DNA matches with descendants of enslaved African Americans. #usa #general


Judith Elam
 

Hi Brad

I do not have southern USA relatives.  BUT, my 5th great-grandmother, who lived and died in Spandau (now part of Berlin), was married twice. Her name was Lane. I descend from the first husband, Joachim Aron.  Her second husband was Joseph Abraham of Spandau.  Lane and Joseph Abraham had at least 3 more children. One of their grandsons ended up in Jamaica.  He was born in Spandau in 1799 and died in Jamaica.  He went to Jamaica and changed his name from Raphael Levin to Rudolph Lewis.  Rudolph Lewis has hundreds of descendants, all born in Jamaica, although some died in Canada. A good many of them were slave owners.  Here is a record on Ancestry showing slave ownership:  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1129/images/CSUK1817_133588-00135?pId=8388519.  I also found many records on Familysearch.org.  

Not sure if the above is of interest to you, but apparently the Lewis family of Manchester, Jamaica, is pretty well known.

So I am related to the Lewis family of Jamaica.  

Judith Elam
Kihei, HI


Judith Elam
 

Hi Brad

I do not have southern USA relatives.  BUT, my 5th great-grandmother, who lived and died in Spandau (now part of Berlin), was married twice. Her name was Lane. I descend from the first husband, Joachim Aron.  Her second husband was Joseph Abraham of Spandau.  Lane and Joseph Abraham had at least 3 more children. One of their grandsons ended up in Jamaica.  He was born in Spandau in 1799 and died in Jamaica.  He went to Jamaica and changed his name from Raphael Levin to Rudolph Lewis.  Rudolph Lewis has hundreds of descendants, all born in Jamaica, although some died in Canada. A good many of them were slave owners.  Here is a record on Ancestry showing slave ownership:  https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/1129/images/CSUK1817_133588-00135?pId=8388519.  I also found many records on Familysearch.org.  

Not sure if the above is of interest to you, but apparently the Lewis family of Manchester, Jamaica, is pretty well known.

So I am related to the Lewis family of Jamaica.  

Judith Elam
Kihei, HI


LLevine2@...
 

Hello Brad,

Thank you for your important letter. My maternal family also came to the US  before the Civil War from small cities of southwestern Germany. Some went to Kingston, North Carolina and were merchants. Some went to Wheeling, West Virginia. Some were known as pioneers of the Jewish community of Cleveland, Ohio. Three of the Cleveland relatives fought in the Civil War for the Union. I was contacted by a descendant of a slave  because our DNA matched. He was already a good genealogist and had a name for the father of his slave ancestor from a death certificate, but the name was butchered. Using good old fashioned genealogy methods we followed the paper trail. It took us three years to discover that the name of our common Jewish ancestor was Joseph Sondheimer. He was not a slave owner but a peddler in Kentucky. He arrived in this country from Sennfeld, Baden in 1850 at 18 years of age. The story is a different narrative than one you describe. The paths of this Jewish peddler named Joseph Sondheimer crossed with a woman named Caroline, enslaved on a farm in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. When peddlers had to find a place to sleep, they were not invited into the house with the farmer and probably had to choose between the barn and  slave houses.  Identical twin boys were born to Joseph Sondheimer and the enslaved Caroline Chambers in 1856.  The boys were born into slavery on the Chambers farm. The African American descendants of Joseph and Caroline assumed that the farmer, Mr. Chambers was their white ancestor until DNA revealed a different truth.  We think that Joseph acknowledged his fatherhood and was involved in the children's lives in some manner because of family stories passed down in the black family.  The peddler, Joseph, also fathered another boy in 1859 with a free woman of color. After freedom, these children went on to became known as some of the most successful blacks in Montgomery County, Kentucky!

Joseph went on to marry a Jewish woman named Caroline Goodman and had a legal family of nine children! When Joseph died, he and his wife, were buried in Willet Cemetery, the first  Jewish cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio. I presented a talk about this story at the  IAJGS conference in Cleveland two summers ago. Feel free to contact me for more details.


Linda Levine
Cambridge, Massachusetts
LLevine2@...


Brad Fanta
 

Thank you Deborah, Mike, and Rachel for all of the links and recommendations.  Coming to The Table, Enslaved.org and The Beyond Kin Project all look like a fabulous organizations and resources. You all have given me a good starting point. Where this will take me, I do not know, but the import of this type of research has never been clearer.   

Brad Fanta
Austin, Texas

Researching
Ingwiller, France: HAAS, UHRY 
Wattwiller, France: WEILL
Cernay, France: GENSBURGER
Westphalia (greater Warburg), Germany:  DANNENBAUM, ROSENBAUM, LEWY/LEVI, MEYERFELD, ROTHSCHILD, SIEBENHAUER
Osterberg/Fellheim, Germany: LAUPHEIMER, SCHWAB
Poznan, Poland:  BLY/BLEY, LEWY/LEVY, MARCUS, KOTTWITZ, KAISER
Grudziadz:  BRASH
Jihlava, Czechia:  POKORNY, EPSTEIN, KRASSNY,
Budapest, Hungary: SINGER


Deborah Friedman
 

Hi Brad,
 
Thank you for your letter.
I appreciate your courage in starting this conversation.
Although our family has not, at least so far, uncovered any DNA matches with descendants of enslaved African Americans,  we do have evidence (1840 Donaldsonville, LA census) of  the fact of slave ownership (one so far, that we know of) by one of our ancestors, Levi Hess (1812-1882), born in Germany, died in San Francisco, but lived in New Orleans from 1835 to 1850, had 8 children with Theresa Sanger.  With the help of the River Road African American Museum, we were able to find a conveyance document for the sale of a woman named Ruthe from M.W.S.Green to my grgrgr grandfather, Levi Hess.  Reading the document was a sobering, painful but important experience for many in my family and we hope to learn more, both about what happened in the past and what we can do to help now.  Other than the above named museum,  two other organizations have been helpful: Enslaved. org and The Beyond Kin Project. A useful article is the following:
 
Eager to speak to you and others out there who are going through this essential discovery and education process.
 

Deborah Friedman

Walnut Creek, CA

dsfaec@...

 

Searching for: FRIEDMAN (KOPAIGOROD UKRAINE), SHULMAN/SCHULMAN (KOPAIGOROD UKRAINE), SPECTOR, GOLOGORSKY, KANSTERIN/KANSTEROOM, LIPSON (JERUSALEM), ZASLER (JERUSALEM, ZASLOW), LEVY, GRATZ/GRATCH, EISENSTEIN (DROHITCHIN), BENIOFF (KIEV AREA), SILBERMANN/SILVERMAN (ZEIL GERMANY), DINKELSPIEL(BADEN, GERMANY), MAIER, WIEDERQUIST, HOROWITZ (KIEV AREA), HESS (NEW ORLEANS), SANGER (NEW ORLEANS AND ALSACE), MAROZ (Ignatovka, Ukraine).


Mike Daren
 

I have southern Jewish ancestry, and DNA matches with descendants of enslaved African Americans.

I have relatives (not in the branch matching the enslaved African Americans) who moved from the North to Georgia some time before the Civil War, and fought for the South during the Civil War.   They were merchants.  I don't know if they had any slaves, it's possible.

As a result of a genealogy DNA test, I found out that in a different branch of my family, about 17 years after the Civil War, a great-granduncle Lewis conceived a son Henry with a woman Louisa who was born a slave.  They were 18 and 21.  Louisa and her parents worked for and lived with a merchant who was friendly with the Lewis's father, also a merchant.  (There may be some evidence that Louisa's family had been enslaved the merchant or his family, and then became his employees after the Civil War.)  Lewis and Louisa married other people.  My family didn't know anything about Lewis and Louisa's relationship and child, we have an old family tree of that part of the family, but this isn't in it.  There's a story passed down in Henry's descendants's family about Lewis running into and speaking briefly with Henry once as an adult, it seemed he knew who Henry was, other than that we don't know anything about their relationship if any, it seems likely it was minimal at most.

The DNA test lead to Henry's descendant contacting me, we met and she's since met my sisters, we communicate often about genealogy and other things.

One organization you might be interested in is called Coming To The Table.  Their Mission Statement is "Coming to the Table provides leadership, resources, and a supportive environment for all who wish to acknowledge and heal wounds from racism that is rooted in the United States’ history of slavery."  I joined the organization on their website. They have number of local chapters around the country; it looks like there's only one in Texas, in Dallas.  Their website has resources about researching African-American and slaveholding family histories, I believe there's some advice about making contact between descendants of enslaved and enslaving people.  I haven't been to any meetings in person yet.  They're having their annual national Gathering June 24-27, which will be virtual this year.
https://comingtothetable.org

Mike Daren
Arlington, Virginia


ru@...
 

I recommend joining Coming to the Table, an organization particularly founded to bring together the descendants of enslavers and enslaved. Genealogy is a big focus of CTTT because of the dearth of antebellum paper records for the enslaved. I've worked with them as a volunteer providing education about DNA and genealogy.

https://comingtothetable.org/

Rachel Unkefer
Charlottesville, VA
USA


Brad Fanta
 

Thank you, Erika.  These are great ideas, particularly about contacting African American genealogical associations and discussion groups.

 

I realize that the vast majority of JewishGen readers on this listserv do not have southern antebellum ancestors, so I have thought about contacting various southern Jewish Genealogical societies directly to see if they have addressed this topic. In fact, researching former slaves and finding their descendants has its own set of research challenges. Perhaps this is an opportunity to organize a talk at select JGS chapters. Teaching others how to look for these connections would be helpful.

 

Another possibility which would include many more people, such as your mother’s line, is to do genealogies of the people who worked and lived in our ancestors homes. Understanding their backgrounds and the caste system that everyone had/has to negotiate in, has deep ramifications for understanding our present. 

As you can see, I'm still in the early stages of thinking through this topic.  I see it as a moral and civic responsibility. 

Thank you again for your support and suggestions.

Brad Fanta
Austin, Texas

 


Janette Silverman
 

A phenomenal resource for learning about and studying the history and background of African-Americans, including DNA and the pre- and post-slavery era is MAAGI - the Midwestern African American Genealogy Institute http://www.maagiinstitute.org/  This year's Instittute is virtual, and registration is open until June 1.

Janette Silverman
Phoenix, AZ and Salt Lake City, UT


erikagottfried53@...
 

Good for you, Brad; it takes some courage to raise this important issue.  This is an investigation that is long overdue. The temptation is great, but all of us should do our best to resist replicating or creating hagiography, and instead try to search out and produce the most accurate account of our ancestors and their stories that we can, even if the picture the stories present may not always be a pretty one.  The truth (or maybe I should say, truths) may not be stranger than fiction, but it is more human and I think more interesting than blameless lives of virtue and heroic tales. 

My mother's family were post-slavery immigrants to the South, but as they ascended to the middle class, they became participants, as did their friends and extended family in the racist landscape around them, primarily through their use of household help.  This involvement also has a complicated legacy that lives on to this day. 

Have you thought of (or perhaps are already doing so)  also approaching African American genealogical organizations and historical societies and online discussion groups to come at the investigation in the opposite direction--that is, to see if some of their members or subscribers have encountered DNA matches with descendants of Jewish slaveholders?  It's also question might be posed fruitfully to Henry Louis Gates Jr., of the Finding Your Roots fame, since he hosts descendants of slaves quite often on his program, and certainly has included guests with Jewish ancestry.

I do hope that you'll get many helpful responses to this post and hope you'll keep the JewishGen discussion list apprised of your progress.

Good luck!     

Erika Gottfried
Teaneck, New Jersey


Brad Fanta
 

Has anyone with antebellum Southern Jewish ancestry encountered DNA matches with descendants of enslaved African Americans?  I have, and I suspect I am not alone. 

 

The fact that these matches occur in both lines of my family who had been slave holders (never more than 2 or 3 enslaved people at a time) is sobering and brings the brutality of this institution into greater light. My Southern Jewish ancestors were no different than others at that time:  they immigrated to the US in the 1840/50s and found access to economic and social freedom unknown to them in Europe. They were merchants and some held enslaved African Americans, a mark of middle class establishment at the time. Many of these men and their descendants became pillars of society. Only because of recent events has the Southern Jewish Historical Society finally decided to focus on systematic racism and how southern Jews fit into the larger racial landscape. However, the hagiography of southern Jewish lives, coupled with the Lost Cause narratives  and Southern Pride, continues to buttress a wall of silence around this issue and obscure the evidence that southern Jews were also perpetrators of the worst violence agains African Americans. At the very least, I would like to break this silence.  

 

Just knowing who is out there with similar discoveries will be helpful.  

 

Brad Fanta

Austin, Texas

 

Slave-holding ancestors:

LOUPE (originally LAUPHEIMER) in Dover and Yell counties, Arkansas

HAAS in St. Landry and Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana