Thursday, December 6, 2018

Dawid Wolf Pikholz of Rozdol

To mark twenty years of the Pikholz Project - the goal of which is to identify and reconnect all Pikholz descendant wherever they are - let me revisit one of our first records. Because my older self has some things to say to my younger self.

Dawid Wolf and Rachel
Even before I met Ephraim Pickholz and Jacob Laor twenty years ago, they had ordered forty Pikholz birth records from the Lwow archives with the help of Alex Dunai. Those records covered the period 1829-1868. (Alex missed one more that I found later.)

Two of those records appeared to be the same couple, Dawid Wolf Pikholz and his wife Rachel. Their son Josef was born 3 January 1862 in house 222 and Meilech was born 16 December 1864 in house 65. Dawid Wolf's name appears in full on Josef's birth record but on Meilech's he is called "Wolf." There are no other births to this couple through the end of that set.

Much later we learned that Josef had nine children with his wife Beile Gitel Grunwald. The first two married and had children; the eldest, Rachel, has living descendants. The middle five died in childhood and for the last two we have only birth records (1897 and 1899). Josef died at the end of Passover in 1930, still in Rozdol. All we have for Meilech is his birth record.

We do not know when Rachel died, perhaps due to the absence of Rozdol death records before 1877. As Josef's eldest daughter was born in 1883 and carried the name of his mother, it appeared that Dawid Wolf's wife Rachel died sometime between 1864 and 1883, likely earlier than later.

And perhaps more important, we had nothing to indicate Dawid Wolf's parents, though we were only at the beginning of our research and had yet to understand the structure of the Pikholz family that lived in Rozdol.

Dawid Wolf and Feige Leah
Not long after that, Jacob Laor and I began our own project to acquire Pikholz records from the AGAD archives in Warsaw, particularly those from Rozdol and Skalat. Here we find five Rozdol
birth records with the father (Dawid) Wolf Pikholz and the mother Feige (Lea) Dorf or Friedman. The third and fourth died before the age of two. The birth years are from 1874 to 1883. The birth records before 1877 include less information than the later ones.

(The last of these births appears in the JRI-Poland index with the additional surname "Septimus" but I see no basis for this and I assume it is an error. I was not able to find anything that clarifies whether Feige Lea's surname is Dorf or Friedman - probably one is her father and the other her mother.)

Keep in mind that the first of these findings were nearly twenty years ago, well before I began speaking (preaching, even) about not recording conclusions that were not solidified. I made two assumptions - one that the two Dawid Wolfs are the same person with two marriages. The other was that Dawid Wolf - born probably 1840 or so, based the age of his son Josef who was born in 1862 - is the son of Moshe Pikholz and his wife Sara Steg.

Dawid Wolf's parents
Frankly I do not recall why I recorded Dawid Wolf as the son of Moshe and Sara. I may have noted that someplace. One of their descendants, Dina Ostrower, told me that they had ten children who reached adulthood and with Dawid Wolf, I had those accounted for. I have approximate birth years for some of those ten based on their death records - Fischel 1842, Gittel 1847, Josef and Perla 1854. I have recorded Dawid Wolf as the eldest.

I do not have birth or death records for Moshe and Sara, so I have no birth years or ages. Moshe's father Israel Yoel was born about 1807 and Sara's father the Rav of Skole was born about 1899. I do not know their mothers' ages. When Fischel was born about 1842, his grandfather Israel Yoel was thirty-five. That is a stretch but possible. An older brother - not so much.

But in my defense, I did not have all those dates when I recorded Dawid Wolf's parents as Moshe. And I had not yet formulated my policy of not recording what I was not sure of. I had not yet realized that once I record something, I will not revisit it unless forced to and my research heirs will likely never review it at all. This policy is the essence of my presentation "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT - WHAT WE KNOW vs. WHAT WE CAN PROVE" which I will presenting in a few weeks in Rishon LeZion.

In the most recent batch of Rozdol records, the matter became settled.

Dawid Wolf Pikholz died on 20 January 1904 at age 64, so was probably born in 1839. His parents are clearly identified, not as Moshe and Sara but Israel Yoel and Jutte Chana, his supposed grandparents. He was not his parents' eldest but probably his parents' second youngest, followed by Juda Gershon (1842) who became the longtime rav of Lysiec. In truth, it makes much more sense. It moves his Chicago and Israeli descendants up one generation.

This leaves me two tasks. One is to make revisions to the Pikholz Project website. We'll see when I get to that. The other is Dina Ostrower's testimony that Moshe and Sara had ten children. Now I have only nine and I shall have to consider whether one of the unconnected Rozdol families fits in as the tenth.

Housekeeping notes
I shall be speaking, in Hebrew, for the Rishon LeZion branch of the Israel Genealogical Society on Monday, 14 January at 7 PM at the Rishon LeZion Museum, 2 Ahad Haam Street. This is not a DNA presentation, though there are a few DNA references. The topic is

מֵעֵבֶר לְסָפֵק סָבִיר
מה שיודעים, לעומת מה שאפשר להוכיח
What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

Thursday, November 29, 2018

When GEDmatch and The Testing Company Are Far Apart

I have autosomal DNA tests with four companies. I am not going to say which one this refers to. They can all say "This isn't us. Must be someone else."

When you test with the DNA companies, you know that you will have matches available to you. Some send you notices, some do not but allow you to look for yourself. When I see such matches for my own test results, I contact the owner of the matching kit and ask if the kit is on GEDmatch. That would give me a possibility to see who else in my family matches this kit. Is this new match on my father's side or my mother's side. Which grandparent or great-grandparent? The Hungarians, the Slovakians, the Galicianers or the Russians.

Some of these new matches reply, some do not. When they do, I take their GEDmatch kit and see how it lines up with my family. Usually nothing comes of it, but sometimes we get some sense of geography, if not specific family connections.

But sometimes the match does not show up on GEDmatch at all. And this problem is very common - perhaps 30% of the time - with one particular company. I have lost count of how many times I have written:
Unfortunately, despite what the company says, GEDmatch does not show a match with me at all. Or my brother. Or my sisters. Or my father's sister and brother. Or my first cousins.
Here is a recent example. The company labelled the match as a suggested "second cousin to fifth cousin." They said that we had shared 70.5 cM spread across nine segments, with the longest 13.5 cM. It looked worth an inquiry, though not particularly promising.

I wrote to the man and his wife came back to me with his GEDmatch number. I looked at his GEDmatch results andand I was nowhere on his one-to many. I tried on the Tier1 one-to-many, searching all his matches, not just the 2000 that is the GEDmatch limit. And there I was. A match with a total of 18.5 cM and a longest segment of 11.2 cM. There were only two segments.

I dropped the search threshold to 3 cM and found our match with four more small segments bringing the total to 32.5 cM. This is less than half of what the company showed. And the company's longest segment is 13.5 cM while GEDmatch shows only 11.2 cM.

But it gets worse.

The longest segment on GEDmatch is on chromosome 7, a segment where the company shows only 6.0 cM.  The company's longest segment is on chromosome 15; GEDmatch has nothing at all on chromosome 15.

In total, GEDmatch has six segments to the company's nine. Most of those segments are on different chromosomes entirely.

We know that there is much to be done as DNA for genealogy emerges from its infancy. Basic consistency would be a good place to start.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cheryl - A GEDmatch Case Study - Part Two

Cheryl matches my families
A few days ago, I wrote about my neighbor Eric whose wife Cheryl has a promising match on GEDmatch with a Skalat Pikholz descendant named Gene. Aside from Gene, Cheryl has a number of other matches with my families.

There are five segments of interest, none very close, but together they may be useful, both for Cheryl herself and as examples of how to use GEDmatch.

Eric was here for a little over an hour, so after we looked at Gene, we went straight to the old reliable one-to-many search which looks at Cheryl's top 2000 matches. I was looking for segments of ten or more centiMorgans where Cheryl has multiple matches in my families. Segments smaller than ten cM may be real, but are certainly too far away to be useful for families such as ours where we have few surnames or records before 1800. And I use multiple matches because I want some evidence that the match is from "our side" and not from the other side of some second, third or fourth cousin.

The five segments of interest
On chromosome 1, Cheryl has about 11 cM with Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob, my father's sister and brother. This is not a large segment and we cannot tell whether this is on my grandfather's side or my grandmother's. And given that, the common ancestor probably lived well before 1800.

On chromosome 5, Cheryl matches my brother, one of my sisters and me on a segment of 10.7 cM. No cousins on either side, so this match could come from anywhere. And it is not large.

On chromosome 9, Cheryl matches my brother, three of my sisters, me and my second cousin Roz, on my father's father's side, with a segment of about 12 cM, plus a nearly-adjacent segment of about 5.6 cM. We all match each other, so we have triangulation. So this segment comes from either my grandfather's Pikholz father or his Kwoczka/Pollak mother, all from the Tarnopol area of east Galicia.

On chromosome 11, Cheryl has a segment of about 15 cM with two of my second cousins on my mother's side. One is Beth, whose grandfather is my grandmother's brother and one is Liya whose grandmother is my grandmother's sister. They match each other, so we have triangulation. My grandmother's descendants do not appear here, nor do Beth and Liya's two first cousins. Is there something here? Maybe. But we have only one surname in my grandmother's family - Rosenbloom from Borisov in Belarus.

Finally, on the X, Cheryl has 20.5 cM with Aunt Betty and 14.9 cM on the same segment with my cousin Roz. They triangulate, so this is a real match. Aunt Betty could not have gotten the X from her father's father and Roz would not be expected to match Aunt Betty's mother, so the match must be from the Kwoczka/Pollak side. We cannot know if it is from the same common ancestor as the segment on chromosome 9, but the possibility is intriguing.

Digging deeper with a better way
At this point, my discussion of last week on the GEDmatch Tier1 one-to-one kicks in. I told Eric that after he signs up for Tier1, he should see if any of Cheryl's matches beyond the initial 2000 can tell us more about these five segments.

But there is a better way. GEDmatch has a tool called "Multiple Kit Analysis." It is marked as NEW, but it has been around for quite awhile. And it is not a Tier1 tool, so it is freely available.

In the Multiple Kit Analysis there are two tabs. Choose the one on the right: "Manual Kit Selection/Entry." If I enter Cheryl's GEDmatch kit in the first box ("Kit 1"), I can compare her to all the kits I enter in the subsequent boxes, whether or not they are in Cheryl's first 2000 matches. For instance, if I enter all the kits from my mother's side, I can see if anyone besides Beth and Liya match Cheryl on the segment on chromosome 11. But entering all those kits by hand is tedious and prone to error. Here I have a short cut that Eric cannot use without knowing the GEDmatch numbers for all my relevant kits.

I use a free program called ShortKeys which I have set up to fill out this form for each of my families. When I did that for my Borisov family (the ShortKey code includes many Borisov residents who are not specifically related to me), I got one more second cousin on the segment with Beth and Liya - Liya's first cousin Lydia. This strengthens this segment as a useful connection between Cheryl and my grandmother's family beyond what we had on the basic one-to-many. Eric could have done this using the Tier1 one-to-many but I find this easier for matches with my families.
Cheryl matches Beth, Lydia and Liya together
That same search gave me another bit of information regarding my mother's side. On chromosome 5, we see the three 10.7 cM matches that I mentioned above - my brother, one sister and me. But we also have 12 cM with my first cousin Mike (line 5), on my mother's side. He triangulates with us here, so this is real.

There are no second cousins on the segment so we don't know which of my mother's sides is represented here.

Uncle Bob, Aunt Betty and Pinchas
line up together on chromosome 1
I also did the Multiple Kit Analysis for the other three segments - the ones that show matches between Cheryl and my father's side. On chromosome 1, where Cheryl's one-to-many showed a match with Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob, the Multiple Kit Analysis gave us one more name: my third cousin Pinchas. Pinchas' great-grandfather is the brother of my great-grandmother Jutte Leah Kwoczka, whose mother is a Pollak.

This match triangulates so it clearly comes from the Kwoczka/Pollak side - not Pikholz and not my grandmother's Hungarian/Slovakian families.

Chromosome 9 showed us nothing new, so we have only the original matches with my second cousin Roz. Maybe Pikholz, maybe Kwoczka/Pollak.
Five of my parents' children and our second cousin Roz (on line 6). Not large but definitely my father's father's side.

Chromosome 23, the X, gave us two new matches - Rhoda and Terry.
The two large yellow matches (20.5 cM) are Aunt Betty and Roz' first cousin Rhoda. The first green match is my second cousin Terry, with 15.2 cM. The second green match is Roz, with 14.9 cM. They all triangulate. This is clearly a Kwoczka/Pollak match.

This X match and the Kwoczka/Pollak match on chromosome 1 may or may not be from the same ancestral source.

The ball is now in Eric's court. He can do Matching Segments and write to others who share these matches. But perhaps more important, he can get some of Cheryl's first and second cousins to test, so he can see which of Cheryl's ancestors provided these segments.

When he comes back to me, I'll report it here.

Housekeeping notes
I shall be speaking, in Hebrew, for the Rishon LeZion branch of the Israel Genealogical Society on Monday, 14 January at 7 PM at the Rishon LeZion Museum, 2 Ahad Haam Street. This is not a DNA presentation, though there are a few DNA references. The topic is

מֵעֵבֶר לְסָפֵק סָבִיר
מה שיודעים, לעומת מה שאפשר להוכיח
What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

Monday, November 26, 2018

Cheryl - A GEDmatch Case Study - Part One

I see many people - both on Facebook and in personal correspondence - who have no idea what to do with GEDmatch matches or even if the whole GEDmatch experience is worthwhile. So here is the beginning of a case study.

Yesterday morning I received an inquiry from Eric, a  fellow here in the neighborhood. His wife Cheryl had just done a Family Finder test and he had uploaded the results to GEDmatch. It seems that one of her top matches is with someone in my Pikholz Project who appears on the GEDmatch one-to-one with a match of 124 cM and a longest segment of 40.5 cM. Eric wanted to know how this match sounds to me.

A single segment of 40 cM looks like a third cousin or closer - maybe a fourth. In any case, probably not something from the 1700s. In a word, promising.

I had a look and saw that this particular match is a Pikholz descendant from Skalat, a man named Gene whose mother is descended from Berl Pikholz (~1789-1877). Berl's precise relationship to the other Pikholz Skalat families of that period is unclear and there is no one to test for Y-DNA. Gene has Pikholz third cousins who have tested and his kit is managed by a cousin on his father's side. My obvious first suggestion was that Eric contact Gene's cousin (whose email appears on Gene's FTDNA kit).

Then I had a look. First of all, Gene is Cheryl's fourteenth best match on GEDmatch, though it is not obvious why the other thirteen are better matches.

I sorted on the "Longest cM" column and Gene is Cheryl's third longest matching segment.

I assumed that the other 84 cM in Cheryl's match with Gene is made up of  many small segments so I did a one-to-one between Cheryl and Gene . I was surprised to see that this showed only four segments, including one of 24 cM.

(The total is different - 89.7 cM as opposed to 124 cM - because one-to-many uses segments smaller that one-to-one. Perhaps the thirteen "better matches" don't have so many of these small segments.)

This looked promising, even though I could not tell if these four segments represent one, two, three or four different common ancestors. I also looked at Cheryl's other matches to my families and saw some of interest. I suggested that Eric come over so I could show him how I think he should proceed. He came later that day.

Although he is a regular reader of my blog, this was Eric's first hands-on interaction with GEDmatch's Tier1. We looked at Cheryl's matches on chromosome 22 using the Matching Segments tool, with the minimum set to 12 cM.

There are eleven kits which match Cheryl on parts of the segment she shares with Gene. (Gene is far and away her largest match.) They don't necessarily all match Gene, as some may match Cheryl's mother with others matching her father - and we have no idea which side Gene is on. I left it to Eric to triangulate to see which of the eleven match both Cheryl AND Gene. (One of those eleven is my father's cousin Shabtai and his kit does triangulate.)

Those eleven kits are listed with names and contact emails and I suggested to Eric that he contact at least the ones that triangulate. But first we did Matching Segments again, this time for the 24.3 cM segment on chromosome 2.

Here Cheryl has many more matches. What I wanted to see is whether any of the people she matches on chromosome 22 also match her on chromosome 2. That would hint  at the common ancestor being the same as on chromosome 22. There are none - at least not with 12 cM or more.

I left it to Eric to look at smaller matches as well as the matter of triangulation. I also left it to Eric to look at Cheryl's matches with Gene on chromosomes 8 (10.7 cM) and 15 (14.4 cM) in the same matter. To see if  any of them are the same people as those on chromosomes 2 or 22.

I suggested he do all this before contacting Gene's cousin - the one who manages his kit. My suspicion is that the cousin cannot help much with this, as he himself does not seem to appear among Cheryl's matches.

As a matter of due diligence, we also looked at Cheryl's matches with one of Gene's Pikholz third
cousins who shows up with a small match on the Cheryl's one-to-many. The third cousin indeed shows up with 5.5 cM on Cheryl's segment with Gene on chromosome 2 but the segment does not triangulate, so this is not meaningful.

This is meant to be a series, so I expect to be back with the results of Eric's efforts. I  also will have some things to say about Cheryl's matches with the rest of my family, perhaps later this week.

Housekeeping notes
With the help of my Russian-speaking colleague Galit, we have ordered a test from FTDNA during their current $39 sale, for a Pikholz descendant in St. Petersburg. He is a nephew of one of our mystery Pikholz descendants whose DNA results raised more questions than it answered.

We may have a second new one as well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

(These) GEDmatch Inconsistencies - SOLVED

The problem
Last week I reported in this space about a problem I was having with GEDmatch. A match named Lauren had eleven matches with my families (using the one-to-many search) which her father George did not share, but were definitely not from her mother. When I dug deeper, I saw that George in fact matched all eleven when I used the one-to-one search.

I sent a link to that blog to the GEDmatch team and gave them the relevant kit numbers. Since then, I have been going back and forth with John Olson and I am pleased to report that we have a solution which John asked me to pass on to my readers.

How the basic one-to-many works
As we know, most of us endogamous folk have a few tens of thousands of matches on GEDmatch, but they only show the first 2000. (Early GEDmatch showed only 1500 matches, which proved inadequate.) "First" in this case means the lowest numbers in the "autosomal generations" column, which is the default sorting key. Other matches are available on the one-to-one searches, but when you manage a large number of kits, as I do, looking for those one-to-ones is not practical.

Most of my kits are given a name beginning with "*0Pikh..." so they will all sort together, near the top and I had always understood that when I sorted on the name column, they would show the first 2000 names from the entire match list. It turns out that this is not the case. The first 2000 matches are fixed and any sorting works only within that set of matches.

In this specific case, George's first 2000 matches go up to 3.9 generations while Lauren's go up to 4.5 generations.

Here are the last four matches of each of them:

George's matches with the eleven "missing" kits are all further than the last of the 3.9 generations that are displayed.

This may be a problem peculiar to endogamous populations where the number of matches is huge. Perhaps non-endogamous populations will have in their first 2000, matches that go to 5.0 generations or more.

And George may have more matches under 4.0 than most endogamous kits. But I see that I also go up to 3.9 generations and my two first cousins (not siblings) with one Jewish parent, both go to 4.4 generations. Frankly, 3.9 generations is not enough, nor is 4.4, so we need a way to enlarge the match list.

The solution
The way to solve this is by using the Tier1 one-to-many. Tier1 is a set of seven (at last count) GEDmatch tools which are available to those who make a donation to GEDmatch. This is not a subscription. You can do a single month for $10 each time you need it. (I think they deserve ten dollars a month just on general principle so am always signed in to Tier1.)

The Tier1 one-to-many gives you a choice among seven match limits, from a low of 500 up to 100,000. Both George and I have bit more than 40,000. My two first cousins with one non-Jewish parent have about 29,000 and 33,500 total matches. And it covers all the matches, with the same sorting capacity that I have gotten used to.

The 100,000 match limit search took me less than a minute, so it's not terribly burdensome.

So henceforth all my one-to-many searches will be with Tier1.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

GEDmatch Inconsistencies

MyHeritage and George
Every Sunday, I receive a notice of up to ten matches from MyHeritage. I write to the matches and ask them if they have GEDmatch numbers, so I can do a proper comparison with my whole family set. Last Sunday, one of my matches was with George.

A second-fifth cousin, with 83.8 cM and a longest segment of 21.2 cM
His daughter Lauren responded and gave me the GEDmatch numbers for her father and herself. I went to GEDmatch to see the match and to see who else in my family George matches - which parent, which grandparent, etc. I started with a one-to-one - just George and me.
Nothing at all over 7 cM. Certainly no longest segment of 21.2 cM.

This itself was no surprise. There are a few like this from MyHeritage every week. False match alerts.

Nonetheless I compared him to the rest of my family kits, using the one-to-many function. There were thirty-seven matches across my related families. But not my brother or my sisters. He matches my father's sister and her son but not my father's brother. Or any of my other first cousins. No second cousins on my father's side and four on my mother's side. And he matches a few more distant Pikholz descendants, both from Skalat and from Rozdol..

I ran the "new" one-to-one on Tier1 using the 5000-match threshold and it gave me the same thirty-seven matches.

GEDmatch and Lauren
While I was looking, I compared Lauren to my family kits on a GEDmatch one-to many. She has thirty-five matches with my group, including eleven matches that George does not have. Those eleven are three Pikholz descendants from Rozdol who are not particularly close to one another, my brother, my sisters Judith and Amy, Judith's son and her late twin's son and three other Skalat Pikholz descendants whose connection to me is unclear.

The >10 cM matches with my brother, sisters and one nephew are all on one segment, on the right side of chromosome 6. (My father's sister is on that same segment.) The others are all scattered. But the numbers for the group of eleven are not insignificant.

I figured that Lauren must have gotten those from her mother, so I looked at her mother's GEDmatch. There was one small, obscure match with someone who has nothng much to do with any of us. Lauren matches both of her own parents as expected, so where did she get these eleven matches?

One-to-one with George
I learned some time ago that occasionally a match with a single segment will not show up on the GEDmatch one-to many but will show up on the one-to-one.

So I looked at George's one-to-one matches with each of the eleven.

George - who has as expected, the same four matches on chromosome 6 as does Lauren - matches all eleven of Lauren's matches, even though GEDmatch does not show them on George's one-to-many.

This is not good.
This is not right

On one level, it is a question that I would like GEDmatch to address. Quickly.

But more importantly, at least for now, is that it is a phenomenon that we researchers have to be aware of. There are meaningful matches that show up on the one-to-one that do not show up on the one-to-many - not the old reliable version and not the new, improved Tier1 version.

Housekeeping notes
I shall be speaking, in Hebrew, for the Rishon LeZion branch of the Israel Genealogical Society on Monday, 14 January at 7 PM at the Rishon LeZion Museum, 2 Ahad Haam Street. This is not a DNA presentation, though there are a few DNA references. The topic is
מֵעֵבֶר לְסָפֵק סָבִיר
מה שיודעים, לעומת מה שאפשר להוכיח

What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Reviewing Endogamy - What Does it Mean?

But First Things First
This is Pittsburgh. 

Yet, evenso, somehow we always come back to the yellow Star of David.

(When my parents brought me home from the hospital, we lived half a block down Shady Avenue. Later, from when I entered second grade, we lived fifteen years about two minutes walk away from the Tree of Life.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Why endogamy is different
We have been throwing around the word "endogamy" for some years now. Most people understand in a general sense that it means all Jews (as well as members of similar populations) are related to each other multiple ways and that we have tons of "matches" that are virtually meaningless, but not everyone understands how that translates to individual DNA matches.

A few days ago, someone asked me what I thought of this match, which comes from the GEDmatch on-to-one search.

The total of 118.3 cM looks nice. The typical non-Jew looks at Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Project, sees:

...and says "This looks like Cluster #6 and the match is probably a half second cousin or a second cousin once removed." I have heard lecturers and read bloggers who say exactly that.

And I sit in the audience or at my desk and laugh at the simplicity of DNA in the non-Jewish world. This kind of thing is meaningless to Jews and Jews who use the Shared cM Project in this way, miss the point of the match.

We are related to each other in multiple ways. The matching 27.4 cM segment on chromosome 3 and the matching 39.6 cM segment on chromosome 18 may be from different ancestors. Perhaps one on the father's side and one on the mother's. Perhaps both from the same parent and grandparent but from different great-grandparents. Maybe even further back.

If the first three segments all come from one ancestor and the last three all come from another, Shared cM would say the two testers are third cousins twice removed (or 2C2R, etc) as in Cluster #7.

But, of course, the six matching segments could come from four or five or six different ancestors, none as close as third cousins and most much further.

Matching Ed
Michelle's father and Ed
Case in point, fresh in my memory. A couple of weeks ago, I received an inquiry from a woman named Michelle whose father matches my cousin Ed on four segments. She was asking me for information about his family.

GEDmatch said that they have 84.3 cM in common and that the estimated number of generations to the Most Recent Common Ancestor is 3.7. But that includes segments as small as 5 cM. Using segments over 7 cM produces only 58.9 cM and an estimated MRCA at 4.0 generations.

Ed's mother has tested and Michelle didn't mention matches with her, so it appeared that at least some of this match would have to be from Ed's father - who has no interest in any of this genealogy stuff.

Michelle's father and Ed's mother
It turns out that Michelle's father matches Ed's mother on only one of those four segments - the one on chromosome 9 - but she also has a nice segment of 15.3 cM on chromosome 1 with Ed's mother.

So about sixty-eight percent of Michelle's father with Ed is through his father. And since we have no testing for Ed's father's family, we cannot know how many ancestors are represented by the three segments with an (unimpressive!) total of 41 cM.

When I looked more deeply into the segments that Michelle's father has with Ed's mother on chromosomes 1 and 9, I see that both segments show multiple matches with descendants of my great-grandparents.

On chromosome 1, there are three matches of 12-16 cM and on chromosome 9 there are five matches of 14-19 cM. In each case there is also one descendant of my great-grandmother's two brothers - one from her brother Pinchas on chromosome 1 (~11 cM) and one from her brother Rachmiel on chromosome 9 (20 cM). In addition there is are small segments (<6 cM) with descendants of the opposite brother on each of the two segments.

So both these segments came from one or the other of the parents of my great-grandmother Jute Leah Kwoczka of Zalosce. Are they from the same Kwoczka/Pollak ancestor? Who knows!

(The segment on chromosome 15 has several cousins, including one with >12 cM - but there are no descendants of the Kwoczka brothers, so this may be a Pikholz segment. Or it may be Kwoczka.)

In short, what appears to the non-endogamous eye to have been a third cousin match between Michelle's father and Ed is no such thing. It is composed of multiple common ancestors, more distant than four generations, one both his father's and mother's sides.

This is endogamy and this is its challenge.

While we are remembering
This evening, 20 Heshvan, is the twenty-sixth yahrzeit for my mother's sister, Aunt Sadie Gordon. This was her letter home, published in Pittsburgh's Jewish Criterion in 1943.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Genealogists and Geneticists

I got a phone call a few days ago from a woman whose father is named Pikholz -. or at least he had been until he changed his name at age twenty-one. I had not met him but I had met the grandfather and knew names of family members. She wanted information on her family.

She interrogated me about my credentials, especially regarding genetic genealogy. Where had I studied, with what institution am I affiliated (university? hospital?), etc I explained patiently - as most of us have to do from time to time - that genetic genealogists do not have to have studied genetics in order to do genealogy and geneticists do not always understand what genetic genealogy is and how it works.

She had done a DNA test with 23 & Me, as had her daughter, but she said she knew that this could not help regarding her father's family - since she is a woman and the women's test is not relevant. And I began to explain about Y and MtDNA and autosomal tests and she cut me off. "My daughter is a medical student and she said..."

Which demonstrated my point.

(Eventually I'll get both of them on GEDmatch.)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Named After A Living Grandfather?

Josef Pikholz was the estate manager in Klimkowce, a town a dozen miles from Skalat and 15 miles from Zbarazh. We know he was alive in 1910. We have no birth record for him, but we have a birth record for a son Wolf in 1874 so we assumed Josef was born around 1850.

Josef's daughter Roza, who was married to Markus/Mordecai Linden, had a son named Josef on 27 August 1911. We know that Jews in Galicia did not name after the living, so we assumed that Josef Pikholz had died by the time his grandson was born.

Most of the Klimkowce records are to be found in the Zbarazh collection, even though Skalat is a bit closer, but we did not see a death record for Josef in either place.

The birth record for Josef Linden, 27 August 1911
When we received new Skalat records four months ago as an Excel file, I saw thist.

I wrote at the time, in this space:
I was surprised to find a 1918 death for sixty-five year old Josef Pikholz in the village of Klimkowce. We had seen earlier that a grandson was named Josef in 1911, but we had not seen a death record for Josef. (We knew he was still alive in 1910.) So now it seems the grandson was given the name of his living grandfather - either after him or for someone else. Not totally unheard of, but unusual nonetheless.
Josef Pickholz, age 65, died in Klimkowce in 1918. Some seven years after his grandson Josef Linden was born. The age was about right and we had no other Pikholz family in Klimkowce. Jacob Laor was certain this was indeed his great-grandfather. How could he be anyone else?

My readers know I am hesitant to jump to comclusions, even though this seemed pretty straight-forward. I was concerned about the grandson who was named Josef in 1911. But it's Jacob's personal family and he is a senior member of our project team, so the best I could do was stall until we could see the record itself.

The record itself - showing the death in Klimkowce on 20 December 1918 and burial in Skalat the next day - was clear.

In the meantime, Jacob came up with another birth record for Markus and Roza - a son Benjamin, born in 1915. The sandak, the witness to his naming, was Josef Pickholz. Well that settles that. Grandson or no, Josef was alive in 1915.

But, nonetheless, I wanted an explanation. Perhaps they didn't hold to the tradition. My grandmother and her older brother were named for their paternal grandparents while they were still living - a fact she surely knew but never mentioned to me. I had come to the conclusion that this was my Slovakian great-grandfather showing that he was not superstitious like the Galizainers.

Or perhaps young Josef Linden was named after someone in his Linden family, perhaps his paternal grandfather. I knew a few cases like that. My father's first cousin Herb was given the same name as his grandfather Hersch Pickholz, who was alive for Herb's first twelve years. He was named, not for his grandfather, but for Hirsch Wachs, who is on Herb's father's side.

In another case I know, a woman whose parents are Chaim and Chaya named her third and final son Chaim while her father was living. It seems that her husband also had parents Chaim and Chaya. His father had died and since he is an only child, it was their only chance to name for his father. They asked her father's permission, which he granted.

That wouldn't work for the Lindens because the marriage record for Markus and Roza shows Markus' father to be Isak. Not Josef.

Markus Linden, son of Isak born 1880 married Roza, daughter of Josef Pickholz and Lany Feldman

Not being in the mood to give up, I had a look at the records for the Lindens in Zbarazh.

And here we see Riwka, Ziwie, Moses Selig and Abraham Leib, children of Josef Isaac Linden and Hinde Fleischfarb all born in the same decade as Markus. Markus' birth is not here, but I am ready to consider that his marriage record had only one of his father's names and that he was in fact Josef Isaac.

And I looked at one more document. Markus' son Leon/Aryeh submitted a Page of Testimony for his father to Yad Vashem.
Markus Linden, born 1880, was murdered in Zbarazh in 1942. His father was Yosef Yitzhak.  I do not know when Markus' father died, but it is clear that he is the one whose name passed to Markus' son in 1911.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Zachy's Mutation

For several years, we have seen the identical Y-DNA results for the three Pikholz descendants from Skalat. First at 37 markers and later at 67 markers. The three count back to known ancestors who were born around 1800.

Zachy, who lives here in Israel and whom I have never actually met, counts back to his third great-grandfather Mordecai Pikholz. Mordecai's 1864 Skalat death record says he was fifty-nine years old, so I list him as having been born about 1805. "Filip" (not his real name) lives in Poland and counts back to his second great-grandfather Nachman Pikholz, whose 1865 Skalat death record says he was seventy years old.

My own second great-grandfather is Izak Fischel Pikholz and we are guessing he was born about 1810. Autosomal DNA and the relationships within the families have brought me to the tentative conclusion that Mordecai and Izak Fischel are brothers. These same considerations tell me that Nachman is not a brother - rather an uncle or perhaps a cousin.

At the same time, we saw that we also had a perfect match with two Spiras and a genetic distance of one with a Spiro. In the case of the Spiro and one of the Spiras, this was based on Y-67 tests. The second Spira, whom I refer to as "the Z-man," has only done a Y-37. That brought me to the clear conclusion that we were Spira before we were Pikholz. And probably not that long ago.

Comparing Spira to us (Y-67)
FTDNA said with 99.4% certainty that our most recent common ancestor (MRCA) was within the last nine generations. For reasons that are not clear to me, that 99.4% is the prediction both for the Spira with a perfect match and for the Spiro with a mutation built-in.

Both Spira and Spiro had upgraded to Y-111 and during the recent summer sale, I decided to do the same. Much to my surprise, the additional 44 markers showed three mutations between me and Spiro and four between me and Spira. Whether they were my mutations or theirs, I couldn't tell.

So I upgraded the other two Pikholz kits to Y-111, first Filip and then Zachy. Filip and I remained identical, so clearly the mutations happened before our common Pikholz ancestor. That gave me the clear feeling that our split from the Spira/Spiro family was several generations earlier than I had thought.

Now we have Zachy's Y-111 and he has a mutation, compared to Filip and me. This is clearly in the generations between Mordecai and Zachy because I do not have it. The mutation is at the marker called "DYS712" where Filip and I have a value of 21 while Zachy has 20.

The FTDNA probability chart shows a change in the expected MRCA due to Zachy's mutation, but of course we know for fact that this is not relevant.
I also ran the probability chart to compare my results (and Filip's) to each of Spira, Spiro and the Z-man. I used the same nine generations that I had assumed back in the days of the Y-67 results.

At 37 markers, all three show a 98.3% probability of a MRCA with us at nine generations, despite the fact that Spiro has a mutation that the others do not.

At 67 markers, that rises to a 99.4% probability.

At 111 markers, the probability plummets to 84.5% for Spira and 92.9% for Spiro - despite the fact that in both cases there are four mutations. Apparently Spira's mutations are more significant than Spiro's. (Two of the four mutations are on the same markers and two are on different markers.)

Nine generations still looks good. Less certain, yet a reasonable guess. Perhaps even the early 1700s, if you believe that sort of thing.

Thanks to Igor Schein for his assistance in counting up the markers.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

And Sometimes The Record Is Plain Wrong

We all know that records can be wrong. Census records are based on self-reporting and depend on proper recording by the census taker, not to mention transcription errors before they appear online where we can find them in an index. Passenger lists have much the same problem.

The informant on a death record may have given the wrong parents' names, birth place.or other information. Naturalization records often have errors.

Birth records are less likely to be wrong, but it happens. Marriage records should not be wrong - the bride and groom know their ages, birth places and parents' names - but generally no supporting documentation was necessary so there could be errors. Especially when the bride is older than the groom and takes off a few years. Draft cards should be right, but are not always.

So I am not breaking any new ground in the title of this blog. Nonetheless, it's a story worth telling.

Earlier this week, I received a note from the great Logan Kleinwaks who was looking at Sambor records and came across one of mine.  He wrote:
While examining Sambor marriage records without public JRI-Poland indexes, I found the attached (top) involving Abraham Chaim Langenauer from Rybnik, son of Izak Pickholz and Reisel Langenauer.
The record is from 24 June 1923

I know this couple. I received a large amount of information from the eldest daughter, Mahla, who died nearly four years ago. She also sent me a recording of her recollections of growing up in France and escaping Europe. I have met at least two of the other three daughters and I think they are all still living.

Avraham Chaim died in 1954 and is buried in Raanana. His wife Hinde Lea died in 1983 and is buried in Zichron Moshe Cemetery in Benei Berak. I have been to both graves. Their one son died in France soon after his mother.

The father's grave lists him as Avraham, without the Chaim, though Mahla's grave has his full name. But on the grave, we see that Avraham's father is Yosef, not Yitzhak as in the marriage record.

The grave is correct. Yosef Pikholz was born in about 1865 to Yeroham Fischel ben Moshe Pikholz and Gittel Luftschein. He was named for father's mother's father's father Yosef Steg as were a whole set of Yosefs in that family. Yosef married Reisel Langenauer and the family used the Langenauer name. We know all this every which way.

In Skalat, we have my third great-grandfather Izak Josef Pikholz who was known as Yosef, as were most of the descendants named for him. But there was no such phenomenon with any of the descendants of Yosef Steg.

The Sambor marriage record is plain wrong. Sambor is the bride's town but obviously the groom was there and knew his father's name! It happens. So by all means, find documents - but you cannot assume that any single document is precise.

Lia Landberg pointed out on Facebook that the second note in the far right column of the marriage record says that the birth record had been presented. 

So let me show you that the birth record gives the father's name as Josef, and includes his signature.

Housekeeping notes
I just posted this on Facebook.
I just heard from a known-but-missing branch of one of my mystery Pikholz families. This could be one of those where MtDNA may be very useful.
This is the family. More as it happens.