Rising Out of Obscurity: Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection

Last summer I had the honor of speaking at Sunstone Symposium along with my research partner Marylee Mitchum. Our topic was on Sephardic Jews. I would like to share with you, dear friends, important information  with exciting new research that is currently being done in genealogy and Sephardic Studies. In the upcoming weeks, I will reveal the information we shared at Sunstone. I will teach you the knowledge to search for and possible locate hidden Sephardic Jews in your heritage. Lets get started.

Maybe you are a proud descendant of Mormon pioneers, confident in your knowledge of your Western European heritage.  Perhaps unknown to you, is that you may also have Hebrew ancestors hidden your linage.

Two years ago my husband and I decided to get DNA test to determine our ethnicity. We used a DNA company, called DNA Tribes, which analyzed ones DNA to determine ancestry for the last five hundred years. The DNA testing showed probability of ancestral origins only in stationary populations. When our DNA test results came back, we were confused, as Mayflower Pilgrim descendants, we expected to see traces of  Native American and African mixed with a lot of Western European.

On my husband’s test he is predominantly India/Indian with African, Western European, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern.


I am predominantly Eastern European and North African with Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Western European. On another page (not shown)  revealed Mestizo ancestry; meaning European, African and Native American mix.

Later we had my parents DNA tested also by DNA Tribes, their results were close enough to validate my DNA test.


Our results were vastly different than what either of us had been led to believe. Both of us were descendants of Mormon pioneers on every familial line.  His ancestors first joined the church in 1831 and the last ones arrived in Idaho in the 1880’s. Our combined line joined in 1831. My ancestors joined the church in the 1830’s and were in Utah in the early 1860’s. On paper my husband was British, Swiss and German. I was British, Danish and French. We thought ourselves to be the typical Western European Mormon pioneer stock. Here are the surnames of our ancestors who joined the LDS church. When they joined the LDS church and immigrated to Utah; where they were when they joined. If our convert ancestors were North Americans, what country their line came from. I believe that we must have thousands of cousins in the Mormon churches i.e. LDS, FLDS, Community of Christ etc…. Perhaps if you look closely you will see your ancestors as well.

Joanna’s lines

Allen 1840’s Hillsdale, Michigan England

Simmons 1850’s Carthage, Illinois France/England

Vail 1830’s Clark, Indiana England

Hood 1860’s Carthage, Illinois Netherlands

Clegg 1840’s  Preston, England

Hall 1840’s Yorkshire, England

Hendry 1860’s Durham, England

Savage 1850’s Derby, England

Stewart 1860’s Durham, England

Lewis 1850’s Cardiff, Wales

Mc Coard 1860’s Edinburgh, Scotland

Murdoch 1850’s Aryshire, Scotland

Steele 1860’s Aryshire, Scotland

Pedersdatter 1860’s Fyn, Denmark

Marriager 1860’s Copenhagen, Denmark

Peterson 1860’s Copenhagen, Denmark

Jensen 1860’s Praesto, Denmark

Olsen 1860’s Aalborg, Denmark

Hansen 1850’s Fyn, Denmark


Benson 1830’s Clark, Indiana England

Messenger 1830’s Clark, Indiana England

Mike’s LINES

Cummings 1840’s Cayuga, New York England

Bybee 1840’s Washington, Kentucky England

Lane/Layne 1840’s Washington, Kentucky England

Dann 1870’s Allegan, Michigan England

Harris 1870’s Allegan, Michigan England

Barney 1840’s Sangamon, Illinois England

Coltrin 1830’s Kirtland, Ohio Scotland

Young 1830’s Ontario, Canada unknown

Penrod 1830’s Union, Illinois unknown

Smith 1830’s Ontario Canada unknown

Tope 1830’s Union Illinois                unknown

Heckman 1840’s Montgomery, Pennsylvania Germany

Winegar 1840’s Cayuga, New York Germany

Kunz 1860’s Bern,           Switzerland

Karlen 1880’s Bern,      Switzerland

Knutti 1860’s Bern,       Switzerland

Fewkes 1860’s Stafford,             England

Clark 1860’s Warwickshire,     England

Robinson 1840’s Durham, England

Hopkins 1860’s Warwickshire, England

If you, dear reader, think that we might be your cousin please feel free to email me at: jabensonatmillennialstardotorg

PS  A big thank you to Ringo who fixed my technical difficulties.

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About JA Benson

Joanna entered the world as a BYU baby. Continuing family tradition, she graduated BYU with a degree in Elementary Education and taught for several years. Growing up in Salt Lake County, her favorite childhood hobbies were visiting cemeteries and eavesdropping on adult conversations. Her ancestral DNA is multi-ethnic and she is Mormon pioneer stock on every familial line. Joanna resides in the Southeastern USA with her five children ranging in age from 8 to 24. Her husband passed away in 2009. She is an avid reader and a student of history. Her current intellectual obsession is Sephardic Jewish history, influence and genealogy. She served as a board member for her local chapter of Families with Children from China. She is the author of “DNA Mormons?” Summer Sunstone 2007 http://www.bycommonconsent.com/2007/04/dna-mormons/ and “Becoming Hong Mei`s Mother” in the Winter Sunstone 2009 http://theredbrickstore.com/sunstone/becoming-hong-meis-mother/.

45 thoughts on “Rising Out of Obscurity: Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection

  1. JA, very interesting. There are many things I don’t understand about these DNA tests. First, how do they have an appropriate sample to know what exactly a Polish tribe’s DNA looks like? Second, the Polish tribe didn’t sprout organically from there — they came from somewhere else at some point, so when exactly did they determine that you came from a Polish tribe? Is it 800 years ago, 1,000? 1500? And if you think about it, it would be nice to know where that tribe came from also.

    Regarding my first question, what if the Polish tribe’s DNA sample is off — it’s possible that the sample could be all wrong. In which case your Polish tribe could in fact by a British tribe for all you know.

    My impression is the science of DNA sampling is pretty crude and prone to huge errors.

    Having said all that, it’s certainly interesting to see all of the different mixtures in your lines. I have a theory, completely unscientific just personal conjecture, that the 10 tribes completely mixed in with Europeans and that all of us have a bit of the 10 tribes in us. In addition, my personal feeling is that all of these efforts to make Jews of 2000 years ago look like Jews and Arabs today in the movies is a waste of time because we have no real idea what Jews of 2000 years ago looked like. More likely than not, they did not have the appearance of today’s Jews.

  2. Geoff- My DNA test shows stationary populations for only the last 500 years.

    Interesting thing about Podlasie Poland is that it is located on the far North eastern side of the country. Polasie’s population has a admixture of Turk, Polish, and Tartar DNA. Lodz Poland had the highest concentration of Jews in all of Europe (before WWII). Both Lodz and Podlasie are located in the Pale. The Pale was were most of Europe’s Jews were located.

    My deep roots show Finno Ungarian, North Western European, Mestizo, Asia Minor, Mongolian, and North African. My DNA test, along with my parents and husband, is only one clue to my true heritage.

    I believe that most of us are admixture of more than one tribe. Joseph Fielding Smith believed this also. We are starting to get ahead of ourselves.

  3. Brian, our DNA tests changed my life. I will never look at others who are not Western European the same way for they are all my dear cousins. Between my DNA, Mike’s DNA and Hong Mei (we are waiting to do hers when she is old enough to put up with the swabbing) we are the world. Also it led me to be diagnosied and treated for my autoimmune disease.

    There are several companies out there the big ones are Family Tree DNA, Ancestry.com, and DNA Tribes. We went with DNA Tribes (http://www.dnatribes.com/) only because they were the cheapest, and easiest for me to understand at the time. Someday I want to go back and do Family Tree as they are collecting databases of families and will allow you to connect up with individuals with the same DNA family. Here is a price comparison chart by DNA Tribes:


  4. JA, I’ve also had my DNA tested by DNA Tribes. My story is much like yours. I thought I was predominantly, if not completely, Western European. All my genealogy lines were English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, and a bit of French. One line, on my father’s side, came from England to the colonies in the 1600’s. I was positive my DNA testing would reflect that heritage.

    Much to my surprise, my primary geographical affiliation was North African, with Arabian and Mediterranean in distant second and third places. I am still trying to figure out what all this means; and truthfully, have not spent as much time as I could or will have to in order to understand more. I’m looking forward to the rest of your series. You are motivating me to begin the journey.

  5. While my Mom is Japanese (from Japan), my Dad has one Italian grandparent and three Swedish ones. And family history shows that the earliest recorded ancestor on the direct line of fathers (about 1650) is a man with a Jewish name, Englander, that is predominantly from Eastern Europe.

    A recent news report of DNA surveys in Spain found that, despite the expulsion in 1492 of Sephardic Jews unwilling to convert to Christianity, some 25% of men in Spain have Y-chromosome genes associated with distinctly Jewish populations.

    Another study found that modern Lebanese preserve Phoenician genes.

    My guess is that a genetic analysis of modern Palestinians would find many who carry Jewish genes as descendants of the earlier inhabitants who converted to Christianity and then Islam.

    My supervisor at work is named Bensussen, meaning one of his ancestors was from Susa, the ancient capital of Persia, sometime after the Babylonian Exile. They were kicked out of Spain in 1492, and moved to Turkey, eventually finding their way to the US. Their name and family traditions have preserved that remarkable journey for their modern descendants.

  6. Thanks Raymond for stopping by. There were many Converso Sephardic Jews who stayed in Spain after 1492. They are divided into two groups true Converso (really converted to Christianity) and Crypto-Jews (who only pretended). In both cases they usually married other Cryptos or Conversos. These descendants were called New Christians. THe Old Christians often discriminated against the New Christians up until the 1800’s or so. THis is why 500-plus years later the Jewish DNA is so high.

    Also it is interesting to note, many believe as much as 40% of Puerto Rico is Sephardic Jewish descent from Converso/Crypto Jews who fled the Inquisition.

    I agree the Palestinians are very close cousins to the Jews. Were they the Samaritans? Seems like I heard that from somewhere. It is sad, the animosity they have to one another.

    Very interesting about your supervisor. Is he still a practicing Jew? His story I believe is similar to my DNA. I have one line that has been documented coming from ancient Babylonian. Bensussen could be what is now our Benson. Ben is hebrew for son and there are a lot of Jewish Ben names. The Sephardic Jews and Muslims had last names way before the rest of Europe. Our (yep, married my cousin) earliest known Benson was John b. 1582 in England. His son, also John, migrated to America shortly after the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth, Mass.

  7. hello my name is linda I had recentley did an dna ancestrial test showing alot of polish an czech and of course spain and germany and others I believe i will find some jews in my family Im going to do a jewish dna test cant wait to see results also my aunt did a dna test it showed sephardic jew

  8. Hi Linda,
    Thanks for stopping by. It is nice to meet a fellow traveler on the journey to discovering our true ethnic identity (s)! Don’t worry if you do not show Jewish (neat about your aunt). You do not inherit all of your ancestors. The Jews, especially the Sephardi, do not always show up.The same is true for Native American. Hang on thru my series.I will give other clues on how to find your ancestral Sephardi. Parts 2 and 3 are now available. Just click on JA Benson and it will show you my list.

    Also where in Poland? My Germany is Hamburg (big Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities there). My parents both showed from North and South Spain and Portugal. I showed neither.

  9. Pingback: » Part VIII Sephardic Jews and the LDS Connection: What the Heck is a Melungeon? The Millennial Star

  10. Thanks for an interesting series.

    Would you kindly post links to all the articles in each article? I’ve had a hard time locating all the articles in the series.


  11. Thank you Tracy for stopping by to comment. Here are the links:

    Our pioneer names and DNA. THe rest of the posts explain how this happened
    part 1- https://www.millennialstar.org/rising-out-of-obscurity-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection/

    What happened in Spain
    part 2- https://www.millennialstar.org/part-ii-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-a-history-of-the-sephardim-in-spain/

    Some went to Turkey
    part 3- https://www.millennialstar.org/ew/

    Some went to Western Europe
    part 4- https://www.millennialstar.org/part-iv-lds-and-the-sephardic-connection-western-europe/

    Sephardic Influences
    part 5- https://www.millennialstar.org/part-v-lds-and-the-sephardic-connection-seeding-the-protestant-reformation/

    England and Spain were at war. The Western Europe Converso and Crypto Jews fled even farther west in fear of Spain
    part 6- https://www.millennialstar.org/part-vi-lds-and-the-sephardic-connection-braving-the-new-world-the-lost-colony-of-roanoke/
    part 7- https://www.millennialstar.org/part-vii-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-the-first-thanksgiving-or-sukkoth-in-america/

    Some Sephardic Jews were part of the tri-isolate communities in America
    part 8- https://www.millennialstar.org/part-viii-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-what-the-heck-is-a-melungeon/

    Sephardic descendants preferred to be out on the wilderness
    part 9- https://www.millennialstar.org/part-ix-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-the-great-melungeon-migration/

    Sephardim altered or adapted their surnames, but often kept a few Sephardic given names
    part 10- https://www.millennialstar.org/part-x-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-sephardic-names-and-what-to-look-for/

    Sephardic Jews had unique illnesses:

    Evidence of Orson Hyde’s Jewish ancestry using the Hirschman model

    We are all gathered

  12. Interesting. I saw this article posted on my Yahoo Group, Sephardic Forum. It makes the quote (originally from Leviticus 19: 17- 18)
    קדשים תהיו כי קדוש אני יהוה אלהיכם לא תקלל חרש ולפני עור לא תתן מכשל לא תעשו עול במשפט לא תשא פני דל ולא תהדר פני גדול בצדק תשפט עמיתך לא תלך רכיל בעמיך לא תעמד על דם רעך לא תשנא את אחיך בלבבך ואהבת לרעך כמוך אני יהוה
    “You shall be holy for I, the LORD (YHVH), your God am holy. You shall not insult the deaf, or put a stumbling block before the blind. You shall not render an unjust decision; do not be partial to the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. Do not stand by doing nothing while your neighbor is being injured. You shall not hate your brother in your heart. Love your neighbor so you can love yourself; I AM the LORD (YHVH)!” to be viewed in a different light. As the question was posed to the Rabbi from Nazareth; “Who is my neighbor?” The answer could well be the illegal immigrant trying to feed his family back in the mountains of Guatemala, as well as the Caucasian Mormon fellow living in the house next door to you. So important was the answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” that Rabbi’s Hillel, Akiba and Yeshua all said that if you keep this commandment, you have kept all of the 613 commandments in the Torah.

  13. Rabbi Steinberg-Caudill- Thank you for your wise words and sharing with us holy scripture. I know of you and I am honored that you have taken the time to comment. You are a peacemaker and a wise spiritual leader.

    Along the same vein, this post was written shortly after we had our DNA test results, but had not figured out our Sephardic connections.

  14. Hello hello,
    I hope you bear with me through this, I think you’ll find it interesting. I too have been exploring my mother’s Sephardic heritage (which is how I stumbled upon your site, googling “Shepherd (and) sephardic” ). Part of her heritage comes from North Carolina where the surname Shepherd has appeared as a common regional Melungeon surname. When I searched around a bit more I encountered the Sizemore family which appears to have contentious views among family members on their origins (English vs. Portuguese Jewish vs. Cherokee) as shown here: http://members.boardhost.com/magoffin/msg/1141061520.html
    At the bottom it is stated the a women named Agnes Shepherd of reputed Cherokee origin had married into the Sizemore family. It is reported that “Shepherd” was merely contrived from “Sepharad,” the Hebrew name for Iberia. I found this interesting though lofty as no website documenting Sephardic surnames (and there are quite a few) list Sepharad as a surname. However, Facebook (believe it or not it is a good tool on the reality of names and naming) does show that perhaps there are people with that surname and variations. Yet again, Yad Vashem name database of Holocaust victims, which is no doubt the most comprehensive list of Jewish families and names of European origin, does not list Sepharad as a surname.. though the variations Sayfert, Seifert, and Sfard are listed. Nevertheless, among this Sizemore discussion was a list of English colonists that arrived in Barbados in the 1600s and owned more than 10 acres of property. When in one of the postings of a subsection of the list I found “Shepherd” I became quite interested. I found the full comprehensive list here: http://www.candoo.com/genresources/1638barbadoslist.txt
    Among it I found Sizemore, Shepherd,as well as Saltonstall. The name Saltonstall only became interesting after I found in the book The Grandees: America’s Sephardic Elite the story of a man named Rezin Shepherd who developed a unique relationship with Judah Touro (the famous patriarchal figure of Newport fame). A few lines later, Shepherd is mentioned as the grandfather of a mayor of Boston by the surname Saltonstall (at this point the Saltonstall family is a famous colonial ‘Boston Brahmin’ family).
    The fact that Saltonstall, Shepherd, and I suppose Sizemore maintained some sort of a relationship (intentional? coincidental? who knows) two centuries after their listing in Barbados is quite quite curious.
    NOW, where this becomes relevant to you and your work here… the name Benson can also be found on the list of people in Barbados.. I hope this is a great new discovery of interest for you! 🙂
    Perhaps you can make more of all this information? I have not done the amount of firm testing that you have done, just some lucky googling. If you could provide any more puzzle pieces to this inquiry I would greatly appreciate it.
    Take care.

  15. Hey Kalman,
    thanks for stopping by to to share your journey. Very interesting information. I have read about the Sizemores and the Shepards. I suspect the Sizemores are (E) All of the above. Shepards are certainly suspicious. I suspect a name change as you are right they do not show up on the official Sephardic lists. I believe Hirschman does include them on her lists. I loved The Grandees: America’s Sephardic Elite. Fascinating non-fiction. A great source of information is a Sephardic genealogy group on Yahoo moderated by Harry Stein. You might find some answers there.

    Our Benson ancestors came to Colonial America shortly after the Pilgrims, but were not Separatists. Our Barber ancestors, who intermarried with the Bensons, are interesting as they traveled back and forth to Barbados “conducting business”. What this business is I have yet to ascertain.

  16. Hi.

    As a Sephardim myself, My “Irish” husband and I have done lots of research into lost tribe(of Israel) migration. Your DNA seems to support first the exile (being kicked out) to outer parts of middle east (not in Israel) and then up through turkey, mediteranean region, and on into northern Europe. PLaces like Galatia, golithia, Galle, Gales (wales), Gaelic, may have all come from the “gal”ations, or northern tribes of israel. They left a clutural trail and lots of clues as to who they were and where they were from. It does support the theory that many Northern “Europeans” who later immigrated to US were of the lost tribes of Israel. Not “Jewish” but of Hebrew Descent. The Tribe of Judah, now commonly know as Jews (Jewish) only comprises a portion of the tribes. In general the masses of the Lost tribes from “Israel” have yet to return from their exile. A deep study of the hebrew scriptures and prohpecies really outlines it in an amazing way, including Elohim’s plan to bring them back from their exile. This is a possibly natural and a spiritual promise. Happy to chat more if you have any interest, or perhaps you already know thses things. blessings.

  17. Aline-What an honor to have a Sephardic Jew visit my post. Thanks for stopping by to comment. THis was the first of a 13 part series. My parents showed for Spain and Portugal. This DNA test shows for the last 500 years, so my DNA had fallen off the radar so to speak. I also have other evidences for Sephardic Jewish ancestry see:

    Have you seen the DVD from Simcha Jocobovici “Quest for the Lost Tribes” Fascinating piece of work. You can also find it on You Tube

  18. I would seriously consider asking to be retested. I’d bet my house your samples were swapped with someone else’s. That or DNA Tribes algorithm is positively abysmal.

    If you know you’re genealogy – and it’s English / Danish, etc – you should not get results like these. There are far too many ancestors in your genealogy of known origins to load so highly on India (and not Europe).

    Tell DNA Tribes the results and ask to be retested. The Sephardic Jew connection is probably wishful thinking (I would love the finding too!)

  19. HI Jack- Thanks for stopping by to comment.

    No, I think DNA TRIBES are right. THis is the first post of a 13 part series. Scroll up the comments and you will find links to the rest of the series.

    I had both my parents tested and they lined up right with my test, plus Spain and Portugal. As for my husband’s line, I found KOHLI (common Indian name), MANI ZAGLI (Mediterranean names) and WASSEM ( MIddle Eastern name) in his Swiss line. Also I was later diagnosed with FMF ( Familial Mediterranean Fever) with my set of symptoms being typically North African Sephardic. Two of my children have also been diagnosed with FMF, so my husband had to have the gene to this illness as well. See: https://www.millennialstar.org/family-history-can-save-your-life/

    Using the Hirschman Model I have also found names in our family history. See: https://www.millennialstar.org/part-x-sephardic-jews-and-the-lds-connection-sephardic-names-and-what-to-look-for/

  20. Having in youth been mistaken for being Hispanic or Jewish, despite descent from German Lutherans, I finally thought about having my DNA tested. I first went with Genebase, and then familytreedna. Both results were indentical. It turned out our Schroeder line was in haplogroup E, the second largest founding lineage for Jewish males. This seemed to confirm family rumors on my dad’s side. Out of 25 entries, on the Schroeder surname project, only two others were in haplogroup E, one with the name Schrader, the other Cooley. Neither was close to my marker sequence. However, three individuals tracing their ancestry to Spain, were among my closest matches 37-2, 25-0, and 25-1. One of these had a tradition of circumcision in his family. Yesterday another closest match came up at familytreedna, with the surname Johnson at 37-2. I already matched another Johnson at 37-3, and believe he is of Melungeon descent. In summary, it appears all of us who match closely have a Sephardic origin, which one of my (now two) closest matches (37-2), and myself, are researching.

    Dave Schroeder

  21. The surnames of the 37-2, 25-0, 25-1 matches were Cordes, Ruiz, and Lopez. The last one had the family practice of circumcision. The first one has tentatively traced his origins to a de Cordova family that moved from the Catalonian region of Spain to the Provence region of France in 1493. The first match and myself have been researching our guaranteed common ancestry, since last fall. Recently I found that many of the given names of my German ancestors going back 300 years were Dutch, or Friesian, which reinforces our hypothesis that our families lived in the Netherlands, for a time, before moving on to the Neidersachen region of Germany.

    Dave Schroeder

  22. Extraordinary Dave. I am planning on getting the Family Tree DNA testing done in the future. I need better clues to know which line came from where. Kudos to you on your wonderful research.

  23. Hi Janet:

    Sorry for being tardy in replying. There’s a Lemon Family Project on the internet, where they give a nice description of the origins of the different haplogroups. They point out that as a “rule of thumb”, “R1b = Western Europe, R1a = Eastern Europe, I = Nordic, J2 = Semitic, E3b (now E1b) = Semitic, Q3 = Native American. Further down the page they give much more detailed descriptions of the haplogroups. Here’s the URL: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cherietree/LemonFamily/lemondnaprojecthome.htm#Haplogroup

    Dave Schroeder

  24. Thank you Dave for the informative website. Have you been able to trace your Sephardic ancestors as they migrated? If so, did they change their surnames?

  25. Hi Joanna:

    Sorry, I got your name wrong last time, thinking it was Janet. Neither I, nor my closest genetic match have been able to trace an unbroken family line back to the 1400s, or 1500s, to a Sephardic ancestor. We do know that there had to be name changes, as the five of us, who match genetically, quite closely, all have different surnames. My two closest genetic matches (36/37) have a 99.09% probability of a common ancestor in 20 generations, which jumps to 99.76% at 24 generations, according to FTDNA’s tables. They use 25 years a generation, so that puts the common ancestor, for those percentages, between 500 and 600 years ago – 1410 AD, and 1510 AD. Another match (Ruiz), (25/25), on the Sephardic name list, has probabilities of a common ancestor of 99.12% and 99.66% for 500 and 600 years ago. The last close match (Lopez) (24/25), also on the Sephardic name list, has 93.74% and 96.96% probability of a common ancestor for 500 and 600 years ago, respectively.

    Presently, my closest match and I, believe our ancestors migrated from Spain to France, and from France to the Netherlands, and finally on to Germany. We have 19 low resolution matches with Sephardic and Ashkenaz individuals, along with one Sephardic at 12/12. But common ancestry with these would be further back in time, but am not sure how to calculate it. The latter is only 91.41% probability of a common ancestor at 600 years ago.

    Dave Schroeder

  26. Dave,

    No worries. You were channeling my cousin Janet 🙂

    Bummer on not finding the original Spanish surnames. I am having the same problem. I was hoping you had the magic key on how to do it. My dad tested for Hamburg Germany. Hamburg was a Sephardic port at one time. I think one of my Sephardic lines migrated to Germany and then onto Denmark. The scant Jewish Danish history I have found, indicates the first Jews of Denmark were Sephardic and migrated to Denmark by way of Hamburg, Germany. My suspected Jewish Danes settled in Aalborg, Denmark ( which had an early Jewish community). Lots of clues, but no tangible leads.

    Please let us know of your future findings.


  27. Joanna, Will definitely post future findings. Right now our Schroeder patrilineal line only goes back to the birth of a gr-gr-gr-gr-grandfather in 1705; a Johann Schroeder. We don’t know anything about them before that. My closest genetic matche’s line goes back a little further – late 1600s.

    Dave Schroeder

  28. My daughter Valerie Fishler sent me your very interesting article. I thought to write to you about my own family. My forbearers were Sephardic Jews, living in Spain for over a thousand years. Their name was Fiz, FizLores, then Fizler and finally Fishler. They came out of Spain in the late 1780’s, ending up in the USA in the late 1880’s settling in Chicago, IL. They became New Christians, Baptizos, Crypto Jews, either in the 1391 pogrom, when 50,000 Jews were killed, over 50,000 forcebly baptized to become Catholic or when the edict given by Isabella and Ferdinand “allowed” the baptized Jews to stay in Spain. My forbearers were Marranos, Hidden Jews, while still in Spain. I am a Jewish/Mormon, active in the LDS Church. You need to read the book by Stein, if you are not aware of it, “The Half-Jewish Book.” As you may know there are tens of thousands of Marranos in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas,California. The two universities in those state are studying the subject, have tapes, etc.,etc. There are a number of books on the subject. Stan Fishler

  29. This is extremely interesting and frankly baffling as well. Would appear that the later English involvement in you history had no effect on the DNA, unless I am mistaken. It is difficult to understand how this is possible and encourages me to do the same and get DNA tested. Thanks for the post.

  30. Hi Paul,
    I think that my ancestors stayed in immigrant communities and did not mix with the native English peoples. Later in the series ( see comment # 12), I reveal Jewish clues that point to Sephardic Jewish ancestry. Thanks for stopping by to comment.

  31. Hi Paul:

    To have your Y-DNA tested, which is only carried by males, I would recommend http://www.familytree.com in Houston, Texas. They start at 12 markers, but go up to 111 markers in steps – 12, 25, 37, 67, and 111. This will establish what your Y-DNA haplogroup is. In general, Y haplogroup R1b predominates in western Europe, R1a in eastern Europe, I in Scandinavia, J (J1 and J2 subclades) in the Caucacus, Middle East, and Mediterranean, E1b in the Balkans, Mediterranean and Middle East. There are about 20 Y-DNA haplogroups, but I’m only mentioning the ones that are common in Europe and the nearby Middle East.

    For your autosomal DNA testing I would recommend http://www.23andme.com which I signed up with in December of last year. They test about 1 million SNP’s (single nucleotide polymorphisms), and provide a much more accurate assessment of your population affiliations. Before going with them, I went with DNAtribes, which only uses from 15 to 27 STR markers. However, they recently added an after market analysis using 23andme, and other companies, SNP data to get a second opinion on your population affiliations.

  32. Hi Paul:

    Forgot to mention that http://www.23andme.com autosomal analysis is 99 dollars, plus a mandatory 5 dollars a month, for 1 year, for updates. All the info on pricing is at their website. Yesterday they introduced an upgraded Relative Finder (RF) feature, which everybody on their blogs is raving about. It’s a huge improvement over their previous system. I have 437 relatives in my Relative Finder, many of whom I’ve contacted.

  33. Dave,

    The 23andme updates are now $9 per month.

    Where can I find the DNATribes after market analysis?

    FWIW, I like FamilyTreeDNA.com, where I’m involved in several projects.

    Also FWIW, I learned from a thread at 23andme that I have neanderthals in my line, who I now consider to be part of my pioneer ancestors.


  34. Hi David:

    I just went to the DNATribes site and found where the aftermarket analysis is for SNP data. Click on “Order”, on the menu bar at the top of the home page. When it comes up, scroll down to the bottom and in the yellow highlighted box (Other Orders), click on the third choice “For SNP genotype analysis, click here”. I filled out the Grandparents form to get the 50 dollar discount.

    I had forgotten that the monthly fee had risen to 9 dollars. I now remember it being mentioned on the blogs.

    I also have slightly above average Neanderthal. There is a thread at 23andme where people were comparing their scores. Average was 12, and I was 13. The highest was an individual who scored 19. He was the one who kindly ran the analysis on my autosomal data for the Neanderthal score.

  35. I find the posts and information here very interesting and helpful. I too am LDS but inactive at the time.
    My grandmothers family immigrated to California from the Azores in late 1880’s. Reviewing my family history I found that most of our names were on lists of Sephardi origin. As one dot connected to the other a member of our family had the Y line tested through Family Tree DNA. Haplogroup is certainly J2. My family originally came from Portugal then to the Azores. Not much mixture according to the DNA and what I know. As our results were studied there is most likely a Sephardic connection. I never expected this nor knew anything about the Portuguese Jews that were forced to convert nor the number. I grew up in the Portuguese culture here in California and never heard it mentioned. All very interesting. We plan to incorporate some of the Sephardi tradition.
    Thanks for all the info,links etc…

  36. Please stop trying to stir up trouble by insinuating that members of LDS pioneer ancestry have Sephardic heritage. The plain truth is, that they are from a European mix as most white folks are in the US. That European mix may include a tiny bit of Jewish ancestry, but not much. To say that they are part Sephardic is ridiculous. This article and all that you publish about it should be removed from the internet. I’m sorry to tell you, but you are just plain wrong about your speculations. My grandparents came here to the US from Rhodes, I am of Sephardic heritage. This whole conversation about people from the south are part Sephardic is complete nonsense and needs to stop. The whole word, “Melungeon” is made-up so the descendants of black people who had children with white people can “pass” as whites. Please leave the jews out of this far fetched conversation. My Separdic ancestry is just as white looking as casper the ghost. There are no olive skin people on all of my grandmother’s line, nor my grandfather’s line and they are 100% Sephardic from Rhodes just like their ancestors who left Spain and Portugal in 1492. Your far fetched speculation makes the LDS look like a bunch of we-will-believe-anything hicks. Please read the following article
    – Laura
    Active LDS member

  37. Laura,

    Your opinion about the post certainly isn’t my business and I am not versed on that particular subject matter.
    What I do take issue with is your “rant” I do not feel it is respectful to the author.
    Also are you stating that all Sephardi Jews are as white as Casper the ghost? I beg to differ and although the Spanish Sephardi Jews might be. I do not know as I am not Spanish. I can tell you that the Portuguese can be very olive complected. My grandmother was, my children all are. To the point that when in the sun they turn very dark. I know many many many many Portuguese. Many are olive skinned and my dad’s family is of Sephardic lineage.
    I think you might want to remove your comments as you request this posting we are all responding to, to be removed or corrected. Your comment about Portuguese being white as Casper is insulting to me personally and completely inaccurate. That is absurd!
    Also under your name you signed with “active LDS member” So what! That gives you no more validation then anyone else.
    I am sure I am mis-understanding your post and the angry spirit that it posses. Especially if you are as you say. “active lds”

  38. People on this forum who have had the 15, 21, or 27 STR marker test at DNA Tribes, may not be aware that DNA Tribes in the last year or two has been offering a 29,000 + SNP marker test. SNP is short for Single Nucleide Polymorphism. This is a much more accurate ancestry type test than the earlier STR test, which only uses a few dozen markers.

    The only hitch is you have to have your SNP markers tested by another company like familytreedna.com or 23andme.com, and others. Their tests come on sale occasionally. These companies also evaluate your ancestry based on SNP results.

    My results were solidly northwest European from the above two companies, who use up to 300,000 SNP markers, in agreement with my known ancestry. But, interestingly, with DNA Tribes a 25% Iberian component was identified. One of Dieneke’s Admixture utilities, at Gedmatch, also identified a sizable Southwest European component, so there might be something to it.

    Once you recieve your SNP results you can plug your data into the various utilities at Gedmatch, that analyze your overall genome, and also can ‘paint’ your individual chromosones for a more detailed analysis. I made a donation to them last year, and plan to send another donation this year soon as their server is being overloaded, and they will probably have to upgrade.

  39. The “Southwest European” component I alluded to above is actually called “Atlantic-Med” in Dieneke’s K12b utility, available at Gedmatch. So it apparently refers to populations along the Atlantic seaboard of Europe plus Mediterranean people. That would presumably also include the Iberian peninsula. I will have to look up the source populations used for this component. My Atlantic-Med was 38.10% of my genome.

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