Sunday, December 9, 2012


 Cyndi Finds Me Through JewishGen Family Finder

 One of the most important parts of the JewishGen website is the JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) which they describe as follows:
The JewishGen Family Finder (JGFF) is a compilation of surnames and towns currently being researched by over 97,000 Jewish genealogists worldwide.  It contains over 500,000 entries: 125,000 ancestral surnames and 17,000 town names, and is indexed and cross-referenced by both surname and town name.  The JGFF was originally created in 1982, and is maintained by JewishGen.
Researchers should check the JGFF for genealogists with similar research interests, and can then contact them for an exchange of information.
These are my JGFF listings on my father's mother's side
I have listed fifty-six surname-town combinations that I am interested in, including a few alternate spellings. On more than one occasion, people have looked up their names and towns and have made contact with me after seeing matching information.

JewishGen has a Value Added program for people who contribute a hundred dollars or more a year, which includes an alert system. If someone adds a name and town of interest to me, the system notifies me. That is what happened when Cyndi listed her Zelenka family from Kotesova Slovakia fifteen months ago.

(To give you an idea how JewishGen has grown in the last fifteen years, Cyndi's is researcher number 499,018. I am number 5627.)

We exchanged emails a few times over the course of a year, but hadn't really done much.  She was on my "to do" list all that time, but there were always many items ahead of her. Then she began speaking to me about DNA.

Cyndi had tested with a different company, but began pushing me to do a DNA comparison on a free site called (At the same time, someone here in Israel was pushing me towards GEDmatch on the Pikholz or Kwoczka side.) GEDmatch had us as fifth cousins.

The Bob Hanscom Data

I have mentioned Bob Hanscom here a couple of times. Bob has two Wilhelm relatives in his family, who came from Trenscin County in western Slovakia. Fani Wilhelm (b. 1785) married Nathan Joseph Rosenzweig, the brother of Nana's great-grandfather Simon. Julianna Wilhelm (b. 1824) married Moses Zelinka, the brother of Nana's grandmother. So in the course of his research, Bob sent me extracts of all the Zelinka and Rosenzweig records that he found. 

This was eight-nine years ago and his information has provided the basis for the Rosenzweig and Zelinka trees on my web site.

But I never had much in the way of actual documentation and for the most part, the people mentioned in the records were generally from the early and mid-1800s.

The first Zelinka we have is Leopold / Levko whose son Jacob had children in the 1780s. Among Jacob's children were sons Joseph and Isaak. Isaak is Nana's great-grandfather. Joseph has a daughter Francza, which is the name of Cyndi's great-great-great-grandmother. Cyndi is missing documentation of the parents of her Francza, but the DNA test showing us to be fifth cousins fits her being the daughter of Joseph.

In the course of going over this material, I found that Bob had given me additional information five years ago, which for some reason I never wrote down. That newer material indicates that there is documentation for Cyndi's Francza.

More Zelinkas

I then went back to JGFF, to see who else was interested in Zelinkas from Kotesova. There are five, aside from Cyndi and me - four of those with online contact information.

I contacted those four and received alot of information from them, bringing their families down to the present.

Sometimes, something comes up that pushes everything aside and last week, the Zelinkas was just that. I entered over three hundred new people and I am not yet finished. The older Zelinkas had more sons than daughters, so the name (including variations such as Selinka) appears very often. As I write this, I have recorded 329 descendants of Leopold Zelinka and 162 spouses. There are also twenty-four who are probably descendants, but we are not sure how.  

One hundred twenty were born with the name Zelinka and another seventeen Selinka, so that surname is now nipping at the heels of Gordon as the second most common name in my database.

As I say, there is more I have not yet entered, so consider this an introduction. There will be more in a few weeks.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Housekeeping announcements:

I am scheduled to speak for the Israel Genealogical Society on 19 December at Bet Frankfurter in Jerusalem on:
I am also speaking 20 December in Raanana and 9 January in Haifa. The topic will be:

 All three talks will be in Hebrew. Check times and addresses at

1 comment:

  1. Very very cool. Just want to add though that Frances/Francza is my great great grandmother (not triple great). Looking forward to learning more about our family!