Sunday, April 23, 2017

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) 2017

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) starts this evening.  Last year on Yom Hashoah, I listed the names of the nearly 100 family members I knew of who were killed in the Holocaust.  This year, I mention them again--as well as over 150 additional family members whose death I found evidence of over the past year.

It's been rather disconcerting (to say the least) to find vital records identifying another branch of my family--and then trace those relatives forward in time to find that all or most had been murdered during the Holocaust.  This is my one small way to make sure they are all remembered--all 259 of those currently on this list.
Concentration Camp Intake Form for (Avraham Yehudah) Leib Rutner, my fourth cousin twice removed

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Finding Mira--Creative Search Techniques

My great-great-great grandmother was Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff.  Although she came to America after the death of both husbands, I've found her using her maiden name as well as both of her married names--with varying spellings--in the seven years she lived in America before her death.  She did consistently use the first name "Mary" in America.

Mira lived in Pittsburgh for her entire time in America--her ship manifest had her joining her son Louis Leiffand there, she was enumerated in Pittsburgh in the 1910 census, and her 1913 death certificate was issued in Pittsburgh.  So it would make sense that she would be listed in Pittsburgh's 1912 city directory--right?
Mira in the 1910 census on Colwell Street--using a form of her first husband's surname

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Endogamy in Practice: Updated

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how endogamy makes my known relatives share a lot more DNA with me than would be expected--and showed how much DNA they actually share, to help those with endogamous ancestry understand their own matches better.

It is more difficult (but not impossible!) to use genetic genealogy to find relatives when you are from an endogamous background, and how Ashkenazi Jews (AJs) are a typical example.  AJs married within the small pool of AJs for centuries, so we are all related to one another in multiple ways.  I see many people, adoptees in particular, using ISOGG's table with average amounts of shared autosomal DNA for various relationships to determine a match's actual connection.  While that table is a great help for the general population, if you're descended from an endogamous group, the relationships are generally vastly overstated.

Now that I've had even more cousins (with known relationships) test, I figured it was time for an update to give additional insight into how endogamy impacts shared DNA between relatives.  (And if you're a relative of mine who hasn't tested, please do--and you'll likely be featured in some upcoming follow-up!)
Some of my known relatives who have tested, displayed in FamilyTreeDNA

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Paul & Sonia Diamond at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Opening

My grandparents were Holocaust survivors; you can read about their experiences here (for my grandmother) and here (for my grandfather).  When the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) opened, Fox45 in Baltimore brought them to the museum to hear a reaction from the perspective of survivors.
Paul & Sonia Diamond with Jennifer Gilbert of Fox45 at the USHMM (screenshot)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Mysterious Uncle Leibish

My grandfather's uncle, Leibish Diamond, is a man of mystery.  He seems to have vanished into thin air once he came to America--at least as far as documents tell us.  I'd love some ideas of how I can figure out where he ended up.  (Please, please help me!)
Leib Dimend Ship Manifest, 1905

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Sol Goldstein, 1923-2017

Sol Goldstein passed away this evening; he was a huge part of my family and my start in genealogy.  His wife was Jean Turk Goldstein, my grandfather's half first cousin; they had their grandfather Yechiel Suttleman in common.

When I was about 14 and was asking about how everyone was related, my father brought me over to Cousin Sol's house.  He had put together a family tree of the Suttleman family on long snakes of dot matrix printer paper, and that's how I learned about Yechiel Suttleman, his three wives, and how a lot of the cousins were related to me.  This was the first time my father realized he'd had a great grandfather in America; my grandfather's mother never came to America and was killed in the Holocaust.  It explained why my grandparents had accents but their (American-born) cousins did not.

(I also learned that I'd babysat for two of his grandkids--my half third cousins--when I saw their photos on his wall!)
Sol Goldstein