. This refers to the Normans who settled in the coastal areas of modern day France known as Normandy. So does this make me French? No. The original Normans were actually Vikings who settled and established trading posts there, just as they did all over Europe (including the Baltic coast), Russia, the Ukraine, England, Ireland, Spain, Greenland…….you get the picture. Note that the earlier Gothic tribes were also predecessors of some Viking populations and also settled in or traveled through eastern portions of Germany. Note also that there is some genetic evidence that this I-haplogroup line actually migrated up through France and then up into Scandinavia to become the Vikings and then the returning Viking descendants evolved into the M253 sub-haplogroup which came to be called the Norman group. So did my Gruetzner ancestor who was Wendish (I actually have the birth records that record the Wendish form of the Gruetzner name before it was Germanized into Gruetzner) come from a Viking/Norman trader or raider or was he part of the group of French settlers that Germans moved into pagan Wendish lands to help settle Christians in the area following the crusade? Anyhow, the Gruetzner family was/became Wendish as is shown by birth records.

Now I have a question. In your message, you state that you showed few German genes and your second cousins showed no German genes. How do you say this? None of the tests break out “German” genes but rather show only West European or East European and so forth. What were the percentages shown by the cousins?

To your original question: German or Wendish? My recommendation would be to have a Y chromosome test done at Family Tree to determine your haplogroup. This may give you a better idea of your paternal line. From the results you wrote, I suspect you are very possibly going to have Viking related origins unless you have some other ancestors from England and Ireland that aren’t mentioned. The Baltic coast has very mixed groupings due to the Wends, Germans, Vikings, other Slavic groups all existing in the area at one time or another.

The other thought I leave with you is one from Dr. Wilson of Rice University who once said that it would be more useful to determine race groupings by language than blood.

Richard Gruetzner

Richard Gruetzner - 10/10/2017 01:29
Ron Roggenburk

Thank you all for responding so quickly and with so much detail. It will take me some time to digest and research the suggestions you provided. Meanwhile, I can add some more information I did not include in my first email.

I have used the reference to German genes to refer to Ancestry’s “Europe West” category, making the assumption that in my case the German component is dominant.

I have submitted my Ancestry results to GEDmatch. My Kit Number is A149282. I must say I am at a loss to glean much information from the results.

I also submitted my Ancestry results to MyHeritage which showed the following ethnicities: English 77.0; and East European 23.0%.

In the meantime, I shall consider taking the FamilyTree Y-DNA test.

Thanks again.

Ron Roggenburk

Ron Roggenburk - 10/10/2017 01:31
Kathe Richards

GEDmatch certainly is daunting at first glance. It offers very little explanation. The best thing to do is experiment and examine the results. The ones I have found most useful and might interest you are:

The one-to-many report that lists all of your matches in order of closeness. It also estimates the generations separating the match and provides links to the one-to-many report for each match, for both autosomal and X data. The entries that are marked GED or WIKI have links to user submitted GEDCOM data or genealogy Wiki pages. Newer entries are shown in shades of green depending upon recency. The pedigree page for the people who show GED are often good sources for the locations of these people’s ancestors.

One-to-one is useful to see exactly where your results match another selected person. This verifies the amount of DNA shared and may give hints as to which of your lines the person is probably in. This would depend upon your having some idea of what chunks of DNA you inherited from whom. I have used comparisons between my siblings and cousins and myself to try to figure out which parts of each chromosome most likely can be assigned to a particular grandparent. (Visual phasing)

The two admixture options might be of interest to you. The heritage admixture function allows you to pick from a list of types of ethnicity estimators. There is not much detail given about each of them, but more detail is available on other web sites — in particular I think the ISOGG wiki has some good information on this. This is like the Ancestry ethnicity estimates but based on different reference groups and population studies. The admixture oracles with specific populations will allow you to choose the population you wish to be compared to. If you leave the box blank, you can select from a list. I selected “sorb” which is the same as “wend” and got a quite interesting profile.

I have used the triangulation utilities in the Tier 1 group to identify groups of matches who match me and also each other. These triangulation groups are likely to share a common ancestral couple. The amount of shared DNA can provide a (very) rough estimate of how distant the matches are. Of course, to figure out which specific ancestral couple the group matches requires old fashioned genealogical research.

The ultimate point, of course, is to meet your goal or answer your question. If you are looking for paternal ethnicity, the Y test might be helpful. But since Y DNA is inherited only along the male line, what you will be seeing are people who are in that direct line — in other words people who are direct male descendants of your father, grandfather ggrandfather, etc.. Unfortunately, it depends upon there being people who have tested who are in your line. People are generally much less likely to have done the Y test, so you may get no matches from it.

It’s possible you already know all this, but I’m hoping that at least some of it is helpful! And if you find that some of what I’ve written is faulty or inconsistent, do let me know! This is complicated stuff, and I’m still learning!

Best wishes,


Kathe Richards - 10/10/2017 17:06

Post your GEDmatch kit number please, or your Eurogenes K36 scores.

Genetyk - 12/5/2017 20:21
The Wendish Webmaster

Please note that the commenter above, Genetyk, is taking such info and creating genealogical maps, and offering them for sale. If that has value to you, then feel free to participate.

The Wendish Research Exchange is not affiliated with Genetyk, and the views expressed by Genetyk are his/her own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Wendish Research Exchange.

The Wendish Webmaster - 12/6/2017 11:38
Ron Roggenburk

Last fall, I wrote to you regarding my German ancestry without much in the way of German genes. Because my ancestors resided in the within sixty miles of the Baltic Coast, I speculated that perhaps my forebears were Wendish.

In your response, you suggested that I take a yDNA test from FamilyTree. I resisted for a while because I was doubtful that I would get information I can understand and use.

I relented and finally sent in a sample this winter and indeed I got results which not only confused me, but in fact are very different than I would have expected.

▶︎ Among matches cited are an unusual number of Campbells — my maternal grandfather’s surname! 39 out of 2800 12-markers (1.4), none in 23-marker.

▶︎ My predicted haplotree is R-M269, the dominant lineage in all of Western Europe today, shared by more than 100 million European men.

▶︎ On the Ancestral Origins page, exact match for 12-marker the greatest number of matches are in Scotland (458), Ireland (198) and England (163). For 25-marker, exact matches are all England and Scotland. For 37-marker, genetic distance of -4 is nearly all Ireland and Scotland.

▶︎ I don’t understand the matches of haplogroup origins, but Scotland, England and Ireland appear to predominate. Nor do I understand the SNPs.

▶︎ My map of 12-marker matches in Europe are concentrated in Scotland, Ireland and England. A few are scattered across Europe. Mine is the only marker in the present-day Poland. For 37-marker, mine is the only one anywhere in Europe.

I know that my paternal great grandfather was born near the Pomerania/West Prussia border and that several generations lived there before him.

▶︎ What could be the reason for my ancestry to be so strongly related to Britain and Ireland?

▶︎ Are the yDNA tests so random as to yield wildly inaccurate results?

▶︎ Could the migration of Saxons to England help to explain my results?

Although I have no claim on your time, would you comment on these possibilities or others which may spring to mind? I would be grateful for your thoughts.

Ron Roggenburk - 05/23/2018 01:34
Richard Gruetzner

The unexpected is often the result of DNA testing, but one of the first things to keep in mind is that the resultant matches are also affected by the numbers of people from each area that have tested. So just because you have a lot of, say, English matches, it may be because a lot of English people have submitted tests and very few from Germany have done so. Also, as Kathe had said previously, the way different companies analyse the data will affect the reporting of the results. If R-M269 is the dominant haplogroup of European men today, then one would expect it to show up in England, Scotland and Ireland. There is no “country specific” DNA test that will tell you if you are German, Wendish, English, French or whatever. Every time I look at my matches and where they originate, I also have a great many English names pop up, many more than German. Granted, my haplogroup is an older group that is presently supposed to be associated with the Normans (or Vikings – who settled the Normandy region), and they settled and spread there genes all over the place, so genetic association to people in England comes as no surprise. Also remember that, as you mentioned, the Saxons settled in England, and if I remember my ancient peoples wanderings, the early Saxon tribes moved from the eastern and northern portions of what is modern Germany, going to the west and thence to the British Isles. So your genetic ancestors may have been part of that movement that ended up in England.

I also have to say that I had initially hoped for much more from DNA testing when first I submitted a test, but have come to realize that it isn’t the simple answer that I hoped for. It is or can be a great resource for determining if you are actually related to another individual or not. If you find a Roggenbuck in Mecklenburg and get them tested, you can tell if they come from your father’s line, let’s say, but you can’t tell if you are specifically Wendish or German or Polish because those are modern constructs. The peoples of modern day Europe have been moving about, interbreeding, mixing and matching for eons, probably more so in Germany than some areas because of its central geographic position, and every tribe that wandered through has left bits of genetic material behind.

Let me also say that the matches at the lower levels of 12, 25, and 37, especially 12 and 25, are so distant that I usually don’t even bother looking at the matches unless an actual surname from my tree happens to catch my eye. I tend to only look at the higher level matches, because they might actually be of some relation. I have tested my Y-DNA to the 111 level and currently have zero matches. At the 67 level, I have a total of only 5 matches, only one of which has a name anywhere possible in my family tree. (Of course that individual doesn’t have a family tree posted with Family Tree, so I can’t tell if there is a connection yet or not.) The matches at the lower levels expand rapidly until I have over 4,000 matches at the level 12. Still only a couple surname matches of consequence (distant cousins that have tested).

Richard Gruetzner - 05/23/2018 01:36
Kristin Ownby

I have a question regarding ancestry and language. My great-grandfather immigrated from Silesia to the US. We have records showing the family lived in Upper Silesia around Oppeln since the 1680’s. My family identifies as German. In fact, my great grandfather’s sister who lived in Breslau wrote of her experience of being forced to leave after WWII because of being German. My question is about the last name which is Mokros. I have researched the origin of the last name. It really isn’t German. We grew up with the myth that Mokros was originally Greek! After two cousins and I have conducted ancestry DNA tests, we now know this is not accurate; we do not have any Mediterranean DNA. I have read the word “mokro” is proto-slavic. I also found the word “mokro” in a translation from Upper Sorbian, but not Lower Sorbian. I have also found the word in a translation from Croatian. I am using translating sites on the Internet so hopefully, they are accurate. My assumption is the family immigrated to Silesia during the Ostsiedlung. My assumption is the last name was based on where they lived. Originally, I thought the last name was because they lived near “wetland”; they were the family who “lived near the bog.” Now I am wondering if the last name is a variation of where they originated in what is now Germany. I read your article discussing Wendish names of German towns and wondered if you could comment on my assumptions. Thank you for your assistance. Kristin Ownby

Kristin Ownby - 08/12/2018 14:33
Weldon Mersiovsky

Hi Kristin,

I am the moderator of this Blog and would be happy to talk with you, 512-635-6429 or email, weldon@wendishresearch.org. I have also asked Kathe Richards, Roger Bagula and Richard Gruetzner to reach out to you.

Weldon Mersiovsky - 08/13/2018 16:55
Roger Lee Bagula

Kristin Ownby,
Lower Sorben names ( northern names);
Niedersorbische Personnennamen aus Kirchenbüchen by Walter Wenzel (name book) gives two versions:
Mokric In Peitz 1533
Mokrica in Noss 1679
So yes your name is probably Wendish.
And yes, that area is near the Spree river lowlands. Upper Sorbian are in the South ( backward to our wording).
Give me your earliest male Mokros. Spelling is also Mogritz near Lübb 1610.
10 Treffer für Mokros gefunden.
Name Geburtsname Geburtsjahr Sterbejahr Alter Friedhof
Mokros k.A. k.A. Friedhof Bremen-Osterholz
Mokros k.A. k.A. Hauptfriedhof teilweise, Frankfurt an der Oder
Mokros, Edith 1919 2012 Friedhof Thören (Winsen/Aller)
Mokros, Hans 1929 2012 Friedhof Albstadt-Ebingen (Zollernalbkreis)
Mokros, Hedwig 1894 1981 Ev. Dorotheenstädtisch-Friedrichswerderscher Friedhof Berlin-Mitte
Mokros, Herbert 1928 1997 Friedhof Bremen-Osterholz
Mokros, Martha Matz 1887 1979 Friedhof Bergen (Celle)
Mokros, Olaf 1963 1966 Friedhof Ascheberg (Plön)
Mokros, Waltraut 1930 2006 Friedhof Bremen-Osterholz

It appears you have relatives in Germany.
Roger Bagula

Roger Lee Bagula - 08/13/2018 18:10

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