18 May 2019

Catch me at Pikesville and Silver Spring, Maryand in the next two weeks!

I will be delivering my presentation, "Memory and Mystery: Breaking Down Family Lore," at two Jewish genealogy societies next week on Sunday and the following week, as well.

On Sunday, May 26, 2019 at 1:30 P.M., I will be at the Pikesville Library's meeting room, 1301 Reistertown Road, Pikeville, MD for the Jewish Genealogy Society of Maryland.

On Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 12:00 P.M., I will be speaking at a members' only luncheon for the Jewish Genealogy Society of Greater Washington at the Silver Spring Civic Building, 1 Veterans Place, Silver Spring, MD.

"Memory and Mystery" discusses those family stories many of us have and how we should approach them. In one example I will discuss the Chief Blue Jacket legend that made its way into reputable history publications and historical fiction. I will also present a story from my own family: four brothers who took different surnames in the Russian Empire. In both cases documentary research is combined with DNA results to help evaluate the truth.

Hope those of you in the vicinity will be able to make it to one of the presentations!

03 February 2019

Nordheim vor der Rhön to the United States: The Baum Family of Kansas City

It's been a long time coming. This client project has dominated my life for quite a while. I am proud to announce the publication of The Baum Family of Kansas City.  

Members of the Jewish Baum family of Nordheim vor der Rhön, Lower Franconia, Bavaria, began immigrating to the United States in the 1850s. By the early 1900s family members were well established in several communities including Kansas City, Missouri; Norfolk, Virginia; New York City; Chicago; and Independence and Sioux City, Iowa.

Offspring of the Kansas City branch married into prominent Jewish pioneer merchant families in Trinidad, Colorado (Gottlieb) and Las Vegas, New Mexico (Rosenwald).

The publication is in three volumes. I researched and wrote Volume II. I researched the United States portions of Volume III and Dr. Ekkehard Hübschmann researched in Germany. I assembled our contributions and wrote Volume III.

This three volume set includes:
Volume I: In Honor of my Father, George K. Baum - by Brian Burnes
This volume is focused on investment banker George K. Baum (1892-1958), as recalled by his son G. Kenneth Baum (147 pages).
Volume II: Samuel Baum & His Children - by Emily H Garber
Samuel Baum & His Children explores Baum family origins in Nordheim vor der Rhön, Lower Franconia, Bavaria, and provides individual chapter on Kansas City immigrant and merchant Samuel Baum (George K. Baum's father) and his children (328 pages).
Volume III: Genealogy Report - by Emily H. Garber, with contributions by Ekkehard Hübschmann, PhD.
The third volume contains 29 graphic family trees and a register (narrative) report on almost 400 descendants of Hirsch Baum who was born likely in the early 1700s. This nine generation chronicle is accompanied by a CD-ROM with images of many supporting documents (189 pages).
A surname list for Volume III may be viewed here. A location list is here.

The books have been privately published and will not be available in digital format online. However, sets are on their way to the following libraries/repositories:
  • Albuquerque, NM - New Mexico Jewish Historical Society
  • Bamberg, Germany - Staatsbibliothek Bamberg
  • Chicago, IL - Newberry Library
  • Cincinnati, OH - Klau Library, Hebrew Union College
  • Independence, MO - Midwest Genealogy Center, Mid-Continent Public Library
  • Jerusalem, Israel - National Library of Israel
  • Kansas City, MO - Missouri Valley Collection, Kansas City Public Library; Jewish Archives of Kansas City
  • Las Vegas, NM - Carnegie Library of Las Vegas 
  • New York, NY - Leo Baeck Institute Library 
  • Norfolk, VA - Sargeant Memorial Collection, Slover Library
  • Phoenix, AZ - Arizona Jewish Historical Society 
  • Salt Lake City, UT - Family History Library
  • Trinidad, CO - Carnegie Library of Trinidad
  • Washington, D.C. - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Library

12 October 2018

Take one Utchenik off the table


This was going to be soooo cool. But now, it's back to the drawing board.

A while back I was able to show that my great grandfather, Abraham Garber, had a full brother whose last name was Lederman. I did this through a combination of traditional records research and DNA results. I did a twelve-part series on that research. The last post may be viewed here. In short, the Lederman I tested is my second cousin one-removed. Pretty close.

Feeling emboldened, I began to think that perhaps the family story that there had been four brothers in the Old Country who each adopted different surnames might, indeed, be true (see the story here). So, I set out the find the unusual name that had been identified as the original one: Utchenik.

Now ordinarily I would not recommend trying to spend much time trying to prove family stories, but Utchenik is an unusual name and finding an Utchenik family was not particularly difficult. There seemed to be one main Utchenik family who primarily settled in Detroit, Michigan (also the place where one of my Ledermans settled). Some Utcheniks from the same related clan were also in Connecticut, Massachusetts and, for a short while, Florida. The family was also from Volhynia Gubernia - the same area as my Garber-Lederman family. I was not successful in finding a family tie via paper records.

My main problem was finding some Utcheniks to DNA test. 

A few years ago I located one Utchenik descendant named Greenberg who agreed to test. His grandmother was an Utchenik by birth. His autosomal DNA test results did not include my Garbers or Lederman as strong matches.[1] I know that sometimes third cousins may not appear as matches in autosomal DNA and, in at least one instance, that is the case in my own family. So I was not dissuaded from my quest with these particular results. If I could only find a male Utchenik to test for Y-DNA!

That was a challenge until recently when a male Utchenik contacted me after seeing one of blog posts (Hurrah for blog posts!). 

He agree to test. 

I received his autosomal DNA results a few weeks ago. Again, nothing to get too excited about. Lederman did not come up as a match at all. There did seem to be a nice stack of Garbers matching on chromosome 15:

The orange, above, is Greenberg. The largest of the Garber segments on this chromosome is 16.8; the smallest, 14.5 cms. The gap in the green and purple lines could be where some Utchenik DNA dropped out during the last few generations. Family Tree DNA predicted that all the matching Garbers but one were between third to fifth cousins with Utchenik. I showed up as fifth to remote.

What I was really hoping for was a good haplogroup match on Y-DNA. It was not to be.

This morning I received the Y-DNA 37 marker results. Utchenik came in at 37 markers in haplogroup E-M35. My Garber males and Lederman match exactly at 67 markers in predicted haplogroup T-M70. [2]


So, I am thinking that, if we are related, it is not along the Garber-Lederman line. 

The good news? I have another Utchenik family I am looking at. Two Utchenik brothers from Polonnoye (about 10 miles from my family's tow of Lubin) changed their surname to Robinson after immigration. The bad news? One brother had no children and the other had only girls. The pretty good news? One daughter is still available to test. I am hoping she agrees.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get around a seeming paucity of records on these Robinson/Utcheniks. Wish me luck!

1. Annette and Mel, who are 1C1R to me and 2 C to Lederman, show up sharing 99 cms and 14 largest segment (projected 3rd to 5th cousins) and 63 cms/9 cms (5th cousins to remote) with Greenberg, respectively. Greenberg shared only 56 cms and a largest segment of 8 (5th to remote) with Lederman. Generally, we like to see over 100 cms total and over 20 (better 30 cms) for the longest segment. My documented third cousins who show up as matches to me may have large segments under 20, but share more than 100 cms total. So, the Greenberg matches were nothing for a member of this endogamous Ashkenazi Jewish family to get excited about. 
2. In case anyone is wondering, for my own edification I did compare STRs and there are over 40 differences between Utchenik (E-M35) and my Garber-Lederman (T-M70) group at the 37 marker level - in no way a close match.

04 September 2018

Tombstone Tuesday: Boris Bondar, Beth Moses Cemetery

I have not found much about the life of Boris Bondar.

I typically try to provide a bit of biographical information about those who were interred in the graves of the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in Montefiore and Beth Moses Cemeteries in New York.

Boris, however, has been difficult to track.


JUNE 19, 1898
AUG. 25, 1981

Boris' gravestone does not include the usual Hebrew name and patronymic. Rules for accessing New York City death records do not allow non-relatives access to one so recent. 

Online searches at Ancestry, FamilySearch and MyHeritage have not located any census records (the most recent available would be 1940), directories, or any other records that I can tie to this man. I have searched online indices on the Yad Vashem website (seeking any relatives he may have identified as victims), on the US Holocaust Memorial Museum website (for currently online records for survivors). I have searched the online Joint Distribution Committee Archive and HIAS. I have searched online newspapers for obituaries or any other articles in which he might have been mentioned.[1] Nada!

The only record I have found for him thus far is his application for Social Security card (Form SS-5), which I ordered from the Social Security administration.

Boris' mother was Lyuba and his father was Shlema Bondar. Boris reported that he was born in Odessa. I have check JewishGen's unified database and have not found any records available yet for him Boris or his parents.

He registered for Social Security when he was 80 years old (probably on November 6, 1978). At that time, he lived in Manhattan at 225 Park Avenue South. His Social Security Death Index record (in this case located on Ancestry) indicates his last residence was in Brooklyn.

His gravestone indicates he was mourned by his wife. There are no other Bondar's in this plot. I checked recent indexes for marriage licenses in New York City (thank you Reclaim the Records!) - there are no records for Boris Bondar. We do not know his wife's name. 

Without further information, it is not possible to say why his grave was included in the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plot in Beth Moses Cemetery. More often than not I have been able to identify a kinship connection between those who were not from the town of Labun yet were buried in one of the landsmanshaft plots. This one is, so far, still a mystery

Since Boris signed his name in Cyrillic, it is possible that in 1978 he was a fairly recent immigrant. That would account for the paucity of records.

Boris Bondar's grave is in the the Beth Moses Cemetery, Pinelawn, New York, First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association Plot, Block 24, Maccabee Road.

1. It is certainly possible that other records, such as those in probate files, might be located onsite in NYC. Those kind of searches will have to wait until I next plan a visit. One possible next step would be to call the cemetery and see if they have any information they might share regarding Bondar family contacts.

17 August 2018

IAJGS 2018 Warsaw Conference - Day 6

I never understand why people leave conferences before they close. Excellent presentations are often given on the last day. When planning my flight home from Warsaw, I made sure that I selected a flight that would allow me to stay at the conference until the end (i.e., before lunch).

I heard two excellent presentations on Friday morning. In fact, I think these two were among the better ones I heard this year.

Ed Mitukiewicz presented, "Location, Location, Location: Using Historical Maps to Find Your Ancestral Towns in Eastern Europe." This presentation paired nicely with Carol Hoffman's on Wednesday afternoon. These should be required for anyone who is have difficulty locating their family shtetl.

Ed completely won me over when he noted a methodology dear to my heart: one should compare and correlate information from multiple sources to locate one's ancestral community. It is similar to triangulation - look for the area of intersection among evidence in one's sources.

Renee Carl's, " 'Did You Know Your Grandfather was a Twin?' And Other Questions I've Asked My Mother," addressed in another way a topic similar to the one I had presented on Tuesday in my talk "When It Takes a Village: Applying Cluster Research Techniques." She advocated for widening the net: collecting many records for many family members. 

She suggested that researchers should:
  • gather oral history
  • create research plans to answer questions
  • try to prove or disprove information from gathered oral history
  • question whether one really has a brick wall in one's research
  • create wide trees (include collateral relatives)
  • examine original sources 
Essentially, she argued for an iterative process between oral history and document research.

This was all very good stuff. And imagine! It was all in the last two hours of the conference!

See you in Cleveland in 2019!