Kinsearching March 5, 2006




Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825


     On March 18, 2006, the Texas Czech Genealogical Society is hosting a research "library" and tours of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Ellinger and Fayetteville Brethren Church and St. John's Catholic Church in Fayetteville. Hundreds of genealogy books, the majority of which furnish help with Czech genealogy, will be available for research. A copy machine will also be provided. Guest speakers will conduct tours of the churches. Cost, which includes lunch, for the day's events will be $7.00 per person. Checks, payable to TCGS, should be mailed to Joann Tobias, 16211 Clay Road, Suite 106, PMB 402, Houston, TX 77084. They should be received before March 10. For more details call Joann at 713-817-4679.

     As the use of DNA testing becomes more widespread in establishing family connections, many people are finding "new" forebears in more ways than one. Claudia Kalb's article "In Our Blood," featured in the February 6, 2006 issue of Newsweek, explores the often surprising ancestral backgrounds individuals have uncovered. DNA testing on a Sanchez family in New Mexico, for example, shows that they have Jewish roots in addition to Hispanic ancestry.

     A detailed analysis of these Jewish elements is the topic of the new book, TO THE END OF THE EARTH: A HISTORY OF THE CRYPTO-JEWS OF NEW MEXICO by Stanley M. Hordes. His work gives an account of the economic, social, and religious lives of Crypto-Jews ("secret" Jews) both before and after the annexation of New Mexico as a state.

     In 1492 the Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella ordered Jews to convert to Catholicism or be expelled from the Iberian Peninsula. Some "converso" Jews outwardly converted but maintained their inner convictions. Many Sephardic (Spanish or Portuguese) Jews eventually immigrated to the New World where their descendants consequently married outside their ethnic group. For generations some Hispanics in New Mexico have conformed to Jewish traditions (such as lighting candles on Friday night and abstaining from eating pork), often without knowing why they observe them or their ethnic origin. These legacies derive from the "converso" community.

     Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the study by Hordes is medical. Compared to other ethnic groups, Jews have a higher incidence of the rare autoimmune skin disease "pemphigus vulgaris," which is characterized by blisters, resulting in pain, shedding of skin, and ensuing loss of protection against infection. Since most of New Mexico's patients suffering from the affliction are Hispanic, the question arises: Is their developing the disease due to Jewish genetic influence?

     Since the utilization of DNA testing will undoubtedly continue to increase, more examples of genetic connections like this may occur. This "angle" of family research will produce fascinating questions and answers for many genealogists.

     At the end of the nineteenth century, people in the United States had the Spanish-American War, which occurred in 1898, on their minds. In the twenty-first century probably the most famous person associated with that event is Teddy ROOSEVELT, who formed his Rough Riders in order to take part. People who lived during and immediately after that war, however, idealized other participants. An example is the man who reported the sinking of the American battleship in the Cuban harbor. The popular outcry "Remember the Maine!" eventually led to open conflict between the United States and Spain. The death notice "Suicide of a Maine Hero" can be found on page 3 of the 9 December 1899 (Volume 1, no. 13) issue of THE ARIZONA GRAPHIC, AN ILLUSTRATED JOURNAL OF LIFE IN ARIZONA, published in Phoenix by Paul HULL.

     "'Brave Bill' ANTHONY, the hero of the battleship Maine, committed suicide at the Presbyterian hospital, New York last week. He was the man who reported the tragedy of the Havana harbor to Captain SIGSBEE in the famous words:

     'Sir, I have the honor to report that the ship has been blown up and is sinking.'

     He had grown despondent even with all the attention which had been bestowed upon him. The nation had learned to regard him in the light of a hero, which he really was, and the self-inflicted violence that brought him to a suicide's grave was a severe blow to the people that idolized him."