My grandparents JONUSS and MAZUS from Ezere, Latvia #latvia #lithuania

Ingrid Anna Jansons <jansons.ingrid@...>


I am researching my father's family from Latvia. My grandparents were Displaced People (officially non-Jewish) and came to Australia after World War 2. 

Here are my family:

My grandmother, Erika Deznieks (1924 - 2018). Born in Ezere, Latvia. Lived in Priekule, Latvia. 
My great grandmother, MATILDA JONUSA/JONAS (1897 - 1977). Born in Nigrande, Latvia. Lived in St Petersburg during World War 1 (reason unknown).
My great-great grandparents, LATE MAZUS (1870 - 1952) and JEKABS JONUSS (1858 - 1941). From Lithuania.

My first question is, do I have Jewish heritage? There is confusion in my family and we have spent many years researching. Any insight would be helpful. 

My second question is, can DNA testing officially trace Jewish heritage?

Kind regards
Ingrid Anna Jansons

Arlene Beare


I think you should definitely do a DNA test which will give you your Ethnicity.  There are many Companies to choose from such as,  FTDNA. com (Family Tree DNA). and others. The name Erika Dreznieks sounds Latvian but not Jewish. Matilda Jonuss likewise does not sound Jewish as Matilda is not a common Jewish name. .  Ancestry has the largest database but My heritage has the largest Jewish database.   FTDNA has the advantage that part from autosomal DNA which means you inherit  half from each parent they also do Mitochondrial DNA which is the maternal line and Y DNA which is the paternal line. You just need to test autosomal DNA(called Family Finder) in the first instance.  The Ethnicity results also vary with different testing Companies depending on the pool they have tested.   IF you test with Ancestry as with any of the Companies you  are able to  download your Raw DNA data and upload to other Companies but you cannot upload Raw data from other Companies to Ancestry.  
The name Late Mazus may be Jewish. Jekab Jonuss also cannot be ruled out. as it may be a Jewish Name.
I think you need to have your Ethnicity results and can then pursue the research depending on the results.  We will be happy to help you if you find that you do have Jewish heritage.

Arlene Beare
Co-Director Latvia Research Division

Bernard Aronson

My great-great-grandparents Joseph Jonas (Jannes) and his wife were from Riga; they were feldshers (paramedics) that died in treating cholera victims during the epidemic that f=broke out in Moscow in1830.  Their son, Samuel Jonas (Jannes)aged 12, and his sister were orphaned and went to live with an uncle.  The uncle substituted my great grandfather Samuel for his son and he was drafted into the Russian army where he served for 25 years.  Upon leaving the Russian army as a corporal, he married a younger Jewish woman and he served as a constable somewhere in central Russia.  During that stay, his wife was attacked and Samuel beat the living daylights out of that lowlife.  As Jews, they would have been lynched except because of Samuel's service, they were exiled to Bialystok in the Russian Pale.  They grew a large family, which included my grandmother Gussie and all of them emigrated to the USA/  BTW, Matilda is not a rare name among Jews.  I had two relatives named Tillie.

Arlene Beare

Thank you Bernard for such an interesting history of your family. I looked up Matilda on Jewish gen and of course you're right it is a common name among Jewish women so I stand corrected.

Arlene Beare
Co-Director Latvia Research Division

Sherri Bobish


Have you tried looking for your family in these databases of Latvian & Lithuanian records?
Try a soundex search if you don't get hits on the exact spelling of the surname.


Sherri Bobish