Monday, April 12, 2021

An Unknown First Cousin!


Surprising DNA Results

When I teach a beginning genetic genealogy class for my Jewish Genealogy Society, I always tell the students to test at more than one site and warn them that sometimes DNA results can be surprising. 

Although I have had my DNA results at both Family Tree DNA and My Heritage for a long time, I had never tested at Ancestry DNA. They had a good sale on tests last fall so I bought one and sent it in, not expecting results for a while due to the holiday crush.  When they finally notified me in January that my results were ready, I clicked on the link, expecting to see thousands of matches, including several that were known second cousins and below that I knew had tested there.  What I did not expect was to see a match that was so large that it had to be a first cousin (I ruled out a grandparent due to my age).  I won't use his name but just call him GRH.  I was pretty sure that I knew all of my first cousins so after I re-started my heart, I ran down the possible parents of this person and the likelihood that they were the parent. My father's much older brothers? Not likely.  My mother's sister?  From what I knew of her this was possible but not likely either.  Then it hit me. My mother had a brother, Jerry, who died at age 20 (before I was born) when his Army Air Corps plane crashed.  I wrote about him here.  

The story I heard from my mother was that Jerry had possibly fathered a child with a non-Jewish girl near his base before the crash and that my grandmother had been in contact with her but for whatever reason, contact was lost.  I looked at his ethnicity data and sure enough, he was 50% Ashkenazi Jewish.  My next best match, who appeared to be GRH's son, was 25% AJ. Could this person be Jerry Lieberman's son?

After several false starts, I finally contacted GRH a few days ago.  He confirmed that Jerry Lieberman was his birth father.  His mother had married and her husband raised GRH as his son.  GRH did not find out the true story until that man's death when GRH was about ten and his mother told him the story. He remembered seeing Jerry's mother (our grandmother) once when she came out to where he was living, and he knew that he had received gifts from his grandparents' Baby Furniture store.

We had a great FaceTime chat and it seems that we have a lot of interests in common.  I hope that I will get to meet my new first cousin sometime in person.  Meanwhile, we are exchanging photos and family information.  

Cousins who would like to know more should contact me offline.

Meanwhile, never be surprised at what your DNA results may show!

Monday, February 3, 2020

Carl Neumann, Consul to Puerto Plata

Beginning of Ledger Entry May 3, 1854
 Appointment for the merchant Carl Neumann as consul to Porto Plata.
I have written before (HERE ) about my husband's Neumann family, his grandmother Julia, and her father Victor.  I knew that the head of the family was his second great grandfather, known as Luis Carlos Neumann in Puerto Plata in what is now the Dominican Republic.  Family lore had said that he was the Prussian consul and that he had been born in "Germany" (which wasn't a  unified country until 1871).  I didn't have much further information about Carlos except that his wife was Maria Francisca Enriqueta Paris, and they had six children (Anna Maria Alicia, Carlos Henrique, Clementina Ragaela, Amelia, and Alberto in addition to the aforementioned Victor.)  The family referred to his German name as Karl.

Not one to give up on brick walls, I recently Googled Carlos Neumann and to my surprise got a hit on a Spanish language economics journal that had an article about the impact of the Dominican Restoration War of 1863-1865 on commerce in Puerto Plata1.  With the help of my Spanish neighbor, I found that there were several references to Carlos Neumann as the proprietor of businesses with an analysis of the impact on his business based on inventories and reports he filed as consul to the government of Prussia.  There were also footnotes providing references to the archive holding those reports in Germany.  With the help of my German neighbor (I live in a very multicultural neighborhood), I corresponded with the Geheimes Staatsarchiv PreuBischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian State Archive) in Berlin and they sent me images of 59 pages of letters and reports related to Carl Neumann of Karsruhe Prussia including the one shown above naming him consul to Puerto Plata (or Porto Plata as they called it).  I had to hire a professional translator as these were handwritten in old German, and they are still being worked on, but shown above is part of one page of the official ledger where they copied official correspondence showing the letter naming him as consul.  The paragraph shown above reads:

"We, Friedrich Wilhelm by the grace of God King of Prussia, etc. do hereby declare and add:, that, having found it convenient  to appoint a consul in Porto Plata, we have chosen and accepted there in grace Carl Neumann, a merchant who is acclaimed for his knowledge of business and other good qualities2.

It seems that in the official correspondence his name was spelled with a C, and that the often signed his letters as Charles!  The remaining correspondence in addition to business information seems to include references provided in connection with his appointment with information about Carl's business, his character, and possibly about his origins in Karlsruhe. There are also some hints in the Spanish article that may lead to further information on the family in Puerto Plata.  I will have lots to do to follow up on these new hints, but for now, it's good to know that the family story about Carlos being the consul is correct even if the assumption about the "German" spelling of his name was wrong.

1. Donation de Capital de la Sociedad Rural Dominicana en el Siglo XIX Segunda Parte” by Manfred Wilckens. Ciencia Y Sociedad,  Voumen XXVII, Numero 2 Abril-Junio 2002.
2. Geheimes Staatsarchiv PreuBischer Kulturbesitz. Zentrales Staatsarchiv Hist. Abt. 11 2.4.1. Abt. II Nr. 642 Vol. II vom Sep. 1845 bis December 1862. May 3, 1854. no 5913 Article p. 102.

Friday, August 9, 2019

IAJGS2019 part 2 and Kandel cousins

Kandel Sisters: Bella Kandel Lieberman,
Alte Sara Kandel Apple, Chana Kandel Goldenberg
with Harry Apple
As I mentioned, my time at the Cleveland conference was really busy.  On Thursday I spent some time learning what is new in Ukraine research before giving my talk about this blog and how it has helped my research.  The talk went well, I think, and had good attendance.  I had been a bit concerned that few people would come because I had already given the talk at our local JGS so I didn't expect my friends to show up in support. Thursday night was the banquet which is always interesting.  This year we had a speaker on Jewish jokes so there was a lot of laughter. On Friday morning I met over breakfast with the new head of the Ukraine SIG to discuss my document translation project.  That was the last big item on my to-do list for this conference and I was glad she could fit me in.  My final session was a good one on DNA analysis with endogamous populations where I picked up some good techniques.  As usual, one of the best things about the conference is the opportunity to chat with new people with a real interest in genealogy.  The discussions go on into the evenings, in the lobby while waiting for airport transportation, and even in the departure gate areas at the airport.

This conference was extra special because I connected with cousins on a branch of my tree where I had no personal connections.  I had arranged to meet on Monday with my local cousin who I had corresponded with some years before and who had finally provided me with identification of the wonderful photo above of my great-grandmother Bella Lieberman with her sisters and nephew.  That had been in my "Who am I?" file for many years.  This cousin is descended from both Alte Sarah and Chana as her parents were cousins. We had planned for dinner and a three-hour meeting before my 7:30 session that night.  Once we started talking, we clicked, and my meeting was ignored in her favor.  We walked around downtown while we talked and she showed me some of her favorite places in Cleveland. In addition to providing me with family information, she put me on the phone with another cousin in Boston.  She came back to the conference as planned on Thursday to hear my talk, and brought photos, papers, and other information on her side of the family.  After another few hours, I did have to leave to attend the banquet.  Hearing that I was done with the conference by 11AM on Friday, but my flight wasn't until the evening, she arranged to pick me up on Friday for lunch with another local cousin and his wife.  We all had a great time sharing stories about the family and looking at photos.  They also agreed to take DNA tests and join my family DNA project (I had bought three kits at the conference so I had them handy).  Since then, she has contacted several more cousins on her line, connected me with them on Facebook and e-mail, and gotten agreement for several more DNA test kits that I will mail out to the happy recipients.  A genealogy goldmine, and a new group of friends.

I can't wait for next year's conference in San Diego!  There are cousins there, too!

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

IAJGS2019 Cleveland, OH

It is summer again, so I must be at the International Association of Jewish Genealogy Societies annual conference.  This year it is in Cleveland.  It is my seventh conference, and each one has been fascinating in a different way.  My first conference, in Paris (France), was almost overwhelming.  I didn't know anyone and there were at least a hundred sessions to choose from, all of them interesting.  I learned so much and by the end of the week, I knew a lot more about how to do my research and had met a few people who were interested in the same areas that I was.
This conference is exciting but in different ways.  I don't have as much trouble choosing sessions to attend, as I have heard many of the introductory track topics before.  I now know many attendees from all over and carve out times to meet them at meals, or over a drink somewhere.  There are also events that are not formally part of the schedule but are organized every year for folks with interest in a topic, like the Bloggers lunch, or the Volhynia Researchers dinner.  And, of course, this year is different because I am also a speaker at the conference for the first time. (My topic is this blog as a research tool!).
In addition to hearing about new data that is available, and new projects to improve service from, I heard updates on projects from the Hungarian and Ukraine Special Interest Groups.  Those are the areas that I am most interested in for my research.  There was a useful talk on Hungarian names and deconflicting people with the same name.  Two professors from Case Western U gave talks, one on Jewish influence on American Popular Music (this is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after all), and one on the nature and consequences of Jewish migration.  Both very thought-provoking subjects. One particularly useful talk was about historical maps and how to find and use them in your research. 
As usual, when I travel, I check to see if I have any cousins in the area that I can contact.  I was in luck this trip as there was a cousin on my maternal grandfather's side of the family with whom I had exchanged e-mails a few years ago, but never met.  We got together and spent a lot of time exchanging information and telling family stories.  I'll tell more about that in another post.  For now, since I am beat and I have to present my talk tomorrow, I'm going to bed.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Neuman family - part 1

 Julia Henriette Neuman Fondeur
about 1912
My husband's grandmother was the lovely young lady shown above.  She was born on January 13, 1887, in Santa Barbara de Samana in what is now the Dominican Republic (DR), and baptized there as Julia Margarita Neumann Fondeur1.  (This uses the Spanish convention of putting the father's surname followed by the mother's surname).  In various records, she was known as Julia Henriette, Julia Andriette Marie, and Julieta Henriqueta.

Julia was born into a large, prosperous family of seven girls and one boy.   Her parents were Victor Newman Paris, (born May 30, 1863, in Puerto Plata, DR)2 and Juliana Fondeur Guzman (b. ca. 1869 in Moca, Espaillat, DR).  According to "Hombres y Mujeres Notables y Benefactores de Samana (1493-1910)"  by Gregorio Elias Penzo, her father (Victor) "... emigrated with his brother Alberto to the city of Samana sometime between 1880 and 1890.  On January 9, 1896, he married Juliana Fondeur, from Moca, their children were:  Julieta Enriqueta, Maria Juliana Clementina, Maria Luisa Virginia, Lois Henry Victor, Maria Francisca, Maria Theresa, and Luisa Angela Marguerita (7 girls and 1 boy).  Victor appears in a list of businessmen (comerciantes) in 1896 as the proprietor of a commercial establishment.  He held several municipal posts, including the mayor. On March 1, 1903, professor Vicente Martinez, jointly with Victor Neumann, mayor, founded a school, Escuela Aurora, in Las Terrenas.  Victor was a founding member of the Auxilliary Fire Department of Samana (March 22, 1922).  On March 31, 1902, his wife died; years later he remarried: Theresa Horton Drullard,  and had an additional seven children: Celida Altagracia, Atenaida Maria, Celeste Ondina, Elsa Mercedes, Clara Aurora, Rhina Teresa, and Sergio Hector (6 girls and one boy).

He was named administrator of the soap company, Jabonerias Unidas del Cibao, by the board of directors, and he carried out his responsibilities with efficiency and honesty, which was an integral part of his character.  Although he had a sober expression, he enjoyed simple humor and loved music.  He frequently hired a local band, Orquesta Altagracia to play for his parties.  He was a well-mannered gentleman, and was the governor of a social club, Club Peninsular, for several terms.  He died on October 20, 1932."3

Alexander Crime
 taken in San Juan PR about 1913 
In 1913 Julia married Alexander Crime from St Thomas, Danish West Indies but living in Samana. In a 1906 guide to the DR he is shown as an import/export merchant operating from an office in a pharmacy, and  Vice-Consul for Norway for Samana.  He is listed as living in Samana with his father Matthew and "Crime Senoritas" (probably unmarried sisters) on Avenida la Marina in Samana. Victor Neumann is also listed on Marina at that time, although his family is not shown.  It is likely that that is how the couple became acquainted. Victor's brother Alberto is shown as living on Colon Street.4.

Because of Alejandro's (Alexander) business, the couple moved back and forth between Samana and St Thomas.  They had seven children born as they moved from one to the other. Born in Samana:  Ilma Ethelvina (1914), Mildred Virginia (1915) Daphne Maria (1918), and Alda Alexandrina (1920).  Born in St Thomas: Vera Tanya (1917), Alexander (1922), and Erle Edward (1924).  This movement became an issue after the 1917 transfer of St Thomas from Denmark to the United States and the granting of US citizenship to Danish resident citizens in 1927.  That will be the subject of another blog post.5
Ad for Alexander Crime
in Guia General of 1906

Alexander, (as he was known in St Thomas) acquired some land on Estate Dorothea on St Thomas in 1907 and established a residence there to maintain his Danish citizenship despite his absences in the DR. 6 By 1921 when his first son was born, the family was residing at 11 Crystal Gade in Charlotte Amelie, St Thomas.7  By 1929 they had moved to 83 Kronprindsens Gade where Julia died on November 7 from cancer of the uterus.8  Alexander died on June 11, 1936.  They both were buried in the Western Cemetery in Charlotte Amalie.9

1.  Baptism records, FHL, Julia Margarita Neumann Fondeur born Jan 13, 1887, Baptized June 15, 1887, in Santa Barbara de Samana. Parents Victor Neumann and Juliana Fondeur.
2.  Hombres y Mujeres Notables y Benefactores de Samana (1493-1910)"  by Gregorio Elias Penzo.  pp 209-210.  Citation and rough translation provided via e-mail Feb 23, 2004, from Jacqueline Jacques to Mary-Jane Roth
3.  Ibid.
4. "La Republica Dominicana Directorio y Guia General" Enrique Deschamps, 1906.  Copies of pages 186-188, 315-317  several unmarked pages sent to Erle Crime by Jacqueline Jacques in 2004. Given to Mary-Jane Roth in 2004.
5. Ibid., unmarked page of advertisements.
6. Copy of letter October 30, 1938, from C.L. Root, Collector of Customs St. Thomas, to The Commissioner of Emigration & Naturalization, Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. concerning the citizenship of Miss Mildred Crime.  Copy given to Mary-Jane Roth by Daphne Crime Kushnereit.
7. Ibid.
8. As told to Mary-Jane Roth by Erle Crime and Daphne Crime Kushnereit.
9. Photos of the crypt in Western Cemetery, Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas showing birth and death dates for Julia N. Crime and Alexander Crime. Provided by e-mail July 26, 2006, from Maria Smith to Mary-Jane Roth.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Genealogy Fun

Janice Sellers, who writes the blog Ancestral Discoveries, passed on a genealogy challenge this weekend. It was to show an unbroken line of ancestors and descendants for whom you have photographs.
This weekend, I attended the Bat Mitzvah of a cousin who is at the newest end of such a line so I thought I'd post my response that way.

Lena Tepper
 First is Lena Tepper.  I don't know her maiden name.  I have found several of her children's marriage certificates, but each has a different maiden name for her.  She was born in about 1857,  probably in the town of Mirapol in what is now Ukraine.  This photo was taken in Philadelphia in about 1930.

Cherna (Jennie) Tepper Grosser
 Lena's oldest child, Jennie Tepper Grosser was born about 1880, also in Miropol (now called Myropil).  This photo was taken in Philadelphia in about 1944.

Albert J. Grosser
Jennie's son Al was born in 1904, in Philadelphia, PA.  This was taken in 1969 at his parent's 73rd wedding anniversary party.

Al's son was born in Philadelphia in 1937. I'm guessing that this was taken in about 1960 in Philadelphia.

Proud Father of the Bat Mitzvah girl

Latest Bat Mitzvah and sixth generation of the family.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

IAJGS 2018 in Warsaw - Part 2 Warsaw Outside of the Conference

Ghetto wall marker - Warsaw
     Before the IAJGS conference started, we took the opportunity to tour around Warsaw.  We did take one organized tour where we visited the (reconstructed) old town, the residence of the last king of Poland, the Warsaw uprising monument and other places that gave us some context for the Jewish history part of our trip.  Mostly we walked and explored central Warsaw. Everywhere we went I felt like I was walking on graves.
     The Warsaw ghetto was the largest in Europe holding about 400,000 people at its peak and surrounded by 11 miles of walls, most of them 10 feet high.  When the Nazis liquidated the ghetto and wiped out the last remaining resistance members, they leveled everything inside of the walls.  There are a few wall fragments left standing, but the Poles have placed markers on the streets and sidewalks to show where the wall once was.  There are also monuments to those who resisted, and those who were deported and perished from the ghetto. Wherever you walk you find them.  I also visited the Jewish Historical Institute (a co-sponsor of the IAJGS conference) which had a moving exhibit of documents from the Oneg Szabat archive.  This was a secret record collected by Emanuel Ringleblum, a historian, and his collaborators, of day to day life in the ghetto in the beginning, and then a record of the deportations from the ghetto and testimony of those who had escaped other towns and camps of the destruction of Jews and Jewish life in Poland.  Knowing that they were unlikely to survive, the members of the Oneg Szabat program buried the documents in metal boxes and milk cans, hoping that they would be found in the future and that people would know that the writers had existed. Two troves of documents were found under the rubble after the war. 
One of two milk cans containing part of
the Oneg Szabat archive buried in
the Warsaw Ghetto and found after the war.
   Towards the end of the war, when the Poles in the city also rose against the German occupiers, they were wiped out as well and the remainder of the central part of the city was also leveled by the Nazis.  Bodies that had been buried in courtyards or streets during the uprisings, as well as those who died in shattered buildings or in underground bunkers were left in place when the rubble was bulldozed after the war. Warsaw still commemorates the rising every year.  The anniversary was while we were here so all over the city there were fresh flowers and votives placed at large and small memorials.  There is a museum dedicated to the uprising that I visited before I left.  The story of the uprising and the subsequent devastation of the city was chilling. 
     In the middle of what had been the center of the Ghetto is a monument to those who were deported and killed, and those who, in the end, fought and died.  Facing that monument is the new POLIN museum.  This award-winning museum celebrates the 1,000-year history of Jews in Poland.  The museum was also a co-sponsor of the IAJGS conference and provided speakers at the conference, and special events and tours at the museum during the conference.  The main exhibition is beautifully done, filled with interactive displays illustrating the richness of Jewish life in Poland.  The Shoah has its place in the story but does not overwhelm the larger sweep of history.  A temporary exhibit focusing on the events of 1968 and how they affected the remaining Jewish population under the communist government brings the story up-to-date. 
   Warsaw was rebuilt at once after the war but as a dreary communist "paradise".  Now many of those dreary buildings are being torn down and replaced with gleaming modern architecture.  A new building called the Warsaw Spire, which was next to our hotel, was very striking and has won some European awards for its design.  There is construction  of new apartments, condos and offices everywhere. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.