First Ever Worldwide Bacharach Gathering

On July 7, 2015, Bacharach descendants gathered in Jerusalem to meet each other and reconnect branches that have been separated for 500 years or more. Descendants of several of the lines for which we have Y-DNA represented in the project and a couple of lines for which we don’t have DNA were in attendance. Everyone was eager to figure out how they were related to each other, but we had only one new set of close cousins, two descendants of Jacob Bachrach of Hattenbach, Hesse, Germany (1775) met for the first time and discovered they are 3rd cousins once removed!

We had attendees whose oldest known Bacharach ancestors lived in: Hattenbach, Hesse, Germany; Mansbach, Hesse, Germany; Fellheim, Bavarian Swabia, Germany; Ruzhany, Belarus; Slonim, Belarus; and Borisov, Belarus, as far back as the 17th or 18th centuries.

We will try again another time, another place. Stay tuned!

Click on the photos below for the slide show.

Chart Your Place in a Big Family Tree

The WIRTH project, which is a group of researchers and their relatives whose Y-DNA belongs to the J2a4 haplogroup, is about to construct a phylogenetic tree of all the men in the project, showing how they are related to each other, and more important, when the different branches of the tree split off.

We know that all the men in the Bacharach and WIRTH projects are related to each other. We think their shared common male ancestor lived some time in the middle ages. However, some people are more closely related. Their common ancestor might have lived in the 1600s or even more recently. This is what the tree will show in a graphic representation.

We all know that DNA mutates from time to time. The mutations occur randomly, but there are statistical models for how frequently this happens, so a geneticist can take a large group of data and construct a model showing the likely times of the various mutations. This helps show who is most closely related to whom.

Here’s a super-simplified example: If your great-great-grandfather had four sons, they all inherited his Y-DNA. Because of random mutations, one or more of them could have a slight difference from their father and their brothers. Let’s use colors to illustrate this. Suppose one’s Y-DNA consisted of four colors, and your great-great-grandfather had a pattern of REDREDGREENGREENBLUEPURPLE (not exactly how this works, but just a simple analogy). All four of his sons would inherit the same pattern, unless, randomly, one changed (not a frequent occurrence, but random). Suppose Son#1 had a mutation so that his pattern was REDREDGREENBLUEBLUEPURPLE but the other three sons had the original pattern. From that point forward, all male descendants of Son#1 would have the new pattern, with 2 blues instead of 2 greens. They’re all still descendants of the great-great-grandfather, but their DNA has a slight difference. Because of where the difference occurs and how great the difference is, a geneticist can make an estimate of which generation that mutation occurred in. If we compare two descendants from two different branches in a later generation, even if we have no paper trail, we can look at which mutations they share and which mutations they don’t share and estimate how long ago their most recent common ancestor (MRCA) lived. This is especially useful for those who don’t have a very long paper trail.

To summarize:

  1. All the men in the Bacharach/Bachrach project share a common male ancestor with all the men in the WIRTH project
  2. A geneticist is about to create a chart of all the members of the WIRTH project and how they are related
  3. Any Bacharach/Bachrach project member who wants to be part of this chart should join the WIRTH project ASAP
  4. Any Bacharach/Bachrach descendant, with the surname, who has not been tested should order a test while FamilyTree DNA is running a special (get 67 markers and then we’ll need an upgrade to 111). If you need financial help to afford the test, please contact us.


Bacharachs and the Early Frankfurt Jewish Communities

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies Conference 2012 is in Paris in July. I’ll be there, along with co-researcher Janet Akaha who will be making a presentation about the Frankfurt Jewish DNA project. The project traces the paper trail of the Jewish families of Frankfurt from the middle ages and connects the DNA connections between these families.

Bacharach is one of those early families. So far in our Frankfurt or Bacharach projects we don’t have any participants who can trace their ancestry to medieval Frankfurt. Janet and I are actively seeking males with that DNA (last name Bacharach/Bachrach or variants with a family tree back to Frankfurt). If we can find someone, we can establish whether the other Bacharach families from all over Europe have a common ancestor with the documented families from Frankfurt. This would be a very exciting development.

After the conference, I’ll post more here about the Frankfurt project and what it means to the modern-day Bacharachs and their possible connection to very old rabbinic dynasties.

Linking up with the WIRTH Project

Several of our Bacharach participants are in the process of being added to a larger DNA project, called the WIRTH project after the first initials of the first five members’ surnames. The reason we’ve joined forces is that the men in the WIRTH project share two anomalies with the Bacharach participants that are statistically highly unlikely to happen by chance. The hypothesis is that these Bacharach participants share a common ancestor, perhaps in the 1400s or earlier, with the WIRTH project participants. We will be comparing the shared data to try to determine how long ago this common ancestor lived.

For more on the WIRTH project, take a look at this TV interview with Herb. It was three years ago, so the numbers are old, but it will help you understand more about how these two projects fit together.

Herb Huebscher on the WIRTH Project

Puzzlement and Unexpected Results

While we’re still waiting for a couple of groups’ markers to come back from a 67-marker test (we have 50/67 completed now), we have some surprising results. We had expected the two participants from Fellheim to be a closer match to each other than to the participants from other towns. That’s not how it appears, at least from what we have now. This last participant from Fellheim has a whopping six differences from the other participant from Fellheim. He has a total of seven differences from the mode, which makes him the outlier of the entire group. He does share the extra copies at DYS464, which is an important connection. This is a surprising set of results. Now we really need more participants from the Fellheim/Osterberg area to see if this is an anomaly or the norm for that area.

Bacharach DNA STR Values

Yet Another Match

We’re waiting on the family tree information for the latest test results, but the general geographic origin is Belarus/Poland. This individual is a 25/25 match with several others in the project and 24/25 with everybody else. We’re still waiting on the rest of the 37 markers. The most important result: the extra copies of DYS464 (see the DNA Results page above for an explanation). So far we are 100% matching, every participant. Far beyond our expectations.

We still need more family tree information to tie all these branches together, so if you have any part of a Bacharach/Bachrach family tree going back to anywhere in Europe, please contact me.

More Results, More Matches

We just got back partial results from another participant, and he matches 12/12 with all other participants, 24/25 or 23/25 with all the other participants who have tested at least 25 markers. This participant also has the two extra copies of DYS 464, which is a rare mutation. More about that in a previous post…

This participant’s family emigrated to the US most recently from Brest, which is now in Belarus. We’re anxiously awaiting the rest of the 67 markers.

New Maps and Family Trees

I’ve added a map of the earliest known ancestors of the matching DNA, as well as a map of all the known locations of Bacharach/Bachrach families in the Hesse/Thuringen area in the 1700s and 1800s.

I’ve also created family trees of some of the Bacharach families, beginning with the oldest known and including 3-4 generations, depending upon the size of the family. The charts are grouped geographically and can be accessed by pulling down the “Family Trees” tab at the top of the page. Most of these trees end in the mid-to-late 1800s in order to protect privacy and also keep the charts from being too large. It should be enough information to locate a family. If you’re related to one of these families and want more information, contact me and I can put you in touch with researchers from that branch.

I will continue to add data as it comes in.

More Matches at 37 and 67 Markers

The data are beginning to take shape. We now have 37 marker results for our participant from Slonim, Belarus. He matches 36/37 with Bacharachs from Kestrich and 36/37 (a mutation at a different marker) with Fellheim. This puts the probability of a common ancestor between the Bachrachs of Slonim and the Bachrachs of Kestrich at about 87% in the last 8 generations and a slightly higher probability (89%) of a common ancestor with Fellheim in the last 8 generations.

We also have the rest of the 67 markers for Fellheim, which show either 3 or 4 one-step mutations with the others in the project who have also tested 67 markers. This shows more distance between Fellheim and Kestrich–only about 48% probability of a common ancestor within 8 generations.

We have two more participants who have not yet sent in their tests, so more results to come.