Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewish Theories for Anderson Family Tree

The Anderson Family has talented people from both sides of the tree.


The Sephardic side, with Armando Ramirez as Gary Anderson's natural father, has had a professional musician, Columbia University grad,  a leader of a large labor union for nurses, and a professional chef. The goal is to find out more about that side in terms of DNA and history. One thing is certain from DNA testing. Gary Anderson had relatives who lived in North Africa as a smaller percentage of DNA, but a real and significant percentage. He also had relatives who lived in the Canary Islands. That is evident by some admixture tests at Gedmatch. 


The English side, with the Fentons and the Wrens, has an interesting history and a trace but certain DNA connection to Ashkenazi Jewish people. The Fentons were mostly English, and they lived mostly in the Northern part of England just south of Scotland. Gary Anderson's mother, Edna Fenton Mass, moved first to Canada and then to the Bay Area near San Francisco. Her mother was Maude Wren Fenton. The Wrens lived a long time in Miles End, London, England, which was an enclave for Jewish people and ultimately was where the Yiddish theater was founded in London. Miles End is now part of the East End of London. It is very possible that the Ashkenazi connection, established according to 23 and ME, in the 1700's, created relatives who were later involved in the Yiddish Theater. This is a possibility although there was a Yiddish Theater in Manchester, Lancashire, England, where the Fentons lived. It is not for religion that we seek to understand this connection, unless a reference be made to Romans chapter 11.

 As a third cousin of Gary Anderson from the UK said:

"Maybe a little insight into how we have Jewish connections:
Many Jews left their homes in Eastern Europe between 1881 and 1914, hoping for a better and safer life. Around 100,000 of these settled in London's East End, near the docks where they had arrived. The great majority worked in trades like tailoring and shoe making. Many of them spoke little English and often communicated in Yiddish – a mix of Hebrew and German which was commonly used by the Jewish community in Europe."

Now, we know that this immigration did not affect the AJ amounts that we have because it is too recent. But it is a known fact that there were two, possibly three synagogues in London and the German one was established in 1690 in London. It was located at Broad Court, Mitre Square, in Aldgate, which is easy to find on a map of London. It is 4 minutes by taxi from Aldgate to Miles End where Wrens lived for decades. Of course it took a bit longer to connect in those days, but it was still very close. It is quite possible that my Jewish grandfather went to that synagogue. And according to 23 and me estimates was 4th to 6th grandparent, fully Ashkenazi, and born between 1680 and 1780!


The reason this becomes important is because Gary Anderson has many relatives who are Ashkenazi Jewish with as much as 40 cM for one fellow. And these relatives live in New York City and some have a relationship to theater. This is not, in most cases, a relationship to theater that exists by accident. So, one day, perhaps, the link to the Gary Anderson Family Tree will be connected to some in New York City who are of 4th and 5th cousin distance. Ancestry DNA website shows 2 percent Ashkenazi and that may be shown to be on the low side. 


The Fentons had much talent, as far as can be known at this time, with one being a professional musician for the Los Angeles philharmonic orchestra. It is not known at this time what the Wrens did or what Maude Wren Fenton did in terms of work. 


The reason this story of Gary Anderson's heritage is being written down is because Gary Anderson was adopted and he did not have the confidence, nor did his offspring have the confidence of having a family of achievers being in their ancestral lines. This account is for the grandchildren and great grandchildren of Gary Anderson, as knowing what your forefathers accomplished, could change ones course of life and decision making about what one wants to do in life.


While the Anderson offspring are successful, they may have been more successful or had a different type of success, with more guidance in their decision making, had they known what their family members were capable of doing. That is so important and it does give an edge to those with strong family history. An example is one of Gary Anderson's children, who had a gift of acting and perhaps would have pursued that gift in the proper settings. Another of his children was gifted in music. He chose a successful path in cloud technology, but may have preferred to continue with his music more seriously.  


Music, writing, acting appear to run in the family. There are worse ways to make a living than to engage in those professions. At least the hope is that the family descendants will be given the opportunity to pursue what they choose to, knowing it has been done before by their ancestors. 

[This article was published on Ancestry.com.]

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