A 'swab of spit’ reunites extended family after a century

The Pincus family had been separated through time and space, but thanks to DNA testing, they have finally found each other.

By
July 21, 2019 16:20
2 minute read.
Members of the Pincus family in Belarus prior to their immigration

Members of the Pincus family in Belarus prior to their immigration. (photo credit: COURTESY FACEBOOK)

For almost a century, two sides of the Pincus family had been separated by time and space.

Each side suspected that there were family members living in some far off place, but could never be sure of who they were or how to find them.
Recently, however, two members of the family living in the United States separately took DNA tests, which finally answered the burning questions regarding the long-lost other side of the Pincus family’s whereabouts.


The family was originally from the village of Puchavičy, Belarus, which experienced its fair share of pogroms against Jews. Some 900 Jews were living there by the 1920s, making up about 43% of the village’s population. 


Growing up in South African with her five siblings, Rebecca “Bex” Kroser had just one aunt and her immediate family, but her father Isaac Pincus had no other immediate family. 


Morris Pincus, Isaac’s father, moved with him to South Africa in 1914. But Morris moved to America in 1920, leaving Isaac behind as a young adult – he was 19 years old at the time. Morris stayed in South Africa from about 1914 to 1920.



Bex knew there may be some family in the US, but she didn’t know where they were or even what their names were.


Prior to this, two of Isaac’s siblings had immigrated to America with their aunt and uncle. And in 1923, four of Isaac’s siblings headed to the “New World” with their mother.


Now Richard Pincus knew his father Irving had a brother that his grandfather Morris had taken with him to South Africa, while his father remained in Belarus with his mother and other siblings. 


It was Irving and his three siblings who then headed to America with his mother in 1923.


Richard’s grandfather, Morris, came to America three years earlier, but his great-uncle remained in South Africa.


Over time, more aunts and uncles were born in America. Richard knew there was some contact between family members in South Africa and America during the 1930s, but then it stopped. 


For years, Richard and his cousins knew they had an uncle and cousins in South Africa but didn’t know how to find them.


Then late last year, Richard, living in Chicago, and Bex’s son Steve, now living in Pittsburgh, coincidentally took separate DNA tests, hoping to learn more about their ancestry. And this is how they found a match.


“I never imagined I would find my grandfather’s family,” said Steve in a statement. “It’s a dream come true. I immediately called my mother [Bex] and siblings [who now live] in Israel. It’s overwhelming.”


Bex and the rest of her children met one grandson of Isaac’s sister, who is also in Israel, and have spoken to Richard and other cousins living in America.


“I grew up without any cousins or aunts or uncles,” Bex said in a statement following the discovery. “It is overwhelming to suddenly discover an entire clan.


“I never thought this day would come,” she added.


Richard said he had grown up “with several aunts, uncles and cousins, but we also knew that my father had a brother and we had cousins that we couldn’t find. It’s amazing, even after all these years, that – thanks to a swab of spit – we could be reunited after so many years,” he stressed.


The Pincus family is planning a reunion in Silver Spring, Maryland, on August 4, where three generations of Pincus's – from Israel, Chicago, Minnesota and the Washington, DC-area – plan to meet.


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