Fun with Genetic Genealogy

A couple days ago, I checked my autosomal DNA matches at Ancestry and discovered a new DNA match with a familiar surname, Ptaszkiewicz, in his family tree.  I wrote to him immediately, and to my pleasant surprise, he wrote back, expressing an interest in collaborating to determine definitively how we’re related.  At this point, I suspect that my new cousin, M. Snyder (name used with permission), and I are double fourth-cousins once removed.  So what does that mean?

One of my great-great-great-grandmothers was Anna Ptaszkiewicz, born 29 April 1834 in Kołaczyce,1 in what is now the Podkarpackie province of Poland, but was the Austrian Empire at that time.  She was the youngest of five children born to Franciszek Wojciech Ptaszkiewicz and Salomea Sasakiewicz.  Anna had an older brother, Franciszek, who was born 23 March 18272 and here’s where the plot thickens:  Franciszek and Anna married twin siblings.  Franciszek Ptaszkiewicz married Anna Łącka on 15 November 1852and Anna Ptaszkiewicz married Jakub Łącki on 26 November 1861.4  Anna and Jakub Łącki were the oldest children of Franciszek Łącki and his second wife, Magdalena Gębczyńska, born 24 July 1835:5

Figure 1: Baptismal record for Jakub and Anna Łącki5Jacobus and Anna lacki birth crop


Franciszek and Anna (née Łącka) Ptaszkiewicz had eight children, including a daughter, Katarzyna, who was born 10 October 1864.6  It is this daughter, Katarzyna, whom I believe might be the same as “Cousin M’s” great-grandmother, Katherine/Catherine (née Ptaszkiewicz) Grzebińska.

Catherine (née Ptaszkiewicz) Grzebińska, was born in November 1866, in Austrian Poland, according to the 1900 U.S. Federal Census7, shown in Figure 2.  Experienced researchers know that our ancestors weren’t always as precise when reporting their birth dates as we are today, so the birth dates for these two Catherines, October 1864 and November 1866, are well within the ballpark range for them to be the same person.

Figure 2:  1900 United States Federal Census for Kate Grzebinski [sic]71900 census Grzebinski


Moreover, “Kate” settled in Buffalo, New York, as did her putative double first cousin, Marianna (née Łącka) Klaus, who was my great-great-grandmother.

Although all of this looks promising, there’s still no “smoking gun” yet — no definitive evidence that would confirm that “Cousin M” and I are related through this particular surname line.  It would be nice to find a marriage record in Kołaczyce or Buffalo for Katarzyna Ptaszkiewicz and Jan Grzebiński.  It would also be nice to find a passenger manifest or church records for “Cousin M’s” Catherine Ptaszkiewicz, indicating that she was from Kołaczyce.  And there’s a good chance that we’ll be able to find those church records.  A search of the records in Kołaczyce for marriages of the children of Franciszek Ptaszkiewicz and Anna Łącka was already on my to-do list.  And it should be easy to determine if Catherine Ptaszkiewicz Grzebińska was from Kołaczyce, since her oldest children were probably baptized at St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo.  Not only are records from St. Stan’s easily searched on microfilm, but they also reliably indicate the place of birth of the parents of the baptized child, as shown here in this baptismal record8 for my great-grandmother Genowefa Klaus, daughter of Marianna (née Łącka) Klaus (and granddaughter of Anna Ptaszkiewicz).

Figure 3:  Baptismal record for Genowefa Klaus indicating father as Andrzej Klaus from Maniów, Galicia and mother as Marya Łącka from Kołaczyce, Galicia.8Genevieve Klaus baptismal record crop


So we know what we need to find in terms of documentation, and we have a plan to get it. But right now, what we have is DNA evidence.  Both “Cousin M” and I have uploaded our raw DNA data to GEDmatch, which is a free site offering tools for analyzing and understanding one’s autosomal DNA results.  Among the useful tools at GEDmatch is a chromosome browser, which provides a graphic depiction of our match, including the number of SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) included in it.  As is shown in Figure 4, “Cousin M” and I share a 29.3 centimorgan stretch along Chromosome 9:

Figure 4:  Graphic depiction of match from  Red lines indicate base pairs with no match, yellow lines indicate base pairs with half match, green lines indicate base pairs with full match, blue bar indicates a matching segment greater than 7 centimorgans.Chromosome 9


GEDmatch estimates 4.5 generations to our most recent common ancestor (MRCA).  That’s just about right.  It’s actually 5 generations to the MRCA for “Cousin M” and my Mom, as shown in Figure 5. (Since I’m one generation removed from my Mom, I fall on the second page of this chart, not shown here.)

Figure 5:  Relationship Chart for me and Cousin M through Łącki ancestors.Relationship 1 (through Łącki)


And it’s the same relationship through our Ptaszkiewicz ancestors, as shown in Figure 6.  Since Marianna Łącka and Katarzyna Ptaszkiewicz are double first cousins, meaning they share all four of their grandparents in common, they share about as much DNA as half siblings.  If that’s as clear as mud, you might find this explanation to be helpful.

Figure 6:  Relationship Chart for me and Cousin M through Łącki ancestors.Relationship 2 (through Ptaszkiewicz)


So I’m pretty excited about all of this!  This is a beautiful example of how genetic genealogy can complement, extend, and confirm results obtained through traditional documents-based research.  I can’t wait to dive into the records in Kołaczyce and Buffalo to find the documentation that will allow us to stamp this case as “solved.”  In the meantime, please feel free to share your latest DNA mysteries or success stories in the comments.  I’d love to hear how DNA results are helping you with your own research.


1Roman Catholic Church, St. Anna’s Parish (Kołaczyce, Jasło, Podkarpackie, Poland), “Urodzenia, 1826-1889”, Stare Kopie, 1834, April 29,  record for Anna Ptaszkiewicz. [date of birth] 29.04.1834, [date of baptism] 29.04.1834, [house number] 56, [child’s name] Anna, [father’s name] Franciscus Ptaszkiewicz sutor, [mother’s name] Salomea Patre Francisco Sasakiewicz nata, [godparents] Nicolaus Sękowski Hava Francisci Wiejoski uxor Civis.

2Roman Catholic Church, St. Anne’s parish (Kołaczyce, Jasło, Małopolskie, Poland), “Księga urodzeń, 1784 – 2015”, 1827, baptismal record for Franciscus Ptaszkiewicz. [Date of birth] Martius 23, 1827, [Date of baptism] Martius 25, 1827, [House number] 53, [Child’s name] Franciscus, Catholica, Puer, Legitimi, [Father] Franciscus Ptaszkiewicz sutor civis, [Mother] Salomea patre Francisco Sasakiewicz nata, [Godparents] Paulus Wiejoski, Francisca Mathai Kowalski uxor, cives.

3Maciej Orzechowski, “Kołaczyce Marriages,” Marriage record for Franciscus Ptaszkiewicz and Anna Łącka, transcribed from the collection, “Roman Catholic Church records, St. Anna’s Parish (Kołaczyce, Jasło, Małopolskie, Poland), Śluby, 1826-1889,” Stare Kopie, record #6 on the spreadsheet. [Number] 20, [Date] 15.11.1852, [House number] — , [sponsus (groom)] Franciscus Ptaszkiewicz sutor filius Francisci Ptaszkiewicz ac Salomea nata Francisco Sasakiewicz oppidariorum, [Aetas (age)] 25, [Viduus] — [House number] — , [sponsa (bride)] Anna Łącka filia def. Francisci Łącki ac Magdalenna nata Joanne Gębczyński ooppidari, [Aetas (age)] 18, [vidua] — , [Testes] Josephus Dutkiewicz pellio Antonius Kołeczek textor.; report to Julie Szczepankiewicz, Hopkinton, Massachusetts, USA, 9 January 2015; Excel Spreadsheet held by Julie Szczepankiewicz, Hopkinton, Massachusetts, USA.

4Roman Catholic Church, St. Anna’s Parish (Kołaczyce, Jasło, Podkarpackie, Poland), “Śluby, 1826-1889,” Stare Kopie, 1861, #11, marriage record for Jacobus Łącki and Anna Ptaszkiewicz. [Record number ]11, [Marriage date] 26.11.1861, [House number] 308, [Groom] Jacobus Łącki filius def. Francisci Łącki ac Magdalenna nata Joanne Gębczyński oppidari, [age] 27, [house number] 77, [Bride] Anna Ptaszkiewicz filia Francisci Ptaszkiewicz ac Salomea nata Francisco Sassakiewicz oppidario, [age] 26, [witnesses] Franciscus Ptaszkiewicz oppidarius Laurentius Kowalski sutor.

5Roman Catholic Church, St. Anna’s Parish (Kołaczyce, Jasło, Podkarpackie, Poland), “Urodzenia, 1826-1889”, Stare Kopie, 1835, Record for Jacobus Łącki and Anna Łącka. [date of birth] 24.07.1835, [date of baptism], 25.07.1835, [house number] 191, [babies’ names] Jacobus et Anna Gemelli, [father’s name] Franciscus Łącki figulus, [mother’s name] Magdalena patre Michaele Gębczyński nata, [godparents] Constantinus Niedzielski Magdalena Michaelis Gałkiewicz uxor Michael Gałkiewicz Catharina Constantini Niedzielski uxor Civis.

6Maciej Orzechowski, “Kolaczyce Births”, Baptismal record for Catharina Ptaszkiewicz, transcribed from the collection, “Roman Catholic Church records, St. Anna’s Parish (Kołaczyce, Jasło, Małopolskie, Poland), ‘Urodzenia, 1826-1889,’ Stare Kopie.”, record number 66 on the spreadsheet. [Record number] 53, [Date of birth] 10.10.1864, [Date of baptism] 11.10.1864, [House number] 308, [Child’s name] Catharina, [Father] Franciscus Ptaszkiewicz sutor, [Mother] Anna filia Francisci Łącki et Magdalenna nata Gębczyńska, [Godparents] Josephus Forys ruricola in Bukowa Catharina uxor Leonhardi Kolbusz ruricola in Bukowa; report to Julie Szczepankiewicz, Hopkinton, Massachusetts, Original report made on 9 January 2015; most recent update on 2 April 2015, all on the same spreadsheet; Original held by Julie Szczepankiewicz, Hopkinton, Massachusetts., 1900 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2004),, Year: 1900; Census Place: Buffalo Ward 11, Erie, New York; Roll: 1027; Page: 37A; Enumeration District: 0083; FHL microfilm: 1241027. Record for Kate Grzebinski, accessed on 2 July 2016.

8Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Parish (Buffalo, Erie, New York, USA), Baptisms, 1874-1903, 1897, #620, baptismal record for Genowefa Klaus.; 371 vol. 1.

© 2016 Julie Roberts Szczepankiewicz





5 thoughts on “Fun with Genetic Genealogy

  1. wow i remember a few of the names mentioned through the DNA results , as a young kid i herd my grandmothers family speak of a few of them while sitting on the porch swing . our polish family has always been a mystery to me , i am M Snyder’s brother S Snyder .

    Liked by 1 person

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