In 2008 I decided to embark on a journey into DNA testing. Up until then, family relationships had been determined by submitted family trees, fragments of information given by family members, and online research. After I had built up the five or so unique family “clans” through these former means, there seemed that the possibility of a few of these clans may have some kind of link. The Kastler name is in fact very rare, and the origin of the name Kastler as we know of currently, has only a few origins. The Kastler Surname Origins page describes the known theories. Since the technology was now available to aid in family history, I was ready to use it.
Genetic ancestry testing is the use of DNA information to make inferences about someone’s “deep” ancestry, hundreds or thousands of years into the past. Genetic genealogy on the other hand combines DNA testing with genealogical and historical records, and typically makes use of large databases to identify matches. There is some overlap between the two, but genetic genealogy is generally more reliable because of its use of additional information: the information about your ancestry available from DNA alone is limited, as we try to explain here.
The basic idea behind genealogical DNA testing is not too complicated. There are three types of genealogical DNA tests, autosomal (atDNA), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and Y-Chromosome (Y-DNA). Autosomal tests for all ancestry. Y-DNA tests a male along his direct paternal line. mtDNA tests a man or woman along their direct maternal line. Any of these tests can be used to some degree for recent genealogy or for ethnic ancestry. Genealogical DNA testing differs from other types of DNA testing. Medical DNA testing focuses only on parts of the genome.
One very important thing to report on is the Kastler DNA research that I started several years ago. Genetic Genealogy helps to fill in gaps in paper trails, confirm relationships, and to hopefully discover new relationships. There’s been one amazing discovery, which for you that have been with me for a while will grasp.
After testing myself, Glenn Kastner, and André Kastler, it appeared that we were related. This was not at all expected. My clan, the Swabian Kastlers (near Ulm) are related to the Kastners of Königsbach-Stein (near Karlsruhe) to a common ancestor around 1350-1450. The Kastners are related to the Westhoffen Kastlers in Alsace, France to a common ancestor around 1400-1500. The DNA matches are extremely close. My opinion is that some Swabian Kastlers left and went west to Königsbach and settled. Then Conrad, or more, south to Westhoffen to be a winemaker in the beautiful Alsacien countryside.
As of this time there’s no proof of how the migration may have happened. It could be the exact opposite. In the Kastner family tree, the oldest person is Konrad Kastner, who died ca.1592. The oldest person in the Westhoffen family tree is Conrad Kastler, who died 17 Sept 1593. Perhaps it’s just coincidence, but in my opinion they’re the same person.
I’ve included a map that I had modified several years ago, but never finished. At least it shows the locations of the families. The name “Schwäbische Kastlers” is the Swabian Kastlers. The distance between Ulm and Königsbach-Stein is about 150km. Between Königsbach-Stein and Westhoffen is about 130km.
The public Kastler DNA website is located at http://familytreedna.com/groups/kastler. There is a way to import Ancestry.com DNA results into FamilyTreeDNA.com for those who are interested. If anyone is interested in taking a Y-DNA paternal test, please let me know so you can be added directly into our DNA group.