This is NOT a test even if it looks and sounds like one!

As promised, here is a chart to illustrate one possible way that my mother Florence, Elaine and Frieda are all connected.

New PDF Chart showing relationships of Moses Joseph Bessie et al-page-001


There are a LOT of unknowns and assumptions here.

First, we are assuming that Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brot were first cousins, as family lore says.  If so, then one of Joseph’s parents was a sibling to one of Bessie’s parents.  On this chart, I am assuming that Joseph’s father Abraham was a sibling to Bessie’s mother Gittel Brot because I don’t think Abraham would have named a son Joseph if he had a living brother named Joseph.

Second, we are assuming based on DNA results that Joseph Brotman and Moses Brotman were brothers, making their children first cousins and their grandchildren, here Florence and Elaine, second cousins.  The DNA results seem to support that assumption.

Third, we are assuming that Florence and Frieda are also second cousins based on the DNA results, meaning that Gussie Brotman and Sabina Brod were first cousins, meaning that one of Gussie’s parents and one of Sabina’s parents were siblings.  Here, I am making the assumption that Bessie Brot, Gussie’s mother, was the sister of Sabina’s mother, but it could be that Bessie was Sabina’s father’s sister.  I don’t know whether Brod was a name Sabina got from her mother or her father because in Galicia in those times, the state often treated Jewish children as illegitimate if their parents had only a Jewish marriage ceremony and thus assigned the mother’s name to the children instead of the father’s.  So either is possible here.

So what does this all mean? Well, hold on because this is where it gets a bit slippery. Taking the above chart as true (which is still very speculative), it means that Elaine, Florence, and Frieda are all third cousins since they all have the same great-great-grandparents, i.e., whoever were the parents of Abraham Brotman and Gittel Brot.  (I don’t know whether Brotman and Brot were two versions of the same name or two completely different names in the family; both exist as surnames so they could be as unrelated as someone named Rosen is to someone named Rosenberg, for example.)

BUT Elaine and Florence are also second cousins (as well as third cousins) since they are the children of first cousins (Louis and Gussie) and the grandchildren of siblings (Moses and Joseph Brotman).  AND the same is true for Florence and Frieda: they are second cousins because they are the children of first cousins (Gussie and Sabina) and the grandchildren of siblings (Bessie and the parent of Sabina).


So my mother is a second cousin to both Elaine and Frieda (since her grandparents were first cousins), BUT Elaine and Frieda are not second cousins, only third cousins.  Their grandparents (Moses Brotman and Sabina’s parent) were not first cousins, just second cousins.

That is consistent with the DNA results which showed my mother as a second cousin to Elaine and also to Frieda but showed Elaine and Frieda as likely third to fifth cousins.

I have no idea whether that is a help or not.  In fact, I think I am more confused now than before.  Please tell me if that makes no sense.  Ask me questions.  Test my thinking.  Please.

And a big THANK YOU to my new cousin Phyllis for helping me sort through all of this!

19 thoughts on “This is NOT a test even if it looks and sounds like one!

  1. Now I see what you meant when you implied earlier that your head was spinning! I’m glad you made a chart. It’s much easier to understand these relationships when the visuals are included. I hope you eventually find out more.


    • Thanks! I am glad it is a little more clear. I am definitely a visual learner. Whether we will ever find any real records connecting our families seems rather unlikely, but I have not yet given up hope.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The chart certainly helps here. Visuals are always good for complicated connections. I will be looking forward to reading any updates on the family ties.


    • Well, this chart just shows the maternal side, but if you imagine that it was the other side, your father would also have a set of parents over him and so on. Or you could just switch the father/mother labels around and then Hymie and Sophie would be above Saul and Vicky. 🙂


  3. One thing to remember with autosomal DNA is that relationship predictions are that, just predictions. Also first cousins will not share that same amount of DNA with all their first cousins but a range. One first cousin could share 12.5% and another could share 6.0%.

    The confusing part comes in when you have people who are cousins on multiple lines. Their relationships will appear closer than they actually are because they are getting DNA from multiple shared connections. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even want to try determining relationships on my maternal grandmother’s line. She was old New England with gazillions of overlapping trees. She was also an only child so any connection will be back 100 at a minimum. 🙂


    • Thanks for these reminders. I am trying to remain somewhat grounded about all this and recognize that these tests are far from proof of anything. Ashkenazi Jews are a particularly tricky group, given how much families tended to marry other family members, as was the case with my great-grandparents. Or as I’ve seen with my Nusbaum ancestors, sisters and brothers tended to marry the brothers and sisters of their siblings or cousins. But without documentation, we have to grasp for something…

      Liked by 1 person

      • If you haven’t tried it already, I recommend the program Genome Mate. You can get a free copy from the website. You can use it to track chromosomes and shared segments of DNA. It is a good way to help to sort out how the different cousins might be related, instead of just theorizing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks—I’ve not heard of that one. I have uploaded to GEDmatch, but can’t figure out how to use it, and someone else recommended

        I think I’d need to get my potential cousins to upload to those sites also before they would be very helpful, and so far neither has.

        Thanks again!


      • Genome Mate is actually a program that you download to your computer. It’s way easier than making spreadsheets to keep track of all your matches. It will allow you to compare matches from all the companies FamilyTreeDNA, 23andme, Ancestry, and GEDmatch).


  4. Wow, I’m definitely behind because you talk of them in such a personal way I know their stories are not new to your blog. I need to read back a bit. 🙂

    I do wonder about this statement you made, “I don’t think Abraham would have named a son Joseph if he had a living brother named Joseph.”

    Can you explain your reasoning? That statement is exactly opposite my experience in my own areas of research. I primarily research Scottish, English and French Quebec records and in all three areas the names are all the same. The naming patterns and habits mean that everyone reused the same handful of names over and over. If I saw a name that wasn’t the name of a grandparent, parent, brother, uncle or cousin I would think it was wrong. I am so curious about your experiences as they are clearly different if you would draw the conclusion that you did.

    I’m looking forward to hearing more about your DNA adventures!

    Liked by 1 person

    • In terms of the naming, the tradition among Ashkenazi Jews, especially Eastern European Jews, is to name a child for someone who has died, often a grandparent or great-grandparent, and NOT to name a child for anyone living. That is, it would not be appropriate to name a child for a living parent or grandparent. (However, my father is a junior, but his family was German in background and did not adhere to these rules like my mother’s family has.)

      However, it could be that more than one member of a family was named for the same dead ancestor. For example, in my husband’s family, there were several first cousins all named for their deceased grandmother. In my family, several cousins were named for my great-grandmother. In other words there could be several Michaels in one family all named for one deceased ancestor.

      So it gets confusing—of course!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting. Naming patterns and traditions are so varied from one place and culture to the next. I love learning about them even if I don’t have family members from that particular place/culture because it helps me to think of more possibilities when I consider a research problem. Thank you for explaining. In my Scottish experience, when a child is named for someone they are typically given that person’s whole name which makes it easier to figure out who they are named for. For example I have an Ann Vickers Rankin who is named after her grandmother Ann Vickers. So Ann Vickers Rankin is first name Ann, middle name Vickers, surname Rankin. This naming tradition often provides great clues for me. I hope you figure it out!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have read about the Scottish naming traditions—perhaps on your blog as well as others. The patterns are much more established and clear than the Jewish ones! Remember also that Jews often use the Hebrew name, not the English name, to honor a deceased relative. For example, I am named for my great-grandmother Bessie whose Hebrew name was Pessel, as is mine. Bessie was the name she took on in the US. I do have Bess as a middle name, but it’s the Hebrew name that matters the most for many Jews. Sometimes the English name will have no connection or sometimes only a first initial. So it gets confusing!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I know…it’s really confusing. And I didn’t even try to start explaining (or understanding) the chromosome browsers and other tools that exist. I feel like such a dope!


  5. Pingback: Recommended Reads | Empty Branches on the Family Tree

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