By Don Taylor
A recent experience with Ancestry DNA reminds me that even fifth to eighth cousins on Ancestry DNA can provide a clue, possibly the big clue, to a breakthrough.
I was recently contacted via Ancestry DNA messaging by a 5th-8th cousin of my mother-in-law. She (I’ll call her K.B.) was excited because she had only encountered Trumpe’s[i] before that were known relatives. Her 3rd great grandfather was John Frederick Trumpe and was from the same place, Glarus, Switzerland, as my mother-in-law’s great-grandfather, Bernhard/Bernard/Benard Trümpi. There were some coincidental matches in our two trees. For example, K.B.’s John Frederick named one of his children Bernard and my mother-in-law’s Bernhard named one of his children Frederick. John Frederick Trumpe and his wife Catherine settled in Pittsburgh, PA.
The next piece of the puzzle came from family oral history. My mother-in-law’s grandmother, Bertha Barbara Trumpi, was said to have come to the United States with an aunt and uncle who were living in the States already. It was also family oral history that she came over “above decks” (not steerage). I had long suspected that it was her aunt and uncle, Rachel and Fredolin (Fred) Sigrist, but I had never found any support for that. Rachel and Fredolin had settled in Pittsburgh, PA, and traveled back and forth to Europe often above decks during their many trips but I hadn’t found any evidence of their traveling in 1901-1903 when Bertha came across.
|Fritz, Katherine and Bertha Trumpi
Passenger List, S.S. Philadelphia 26 July 1902
Source: Find My Past (See Endnotes)
I revisited Bertha’s immigration and still didn’t find anything on Ancestry.Com, Family Search, or Ellis Island Foundation. Then I searched Find My Past and found a record of Fritz (Frederick) and Katherine (Catherine) Trumpi, who left Southampton on 26 July 1902, aboard the S.S. Philadelphia bound for New York with a 19-year-old spinster, Bertha.[ii] They are listed in the passengers with cabins section of the passenger list. I looked closer and couldn’t find and arrival document on Find My Past. I went back to Ancestry.Com and Ellis Island Foundation websites and looked at the passenger lists for the S.S. Philadelphia arriving in New York on 2 August 1902. Nothing. I browsed the images painstakingly several times and still didn’t find any arrival information. I noticed that the images only included people in third-class (steerage); none of the images included first or second class passengers. That is why I never found them before.
If Fritz Trumpi is John Frederick Trumpe and John Fredrick and Bernhard Trumpi are brothers, then we have a match. All the pieces seem to fit, all the ages are right for Fritz and Katherine to be John Frederick and Catherine. Also, the age for Barbara Bertha Trümpi is correct. With all the circumstantial evidence I have found I am going to tentatively associate John Frederick and Bernhard as siblings. What makes this association even more important is that, when John Frederick Trumpe died in 1917, the informant indicated that his parents were Benhart and Anna Oertli Trumpe.[iii] That information potentially extends the Trumpi line back another generation.
Back to the DNA
If Benhart and Anna Oertli Trumpi from Glarus, Switzerland, are the common ancestor for K.B. and my mother in law they should share, on average, 76cM of DNA. They share 16.8cM of DNA, quite a bit less than average but still within the range for third cousins once removed.[iv]
Is it possible that Benhart and Anna are not the common ancestors? Absolutely. It may be that Benhart’s parents are the common ancestor, or even back another generation. Time and further research will tell, but so many circumstantial bits of evidence fit that between the DNA and the paper trail, I know there is some kind of relationship.
Visit Ellis Island and see if they have passenger records at Ellis Island that include the above deck passengers for the S.S. Philadelphia that arrived in New York on 2 August 1902.
Research the Trümpi family in Glarus, Switzerland further.
Consider doing a Trumpi family of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania and determine additional information regarding potential family members.
Trumpe, Trumpi, and Trumpy are all forms of the same surname. Often spelled with an umlaut as in Trümpi.