Saturday, June 2, 2018

Happy 7th Blogiversary to A Jewish Genealogy Journey

I started this blog seven (!) years ago to share stories of my husband's family and to share the research strategies I have used to discover these ancestors, cousins, and their stories.

I took a brief hiatus from blogging last summer when I spent 15 weeks obtaining my certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University. And this week, I officially begin my participation in the next session of the ProGen Study Group. I'm excited for this new educational opportunity but will keep blogging, as ProGen is not quite as time consuming as the B.U. course.

Some favorite blog posts of mine from this past year include a series of posts about connecting with a genetic relative:

Analyzing a DNA Match
Analyzing a DNA Match - Who is the Common Ancestor
Wordless Wednesday ~ Half-Sisters and Half-Cousins

I keep hoping to connect with more DNA cousins, but it's a challenge when the shared DNA is a small amount. I recently created a DNA Toolbox on this blog, which is as much for my reference as it is for my readers!

Thank you for continuing to read my blog even though the posts are infrequent.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

DNA Toolbox

I've been interested in DNA testing and analysis for several years (and for many genealogists, it takes several years to really understand how to use DNA).

At the top of my blog, I have added the tab called DNA Resources. Last year, I added a DNA Toolbox to my other blog, From Maine to Kentucky, and I thought that a DNA Toolbox would be helpful for me and my readers at this blog. Many of the resources are the same: links to my favorite genetic genealogy blogs and links to some online video resources, but, of course, on this blog, I include links to all the posts I have written about DNA in my research on my husband's family, as well as links to a couple of blogs that include posts about genetic genealogy with a Jewish focus.

I will add to this toolbox in the future when I find new resources for DNA.

If you have a great online resource for DNA, especially with regards to Jewish genetic genealogy, let me know and I will add it.

Remember, once your results are in (from whatever test you have taken), please upload them to, where you can take advantage of other DNA analysis tools and find cousins who have tested at other DNA companies.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Unknown Child

This photograph came to me from my mother-in-law. She thinks it might be one of her mother's Litwin cousins. There is nothing written on the back. I love the bell being used as a prop to keep the child occupied during the photography session!

Could this be a child of Samuel Litwin and Sophie (Levitas) Litwin of Newark, New Jersey? Their children were David Litwin (b. May 1896), Moses Litwin (b. 1907), and Jeanette Litwin (b. 1910).

I have written about the Litwins at:
Sunday's Obituary ~ Samuel Litwin, 1935
Workday Wednesday ~ Assemblyman David Litwin

M. Olesky, the mark of the photographer, is likely Morris Olesky, found in the 1900 and 1910 U.S. Federal Census with occupation of photographer, but not found in the Newark, New Jersey, city directories for this period of time. Too bad the lower right hand corner has broken off; I wonder if there was additional information there.

If you know who this child is or if you descend from Samuel and Sophie Litwin of Newark, New Jersey, please contact me at elizhandler -at-

Monday, April 16, 2018

DNA Matching at FamilyTreeDNA

I received an email from FamilyTreeDNA last week notifying me of changes that they are offering in their Account Settings. I manage several different kits there and thought I'd take a look at what my settings are.

I did this for all of my accounts on Friday. It's a good idea to review your privacy settings for your online accounts every so often (especially for social media accounts).

At FamilyTreeDNA, under Privacy & Sharing, the first section is "Matching Preferences," where you choose what level of matches you want to see. What you choose here also affects who will be able to see and compare their results with yours.

In the screenshot below, I have added the rest of the sentence that is covered by the informational "balloon."

The choices are:

For my son, I guess I had selected Close & Immediate. What happened is that when I logged in yesterday, I found that he had fewer matches than I expected due to the change I made.

Out of curiosity, I explored what his number of matches would be under each setting.

Level of Sharing Total Matches Paternal Maternal Both
Immediate Only 9 3 5 1
Close & Immediate 12 4 7 1
Distant, Close & Immediate 1,116 889 195 1
All Levels 9,264 4,773 898 3

My comments and observations:
  • Paternal and Maternal matches appear for my son because I have set up a small family tree for him, linking my husband and me to him. FTDNA uses this information to "phase" the tester's results so they can see if a match comes from their father's or their mother's DNA.
  • The 1 "Both" match at the first three levels is his brother, who is also linked to him in his tree.
  • There are many more paternal matches than maternal matches because my husband is Ashkenazic Jewish (endogamy) and I have British Isles and Western European ancestry. (Colonial New England ancestry has some endogamy but not as much as Ashkenazic Jewish.)
  • "All Levels" includes "Speculative" matches. There are enough matches at the Distant, Close & Immediate level of sharing for me to look through (though I doubt I'll ever get to match number 1,116) that I don't need people who match my son as a speculative match to be thinking we can find a common ancestor easily.
I certainly want to find matches, but I don't know as I need to be exploring a possible relationship with a speculative match to my son, especially through my husband, for whom I can only go back a few generations. I will note that for my husband's Family Finder matching settings, at All Levels, he has 14,731 matches, but at Distant, Close & Immediate, he has only 2,522 matches.

I wrote a blog post explaining endogamy at Jewish DNA and Endogamy ~ One Example back in March 2017, when my husband had "only" 9,902 matches.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Segal Family in the New Jersey, State Census, 1905

As I was writing about the Segal / Siegel / Seigle family in New Jersey, I realized that I had never looked for Simche Segal's family in the 1905 state census for New Jersey. State censuses were taken in New Jersey every ten years from 1855 to 1915, and Ancestry recently made more of these records available. Most are also available on (a free website). This is great for finding families who may have moved between the federal censuses taken every ten years in years ending in 0.

In 1895 (see Census Searching) and in 1900 (see More on Simche Segal Family), the family was in Dennis, Cape May County, New Jersey. In 1903, the Borough of Woodbine was incorporated, so the 1905 New Jersey State Census shows that the family lived in Woodbine.

I recently spent some time exploring the 1905 New Jersey state census in Woodbine for my husband's relatives. (These records can be found at both FamilySearch and at Ancestry, though Ancestry had mis-indexed the county for Woodbine - it's Cape May, which was totally missing, not Camden. Yes, I reported this error to Ancestry.)

1905 New Jersey State Census, Cape May County, population schedule, Borough of Woodbine, p. 3B, dwelling 40, family 53, Sam Segal; digital images, ( : accessed 10 February 2018).

I don't know if it was due to a language barrier, but I found many discrepancies between what the 1905 census reported for ages (and some names) and other records.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday ~ Half-Sisters and Half-Cousins

As I shared yesterday, I determined the relationship of my husband's newest DNA match and asked her if there were any photographs of ancestors that could be shared here.

Here is the tree I shared yesterday, showing the relationships:

Here are photographs of (on the left) Golda (Segal) Levitt, likely from the early 1950s and (on the right) her younger half-sister, Lena (Segal) Dlugatch in 1983:

And the next generation: on the left is the daughter of Golda, Rose (Levitt) Goldstein, in 1978. On the right are daughters of Lena, Molly and Sylvia, in 1980.

Maybe it needs a little bit of imagination, due to the age and quality of the photographs, but I think these ladies all look related.

Thank you to my husband's third cousin, H.K. and her father for sharing photographs from Lena (Segal) Dlugatch's side of the family.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Analyzing a DNA Match ~ Who is the Common Ancestor

Once I decided that I should be able to determine the common ancestor (also known as the MRCA: Most Recent Common Ancestor) of my husband and Mr. K. (see previous post: Analyzing a DNA Match), I clicked on the envelope icon next to the name of the match and sent an email. In the email I noted that she and my husband had a match in common with the surname Seigle, and I provided my husband's Segal ancestry (which can be seen at Surname Saturday ~ Segal of Ukraine and New Jersey).

H.K. initially replied to my email noting that she had relatives in Wildwood (New Jersey, where Simche Segal died) and a few days later, she emailed again, while at a family barbecue, and was able to tell me that Lena Segal was her great grandmother on her father's side. She also mentioned her grandmother's maiden name as Sylvia Dlugatch.

I then replied to H.K. the following:
Aha! This confirms a theory that I had worked on a couple of years ago. Lena Segal was the daughter of Simche Segal and his second wife, Rebecca (Blume) Katz. It appears that you and my husband are third cousins and your father and my mother-in-law are second cousins.
I find that a family tree diagram helps place distant family members' relationships.

My theory came from finding Lena (Segal) Dlugatch enumerated twice in the 1910 U.S. Census, which confused me and made me unsure if I had the right person.