Thank you to all who responded to my original query. I didn't want to
prejudice anyone's responses but this is where my question derived from:
I believe this Rivka whose cause of death says "tabes Syphilis" may have
been my great-great-grandfather's first wife. After Rivka died in 1855,
he married a woman named Ite, whose daughter was my great-grandmother
(born 1856). I'm surmising this based on my great-great grandfather's
name being Wulf Glaz which we know to be true and what the records state.
This also corroborates the stories we've heard that my great-grandmother's
siblings had a different mother. What's interesting, is that Ite's mtDNA
was H1f (I had my paternal Aunt test and this mtDNA was carried down
through the maternal line to her). H1f is NOT Jewish. It is very rare
and found only in north-central Finland. The family definitely practiced
Judaism and my great-grandmother was known as a devout Jewish woman.
I wonder if perhaps the syphilis diagnosis was true, my great-great-
grandfather was perhaps then shunned by the community, and sought his
next wife elsewhere (i.e. Finland). Perhaps Ite converted or was just
told, "This is how you practice Judaism" (e.g. keeping kosher and
lighting Friday night candles) and that was that. There is also a Wulf
"Geilis" buried in the Jewish cemetery in Turku, Finland so perhaps
there were other ties to Finland.
What's also interesting is that my sister and I were always transfixed
by the one photo we have of our great-grandmother, Ite's daughter. To
us she always looked exotic: Eurasian, or Mongolian. Round flat face,
slight slant to her eyes. That we were vindicated 50 years later by doing
DNA testing at FamilyTree DNA on all our family was astonishing.
Finland wasn't even on our radar as a possibility. But between the
Sami people and the Finns there is a resemblance.
So to everyone a thank you, and please consider doing your own DNA testing.
You never know what you might find outside the norm.
I also hope some social scientist looks into syphilis and societal norms
amongst Jewish communities prior to the 20th century. Would make for a
Lakewood, Colorado, USA
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