Category Archives: Genealogy

Genealogy… Why Are People Shocked When They Discover Jewish Ancestry?

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I got a kick out of the latest review for my book, Secret Genealogy II: The Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors. “I have WHAT?” was the title of the review. Here is the rest: “A recent DNA test for my husband found he had Jewish ancestors that he, nor anyone else in the family knew anything about. When I told him the results of the DNA test, he said, “I have WHAT, but HOW?” So that’s why we bought this book. It just arrived a few days ago, so we will use this book to try and see what we need to do to find his Jewish heritage.”

Why is Jewish ancestry so hard to believe? Probably because the family did not breathe a word of it. But what’s interesting is that although it was a secret, they continued with Jewish names for their children. Benjamin, Rachel, Abraham, Jacob and Deborah are all Old Testament Hebrew names. And if you look hard enough, you might find other clues to your true origins. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry and Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

What Kind of Jews Were My Ancestors? Iranian? Russian? Sephardic? Having Fun With Gedmatch

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You may have heard the news this year. They found the Golden State Killer and Gedmatch helped find him. Relatives of his, uploaded their DNA onto the site from their DNA testing company and law enforcement figured out who the killer was through familial DNA matches. Aside from the weirdness of even considering that one of your relatives might be a serial killer, the site is a lot of fun. It’s a little complicated at first, everything is so foreign, but you can get the hang of it. If I can do it, you can do it too. The admixture calculators are the easiest and there are lots and lots of world populations to explore by comparing your DNA. For instance, there are lots of entries for “Jews,” Iranian Jews, Sephardic Jews, etc. So far, everything I’ve done on the site has been free. I had to upload my raw data from the testing company I used, 23andMe. After I did that, Gedmatch gave me a “kit number” which is used like a password so you can compare your DNA with others or analyze a colorful pie chart of your various population groups. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes. Available here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078X5F7YP

Is Donald Trump Jewish?

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It’s an odd question to ask, “Is Donald Trump Jewish?” My son says, “Mom, you think everybody’s Jewish.” He’s right in the generality of it. Ever since I discovered that millions of Americans have hidden Jewish ancestry, I tend to look for it. It’s amazing that something so important was kept hidden. The Jews have always been proud of who they are, it was to ensure the safety of their families that Crypto-Jews hid their truths. And to receive equal rights. But they left many clues, right there, in plain sight.

First off, what’s a Crypto Jew? It’s someone who practices Judaism in secret while professing another religious faith. During the Inquisition, Jews were forced to convert to Christianity. Conversations on the ancestry message boards speak of the practice of Crypto-Jewish families sending their son or daughter to be a priest or nun in order to appear Christian.

So back to the original question. Why would I wonder if Donald Trump was Jewish? It was when I read his grandmother’s surname… Christ. I know, from my research on Crypto-Jews, that families would name their children religious names such as Jesus, Mary Magdalene, etc. to keep the authorities off their backs.

Donald Trump’s grandmother, Elisabeth Marie Christ was born in 1880 in Kallstadt, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. She’s buried in a Lutheran cemetery. It’s baffling to look for Jewish ancestry in what later became Nazi Germany. But remember that Germany was a place you could get to by taking a boat up the Rhine River from Amsterdam, where Jews fled to escape the Inquisition.

According to orthodox Judaism, Donald Trump’s mother would need to be Jewish in order for him to be officially Jewish. Elisabeth Christ was his grandmother, his father’s mother. So the answer is no, Donald Trump is not Jewish. But… the family might have an interesting time researching the Christ family lore. The truth could come as a surprise. Although they’re the “first family,” they wouldn’t be the first family to discover that their ancestors were Crypto-Jews. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

Genealogy and Middle Eastern Ancient History… What’s an Iberian?

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I’ve written a number of posts about the Iberian question. It’s an answer highly sought, especially now that DNA testing companies are telling people that they have Iberian ancestry. The problem with genealogy is that it’s not fixed, it’s fluid. So were the Iberians.

It was the ancient Greeks who gave the Iberians their name, due to the fact that they called the southwest peninsula of Europe, Iberia. The Romans called it Hispania. The Greeks probably called the people Iberians because they lived along the Ebro river. (Ebro is Latin for Iberus. Yes, the spelling is slightly different.) These Iberians are known to be the first to settle in southwest Europe.

Celtic Tribes entered the scene as invaders. As aggressive warriors are known to do, they take women. So there’s that DNA too. Today, we can look to the Basque people as the descendants of these two groups who intertwined. But then, we can go sideways and ask, what “ethnicities” made up a Celtic tribe?

If you’re not confused enough already, the geographical location of the country that today is called Georgia (north of Armenia/south of the Caucasus) was called Iberia too. These Iberians were the descendants of ancient Iranians. My research on Rh-negative blood type, reminds me that ancient Iranian Jews have a high percentage of Rh-negative as do the Basque (Iberians). So there’s that too. Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees, Secret Genealogy V– Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy VI – Freemasons, Jewish Conquistadors and the Holy Family, Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes, Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

Secret Genealogy IV:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500756105

Secret Genealogy V: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HJ622DU

Secret Genealogy VI: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY35VCP

Secret Genealogy VII:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078X5F7YP

Middle Eastern Roots: Matching Genealogical Research with Our DNA

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By now, Americans are getting a sense of  Middle Eastern politics after Colonial powers created new nations in the early 1900s. Plenty of Americans, including this one, were opposed to the desert wars and still are. For good reasons. As are many Europeans. Enough with Colonialism. The answer to whether the desert people wanted to be like Europeans is found in their resistance both yesterday and today. There are many cultures, many different languages and religions and they did not and still don’t mix it up. They stayed within their own communities and to a good extent, still do. Although the movie, “Queen of the Desert,” starring Nicole Kidman, was a Hollywood style movie, her portrayal of Gertrude Bell and her exploration of the Middle East, allowed the viewer to see a hint of the diversity that existed before the first world war. That diversity still exists. Western civilization’s roots are in the Middle East. Those of us who love genealogy are having fun matching our research with the findings of our DNA tests. Especially Gedmatch and their “calculators.” Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret Genealogy VII – DNA, Jumping Into the Gene Pool. A High Tech Gathering of the Tribes. Available here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078X5F7YP

Those Elusive Jewish Ancestors, Let the Iberian Truth Prevail

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Those of you who’ve read my books, know that I write about uncovering ancient Jewish ancestry. You’ve read about my researching my father-in-law’s Jewish ancestry and how I stumbled onto clues that my ancestors were also Jews. But I could not prove it. There were so many clues but nothing was concrete. Even though seeing their surname on a list of Jews asked to leave Spain during the Spanish Inquisition was more proof, it didn’t mean it was my ancestors. They could have shared the same name. But today, when I decided to look at my 23andMe composition chart and see what changes they’d made, I saw this:

“You most likely had a fourth-great-grandparent, fifth-great-grandparent, sixth-great-grandparent, or seventh-great- (or greater) grandparent who was 100% Spanish & Portuguese. This person was likely born between 1680 and 1770.”

The descendants of the former Jews of Spain and Portugal are called Sephardim. The DNA testing companies are getting better at finding not just Ashkenazic Jewish ancestry but Sephardic too. Finding Spanish & Portuguese ancestry does not prove 100% that my ancestors were Jews. But their surname, Bonte is on the list of Jews asked to leave Spain. Maybe the next time that I check, there will be more DNA discoveries. Keep digging away at those Iberian clues. Sooner or later, the truth will prevail.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

Genealogy… Jewish, Jewish, Jewish… and Our Christian Ancestors Never Knew?

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It wasn’t until I was researching Jewish genealogy for my father-in-law that I began to see a pattern in my matriarchal line. Never had I suspected that my Banta/Bonte ancestors were Jewish, there was never any reason to. We weren’t Jewish. It was never brought up. I should have suspected something. Growing up with only a Southern and Mid-Western identity, should have been a red flag. But when you’re sixteen, who cares? Except for the occasional What are we Mommy? so that I could chime in when my friends recited their ethnic backgrounds, it didn’t matter.

Once I was on the trail to uncover the truth about my ancient ancestry, I was pleased to see the surname Bonte on the list of Jews asked to leave Spain. Great lead. These same ancestors changed their surname to Jacobse and were known to use Jacobs. Jacobse, Jacobs and Jacobi are all Hebrew names. Even Epke, which my very ancient ancestor went by, I believe means Jacob. And the surname Leeuw was used as well. Leeuw and all its variations are Dutch for “Lion,” which is what medieval Jews were required to use when they signed documents. I was so astonished by these findings, I became obsessed with uncovering the truth behind many an American surname.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X