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 has only a handful of 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.
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.
After testing it appeared that myself (Curt Kastler), Glen Kastner, and André Kastler were all related. This was completely unexpected. My clan, the Swabian Kastlers, 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. My opinion is that some Swabian Kastlers left and went west to Königsbach and settled. Then south-west to Westhoffen to be winemakers in the beautiful Alsacien countryside. As of this time there’s no proof of how the migration may have happened. 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.
There are currently over 10 Kastlers from various families who have taken the DNA test. We’ve have matches that have confirmed relationships within at least two clans, as well as the prior mentioned link. We have samples representing ancestors from Austria, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland. We’re always looking for more samples.
The public Kastler DNA website is located at FamilyTreeDNA. 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 group. To understand more about DNA testing, please see Family Tree DNA’s description.