Genealogy

2003-May:

While googling one day, I stumbled across some online cemetary records for Meade Kansas, where one of my great-grandfathers is buried.  This led to email correspondence with Carol Friesen of Tulsa OK, an avid genealogist who does a lot of genealogical data entry.  She asked if I could send any updates for "my" family ... 

Here is the Peter R Reimer family-tree, based on the book "Peter R Reimer 1845-1915 Family Book" by Abe R Reimer of Blumenort MB, and on updates and corrections to the Klaas P L Reimer descendants collected by my father Peter K Reimer, all of which has been entered by Carol Friesen.  That webpage resides on her website, and was mechanically converted to HTML by her.  In 2003-June, she submitted that data (in Gedcom form) to the GRANDMA project of calmenno.org (CMHS), for inclusion in their next release.  (The linked webpage becomes obsolete once the data is so included.) 

And here is the Klaas P L Reimer family-tree, a subset of the above, which resides on this website.  This copy contains further corrections, which still need to be submitted to the GRANDMA project, namely:
- gender of Jewel Lynn Faith Reimer, b.  Jul 10 1969
- gender of Jessie Reimer, b.  Jun 6 1957
- gender of Dawn Allyson Reimer, b.  May 12 1962. 

With a lot of help from my sister Iris, we also compiled a list of corrections needed in the family-tree of Peter R Penner, our maternal grandfather.  I have the list of corrections, and the before-corrections tree, but did not end up with a corrected tree, in this case.  However, I understand Carol Friesen has submitted these also to Grandma.


2006-March:

I finally got around to ordering a copy of the Grandma database, now at version 4.23.  I briefly tried the Gramps program on this data, but gave up on it, as its performance is unbearably slow on a database of this size.  It wasn't really all that brief, as it took 3 days to try it - 48 hours just to convert the Gedcom file to its database format.  This database is 183MB in Gedcom form;  in the Gramps (grdb) form it becomes 2.2GB, which strikes me as roughly 2 gigabytes too much.  Gramps has several problems, the most serious one is taking 3.5 hours just to "open" the grdb-form of the database, and during those 3.5 hours my computer is pretty much unusable for doing anything else.  And, echoing Churchill, up with that I will not put! 

Next I tried the genealogy program called LifeLines.  With it, the conversion from Gedcom took even longer - 57 hours - but after that everything I've tried has been instantaneous.  Even restarting it.  This is more like it! 

For anyone needing to work with a large genealogical database, I can recommend LifeLines;  you'll need to put up with its old-fashioned non-GUI user-interface, but it performs very well indeed, its database form is perfectly reasonable in size, and it comes with a wealth of reporting tools.  (The people at calmenno.org, who distribute the Grandma data, recommend BrothersKeeper, but as it's not available for Linux, nor for Macs, who would want it?)  The LifeLines FAQ#40 recommends using the rbtrees option, for improved performance on large databases.  I am curious about how much time this will shave off such a 57-hour import, but have yet to try it. 

The Grandma database knows a good deal about my ancestors: 
here is an Ahnentafel report;
here is an End-of-Line report; and
here is a By-Generation Count report;
each produced by the LifeLines program, from the Grandma data.  Most of these lines encounter a dead-end in the 1700's in Prussia, however some have been traced back to the 1500's, in one case to 1480, to people with names like Harnasveger, Pieters, deVeer, Grauwerts, vanDijck (also as vanDyck, vonDyck), Conrad, in the Netherlands.  Incidentally, Ahnentafel is a German word for a numbered ancestor report, where the parents of person N are always 2N and 2N+1;  for example, the parents of person 7 are persons 14 and 15.

In 2003, Carol sent a BrothersKeeper-report on how (her husband) Duane Friesen and I are related.  That BK report struck me as obviously incorrect, since the first relationship shown for the vonRiesen common ancestor, is NOT the closest relationship through that ancestor!  AHA, I believe I've found an explanation.  For each possible "distance" (4th+1x, 5th, 5th+1x, 5th+2x, etc), BK shows EXACTLY ONE path of that length.  Since it has already shown a length-5th+1x path for the Brandt common ancestor, it omits the one I'm expecting for the vonRiesen ancestor, which is also of length 5th+1x.  Having found an explanation, I won't call it wrong, but it is incomplete in strange and bizarre ways;  and it may lead people to think that Duane and I are related in exactly 6 ways, and that would be incorrect. 
[To my mind, a more intuitive way to "prune" the output would be to show each common ancestor just once, together with the shortest path connecting the two subjects through that ancestor.  But I would still want this to be accompanied by shorter notes on the other paths.  Summarizing relatedness by a single number indicating the extent to which two people "share DNA" is another thing I'd like to see.  Such a "Coefficient of Consanguinity" is provided by the GeneWeb genealogical software, and by LifeLines as it turns out.]

LifeLines has 6 different "how related" reports.  Here's the output from 5 of them together with the BrothersKeeper output for comparison:
here is the BrothersKeeper-related-report for Duane Friesen and myself;
here is the LifeLines-cousins-report for Duane Friesen and myself;
here is the LifeLines-relation-report for Duane Friesen and myself;
here is the LifeLines-relate-report for Duane Friesen and myself;
here is the LifeLines-genetics-report for Duane Friesen and myself;  and
here is the LifeLines-cons-report for Duane Friesen and myself.
The cousins report is even less complete than the BK version.  One positive note: it's also less likely to mislead anyone into thinking it is complete.  The relation and relate reports are interesting, but their "sister-in-law of step-brother" notion of relatedness, is not the kind of relatedness I'm interested in.  Not one of those 3 is what I want, and at 17min, 15min, and 25min respectively, they're not exactly instantaneous either.  Aha, the cons report is what I seek:  it shows all paths through all common ancestors;  it shows the consanguinity coefficient;  and it does all this in mere seconds!  Finding the output is not easy as it provides no hints, the documentation provides no hints - I had to read the source to learn where the output went (it is written to /tmp/t1).  Checking the output for correctness was rather a lot of work; our ancestors married relatives so often that we are related in 56 ways!  The description of the cons report has flaws:  it is misleading about the usefulness of a consanguinity coefficient, it fails to mention where the output goes, and it provides no hint that this report really is what the description of cousins led one to hope it would be.  All of these flaws led me to try 3 other reports before this one, and then to very nearly give up on this one.  But instead of needing to write my own "relatedness" program, now I only feel the need to make minor enhancements to this one.  The improvements I'm planning to make:  fix infinite-loop & crashing for A and B unrelated, or same person;  describe each path in English as Mth cousin Nx removed;  highlight the common ancestor in a style much like that used by BK;  improve the ordering of output so that shortest paths come first, and so that a husband and wife who are both common ancestors are adjacent (and possibly combined);  and tell the user where the output-file is.  A few more examples:
LifeLines-cons-report for my parents -- an example of unfortunate ordering;
LifeLines-cons-report for my sister and myself -- with Parent-Relatedness for our father's parents, and unfortunate ordering.

In browsing through my relatives, I observe that the corrections we sent in for the Peter R Penner family have made it into this version of Grandma;  my unmarried aunt Helen and cousin Norma Brandt, Mrs Sault, are no longer "merged" with different persons having similar names - both are now rid of those erroneous spouses.  Aunt Helen also got a year older in the process, and perhaps we'll manage to celebrate her next big birthday in the right year:-)  However, the larger set of additions and corrections on my paternal side, to the Peter R Reimer tree, have NOT made it into this version of Grandma.  They were sent in almost 3 years ago, but it seems they are awaiting Grandma-version-5.0.

[I may shorten this page, creating 2 sub-pages:  one on genealogy-software,  one on relatedness.]


2007-Jan:

A few more examples:
the LL-cons report showing the 10 ways Elmer (Al) Reimer and I are related;
the LL-cons report showing the 37 ways Donald S Reimer (Reimer Express) and I are related.

Origin of the name Reimer:  according to the Brothers Grimm, the name Reimer, also spelled as Rhymer, Reumer, Reume, Reime, Reumen, Reimen, is from an old germanic word rîm for number, and thus a Reimer is a computer, reckoner, or calculator;  see germazope.uni-trier.de:8080/Projects/WBB/woerterbuecher/dwb/wbgui?lemid=GR03660.  (Their quote from Goethe "keinen reimer wird man finden, der sich nicht den besten hielte" may be an observation about Reimers, or was he talking about poets?)  Elsewhere one can find speculation that the surnames Rymer, Rimmer, Raemer, Raimer, Ramer, Raymer, Ramiro, and several others are also variants of Reimer.


2010-Feb:

Thomas Wetmore in a 2010-02-06 post on LINES-L@LISTSERV.NODAK.EDU provides valuable information on Lifelines and large databases, including suggestions on how performance could be greatly improved, and the size-limits extended.  Lifelines presently handles databases of up to roughly 46-million records, which likely means about 25-million persons.  In a 2010-02-20 post he reports how a "lazy write" scheme in Lifelines provides a 200-fold performance improvement, or loading at 43,000 records per second, which means loading one-million records takes about 30-seconds (on modern hardware).  A welcome improvement indeed! 

Although I purchased a copy of GRANDMA-5 when it came out, I have yet to "load" it into Lifelines (not every day am I willing to start something that takes more than a day to run), and I now intend to skip it entirely by going directly to GRANDMA-6 with the lazy-write-enhanced Lifelines.  Incidentally, the 4.23 version of GRANDMA has roughly one-million persons; it has 1,076,127 level 0 records, 818,163 of which are INDI records. 

related.ll: 
I finally got back to the improvements in the cons-report mentioned above.  I made some of them 4 years ago, but did not publish the result as it seemed unfinished.  While reading about the subject I had learned there were some tough choices about whose definitions to use, and some of the material was so confusing it made my head hurt.  Which may explain my taking a 4-year break:-)  There's probably no easy answer, no approach that will please everyone, however I have made my choices and gone with them.  The notes on the Literature and the Algorithm that I made while writing it were originally comments in the program but got to be too long for that;  my rationale for discarding the "inbreeding-correction-factor" is explained in two paragraphs, one under Literature, one under Algorithm.  After deciding to depart from the definitions used by Teschler (cons.ll), I've given the program an altogether different name, calling it related.ll, and am calling the relatedness-metric "Relatedness" rather than "Consanguinity-coefficient".  I contend that related.ll is a complete replacement for the Lifelines report-scripts cons.ll, cousins.ll, genetics.ll, genetics2.ll, but not for the similarly named relate.ll nor relation.ll.  I've also published a bash-script llexec: to run a Lifelines program (one with prompts) from the command-line. 

Here are the same examples that were shown above for cons.ll, but now as done by related.ll, along with a few new ones:
LL-related report for me and Duane Friesen (56 ways)
LL-related report for me and Donald S Reimer (37 ways)
LL-related report for me and Elmer (Al) Reimer (10 ways)
LL-related report for me and Jakob Harnasveger (a distant ancestor; 3 ways)
LL-related report for me and Klaas Epp (Kleine Gemeinde founder) Reimer (3 ways)
LL-related report for me and my sister Iris (22 ways)
LL-related report for me and my father (11 ways)
LL-related report for my parents (with options:GB; 10 ways)
LL-related report for me and Reynold (Fuzz) Reimer (19 ways)
LL-related report for me and James Arthur (Jim) Rempel (14 ways)
LL-related report for me and Del Plett (33 ways)
LL-related report for me and Sid Barkman (28 ways)
LL-related report for me and Steve Reimer (29 ways)
LL-related report for me and Wilmer Penner (29 ways)
LL-related report for me and Doris Penner (29 ways)
LL-related report for me and Wes Penner (29 ways)
LL-related report for me and Pat Friesen (14 ways)
LL-related report for me and Ralph Friesen (54 ways)
LL-related report for me and Miriam Toews (37 ways)
LL-related report for me and Royden Loewen (36 ways)
LL-related report for me and Roger Loewen (31 ways)
LL-related report for me and Paul Loewen (21 ways)
LL-related report for me and Ken Loewen (35 ways)
LL-related report for me and Jeanette (Pearl) Penner (18 ways)
LL-related report for me and Louise Friesen (26 ways)
LL-related report for me and Alfred Toews (14 ways)
LL-related report for me and Iris Dianna Reimer (50 ways)
LL-related report for me and Brian Barkman (18 ways)
LL-related report for me and Doris Mooney (28 ways)
LL-related report for me and Luella Reimer (24 ways)
LL-related report for me and Carol Penner (12 ways)
LL-related report for me and Carol Toews (24 ways)
LL-related report for me and Chris Toews (8 ways)
LL-related report for me and Ryan (Hersh) Rempel (8 ways)
LL-related report for me and Yvonne Friesen (17 ways)
LL-related report for me and Bruce Kliewer (8 ways)
LL-related report for me and Loren Janz (10 ways)
LL-related report for me and Denis Janz (10 ways)
LL-related report for me and Ernie Goosen (16 ways)
LL-related report for me and Ernie (E G) Penner (38 ways)
LL-related report for me and Jake Epp (8 ways)
LL-related report for me and Mark Anthony (20 ways)
LL-related report for me and Iris Loewen (23 ways)
LL-related report for me and Jonas W Toews (5 ways)
LL-related report for me and Menno Penner (9 ways)
LL-related report for me and Pauline Anna Esau (2 ways)
LL-related report for me and Irvy Goosen (14 ways)
LL-related report for Prince Charles and Lady Diana (28188 ways)

The repetitiveness in some of the above "how related" examples where the same eight paths show up for anyone else who's also a decendant of Foola Reima is due to the 6 ways I'm descended from Abraham F (Foola) Reimer and spouse Elisabeth Rempel, plus the 2 other ways I'm descended from Elisabeth's grandparents Bernhard Rempel and Elisabeth Fast.  BTW, these "how related" reports are based on GRANDMA v4.23 which still has some substantial chunks missing, for example it has no parental-info on Margaret Sawatzky mother of Pat Friesen, nor on Margaret "Peggy" Sawatsky mother of Chris Toews, nor on Orlando (Oscar) Rempel father of Ryan and Mel Rempel, and absolutely nothing on Arnold Rempel father of Robert Rempel nor on Rob's mother nor on Rob, so the number of ways I'm related to these fellows will almost certainly go up once those family-trees have been added.  Based on the people I've looked up, it seems able to show how I'm related to anyone of Kleine-Gemeinder background whether they be East-Reserve or Nebraska kleine-gemeinders, however it's seldom able to show my being related to Russlenda nor indeed to anyone from any other sub-group of mennos, which fits with previous generations of mennos mostly marrying within their own circle.  Obviously it's not entirely that simple or there wouldn't be people named Mooney amongst my relatives.  The very first person I looked up, Duane Friesen of Nebraska-Kleine-Gemeinder descent, remains the record-holder for being related to me in the most ways, although Ralph Friesen and Iris Reimer (now Dirks) come very close; also close are Ernie (E G) Penner, Donald S (Reimer Express) Reimer, Miriam Toews, Royden Loewen, Ken Loewen, Del Plett, and Roger Loewen. 

Note: the last example for Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer is not from GRANDMA-data, but rather from data collected and assembled by Michael Hendry, who makes no claims as to accuracy nor completeness.  At more than 28,000 paths, and roughly 100-megabytes, it's certainly more complete than anything I would have expected!


2011-Jan:
Upon hearing of a James Reimer playing in goal for the Leafs, I wanted to know how this young Reimer from Morweena Manitoba is related to me.  Cousin Ron Friesen supplied the info on the parents and grandparents of this James Reimer, thus enabling me to find him in GRANDMA.  Here is the related.ll report:
LL-related report for me and James Kourtney Reimer (101 ways). 
Note the dramatic shattering of all previous records for the number of ways someone is related to me!  Finally I've found someone for whom those distant known ancestors come into play -- this report still doesn't rival the Charles and Diana one for depth but it does include paths as long as 12th cousin once removed. 


2011-Feb-25:
Derrick KoHeinrichs, of NOCI, has an ancestor Isbrand Friesen born:abt 1740 whom I've encountered before but isn't related to me.  GRANDMA shows that Derrick and I each have a circa 1740 ancestor named Peter Penner, and that's the closest thing I've found to evidence of our being related.  It's the shortest of several long-shots.  Here are the notes from my (unfinished) research:

==his mother's side:
Grandpa: Heinrich/Kehler b:1909		PERSON-KEY:I728755  NOTE:died:2005 (from Derrick, not in GRANDMA);  Heinrich & Hilda have NO children listed!!
Grandma: Hilda/Kehler 1913-2006		PERSON-KEY:I728686
	Heinrich is not related to me;
	Hilda is not related to me;

==his father's side:
grandpa: Wilhelm/HEINRICHS b:25 Sep 1898 d:14 Sep 1973  PERSON-KEY:I157654  NOTE: Wilhelm & Katharina have children listed;  those have name only, no DOB, no children;
grandma: Katharina/TEICHROEW b:7 Mar 1899		PERSON-KEY:I157641
	Wilhelm is not related to me
	Katharina is not related to me

[note: GRANDMA sometimes has unmerged duplicates for same person, and yet in all 4 cases (his grandparents) I stopped looking at the FIRST match]

END-OF-LINE-ANCESTORS;  ran eol.ll to get end-of-line ancestors for the 4 grandparents, then combined & uniquified to get eol-report for Derrick:
	LLeol-HeinrichKehler.txt
	LLeol-HildaKehler.txt
	LLeol-KatharinaTeichroew.txt
	LLeol-WilhelmHeinrichs.txt
	LLeol-DerrickHeinrichs.txt	<==eol-report for Derrick, made by combining & uniquifying the 4 above;

We each have a circa 1740 Peter Penner ancestor;  his is born circa 1744,  mine is 1742;
	Could they be the same person?  Check: the known children of each may render it highly unlikely?  
	Note: once the theory needs 2 distinct families, then same-name is no longer significant:)
	How do I find them amongst a thousand (really only 629:) Peter Penners??
		eg: Peter Penner born:abt 1742  spouse:Elisabeth Reimer cb:abt 1765 child:Peter Penner b:abt 1765	<==Have Marked, but is probably neither??
	This seems endless AND no way to be sure about identity when using LL-Browse, there must be a better way??  Better way: navigate up, using Ahnentafel info;
	Counting cmdline:  grep 'NAME Peter.*/Penner'  gm423.GED |wc
	Result: 629
	==NOTE: this is a great example for Lifelines needing "enhanced browsing", eg: by Name+DOB==!!==
	==NOTE: LL-Browse & many LL-reports could be greatly enhanced by providing PERSON-KEY for each person being listed==!!==
		(having KEY is wonderfully useful for data with a thousand persons per name, presently much too hard to obtain)
	From My Ahnentafel, path from me to my eol-ancestor-PeterPenner:
	192. Peter PENNER b.Abt 1742				KEY:I256065;  spouse:Elisabeth Reimer cb:abt 1765;               child:Peter ==only one child==!!==
	 96. Peter PENNER b.Abt 1765 d.Bef 1803			KEY:I45835;   spouse:Katharina Peters cb:abt 1791;  b:abt 1765;  child:Elisabeth Peter Gertruda Aron
	 48. Peter Peter PENNER b. Abt 1793
	 24. Peter P. PENNER b.13 FEB 1816, Molotschna Colony, South Russia d.28 APR 1884, Blumenort, Manitoba
	 12. Abraham R. PENNER b.2 DEC 1847, South Russia d.17 OCT 1918
	  6. Peter R. PENNER b.22 JAN 1877 d.28 SEP 1951
	  3. Betty L. PENNER b.21 MAY 1913, Steinbach, Manitoba
	Next, path from Derrick to his eol-ancestor-PeterPenner: (unfinished)


Send your questions, suggestions, corrections, bug-reports to ereimer@shaw.ca.