Sunday, January 13, 2019

mtDNA Success!!

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down the direct maternal line.  mtDNA mutates very infrequently, so people (especially people from closed communities like Ashkenazim) tend to have dozens--or hundreds--of exact mtDNA matches, and those matches may be from common ancestors hundreds or more years back.  Some people dismiss mtDNA as being of much genealogical use.  But sometimes it can help you find another branch of your family, and it's just done that for me.  (And as I was in the middle of writing this, Roberta Estes posted about her own recent mtDNA success.)

Back in the summer of 2016, I wrote about how my mother had only one exact mitochondrial match, a man named Michael.  At the time, I noticed that while Michael was an exact match, they both had over 200 matches with one mutation's difference from both of them.  (Two-and-a-half years later, Michael is still my mother's only exact match, and they have over 380 matches with one mutation.)  In 2016, I recognized the name of one of those 200 distance-one matches and asked her how many exact matches she had.  It turned out that every one of those distance-one matches was an exact match to her mtDNA.  So I hypothesized that Michael and my mother were descended from one woman who relatively recently had a mutation that differentiated her mtDNA from the mtDNA shared by those 200+ people
My mother's mtDNA matches in 2016

Thursday, January 10, 2019

RootsTech for Jewish Genealogists

It's almost that time of year--RootsTech is coming!  And while Utah isn't the first place one would think of for Jewish genealogy, there's so much that RootsTech offers the Jewish genealogist.

(Note:  If you're coming or thinking about coming, keep reading to learn about a dinner for Jewish genealogists.)

Just a tiny portion of the HUGE exhibit hall

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Zubkis Family to 1755; Another Bit of Evidence

A few years ago I found what looked like my Zubkis family living in Uman in 1811.  This fall, I found another piece of evidence demonstrating that the 1811 family was, indeed, my great-great-great-great-great (yes, 5 greats) grandfather, listed with his five sons in Uman (the census was of males only).  If I could prove that this family was actually mine, then I would have traced the Zubkis family back to 1755, the approximate year of birth for my presumed 5th great grandfather.

And now I have another piece of evidence still that points to this being my family.  And this, like many recent successes, has been due to having Alex Krakovsky's wiki with scans from Ukrainian archives being consistently added.
1903 Kuna Households List, Zubkis Family #29 (males)

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Thanks, JewishGen: My Great-Great Grandmother's Surprise Burial Location

My great-great grandmother was Rochel Fuchs Rutner.  Although she never lived outside of what's now Subcarpathian Ukraine (although it was Hungary when she was born and Czechoslovakia when she died), I actually have gathered quite a bit of documentation about her life.

But I never knew exactly when she died.  I have the death records from Kolodne and Dulovo, where she lived from the time she married, and her death was not recorded.  I did have a window of when she would have died; she was alive in 1920 when my grandmother's older brother came to America, and she had a granddaughter named for her in 1927.  In addition, when her husband died in 1928, he was listed as a widower.

I had been in Kolodne back in 2016, and I photographed what is left of the Jewish cemetery.  When I got home, I transcribed all of the tombstones, and sent the transcriptions and associated photos to JewishGen's JOWBR.  The other night I wanted to check on a particular tombstone to see if it correlated with a lead I was following (more to come on that lead in a future post), and I was being lazy, so instead of searching through my computer, I just searched for Kolodne graves on JOWBR.

And this is why being lazy can pay off!
Partial JOWBR Listing for Kolodne

Sunday, December 23, 2018

New Ancestor, New Birthdate, New Relatives, and New Questions

I've mentioned the awesomeness that is Alex Krakovsky's wiki before.  If you have ancestors from Ukraine, check it out if you haven't yet.  And if you've already visited, go again--he's constantly adding more documents.  I checked this week and found that a document from my ancestral town of Kuna had been added (which you can see here).  Since the document was from 1903, I wasn't too optimistic about my finding my direct ancestors, since by 1875 they were living in Shpikov, but I thought that perhaps I'd find some relatives.  Well, this document ended up having way more information than I anticipated.  Spoiler alert:  I've gone back another generation and verified another ancestor's name, among other things.
1903 Kuna Households List, Zubkis Family #21 (males)

Monday, December 17, 2018

Upcoming Lectures in CA, PA, FL, IN, UT, CA (again) & FL (again)

After a crazy November/December with a lot of travel, it looks like 2019 will be off to a similar start.  I met lots of awesome genealogists at various events, and I'm sure that will continue into the winter.

I'll be speaking all over the country, and hopefully some of the people who read this blog will live nearby and can attend at least one of these sessions.  Come by and say hi!

So here are some details.
Me speaking a few years back at OGS

Sunday, December 16, 2018

DNA Hinting At Ancestral Origins?

Genetic genealogy doesn't exist in a vacuum.  Many people who take DNA tests assume that their results will come with a fully populated (and maybe even documented) family tree back generations.  While DNA doesn't work like that (unless you are a good match to me), it can point you to places to do additional research, that you may not have known about otherwise.

Last Sunday, I got a message through MyHeritage from a woman named Kathy who said that many of my kits matched her sister-in-law Dorothy.  Generally when I get messages like this, I ask which kits match, and then I get to respond that they are from various lines of my family and are not related to one another, and I explain about endogamy.  But her response was different.  Everyone that Dorothy's kit matched was related on my maternal grandmother's side.  So I took a look.
Chromosome 3 - Shared segments between Dorothy and my family