Monday, April 24, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: An Unknown Relative Sold His Car in Detroit in 1924

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.

This week I look at a newspaper advertisement mentioning an unknown relative.

To the left is the full advertisement.  If one were searching for surnames using the traditional method of browsing newspaper microfilm, most likely it would be missed. But with databases of digitized papers, one can find surnames in unlikely spots. (emphasis added)

In the lower left corner:

1923 Rickenbacker Coupe
Sale Price $1350 / List Price $2345
Equipped with 2 Bumpers, Stoplight, Motometer, good Tires. This car has the wonderful Duco Paint Job which cost $175.00, and will last for years. Driven 7,000 miles. Formerly owned by Mr. Cruvand, Peterboro Avenue.


1) The 'Cruvand' surname (with all of its variant spellings) is rare. While one hesitates to say that "all people with surname X are related" I have been able to connect all instances I have found. In one mysterious case, a 16-year old Cruvant popped up in an England database, and I was able to prove it was a misspelling. Could this be another? No known Cruvands, Cruvants, Kruvands or Kruvants lived in Michigan in the 1920s.

One possibility that comes to mind is Edward/Clifford Cruvant the son of my great grandmother's brother, Ben Cruvant, and his first wife Goldie White. Born in 1904, he would have been 20 in 1924. In 1910 the mother and children were in Chicago, Illinois. In 1914 Denver, Colorado.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Ten Years - Ten Discoveries

I’ve been researching and blogging about genealogy since April of 2007. Ten years. Below are ten of my most significant research discoveries, and where I found them.

1) Confirming the family story that my second great grandparents changed their surname from Dudelzak to Feinstein.
a. I found my second great grandfather’s immigration record under the surname ‘Dudelsack’, as well as his sister’s death certificate which provided ‘Duderzock’ as her father’s surname. I also found descendants of my second great grandfather’s brother who had been told the same story. I prefer the ‘Dudelzak’ spelling since I suspect it derives from the Yiddish ‘Dudel’, a diminutive for David, and means ‘Son of David,’ as opposed to the German bagpipe.
2) The European towns of origin for my Newmark and Dudelzak ancestors.
a. I found the town of Warka, Poland in the Naturalization records for my great grandfather, Barney Newmark, and second great grandfather, Samuel Newmark.
b. I found the town of Aleksandriiya, Volhynia in my great-grandfather Herman Feinstein’s application to join a Masonic organization.
3) The maiden name for my second great grandmother, Rose Cantkert Newmark.
a. Birth and death certificates for children had various spellings, including Sankad and Sandgart. Jewishgen’s database search engine actually suggested the Cantkert spelling, and I found Cantkerts listed in Warka documents. (No Newmarks appear in Warka documents, but many appear in nearby Warsaw, leading me to believe my second great grandfather was born in Warsaw, and moved to Warka either prior to or after marrying Rose.)
4) My second great grandfather, Selig (Dudelzak) Feinstein was a blacksmith in St. Louis for 10 years.
a. Family lore had passed down his occupation industries as Real Estate and Laundry. However, from the St. Louis City Directories it is clear he spent a decade as a blacksmith. He only went into Real Estate and the Laundry business when his children were starting their careers, and it appears he may only have been sharing his business experience to get their careers started.
5) My maternal grandmother’s previous three marriages
a. From a combination of sources including my grandmother’s Official Personnel Folder (She worked at the US Post Office), a divorce record she saved, letters from her parents to her, and newspaper records. [First three husbands: Jack (last name still unknown), Arthur Connevey, & Dale Ridgely]
6) The Deutsches (my maternal grandfather’s line) were Cohanim
a. The symbol for Cohanim (which is also the Vulcan symbol from Star Trek) appears on my second great grandfather’s tombstone.
7) My ancestor McGregory Vanevery didn’t own a slave
a. I was able to follow back the sources listed in a family history published in 1947 and show that the author had misinterpreted the evidence.
b. I should note it is almost next to impossible to prove a negative. But I did show that at least some of the evidence the author had used had been misinterpreted.
8) My discovery of the Dawes Commission Testimony of my Hartley and Denyer ancestors.
a. Found on the website Footnote, which is now Fold3.
9) The explanation my wife’s 3rd great grandfather, Louis C Gober, gave for fighting for the Confederacy
a. I also found this information on Fold3
10) The story of how my wife’s great grandmother, Mabel Fulkerson, age 14, and two of her cousins helped prevent a train wreck
a. I found this news story at ChroniclingAmerica.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

DNA by the Numbers

My DNA - (as of April 2017)

• 67% European Jewish
• 11% Western Europe
• 3% Ireland
• 2% Italy/Greece
• 2% Eastern European
• 2% Finland/Russia
• 5% Scandinavia
• 5% Caucasus
• <1 islander="" p="" pacific="">• <1 iberian="" p="">• <1 britain="" great="" p="">
Genetic Communities
• Jews in Central Europe
• Jews in NW Poland, Lithuania, & West Belarus
• Settlers of New York City & Long Island

5 DNA Circles
• Samuel Vanevery (1820-1888) – 2nd great grandfather – 4 members (3 DNA matches + me)
• Abigail Stuart (1825-1866) – 2nd great grandmother – 3 members (2 DNA matches + me)
• Andrew Vanevery (1798-1873) – 3rd great grandfather – 3 members (2 DNA matches + me)
• David Vanevery (1757-1820) – 4th great grandfather – 5 members (3 DNA matches + me + 1 non-match)
• Israel Swayze (1753-1844) – 4th great grandfather – 6 members (1 DNA match + me + 4 non-matches)

Cousin Matches
• 2nd Cousins – 2
• 3rd Cousins – 9
• 4th Cousins or Closer – 1,734

30 Shared Ancestor Hints: 1 second cousin, 1 third cousin, 6 fourth cousins, 22 distant cousins

My wife's DNA - (as of April 2017)
• 27% Scandinavia
• 21% Great Britain
• 20% Western Europe
• 13% Eastern Europe
• 11% Italy/Greece
• 7% Ireland
• 1% Iberian Peninsula

Genetic Communities: None
DNA Circles: None

Cousin Matches
• Second Cousin: 1
• Third Cousin: 4
• Fourth Cousin or Closer: 304

19 Shared Ancestor Hints: 1 third cousin, 10 fourth cousins, 8 Distant Cousins


1) I discussed several months ago the possibility of a Van Every Surname Non-Paternity Event. One piece of evidence I used was that I appear to have no genetic cousin matches with a known-shared-ancestor more distant than my 4th great grandfather. I granted that it might be because it gets difficult to research that far back (though research that far back has been published for the Vanevery family.) Another possibility I considered was that the amount of shared DNA that far back becomes smaller and smaller.

Looking at my “Ancestor Circles” – the cousins in my 2nd great grandparent circles, should also be in my 3rd great and 4th great. But they’re not all there. I’m sure this isn’t due to an NPE, but instead, we share less DNA from our 4th great ancestors. We can share DNA from our shared 2nd greats, but still share none from our shared 4th greats.

2) I find the non-DNA matches in my Ancestor Circles interesting, but obviously, it is possible for two people to have different non-matching DNA from a shared ancestor.

3) I’ve also discussed the significant difference in cousin matches for my wife and me. I still think this is due primarily to a higher rate of false-positive cousin matches for Jewish testers. I’m not sure the reason behind this, but I do know Ancestry stated that they changed their algorithm to reduce it. (And they did reduce it significantly) But it is still there.

Still, I notice that my wife has 33% less Shared Ancestor Hints than I do. Those aren’t false positives. It appears she has a smaller percentage of relatives interested in their genealogy. (Or a smaller percentage who have done enough research for the Shared Ancestor Hints to kick in.)

4) As I mentioned when discussing my FamilyTreeDNA results, I am curious about my alleged 1% Iberian and Pacific Islander DNA. It may be a false-positive, but both AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA claim it is there.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Amanuensis Monday: Myrtle Van Every Dines in Gasconade County - 1934

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.

This week I look at an article mentioning my maternal grandmother, Myrtle Van Every.

Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Dingley entertained the following in their home Sunday: Misses Kathryn Howerton and Myrtle Van Every of St. Louis, Britton Harridon of Marshalltown, Iowa and his boy friend, John Burch of Alton, Ill. On this event it happened to be Miss Myrtle’s birthday. At noon a sumptuous dinner was served to the guests and the afternoon was spent in a jolly good way. Here is wishing this young lady many more such happy occasions.

The Bland Courier, Bland, Gasconade County, Missouri, April 26, 1934, page 1.


1. My grandmother was born on March 21, almost a month prior to this article being printed.  March 21, 1934, was a Wednesday. It is certainly possible that my grandmother's birthday was being observed by her friends a few weeks late. Or the newspaper may have made a mistake, and it was Miss Kathryn who was celebrating. However, my best guess for the correct Miss Kathryn Howerton, a Kathryn Howerton Bogard (1906-1997), celebrated her birthday on Feb 14.

2. This is clearly a married couple hosting either two friends and their dates, or four single friends, in their home. However, the text would definitely be phrased a bit differently today. One has to be careful when reading old newspaper articles to interpret the language as it would have been interpreted then.

3. I do not know if my grandmother was 'with' Britton Harridon, or John Burch, or how long that association lasted. My maternal grandfather would transfer to the St. Louis Post Office Division Headquarters in June 1934, and Myrtle would transfer there in July 1935, and they would marry in December of 1936.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

New FTDNA ethnicities

FamilyTreeDNA updated their DNA ethnicity guesses. (Yes, guesses, the science behind them is nowhere near exact)

My current breakdown is on the left.

I am aware that the trace results are so small that they can easily be false-positives.

However, is that Siberian indicative of my alleged maternal Native American ancestors who may have come over on the land bridge?

My mother's current DNA breakdown is on the right.

She doesn't have the trace Siberian. Is it possible that it is from my Paternal side? What about the Oceanian and Iberian?

I haven't encouraged my father to be tested as I assumed it would be 100% Jewish Diaspora/Eastern European, and the high number of false-positive cousin matches for Jewish DNA makes it less useful as a tool for finding cousins.

The odds are that my trace results are false positives, but still, perhaps I should get someone on my paternal side tested to be certain.

My Middle Eastern ancestry is clearly maternal. Ancestry (see below) still defines it as "Caucasus" and indicates it could also be Romanian, which suggests that it comes from my Transylvanian maternal grandfather.

Both Ancestry and FamilyTreeDNA suggest a trace of Pacific Islander/Oceanian. That's rather unlikely, but it does appear in both places, and is a very intriguing possibility.