Saturday, November 22, 2014

Two DNA Circles or a Venn Diagram?

Ancestry updated their DNA interface by eliminating a large number of false positive matches, and adding a new feature called DNA Circles.

You can read more here and here on Ancestry’s Blog

With some initial reviews at
What are DNA circles? According to Ancestry:

Ancestry told me that I am part of two DNA Circles
One has 8 descendants of Israel Swayze, Jr
One has 5 descendants of Abigail (Coleman) Swayze

Ancestry calculates the likelihood of the members in the circle sharing the same shared ancestor: Strong, Good, Some, Emerging or Weak. In all of my cases, they're 'Emerging.' This suggests to me that we're all in these circles based mostly on our Family Trees, and less on our DNA, or else it would probably be stronger. However, their description of DNA circles above states all members must share some DNA with at least one other member of the circle. 

Israel and Abigail were husband and wife, and I am unaware of any other spouse for either of them.
All five matches in Abigail's circle are in Israel's circle.
According to our Online Trees, my most recent common ancestor for the three in Israel's Circle that aren't in Abigail's is actually Israel and Abigail's daughter, Johanna Swayze.

I have no clue why these two circles aren't identical - or how Ancestry would be able to distinguish whether particular DNA for anyone in these two circles was from Israel or Abigail, since we all, if the research that went into our online trees is accurate for all of us, are descendants of both of them -- unless Ancestry had information about DNA circles involving other Swayzes or Colemans. If this is the case, I would like to know this information.

Another conundrum is that a known second cousin, a descendant of Melvin Elijah Van Every through a different daughter, isn't in either of these circles, even though her tree is public. I wonder if this implies she doesn't share any of the Swayze-Coleman DNA. Perhaps she does have DNA from Israel and Abigail, but it's not the same DNA that the eight in these circles inherited.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Poetry Friday: Careers

Robert Graves is well-known for his poetry, close to 50 collections were published during his lifetime, and his novels, including, I Claudius and Claudius the God. 

The below poem appeared in his second collection of poetry, Fairies and Fusiliers. It's clear he had already realized it was okay to go into a career his father was good at. However, the poem illustrates quite well the desire in some families to excel at different pursuits.

Careers - Robert Graves
(from Fairies and Fusiliers, 1918.)

FATHER is quite the greatest poet
   That ever lived anywhere.
You say you’re going to write great music—
   I chose that first: it’s unfair.
Besides, now I can’t be the greatest painter and
      do Christ and angels, or lovely pears
      and apples and grapes on a green dish,
      or storms at sea, or anything lovely,
Because that’s been taken by Claire.

It’s stupid to be an engine-driver,
   And soldiers are horrible men.
I won’t be a tailor, I won’t be a sailor,
   And gardener’s taken by Ben.
It’s unfair if you say that you’ll write great
      music, you horrid, you unkind (I sim-
      ply loathe you, though you are my
      sister), you beast, cad, coward, cheat,
      bully, liar!
Well? Say what’s left for me then!

But we won’t go to your ugly music.
   (Listen!) Ben will garden and dig,
And Claire will finish her wondrous pictures
   All flaming and splendid and big.
And I’ll be a perfectly marvellous carpenter,
      and I’ll make cupboards and benches
      and tables and … and baths, and
      nice wooden boxes for studs and
And you’ll be jealous, you pig!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Finding Your Roots: Jewish DNA

In Ashkenazi Jewish DNA and the Potential to Piece Together Shattered Family Branches Cece Moore, the Genetic Genealogy consultant for the television series, Finding Your Roots, discusses the DNA results they left out of the episode on Dershowitz, King and Kushner.
The episode that aired last week with Carole King, Alan Dershowitz and Tony Kushner did not include any DNA research, but that doesn’t mean that I hesitated to delve into their genetic genealogy. In fact, a short segment featuring Alan is included in the special DNA-themed last episode scheduled to air on November 25.
The article shares the results for all three, and further discusses the difficulties in using Jewish DNA to find cousins. However, Moore indicates she was able to use the results to find cousins for at least two of the three. She also shares a heartwarming story of a family reunification.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Finding Your Roots: Sting, Deepak Chopra and Sally Fields

Last night I watched the latest episode of Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "The British Invasion."

Once again, several of the stories had similarities to my own family. Some of my British Denyer cousins migrated to Australia. I don't know their motivations. I have Loyalists in my tree who settled in Ontario, and while I don't believe any of my ancestors were on the Mayflower in 1620, I do have several who immigrated prior to 1650. (Betts, Chamberlain, Horton, Langton, Hallock, Swayze, Kinge, and possibly Van Every.) Unfortunately, I didn't find the Native American ancestry in my DNA that I expected to be there.

I was disappointed in Sally Field's lack of recognition when she heard her ancestor's name. It's been long enough since American History class for me, that I couldn't have provided too many details, but I instantly recognized the name, and the portrait shown was also familiar. I was worried for much of the episode that they wouldn't be able to provide Deepak Chopra with any ancestors he didn't know already. (Of course, if that were true, he wouldn't have been selected for an episode.) I was very impressed by Sting throughout his portions of the episode.

View the episode below. You can read the transcript here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day, 2014

Caption for photo to left: Human Statue of Liberty. 18,000 Officers and Men at Camp Dodge, Des Moines, Iowa. Colonel William Newman, Commanding. Colonel Rush S. Wells, Directing. Mole & Thomas, 09/1918. (source)

November 11 is Veterans Day in the US, and Remembrance Day in the UK, Canada, Australia, France and Belgium. In Poland it is celebrated as National Independence Day.

Below are the names of ancestors, and their siblings, who I know served their nation's military, either in a time of war, or in a time of peace. I am including my Loyalist ancestors; their nation was Great Britain. Canada became their country after the war. I am including my Confederate ancestors too, despite their desire to form a separate nation.

Fifth Great Grandfathers
McGregory Van Every (1723-1786) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers
Michael Showers (1733-1796) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers

Fourth Great Grandfather
David Van Every (1757-1820) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers (served briefly as a Patriot in the NY militia)

Fifth Great Uncle
Benjamin Van Every (1759-1795) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers (served briefly as a Patriot in the NY militia)
William Van Every (1765-1832) Loyalist/Butler's Rangers
Peter Van Every (1771-bef 1816) Loyalist/Fifth Lincoln and Second York regiments (War of 1812)

Fourth Great Uncles
David Van Every Jr. (1782-1847) Loyalist/Second York regiment (War of 1812)
Michael Van Every (1790-?) Loyalist/Fifth Lincoln and Second York regiments (War of 1812)

Second Great Grandfather
Ebenezer Denyer (1828-1872) (Mexican-American War) (Confederate Army)

Third Great Uncles
Samuel Jennings Denyer (1822-1861) (Gonzales County Minute Men - Republic of Texas -1841)
Samuel T Hartley (1830-1920) (Confederate Army)

Great Grandfather
Samuel Deutsch (1861-1938) (Franz Josef's Austro-Hungarian Army)

Melvin L Newmark (1912-1992), WWII
Martin J Deutsch (1907-1991), WWII

Great Uncles
Jerry Deutsch (1909-1950), WWII
Allen Deutsch (1914-1988), WWII
Harold Newmark (1915-2003), WWII
Mandell Newmark (1923-1945), WWII (DOI)
Bernard Feinstin (1913-1968), WWII
Seymour Feinstein (1917-1999), WWII

Stevan J Newmark (1942-1997) Army Reserves

Photographs of those who served in World War II

My grandfathers Melvin Newmark (1912-1992) and Martin Deutsch (1907-1991)

Allen Deutsch (1914-1988) and Maurice "Jerry" Deutsch (1909-1950).

Harold Newmark (1915-2003) and Mandell Newmark (1923-1945).

Bernard "Benny" Feinstein (1913-1968) and Seymour "Babe" Feinstein (1917-1999)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Amanuensis Monday: An Automobile Accident - 1922

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

I began this project back on February 16, 2009. Since I began, many others have joined in on the meme. I am thrilled that this meme I started has inspired so many to transcribe and share their family history documents.Why do we transcribe? I provide my three reasons in the linked post. You may find others.

This week I transcribe a newspaper article describing a 1922 automobile accident involving a distant cousin.

The Evening World (Thurs, Aug 10, 1922) page 3
Five Girls Hurt When Wild Auto Runs Into Them
Machine Had Sidewiped Another and Leaped to Newark Sidewalk

Five girls were hurt, one of them seriously, when two automobiles sideswiped, one of them crashing into a group of girls on their way to work at Monmouth Street and Waverly Avenue, Newark, to-day.

Miss Frieda Rasnick, sixteen, of No. 80 Monmouth Street, is in the Newark City Hospital suffering from cuts, shock and internal injuries. Two others are in the Beth Israel Hospital suffering from shock and body bruises. They are Miss Eva Fige, eighteen, of No. 32 Avon Place, and Miss Cecilia Cruvant, seventeen, of No. 28 Avon Place.

The girls were pinned against the brick wall of a factory building by the car of Dr. Harry Simon of No. 119 Spruce Street, when Simon lost control of the machine and drove onto the sidewalk. The other car was owned and operated by Abraham Karetnick of No. 17 Quitman Street, Newark.

The two other girls injured by Simon's car ran off and their names were not learned by the police.

Karetnick told police he was driving west on Waverly Avenue and Dr. Simon was going north on Monmouth Street when they sideswiped. Both men are being held pending the outcome of the Rasnick girl's injuries.

Miss Celia Eisenberger, seventeen, of 22 Hillside Place, Newark, walked into the Fourth Precinct Station House, cut and bruised and wearing a dress torn almost to shreds. She told the police she was one of the two girls who ran from the scene of the accident after she had been pineed against the wall by Dr. Simon's car.

Dr. Simon, under arrest at the station, dressed a number of cuts and bruises which the girl sustained in the accident. She said she had gone home, but had later decided to go to the police to report the accident. She returned home after her wounds were dressed.

The following day, the story appeared in the German-language New Yorker Volkszeitung Aug 11, 1922 edition, page 2.


1. I share the German language newspaper image without transcription, but it's clear they identify Cecelia Cruvant as age 14. While that seems young to be on her way to work, who's correct? According to her 1994 entry in the SSDI, Celia Kruvant Feld was born in 1905, so in 1922 she would have been 17. She was the second cousin of my paternal grandfather. It was my belief that her branch of the family consistently spelled their surname with an initial-K, but perhaps it wasn't so consistent. Or the newspaper got the spelling incorrect, which wasn't uncommon.

2. I like how the newspaper notes that the doctor involved in the accident helped dress the cuts and bruises of one of the girls at the police station. It should be noted that there were two drivers involved, and the newspaper account is careful not to place blame.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

SNGF: Ancestors with Facial Hair

Randy Seaver at Genea-musings suggested for last night's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun to share photographs of ancestors with facial hair.

(All photographs below can be clicked on to view larger.)

I'll start off with my own photograph. I'm not my own ancestor, but facial hair isn't a relic of the past in my family. I'm wearing a hat that was bought for our 20 month-old twins, so it's a little small.
My grandfather, Melvin Newmark (1912-1992) was well-known for his well-groomed mustache. This photograph was taken in 1971.
My great grandfather, Samuel Deutsch (1861-1938)  I believe this photograph was taken in Hungary prior to immigration in 1914.

My great grandfather, Melvin Van Every (1863-1929). This photograph was taken in 1900.
My great great grandfather, Moshe Leyb Cruvant (1857-1911). This photograph was likely taken within the last few years of his life.
My great great grandfather, Morris Blatt (1862-1926). I am unsure when the photograph was taken. Perhaps at one of his children's weddings, which would place it in 1912, or early 1920s.
An unknown Lichtmann or Deutsch relative, likely taken in Hungary.