Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The DNA of My Kaplan Second Cousins

Alta Rosenbloom's husband Berl Kaplan
It's been about twenty months since my friend and colleague Galit Aviv found my Kaplan  cousins. I wrote about them a couple of times before that and several times after that, when I visited three of them in Columbus Ohio, Nuremberg Germany and Moscow. And when their DNA results came in.

My grandmother - who died when I was  eleven - never spoke of her older sister's family, but I learned something about them from Uncle Hymen, who had a 1920s photograph of his sister Alta and four children in Moscow. He did not know much about them and only knew the names of three of the four children, but he did say that Alta's husband was Berl Kaplan.

Uncle Hymen (standing) with Alta's family - 1914
When I actually made contact with the cousins, I learned that there were not four but six and they had a photograph of the whole family with Uncle Hymen just before he left for America in 1914 at age twenty. That would probably have been not long before they moved from Borisov to Moscow.

When I visited Moscow last year, I was able to visit Alta's grave and those of all six of her children. Her husband had been killed in some early Soviet-era purge, probably because as a shoemaker he represented some kind of capitalist counter-revolutionary. Whatever the case was, he was never spoken of and the family knew nothing about him.

Actually, they did know that his name was Bor/Boris, but that seems very unlikely both because Uncle Hyman was sure his name was Berl and because he had a son Boris, whom Uncle Hymen knew as Boruch Yosef.

One possible cousin of my Rosenblooms wrote on her passenger list that she was going to
her cousin "A Kaplowitz" in New York and I considered it a possibility that Kaplan had been changed from Kaplowitz, especially since I had a good DNA match with Adam Brown who has Kaplowitz ancestry from Borisov.

Some of our DNA matches are significantly stronger than I would have expected and it crossed my mind that we have another connection to the Kaplans, but I have not been able to turn anything up. As yet.

This is the general structure of my Rosenbloom family from Borisov. It is not meant to be comprehensive. It includes those who did DNA tests for our project (in yellow) and the six Kaplan children who lived to adulthood.
The one with six children who tested is my mother

Maria Kaplan
A few weeks ago, I received  an email from a woamn named Maria Kaplan in Smolensk, who having looked at her GEDmatch results and read parts of my blog and determined that she is likely related to my Rosenblooms.

I had a look at GEDmatch and saw that her best matches with my family are my three Kaplan second cousins. These numbers are large enough to take seriously. (Note that she has a small X-match with Lydia which cannot be from the Kaplans and is almost certainly from Alta Rosenbloom as Lydia's mother is not Jewish. But that is neither here nor there.)

Maria also has matches with two of my sisters and my second cousin Sam, but these are all less than 67 cM with no segment longer than 13 cM.

And speaking of endogamy, Maria matches all three of my Jaffe second cousins whose grandfather was also from Borisov.. The largest of these is 55 cM and the longest segment is 24 cM. And there are no shared segments.

The Kaplan matches include one on chromosome 18 where Maria matches all three of my Kaplans on overlapping segments two of which are in the 19-17 cM range. 

A second segment, on chromosome 22 has 31 cM with Liya and 21 cM with Inna.
Maria's Kaplan grandfather Abram (1906-1995) lived in Minsk and was a shoemaker - as was our Berl. Abram's grandfather Zelik lived in Dokshitzy. My feeling is that Maria's Zelik is a brother to the father of our Berl, but at least for now, that in unknowable. Maria's father lives in Smolensk and she will ask him to test. Once we have his results, I will take a deeper dive into the Kaplan family.

In the meantime, I have introduced Maria to a couple of my younger Kaplan cousins.

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