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Casa de Schwartz

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DNA of WAB, Pt 8: The Nicklos Subgroup

The Nicklos subgroup arises from the DNA of Charles Nicklos born in Saxony, Germany mixed with the DNA of Jessie McDowell born in Scotland. They met in Canada, moved to Galicia, before finally settling in California. 

In Part 1, a cluster analysis was done on the DNA of WAB to see how the family tree mapped out. Baker, Perkins and Woods subgroups were identified, but no obvious Nicklos cluster. In Part 2, the unidentified DNA matches and clusters were analyzed to look for any signs of the Nicklos subgroup. A few matches were identified.

The Nicklos Subgroup: Known Ancestors of Ernest James Nicklos

Since this original analysis, additional DNA testing has been completed by others. Introducing JD, a sister to WAB, and JN, a first cousin. Let’s call this group “the grandchildren” for obvious reasons.  Using their collective results, new shared matches can be identified and added to the McDowell and Nicholas lists.

McDowell DNA Analysis

The table to the right shows a working list of McDowell shared matches. The shared match with JL is significant because the grandchildren share a common ancestor in James McDowell and Isabella McLeod making them second cousins, x1 removed. JL represents their closest known McDowell relative.

JLankton, and DarthTorment are also closely related to each other, likely first cousins, 1x removed based on their trees. They trace themselves to John McDowell b. 1789 in Ayr Scotland. bsinc204 also has a published tree to this John McDowell. SLankton is likely a child of JLankton based on their user name. libertyandersonsweeny’s tree is private, but will probably trace to John McDowell.

Match NameLength of Match (cM)Useful Tree?
Descendants of James and Isabella (McLeod) McDowell
Descendants of John and Helen (Monie) McDowell

So how is this John related to our James McDowell? Several probabilty charts have been done that show the odds of a particular relationship based on the amount of shared DNA. Ancestry has one, as does DNA Painter. To the right is the chart for JN’s shared match of 107 cM to JLankton. Notice that table suggests a close relationship – on the order of second cousin.  So let’s look at three scenarios showing how John McDowell could be related to James McDowell based on the two trees above.

Odds JN is related to JLankton (source: DNA Painter)

Scenerio 1: John and James are brothers.
JLankton and the grandchildren would be 4th cousins. Odds are 5% for a match to JN. Additional problem is the 18 year difference in birth years between John and James.

Scenerio 2: John is the father
John McDowell (b. 1789) would have been age 18 when James was born in 1807 and age 46 when Elizabeth was born in 1835. JLankton and the grandchildren would be half 3rd cousins x1 removed. Odds still 5%. Another problem is that John and Helen had a second son in 1828 named James even though the first James was still alive.

Scenerio 3: James is the father
In this case, JLankton has the wrong parents for Elizabeth McDowell born in 1935. James would be age 19 when Sarah Banks was born in 1829, and age 53 when Jessie was born in 1860. Then JLankton and the grandchildren would be half 3nd cousins. Odds jump to 18%. This solution conflicts with 1841 and 1851 Scottish censuses showing Elizabeth and Sarah as daughters of John. Also, there are two daughters named Sarah.

It will take some more time to sort out the McDowell relationships. All these scenerios have problems. The probability chart assumes none of the dreaded endogamy or pedigree collapse, which may be present and would increase the shared match of JLankton. Going back further in time has additional problems: (1) McDowell and its variations is a pretty common name. (2) Records are becoming spotty. (3) No additional DNA matches have surfaced to date. Despite these negatives, the DNA here has given us a good place to focus future research. We have identified new relatives. We just need to see how we are related.

Nicklos DNA Analysis

Now let’s look at the Nicklos DNA. The table to the right is based on the flimsiest of connections. Mystery matches LC and EW share DNA with JJ. The tree of JJ points to an Elsie Stolz of Milwaukee who lists her county of birth in 1873 as Saxony, the same as Ernest Nicholas.  With the combined DNA of the grandchildren, the table got expanded, but only by a few matches including DJ and TG.

Match NameLength of Match (cM)Useful Tree?

Both LC and EW kindly replied to email inquiries. Whereas EW had absolutely no idea about her tree due to her adoption, LC and I have had many productive exchanges. He even allowed me to incorporate his DNA. LC’s maternal grandfather, Joseph Lewczak, filed a naturalization petition where he states that he was born 1899 in “Krosno, Austria”. Guess who also lived here? The Perkins/Nicklos families resided in or near Krosno during this same time in an area variously called Galicia, Poland, Ukraine and Austria.

Naturalization Paper for Joseph Lewczak which names Krosno, Poland as birthplace in 1899

Now we see a possible connection. Joseph Lewczak (b. 1899) married Eva Czystor (b. 1893) in 1916 in Connecticut. We know very little about Eva so we must be open to the fact that she, too, might have emigrated from the same region. In other words, either Joseph or Eva represents the best source of our shared DNA with LC. Our Perkins and Nicklos families resided at the same time in Krosno. One of them likely supplied DNA to Joseph or Eva. To be fair, we need to consider everyone, both male and female, of potential child bearing age that might have lived in or near to Kronso at that time (see tree below). Then we can rule them out.

All of these individuals could have lived in Galacia about 1895

Although a few of the Perkins men lived checkered lives as youths, we can likely rule out descendants of James and Mary (Vansickle) Perkins. They passed DNA to many individuals tested on, as shown in the chart below. One would expect to see some small amount of Perkins or Vansickle DNA in the shared match with LC. To date, no evidence of any of this DNA shows up. By the same logic, we can so far rule any children of Charles and Jessie (McDowell) Nicklos. We identified McDowell DNA matches above. Any children of Charles and Jessie would be expected to contribute some McDowell DNA to any LC. Nothing is found down to 8 cM. Therefore, we can rule out these children for now.

ThruLine for James Perkins showing everyone who share DNA with WAB

We are left with one likely source of the DNA…Charles Nicklos. Currently, every piece of evidence suggests that he passed DNA to either Joseph Lewszak or Eva Czystor when he lived in Galicia. LC would be a half 2nd cousin to the grandchildren. The proposed family tree is shown below. It introduce a new individual, TA, who should also be related. Here are some observations:

  1. You could figure out whether Charles is the father of Joseph Lewczak by testing a descendant of GL. Any positive DNA match would indicate that Joseph is the child of Charles. You could also test a sibling of Eva Czystor. Any positive DNA would indicated that Eva is the child. 
  2. TA and EW share about the same amount of DNA with LC meaning that TA and EW may be a stepsisters. 
  3. Notice that EW shares DNA with us, but TA does not.  This is a little surprising. TA may still be related. “No DNA Shared” can mean that the value may be <8 cM. However, both individuals are NPE’s. The results could also mean that TA’s relationship to LC is not yet fully understood.
  4. It would be very interesting to test a descendant of Gertrude May Nicklos for a match to LC because they have Nicklos & McDowell but no Perkins & Vansickle DNA.
Updated Descendant Tree for Charles Nicklos based on the DNA evidence

Please realize that these results are not set into stone. New data or different conclusions can always emerge. However, keep in mind that if Charles get exonerated, someone else gets implicated. For those that find this new family narrative a little disconcerting, welcome to the wild west that is DNA testing. Fortunately, this event took place 120 years ago. Enough time has hopefully passed so that we can welcome this new version of the family tree.

Ernest & Charlotte (Zieryacks) DNA
As to any connections to Ernest Nicklos or his wife Charlotte Zieryacks, the grandchildren have three matches left: JJ, DJ and TG, all of whom descend from of Charles and Elsie (Stolz) Laatz.  Although we could be related to either Charles or Elsie, only Elsie states that she was born in Saxony, Germany. 

Elsie (1873-1945) immigrated to Milwaukee, WI around 1891 with Carl Stolz and Elizabeth Mueller, who she names as her parents on her marriage certificate. However, Elizabeth was her stepmother. Elsie had a sister, Lena, who names their mother as “Henriette Blank” and a bother, Otto, who names her as “Catherine Planke”.  Elsie turned 12 when Carl married Elizabeth in 1885 as shown in the following marriage certificate. 

from “Erfurt, Germany, Marriages, 1874-1900” (
On 11 Jul 1885 in Erfurt, Thuringen, GER, Carl Heinrich Stolz, 40, born 21 Oct 1844, son of Johann Balthasar Stolz and Sophie Elisabeth Stolz, married Eva Elisabeth Mueller, 32, born 14 Dec 1852, daughter of Carl Traugott Mueller and Anna Rebecca Mueller.

Carl and Elizabeth did have children including a son, Paul, born in 1889. During the coarse of this analysis, one other match emerged who descends from Paul. This match, JB, shares a measly 10 cM with WAB only. However, if we believe all these matches, then only Carl Heinrich Stolz provides the DNA path to Ernst Nicholas or his wife Charlotte Zieryacks. Using the marriage record above which names Carl’s parents as Johann Balthasar Stolz and Sophie Elisabeth Stolz, we find this new marriage record:

from “Thuringia, Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1591-1875” (
On 1839 in Waltershausen, Thuringen, GER, Johann Bathasar Stolz son of Anna Barbara Stack married Sophie Elisabethe Nicolai daughter of Johann Georg Nicolai.

Updated Nicklos Family Tree based on the DNA evidence

Notice the mention of Sophie Elisabethe Nicolai, daughter of Johann Georg Nicolai. Ernest spelled his last name exactly this way when he arrived in 1850. The DNA connection has been made. Although we do not have supporting documents, the most logical relationship between Ernest and Sophie would be brother/sister. At the very least, we now know the region of Germany (Thuringen) where Ernest lived, and we now have a likely father (Johann Georg Nicolai). We will leave additional analysis for another day. For now, we have to be pleased that so few DNA matches produced such big results.