Is finding my paternal GF (grandfather) really out of the question?

+8 votes

My father was my parent who had Jewish ancestry but kept it secret from everyone except his wife, my mother. By the time I was in high school the prejudices against Jews had simmered down somewhat. I was interested to know (my mother had suggested this, his family detail, to me), but because I had no prejudices (they didn't implant them in me when most families seem to do so at that time), so my response was on the order of "That's interesting."

Of course, my father, born in 1907, got the prejudice full blast, by playing ball with the boys in the streets and in Connecticut’s schools, so I think that my parents tried to shelter me, c. 1954-7, my high school years. 

I now know nothing about my own Jewish heritage because my unknown GF had no name on the records (likely his family's idea in his parents' generation or his idea in his generation). I’d really love to know my family lines on Dad’s side of the family. But I've been told that it was dead-ended way back then. Sorry to say.

I don't know if my Unknown GF can be found. He mated with my grandmother Anna, a German girl then about 15 yrs old and living, very likely, in Germany (she moved to Connecticut, USA, while still in her teens). Her name was Anna Eliz/sabeth Berg, and my tree is HILSE-40. So if anyone can help me find an inroad to his life with such slim evidence, please tell me.  

(I'm presently starting to make a list of what others have done to research their very similar problems.)

WikiTree profile: Anonymous Burnett
in Genealogy Help by Anonymous Burnett G2G6 Mach 2 (27.6k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
I found out we lost a heritage too, sad, but they did what they did for survival

5 Answers

+6 votes
It won't be easy to find your grandfather's identity, but probably not impossible.  You've already done the DNA tests and associated your known family tree, and that's a good start.  If you haven't already done so, upload your DNA test results a GEDCOM to other test sites.  FamilytreeDNA and MyHeritage both allow you to upload results from au tests done with Ancestry to their sites and view matches fro free.  MyHeritage seems to be more popular than Ancestry in Europe, and it also has a larger Jewish population due to being an Israeli company.

To give you some hope, I was able to discover the identity of my paternal grandfather's father by searching old newspapers for my grandfather's mother's name.  It had been a deep family secret for many years; one my grandfather took to his grave.  Recently I've gotten some DNA matches on both Ancestry and MyHeritage that add another level of support to the information I got from the old newspapers and from population registers for the city where my grandfather was born.

Was your father born in the USA or in Germany?  Do you know whether or not your grandmother was pregnant when she emmigrated from Germany?  Do you know what town her family came from?
by Erik Oosterwal G2G6 Mach 4 (49.6k points)
+4 votes
I would like to add to the DNA suggestion. Do you have any male relatives on that side of your family (direct descendants of your grandfather and father) who would take the Y-DNA test? If so, it needs to be at least a Y-67. FamilyTreeDNA is the only one doing the Y test at this time.

The best of luck to you. Amazing discoveries are happening with DNA and some deep research.
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (720k points)
+3 votes
As Virgina suggests, a Y-DNA test by a direct male descendant would be very helpful. You may have to test with multiple testing companies in order to get enough chances to match. As Erik said, MyHeritage is stronger in Europe. LivingDNA is another Europe based company.

It also requires some patience since the possible matches need to also test.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (425k points)
+3 votes
My great-aunt was born in 1908 and we weren't allowed to mention that she was Jewish. I though, like your situation, that it had something to do with prejudice. I found this very confusing as a child since my family was not at all prejudiced, quite the opposite. I happened across a handwritten genealogy of her family in a local collection. I discovered that my aunt had lost a number of close relatives in the Holocaust, so I think that was what we were not supposed to remind her of. Duh. My point is perhaps where you grandmother lived in Connecticut could have some sort of resource that is not on-line. You could also try contacting an Historical Society where she lived.
by Lucy Selvaggio-Diaz G2G6 Pilot (544k points)
+2 votes

Findmypast any help?

Ralph Hilse Head Married Male 32 1908 Connecticut

Bernice Hilse Wife Married Female 30 1910 Texas

Roberta Hilse Daughter Single Female 0 1940 California


Last name Hilse

Relationship Head

Marital Status Married

Gender Male

Age 32

Birth year 1908

Birth place Connecticut

Ethnicity American

Race White

City/township Compton

County Los Angeles

State California

Previous residence date 1935

Previous residence city Hollywood

Previous residence county Los Angeles

NARA series T627

NARA roll 223

Record set Us Census 1940

Category Census, land & surveys

Subcategory Census

Collections from Americas, United States

by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)

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