Tag Archives: searching for ancestors

The Shoah Impacts My DNA Relatives

24 Apr

Today I went on my 23 and Me account to access some information.  I manage both my account and that of my now deceased father, since I am the one who had him provide a sample about six months before he passed away.  I am so glad I did that.  It has provided me with my father’s Y chromosome information, which I otherwise would not have had.

I have over 1100 relatives on 23 and Me.  Most are third or distant cousins.  But today I had a revelation.  An unhappy one I must say.  There are 49 pages of relatives.  I just started scanning them.  And page after page after page, I kept seeing the same words, “on your father’s side,” after every entry.  Over and over again, not a single relative from my mother’s side. NO close relatives.  No distant relatives.

I started to cry.

Then I finally found ONE.  One distant relative. One.  I know that there were cousins who survived the Shoah. Not many.  And there were a few relatives already here in the USA. But I guess they are not on 23 and Me.  But in reality, most of my mother’s relatives perished.  She had one aunt and two uncles who survived. But among them, they only had two living children.  I know them well.   They also had descendants, I am happy to report.  Some live here in the USA, others in Israel.

But all those distant relatives are GONE.  Those distant relatives who share bits of my Dad’s and my DNA are welcome. But the missing ones from my mother’s side are so obviously a result of the Shoah that it reminds me of the horror of the loss.  I should have an equal number of distant relatives from my mother.  Instead of 1100 people, there should be 2200 people who share a bit of my DNA.

I am feeling a sense of loss I have not felt before.  Maybe because I am working on an article about my grandparents’ survival story.  So I am already feeling the dread of reliving their sorrow over their family’s loss.  But this was a blatant reminder that my family really is not like every other.

The Missing Link in My Family History or My Biggest Genealogy Block

25 Oct

 

Harry Rosenberg

We think this is Grandpa Harry on his bar mitzvah day.

Help!

I know basically nothing about one set of my paternal great grandparents. My grandfather, Harry Rosenberg… Hersh Zvi ben Avraham, was the son of Abraham and Sarah Rosenberg. His father, Abraham, abandoned the family when my grandfather was about 13 or 14. Grandpa was borned in 1888 or 1889. So in 1901 or 1902, his father left and ended up in the Seattle, Washington, area. He came back to the east coast around September 1941, because he showed up at my Dad’s bar mitzvah. I know that he had a second wife, or a woman that he lived with on the West Coast. He supposedly became quite wealthy. Who knows?

Grandpa was born in New York, the oldest of six children: Harry, “Hady” (Harriet), Jacob, Muriel and two maiden sister.  (I am thinking one of my great grandparent’s parents had an H sound in their name, since both my grandfather and his oldest sister were Harry and Harriet.)

After Grandpa traveled to the west coast to find his father, he returned to New York to help support his sibling. He was a tailor. And through his work, all five of his siblings went to college Grandpa never did.   He found out much later that his mother had lied to him for many years.   She had been getting money from her husband, but never told my grandfather, and so kept him working for the family. (See blog post below: “The Sad Scandal That Forever Scarred My Grandpa Harry )

Grandpa married my grandmother, Esther Goldman, on February 26, 1922. He died February 29, 1984.

I know that Jacob got married and had a son named, Betram, and a daughter, Delilah. Delilah was around the same age as my Aunt, so born around 1931. I know because my Aunt would go to their house for piano lessons once a week. They lived in New York City at least until the 1940s. But supposedly he was an important lawyer and moved to England at some point and never came back to the USA.

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Standing: Great Uncle Lenny, Great Aunt Hady, Grandpa Harry, Grandma Esther. Seating are my great grandmother and great aunt from my Grandma’s side.

Haddie married Lenny.   I knew them when I was a child. They lived to the end of their lives in Sullivan County, New York, in the Monticello area. (See blog post below: The Littlest Gambler: Learning about Horse Races in The Catskills.)

The two maiden sisters, and Muriel, I never knew. But Muriel also married and had sons. But that is all I know. The only story I know is that my grandmother asked them if they had any names they wanted when my aunt and uncle were born. Hence my Uncle’s middle name was Prime, and my Aunt’s middle name was Gwendolyn.   Grandma did not offer when my Dad was born.

I know my great grandfather’s original last name was “Grau.” He was one of three to five brothers who came to the USA at different times. We believe they all took different names.

I know nothing else. I do not even know my great grandmother’s maiden name. I don’t know when she was born or when she died. I do not know when my great grandparents’ married. But I know it had to be on or before 1888. I do not know when they moved to the USA.  We have no known photos of my great grandparents.

I am hoping one of the wonderful researchers from Tracing the Tribe can help me.

I would appreciate it. My Grandpa Harry’s family is the missing link in my research.

 

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/06/14/the-sad-scandal-that-forever-scarred-my-grandpa-harry/

https://zicharonot.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/the-littlest-gambler-learning-about-horse-races-in-the-catskills/

Serendipity Wins In Finding a Family Connection!

27 Jan

Serendipity is when events happen by chance and cause success or benefit the person who the events occur around. Today, a few days after my birthday, my life was ruled by serendipity!

For about a year now I have belonged to a Facebook group entitled “Tracing the Tribe.” I joined it mainly to see if I could find anybody related to my maternal grandparents. And last summer I did make contact with a family member through this group.

Recently I began thinking about my paternal grandparents, and wondered if I could find anything out about them. A few days ago someone started a comment asking people to put up the names of the families they were searching for on to the site. I did not do this. But I was watching. They then put all the names into a spreadsheet.

GG Grandparents

So this morning, I checked. And there was a name I knew, Wolf or Wolff, or Wolfe. That was my great great grandparents last name. So I put up a post on the page addressed to the woman who had posted about the name Wolf. I just wrote, “ My gg grandparents were Victor and Esther Wolff. Does that match your search?” She was not related to me.

However, soon another man posted, EW. He had some interesting facts and names. Names that were familiar. We soon realized there was a connection. It was a distant one. But it seemed possible that his three times great grandfather was the brother of my two times great grandmother. If so, I would have much more information for my family tree.

And so we sent emails back and forth throughout the day. I sent him a photo of my great great grandparents. He sent me a photo of his great grandfather. And there were some similarities.

And through these emails and looking into my family information that I had gathered from my Grandma Esther in the 1970s, it was definite. We were related.

His three times great grandfather Israel Lew was the brother of my great great grandmother Esther Wolf.   And I now had the names of her parents, Jankiel and Mindel Lew/Lewin/Levin (who were cousins) from Ciechanowiec. I also now had the names of more of her siblings, including Israel Lew, there was Azriel Aharon Lew, Fedjda Perlowicz, Betzalel Lew, Abram Boruch Lew and three more!

WOW! I always knew that my Grandma Esther was named after her grandmother, but I now learned that my Great Aunt Minnie was named after her great grandmother Mindel. That was exciting.

Not only all this. But I found out that Victor’s Hebrew/Yiddish name was Awigdor/Avigdor, which I had not known before now. Although I knew he had to have a Hebrew name. And that Esther was also known as Etka, which was probably the European name.

EW also found the date that my great grandparents, Louis and Ray, married: January 28, 1894, almost exactly 121 years ago! What serendipity that I was finding this all out now. Right near their anniversary! I was a bit stunned. All by chance. By one little message on a Facebook group’s page!

There was so much information in the multiple emails my new relative sent me, I think I had an information melt down. As I read each email it made more and more sense, and I could see the lines making the connections.   It was like a mini revelation!

I cannot explain the glow and the excitement that went through me! One little posting and I learned so much!

I was so glad that I had sat with my grandmother 40 years ago to get this information so that I could now say with certainty, I can go back one more generation in my family’s lineage.

And perhaps more! My sister and I have been trying to find out where our great grandparents were buried. There in all the emails was information on Beth David Cemetary in Elmont, NY. If other relatives were buried there, I believe there is a good chance our great grandparents are also there.

Serendipity, Chance and little guts to put a post up on Facebook.   What a win!

 

 

Update.  Found out my great aunt and uncle are in Beth David Cemetery, but my great grandparents are in Washington Cemetary in Brooklyn.

Update 2:  Thanks to another distant ‘Lew’ relative, AB,  I have now seem my family tree of my great great grandmother Esther Lew Wolf and have seen my ancestor back to my seven times great grandparents…back to an ancestor born in 1720!  For a Jewish family that is quite amazing.  And I can do that in my maternal side as well!