Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hurray! I confirmed I'm a member of a persecuted minority!

The passenger list for the SS Vaderland which sailed out of Antwerp to the Port of New York in 1909.
My Grandfather Rudolph is 10 months old and is returning with his mother Maria and siblings from a trip to their Grandfather Kurta's house.

For years some family members have been in denial over possible Jewish origins. I was told by my Grandmother Kapple not to worry, she looked it up and we weren't Jewish (but she also told me to get married and get rid of the "Jewish" surname). I guess there is good reason to worry about possible Jewish ancestry considering still present anti Semitism, and centuries of persecution. I really have wanted to know for certain whether our family had been Jewish at some point despite the burden of having connections to a persecuted minority. 
My Aunts with my Grandfather Rudoph Kapple
My first step in trying to find our Kapple family ethnic roots was taken after reading the book 

My Sixteen: 

A Self-Help Guide to Locating Your Sixteen Great-Great Grandparents, by Robert W. Marlin . After reading that I got a clear idea of how to proceed with my research. Using Naturalization records for my Great-Grandparents I found out the name of the village they came from. Searching the Internet I found the Burgenland Austria, Burgenland Bunch, genealogy website. My ancestors' village was in the groups area of specialization. Their website gave helpful tips on researching in that area.  They pointed me to microfilm available through the LDS Family History Library. I ordered Catholic Church records and Jewish Records. I didn't find my family in the Jewish records like I expected. They did appear in Catholic Church records for 100 years. This really puzzled me. Many of the names I found in the Catholic Church records for Ronok Parish, where my family attended church, contained surnames associated Ashkenazi Jews. I figured that my family likely converted to Catholicism, and many of my collateral  families likely did too. 
So I was stuck for a dozen without any proof regarding the true ethnic origin of my family. I got involved with a DNA project for my Forgey family a couple years ago at Family Tree DNA (by the way, congrats on selling their 300,000 test kit today!). I hesitated testing my Kapple side because I was afraid the results might be inconclusive. A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and asked my cousin Darryl Kapple to test and he happily agreed. We just got the results yesterday and it's obvious the family does have Jewish origins (at least tracing strait down the Kapple male line). My cousin tested as Haplo group J2 M178. This is a fairly common Haplo group among the Jewish population (although some non Jewish groups in the Mediterranean also carry it). This along with other clues would point to a 99.9% probability of Jewish ancestry.
An as yet unanswered question is whether the family was Ashkenazi or Sephardic? My cousin had one match of Portuguese origin, another of Spainish origin, another of Italian origin, and the fourth was Swedish. These were all perfect matches at 12 markers. I will need to upgrade to find out if they remain close with more markers.
So at this point the 12% middle eastern in my Autosomal results looks like it's Jewish. I'm waiting for MtDNA results which will hopefully come back next week.
All of this is a very appropriate way to mark what would have been my late father Robert Kapple's 80th birthday today, July 20, 2013.

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