Sunday, December 3, 2017

When Family Stories Are Proven Correct--Backed by DNA

I mentioned several months back that my father's first cousins Berly and Alvin mentioned that Simon Mitchneck, a famous Hollywood voice coach back in the day, was somehow related to us.  I'd researched the four Mitchneck brothers who came to America and discovered that they were from Torchin, in what is now Ukraine.  I found letters from their sister enclosed in Simon's passport applications that spoke about the family's desperate situation in the aftermath of World War I.
Simon Mitchneck's SS5

The brothers' records 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).

The clues kept coming.  I recently discovered that my Diamond family was likely from Torchin before they lived in Biscupice/Berezhanka, the same place from which the Mitchneck brothers emigrated.

And then there's an email that I received.  (See, this is a benefit of blogging--relative bait!)
Subject: OK - I'm Simon Mitchneck's great nephew
Doing a little bit of checking myself online and ran across Simon's letters

He was one of four brothers that came to this country. Harry, Sam and David are the other three. I'm Sam's grandson. I passed along one of your postings to my sister. Of all of the children of the four brothers, three remain.
After emailing back and forth with this gentleman, I asked him if he knew Cousin Jack Landor.  His response?  "Yes!  Whenever he was in town, we had dinner with him. I remember that when I was young that he used to bring stamps back from his travels to me."

My father, his siblings and his first cousins as well as Uncle Leibish's grandson all remember Cousin Jack coming to visit and bringing coins, stamps and other gifts from his travels around the world.

Simon Mitchneck's great nephew took a DNA test, and the results came in on Friday.  (We're both also hoping that his father changes his mind and decides to test.)

He doesn't match my father or my father's siblings any better than I'd expect them to match any other Ashkenazic Jew.  But he matches some other family members quite well.
Cousins' Match to Simon Mitchneck's Great-Nephew
My father's first cousins Berly and Paula are both granddaughters of Avraham Tzvi Diamond.  They have some small segments in common with Simon's great-nephew, but they also have some nice-sized segments on chromosome 8 in common.

My father's second cousins Dan and Tara are both grandchildren of Leibish Diamond.  They have some very long segments in common on the same part of chromosome 8 as well as chromosome 14; Tara also has a long segment in common on chromosome 12.

It looks like that ~60cM-long segment (if you concatenate all of the DNA in common) on chromosome 8 would have come from Hillel and Hinda Diamond, parents of Avraham Tzvi and Leibish.  The  question is which one.

So I'll need to continue investigating, but at least I know that we are related, and it isn't a family story without factual basis.  And hopefully the great-nephew's father will test along with other Mitchnecks of his generation.

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. Congratulations on the familial confirmation, and sending positive thoughts that the great-nephew's father decides to test.