Irish Catholics, De Havilland and Sephardic Jews
Dear Mr. Gates,
I love your show and hope someday to get to the bottom of my mother’s side of the family story, as you have exhibited so gracefully. My father’s side is pretty much delineated by my uncle, who has extensive research uploaded at Family Tree.
My Great Grandmother is a Havilland, Brigette, who was also called Dierdre. As the story goes, her ancestor traveled to Ireland from France, married an Irish woman, and the two sent their children John and Mary to America with a wooden nickel in their pockets. I believe she is either the daughter or grand daughter of Mary.
My Uncle Jim Hanley found an article that negates the story that John fell off a mast on a ship in Boston Harbor and died. The article states he was killed on a dock, in some kind of fight.
The 1899 census in Boston has a Mary Haviland in the Conlon household, which is my Grandmother’s last name. She apparently migrated through Nova Scotia, per the census. This would be two generations too late to be my grandmother’s grandmother, as my Grandmother Margaret Catherine Conlon was born in 1901.
We were all raised as Catholics, but when Margaret died in 1986 we found a number of Star of David’s in her possessions…. As well, my mother, Catherine Therese Daly, attests to growing up the only non-Jew in her Dorchester, Massachusetts neighborhood. On religious holidays, we would have Manischewitz wine – which we never thought twice about, especially because my Grandmother also made the best chop suey you ever ate!
We never thought anything about the Star of Davids until a few years back I took the Mitochondrial DNA test and first result I got was Haplotype J*, and at least (5) years later, it is just documented as Haplotype J. After a few years of dead ends while searching for Havillands, I was researching Jewish Gen for information on a man who pretty much raised me, as he was a Holocaust Survivor, and for whom I have never been able to find documentation anywhere, even after contacting the Wiesenthal Center, but I found Havillands, de Havillands, Havlins and every mutation of the name back to 1140, to a (I believe Maria) Castiillo woman that a Thomas Havilland married. I would then guess, I am a descendant of Sephardic Jews…. Could we be Crypto Jews who survived the Inquisition and traveled to France, and tongue in cheek, maybe that’s why I tan so well.
I am guessing Maria Castillo is my ancestor. If she is, and I am Jewish, then Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine are my ancestors. If you saw a picture of my grandmother, she had so many similar facial features of Olivia. And if you saw earlier pictures of my mother and her cousin, Maryann, they are so strikingly familiar with Joan Fontaine. I was astonished to make all these connections…. And would love to meet Ms. De Havilland and Fontaine before they pass.
The other familiarities occur because I find myself working in Hollywood, have won some awards, one sister works in PR and another is a musician…. We are all kind of in the limelight in a way. As well, I have always found my rhythms more on a Jewish week, if you would, taking Saturday as a day of rest and Sunday as not. I married a man who was half Jewish, which he didn’t know at the time, and a kind Jewish Holocaust Survivor, kind of raised me… I was the only person he ever showed his tattoo.
If you ever find this story curious enough for your show, I would love to uncover the mysteries…. Otherwise, thank you for expanding the imaginations of us all, and I hope your show goes on as long as you enjoy producing it.
Very truly yours,