Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The Mitochondrial DNA of My (Other) Great-Grandmothers

Following my recent discussion of the near-extinction of the mitochondrial DNA (U1b1) of my mother's maternal great-grandmother Etta Bryna, let's have a look at my other great-grandmothers.

Chana Kugel, my mother's paternal grandmother,

One of my second cousins on that side did a MtDNA test, so we know that Chana's haplogroup is R0a4. There are sixty-four people who have a perfect MtDNA match

Chana had two sons, my grandfather and Uncle Frank, who (being male) did not pass on any MtDNA.

The younger of Chana's two daughters, Aunt Rose, had three daughters. The eldest had two sons and a daughter and the daughter had only two sons. Aunt Rose's middle daughter had a son (who has declined to talk to me, even though we have a DNA match on Ancestry) and a daughter I know nothing about. Aunt Rose's third daughter had two children but no grandchildren.

Chana's first born, Aunt Mary, had three daughters and a son. The eldest had two daughters and two sons and one of the daughters has no children. The other daughter had eight children, six of them girls. One has two daughters, each of whom has one daughter. Three others have one daughter each. Of those one has only sons, and two are not married, but one is engaged. So Aunt Mary eldest daughter has at least three descendants who may keep the mitochondrial DNA going.

Aunt Mary's middle daughter died at age 20, with no children.

Aunt Mary's youngest daughter had two daughters and each of those has a granddaughter from a daughter.

So we have at present five carriers of Chana's mitochondrial DNA through Aunt Mary and maybe one from Aunt Rose. We know that Chana herself had two or three brothers, but do not know of sisters. Her mother's maiden name is unknown.

Regina (Rivka) Bauer, my father's maternal grandmother

This great-grandmother had two daughters. One had one daughter who had two sons and a daughter - but the daughter has no children.

The other, my grandmother, had two sons and a daughter and the daughter had only sons. The daughter (my aunt) did an MtDNA test and the haplogroup is H10a1b. She has twenty-four perfect matches.

So Regina's mitochondrial DNA is gone. She had four sisters. One died at age thirty and married but we know nothing about children. I visited her grave in Hungary two years ago and it mentions the husband (in both Hungarian and Hebrew) but no mention of children, so I am guessing there weren't any.

Another sister lived in Pittsburgh. She had a daughter, but my grandmother , who knew her well, never mentioned her son but not that daughter, so I assume the daughter died young.

The other two were killed in the Holocaust in their sixties. We have no knowledge of children.

Regina's mother, Fani/Feige Stern, had two sisters that we know of. One had four sons. The other had two sons and five daughters. One of the daughters died at age five and we know nothing about the other four. Feige Stern's mother was a Grunwald and her mother was a Hercz.

So for all practical purposes, we assume that Regina's mitochondrial DNA is gone. Or at least not accessible.

Jutte Leah Kwoczka, my father's paternal grandmother

Nearly ten years ago, the son of my grandfather's middle sister did a MtDNA test for me. The haplogroup is V7a. He had no exact matches but there were thirty-odd one step away. It occured to me that perhaps there had been a personal mutation - he or his mother - so I asked the granddaughter of my grandfather's eldest sister to do the test as well. I was right. She matched all those others. There are now 128 exact matches.

Jutte Leah had ten children: three sons who died in infancy or childhood, three sons with descendants, one son with no descendants and three daughters. Aunt Becky (#5), Aunt Mary (#6) and Aunt Bessie (#8) all were married with children. Aunt Becky had a son and a daughter and the daughter had a daughter with no children. She is the one who did the MtDNA test for me. But the mitochondrial DNA goes no further.

Aunt Mary had a daughter and two sons. Until recently, we had though that the daughter had no children, but we have learned that she had a son who was adopted out. He has been positively identified but there was no one to pass on the MtDNA.

Aunt Bessie had two daughters and a son. One daughter had no children; the other had a son and a daughter and the daughter has only a son.

So none of Jutte Leah's descendants can pass on her mitochondrial DNA. Jutte Leah herself had three brothers but no sisters that we know of. her mother's maiden name is Pollak.

Does any of this matter? I don't really know.

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