Sunday, October 30, 2016

Family Stories Aren't Always Right

We all have family stories.  Sometimes they're accurate.  Sometimes there's a grain of truth in them.  And sometimes they're just plain wrong.

My great-great-great-great grandfather was Dovid Rutner.  I heard from two separate lines of the family that he was the first Rutner to go to Kolodne, after being sent there by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Riminov to strengthen the Jewish community of Kolodne.  I was also told that Dovid Rutner was the father of (Avraham) Leib Rutner, who was the grandfather of the "other Shmuel Moshe Rutner" who wasn't my great-great grandfather.  The years seemed a bit off (Menachem Mendel of Riminov died in 1815, when Dovid would have been about 21, but perhaps Dovid was a prodigy who was sent to Kolodne just before his mentor's death), as multiple people had a similar version of this story.  Avraham Leib Rutner's death record didn't help to confirm or deny the story.
Death Record for Leopold Rutner, 1900

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ukraine Trip Post #11--Day 8 (September 8, 2016), Part 2

(To see everything from my Ukraine trip, see here.)

Before leaving the mountains, we made one more stop in Kolodne.  When we had been there two days earlier, we were told of a woman named Nanika, whose husband had been a Jewish man named Avrum who had survived the war.  He eventually converted, changed his name to Ivan, and married Nanika.  Avrum/Ivan had died years earlier, but perhaps Nanika knew something about the Jewish community.
In Kolodne

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ukraine Trip Post #10--Day 8 (September 8, 2016), Part 1

(To see everything from my Ukraine trip, see here.)

Mikhael picked us up again the next morning.  Once we heard we were heading to Dulovo (formerly Dulfalva), he said he had a friend in that town, just had he had in Kryva the previous day.  We drove up into the mountains and picked up Mikhael's friend who directed us to the Jewish cemetery.  There was a man in the cemetery with a chainsaw and axe clearing it; he told us that a man named Israelovitch from Kiev had approached the town mayor about cleaning it up, and this man was hired.
Dulovo's Jewish Cemetery

Saturday, October 15, 2016

RootsTech Free Admission Contest

I'm thrilled to be both a speaker at and an ambassador to RootsTech this year.  If you haven't ever been to RootsTech, you're missing out.  It is the largest genealogy conference in the world, with over 200 sessions, the most enormous exhibit hall I've ever seen at a conference of any type, and tens of thousands of attendees--last year they had over 28,000 people!  I'll be speaking on Thursday (date subject to change), so drop by and say hi!

(You can see what I wrote about when attending RootsTech 2016 here.)

So, how do you get to RootsTech--potentially with free admission?

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ukraine Trip Post #9--Day 7 (September 7, 2016), Part 2

(To see everything from my Ukraine trip, see here.)

Next, we headed towards Bilovartsi, home of my Vizel family.  We asked for directions to the Jewish cemetery and after driving down a gravel "road," we thought we were there but didn't see any cemetery.  There was an old lady nearby, and we asked her, and she pointed up.  And that's how I ended up going mountain climbing in Ukraine.
View from the Bilovartsi Cemetery

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ukraine Trip Post #8--Day 7 (September 7, 2016), Part 1

(To see everything from my Ukraine trip, see here.)

We started out early Wednesday morning with Mikhael picking us up in the center of Khust.  He asked where we wanted to go, and I said Kryva (accenting the first syllable).  He was confused.  I repeated it several times and finally brought it up on Google Maps.  His response: "Ah, KryVEH!"  Apparently the accent is on the last syllable, and it makes a difference. My Vizel family lived in Kryva and Bilovartsi right across the river.
On the way to Kryva

Sunday, October 9, 2016

mtDNA Was Onto Something!

A few months back, I wrote about how my mother had one exact mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) match (Michael)--and over 200 matches one mutation away, all of whom were exact mtDNA matches to one another.  Mitochondrial DNA mutates so infrequently that having many mtDNA matches who are actually related hundreds of years ago isn't uncommon.  (And as review, mtDNA is handed down the direct maternal line.)

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.  Michael took an autosomal test to see how closely we were related.  And his results are in.
From Michael's FamilyFinder Results

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Ukraine Trip Post #7--Day 6 (September 6, 2016), Part 2

(To see everything from my Ukraine trip, see here.)

At this point, it was mid-afternoon, so there were still a few hours of light left--so I wanted to head towards Kolodne.  We tried to hire the one cab waiting nearby, but the young driver (after checking for Kolodne's location) wasn't comfortable driving into the mountains--so he called an "old man" who knew the mountains better.  When Mikhael "Misha" showed up, he was a man probably in his 40s!  I guess everything is relative.  Mikhael was game for driving to Kolodne, so we set out.
Welcome to Kolodne!