Out of curiosity Lisa's sister took the test - and they turned out to be half sisters, with the same mother but different fathers. When Lisa confronted her mother with the results, she admitted having a brief affair with a man in the entertainment business in California about that time, who had changed his name to John Cronin. He was originally from New York, and also 20 years older than she was. With that, her mother let it be made known, The Subject Was Closed.
Lisa had already done a great deal of the work - in addition to 23andme, she also tested with FamilyTreeDNA and Ancestry, and uploaded her raw data to Gedmatch. But that's where her knowledge ran out, and I came into the picture - admittedly, because she was excited to find someone living in the same area. So was I - it's not often I get to meet my clients!
I first took a look at Lisa's 23andme results. Her ethnicity report was right on the money:
Her top paternal match was a man at the 2nd-3rd cousin level. From some judicious sleuthing, I found that he was a businessman living in Jerusalem. I contacted a colleague of mine in Israel, who supplied me with the man's phone number, and first names of his parents. Not much help there.
Using the "in common with" tool, I found 3 other matches who were (after some Facebook searching) probably a father, with his daughter and son. Using a variety of resources, I found that they were descendants of Saul Held, 1923-1999, who lived in Minneapolis. (Tip: Newspapers.com has an excellent collection of Minneapolis newspapers!) Lisa had another 4th cousin match who was a descendant of Maurice Zuckman, 1914-1998, who also lived in Minneapolis. It didn't take me long to find that these two families were connected. I used LucidChart (and Lisa's Ancestry family tree, which was private and unsearchable) to keep track of the relationships:
Sometimes the key word is "patience".
At the moment I keep track of 35 Ancestry DNA kits, and almost that many at FamilyTreeDNA. I'm not actively researching all of them, but it's nice to have them on hand to look at whenever I learn something new.
About a week ago, as I was watching (yet another) webinar on DNA, it occurred to me to check Lisa's Ancestry results again. And how about that - she had a predicted 1st-2nd cousin match, who did not match a known cousin on her mother's side. His name was Joseph. I found him immediately on Facebook, with a friends list a mile long, at least half of whom had Jewish names: Levine, Cohen, Feinstein, Rosenbaum, Kaufman, Moskowitz. His wife's maiden name was Jewish. After doing research in online newspapers, I found his paternal grandmother's obituary. There was only one problem.
She was Catholic.
There it was in black and white: "Funeral services will be held at 9:15 a.m. Sunday from the funeral home, followed by a 10 a.m. Mass at St. Stanislaus R.C. Church....."
In disbelief, I returned to Facebook and double-checked. By looking at several friends' pages and doing more online searching, I deduced Joseph's mother's name. From there I soon found an article about her parents' 50th wedding anniversary, and both their obituaries. They were Jewish, with the last name of Kronberg, which I thought was close enough to Cronin to start getting cautiously excited. (If there is such a thing!) It didn't take long (with 20 tabs open on my browser) for me to find an obituary for the matriarch, Mary Kronberg, which mentioned the children and grandchildren I already knew about, plus one other son: John. When I searched on Ancestry, in the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, there he was:
Of course, genealogy is never really finished.....
A key piece we are still missing is the maiden name (and parents' names) of the wife in the 50 year anniversary announcement. I have her Florida obituary, and I've sent for her death record. Another key piece is that Mary (Abramowitz) Kronberg had a Social Security number, and so I've sent for a copy of her original Social Security application. I'm hoping that these ancestors will tie in to her other matches, so that I can map out a (more or less) complete family tree.
Perhaps the greatest gift I gave Lisa is a newspaper photograph of her father: