Sunday, November 28, 2021

A DNA Match is Only the Start - Using the Paper Trail to Find the Connection

DNA results don't generally tell you how someone's related.  You can use a match as a clue that someone is related to you, and then you can use other matches along with a paper trail to try to find the actual connection.  And when dealing with Jewish ancestry, endogamy comes into play in a major way.  Recently, a new match popped up which was intriguing--this person (listed with just initials) on GedMatch matched multiple people on my maternal grandmother's side, some with large shared segments.  Since my grandmother's parents were from what's now Subcarpathian Ukraine, I was pretty sure that this person would have had similar ancestry.

Here's how I took a DNA match and have been able to almost figure out our relationship.

I reached out to Moshe, whose email address was associated with this match, and he told me that the DNA was that of his grandmother, Malka.  He had a few of her ancestral surnames and locations.  I could rule out her Lithuanian ancestors as being our connection, but the Czech ones sounded more intriguing, since this part of the world was Czechoslovakia between WWI and WWII.  He didn't have towns of origin, though.

I located Moshe's great-great grandmother's birth registration

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Lara and the Three Little Bers - Identical Names, Different People

Even in small towns, a "unique" name may actually not be as unique as you think.  People were named for common ancestors, so first (or second or....) cousins often were given identical names.  I learned the hard way that teenaged Lara had assumed that a Shmuel Moshe Rutner who lived in the small town of Kolodne was my great-great grandfather--but it turns out that there were two Shmuel Moshe Rutners in that small town.  Current (non-teenaged) Lara has learned from that mistake, and I've come across other situations where it's important to disambiguate two--or more--people with the same name.  (Owners of Ancestry and other online trees would be well-advised to do this.)  In my Lefand family, I have what I call my Three Little Bers.

Marriage of Yehoshua Zev (son of Ber/Berko) and Mira Lefand, 1871