Sunday, December 5, 2021

Family Stories Vs Documents & DNA

My father's parents were both Holocaust survivors and didn't have much close family, especially on my grandmother's side and on my grandfather's father's side.  The two "Schwartz" brothers, also Holocaust survivors, lived in New York and would always come down to Baltimore for our family celebrations, and my grandparents would go to New York, since they were some of the few relatives on my grandfather's Diamond side who had survived.

My grandfather had told me that these "Schwartz" brothers (I'm using a pseudo surname, as requested by the surviving brother) were related through their mother, whose maiden name was Reiza Diamond, and that Reiza's father Yankel was a sibling to my grandfather's grandfather Hillel, making the Schwartz brothers second cousins to my grandfather.

But DNA disagreed.  As did some documentation.

Yankel Diamond, Grandfather of the "Schwartz" Brothers

Recently the surviving Schwartz brother M took a DNA test.  His results came in....and he shared no DNA with my father, a purported second cousin once removed.  That shouldn't happen.  Then I looked at that Schwartz brother and some of the other Diamond descendants' DNA, and there WERE matches, with some sharing large segments (but others sharing little or none).

Shared DNA with M on Chromosome 6

My father's first cousin Stephan and their second cousin Beth share the same large segment with M on chromosome 6.  Stephan & Beth's common ancestors are Hillel and Hinda Diamond.

Debra (who, as seen above shares a small segment with M on chromosome 3) also shares a 31.2cM segment with M on chromosome 9 as well; she's another descendant of Hillel and Hinda Diamond.

So there's definitely a relationship here, just not as close as the family stories said.  But how would I figure out the relationship?

It turns out that M's grandfather Yankel Diamond survived the Holocaust and is buried in America.  M's son sent me a photo of Yankel's grave.

Grave of Yankel Diamond; New Jersey

I also was able to locate some documents regarding Yankel from his stay in a Displaced Person's camp.

Jankel Diment DP Registration Record
Yankel's grave gives his father's name as Yehoshua.  On the DP registration, Yankel gives his father's name as Szaje Diment.

So Yankel's father was Yehoshua "Szaje" Diment.  Yehoshua was not Hillel's father's name.  So the documentation also doesn't back up the family story and bolsters the seemingly odd DNA results.

Based on the DNA, the documentation that I already have on the Diamond family, and naming patterns, I am pretty sure that Yankel's father Yehoshua was Hillel's brother.  While I'm not positive, this gives my research a direction.

So this family story wasn't entirely true.  But there was a kernel of truth (relationship on my Diamond line), and it gives me a starting point for where to look from here.

(One other thing I was hoping to get out of this DNA test was to see if the Mitchneck family (which I've written about here) was related via my great-great grandfather Hillel or my great-great grandmother Hinda.  Now, there was no match at all between the tested Mitchnecks and M.  So that doesn't prove that the connection is via Hillel, but it also doesn't confirm that it's through Hinda.)

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  1. Has he done Y-DNA to compare to your father's?

    1. He's not a Diamond; his mother was the Diamond. Her only known brother was killed in 1942.

    2. And Yankel (in the photo) died in 1957.