Sunday, February 17, 2019

My Great-Great Uncle's Marriage

My great grandmother had a brother named Mendel Fuchs.  Until I got civil vital records from his hometown of Dulovo (then Dulfalva), I didn't even know he existed.  Since that time, I discovered that he was born in 1900 and that he was murdered in Dachau in November 1944--and was even issued a death certificate.

But I didn't know what happened in between, although I did know from Dachau records that he'd been deported from Khust.  However, since many Jews were taken from their villages to Khust before final deportation, I wasn't sure where he lived as an adult.  But now I have some records from Khust, and guess who I found!
Mendel Fuchs Marriage, 1934

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Hungarian Civil Records on FamilySearch

FamilySearch has been adding more and more transcriptions (and books) for towns in what was the Hungarian part of Austria-Hungary.  Even if you don't have family in areas directly covered by FamilySearch's holdings, you may still find relatives, including those who moved to Budapest from quite a distance away.  (These records cover people of all religions.)
Death of Chajem Ruttner

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Divorces in the Shtetl - Reasons

Last week I wrote about the number of divorces in the town of Nezhin in the Russian Empire--and how it was so much more than I'd expected.  As a certified (certifiable?) geek, I ran the numbers.

But first, I did note why people were divorcing.  And there were some interesting reasons.
Nezhin Divorce:  He was unable to earn a living

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Divorces in the Shtetl - Frequency

Recently, I've been involved in several conversations about the divorce rate in America's Jewish community.  Many people say that there was essentially no such thing as divorce in Eastern Europe and that this is purely a function of American society; they imagine shtetl life to have been some sort of utopia.

Before you read further, guess what percentage of marriages in Europe ended in divorce.  And see how close your guess is to reality.

Because the vital records for Nezhin's Jewish community are largely intact from the late 1850s through the Russian Revolution, I decided to look at the ratio of divorces to marriages each year in that town.  (You can browse through these record books online yourself; information on what is available with links can be found here.)

What I learned about that is below; I also took note of the reasons for the various divorces, which are interesting enough to merit their own future post (so stay tuned).
Nezhin Divorce:  Because he was blind


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Philadelphia Bank Passage Order Books

A great resource on JewishGen--one that applies to immigrants of all religions, not just those who were Jewish--are the Philadelphia Bank Passage Order Books.  Relatives already in the United States could save up money to bring over relatives or friends still in Europe and arrange for their passage through various immigrant banks.

A combined effort between the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center and the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia indexed surviving books, and they can be invaluable for finding your relatives.  Even if your immediate family did not end up in Philadelphia, you may find that other family members did.  In fact, I recently found some of my own relatives that way:
Chaje Zupkiss Bank Passage Order, 1895

Sunday, January 13, 2019

mtDNA Success!!

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down the direct maternal line.  mtDNA mutates very infrequently, so people (especially people from closed communities like Ashkenazim) tend to have dozens--or hundreds--of exact mtDNA matches, and those matches may be from common ancestors hundreds or more years back.  Some people dismiss mtDNA as being of much genealogical use.  But sometimes it can help you find another branch of your family, and it's just done that for me.  (And as I was in the middle of writing this, Roberta Estes posted about her own recent mtDNA success.)

Back in the summer of 2016, I wrote about how my mother had only one exact mitochondrial match, a man named Michael.  At the time, I noticed that while Michael was an exact match, they both had over 200 matches with one mutation's difference from both of them.  (Two-and-a-half years later, Michael is still my mother's only exact match, and they have over 380 matches with one mutation.)  In 2016, I recognized the name of one of those 200 distance-one matches and asked her how many exact matches she had.  It turned out that every one of those distance-one matches was an exact match to her mtDNA.  So 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
My mother's mtDNA matches in 2016

Thursday, January 10, 2019

RootsTech for Jewish Genealogists

It's almost that time of year--RootsTech is coming!  And while Utah isn't the first place one would think of for Jewish genealogy, there's so much that RootsTech offers the Jewish genealogist.

(Note:  If you're coming or thinking about coming, keep reading to learn about a dinner for Jewish genealogists.)

Just a tiny portion of the HUGE exhibit hall