Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My Twice-Married Great-Great Grandparents

I've written before about how in Austria-Hungary, many couples had a religious wedding and were considered fully married by their communities; however, they never civilly registered their marriage, so their children were considered illegitimate.  In fact, I believed my great-great grandparents (Shmuel Moshe Rutner and Rochel Fuchs) were in this situation, as their children whose births were registered in civil records only listed a mother.
Birth of Mendel Fuchs (Rutner), 1900

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sima Diamond, the Maiden Widowed Divorcee

My great-great grandfather was Hillel Diamond.  My great-great grandmother was his wife Hinda, but there were rumors that Hinda was not Hillel's first wife.  Those rumors were correct--and that first wife had an interesting backstory.
From the Marriage Record of Hillel and Sima Diamond - Hebrew Side

Monday, March 5, 2018

Taking the Diamonds Back--Another Generation

I've gotten many of my family lines back centuries, but the Diamonds have always been a brick wall.  I knew my great-great grandfather (Hillel), and that was it.  My grandfather had told me the names of some of Hillel's children and had also said that there was a rumor that he had been married before he wed my great-great grandmother Hinda.

Well, the rumors were true--and by verifying them, I've gotten back another generation in the Diamond family.
Yankel Diamant Birth Record

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Wow, what a week!  I started out by flying to Phoenix where I spoke to Arizona Jewish Historical Society's Phoenix Jewish Genealogy Group. It was a great group with some good questions about endogamy. As a bonus, I got to hang out with Emily Garber.  And then off to Utah and RootsTech!

I flew into Salt Lake City, dropped off my bags, and went straight to the Family History Library. Mondays with Myrt was broadcasting, and lots of genealogy friends were in with her or hanging around outside, and it was great to catch up with everyone.  We then went out to lunch (I found an apple that I could eat—SLC isn’t the most kosher-friendly city in the world), and then I went back to the library for the next few hours. 
Mondays with Myrt (and a lot of my genealogy friends)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Some Day I'll Find It, The Mitchneck Connection: Using Lazarus to Predict Relationships

I've mentioned before that various family members have stated that we were related to Simon Mitchneck, a famous Hollywood voice coach.  I've written about finding letters from Simon's sister enclosed in Simon's passport applications that spoke about the family's desperate situation in the aftermath of World War I.  Records of Simon and his three brothers (who emigrated to America) consistently named their father as Shia and their mother as Leah/Lea Goldberg/Goldenberg.  I do know that they do have some sort of connection to the Halper family (which also may be my great-great grandmother's maiden name).

And back in December, I wrote about how Simon Mitcheck's great nephew contacted me after seeing his family discussed on the blog--and how the DNA that the great nephew shared with known descendants of Hillel and Hinda Diamond demonstrated that the family stories of a relationship were correct.

After seeing this post, Simon's nephew "M" (the father of the gentleman who contacted me) agreed to test.  His results came in, and again, there are multiple large segments shared with varying descendants of Hillel and Hinda Diamond.  Descendants of Hillel and Hinda Diamond share anywhere from 7.3cM to 119.6cM with him, so predicting the true relationship is difficult--particularly because we are dealing with Ashkenazic Jewish DNA, which is intrinsically endogamous.  (In the chart below, D, L, Berly, Paul & Stephan are 100% Ashkenazi; Beth and David are 50% Ashkenazi; Liz, Patty and Debra are 25% Ashkenazi; M is 100% Ashkenazi.)
DNA Shared by Tested Descendants of Hillel & Hinda Diamond with M.  (Orange boxes represent tested individuals)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Megillah & Friday Night Dinner at RootsTech!

If you're Jewish and will be at RootsTech in just over a week, please come to Megillah readings!  RootsTech has been gracious enough to let us use a room in the Salt Palace Convention Center for Megillah!  In addition, we will be getting together for a (kosher) Friday night dinner--RSVP requested.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ashkenazic Jewish Shared DNA Survey - Initial Results

Thank you to everyone who has contributed data about shared DNA in people with Ashkenazic ancestry!  I have 4000 data points to analyze, and that should help the entire genetic genealogy community  (I'm still collecting data--you can find out more about the project and how to contribute here).

So far I've been going through and finding anomalies in the data and contacting those submitters (if they left email addresses) to clarify some things.

I'm going to do some deeper statistical analysis once I get the data cleaned up, but meanwhile, here is a high-level look at the data so far.  This data contains entries regardless of the percentage of Ashkenazi DNA (later posts will break down shared DNA based on how much Ashkenazi ancestry the testers have).  This is using very rough data, but I wanted to get some initial information out there to hopefully help inform people while I work on cleaning the data and then analyzing results.