Sunday, April 23, 2017

Gittel bat Meir and Leah 5661-5704, May G-d Avenge Her Blood

Gittel / Gusta Pickholz
Tarnopol 30 June 1901 - Auschwitz December 1943

We do not know her place in the family structure
Only that she was one of at least 602 Pikholz descendants and spouses 
murdered in the Holocaust by the Nazis 
and their colllaborators from the other nations of Europe.
And that she was the only known daughter of

Maier Pickholz, born in Koziare? about 1872 
and died in Vienna 12 December 1916, 17-18 Kislev 5677
and  his wife
Laura (Lea bat Shemaryahu and Sara Rivka) Spiegelglas
born in Tarnopol about 1883
and died in Vienna 5 May 1919, 5-6 Iyyar 5679.

Memorial plaque at Beit Lohamei Haghettaot
The following correspondence was found in the files of the Central Zionist Archives, Jerusalem
by Linda and Israel Pickholtz.
Translation from German of the first by Maurine McClellan.
Translation from German of the second by Eleanor Bien.
With assistance from Christoph Libisch.
Gusta's letter was mailed in an envelope addressed simply "Sochnut Jerusalemme Palestina."
("Sochnut" means agency and refers to the Jewish Agency, which handles immigration to this day.)
Salerna, 20 December 1938
  Dear Sir,
In my great need, permit me to urgently request the sending of a entry certificate.
I was born in Tarnopol, Poland on June 30, 1901, naturalized Italian and was until now a teacher in the Italian city of Satiz. The decress against Jews has declared me homeless and force me to leave the country by March 12 at the latest. It is my greatest wish to go to Palestine and because I am alone in the world ( I have lost all my relatives in the war), so I turn to you with the urgent request to help me in my despair. I implore you to allow me to come in a short time for the aforementioned entry certificate, because I must leave the country no later than March 12.
In the hope that you will consider my request, I sign
yours respectfully
Gittel Gutta Pickholz
    Via Porta Rotase, 14 
______   ______ Salerno Italy 
Dear much honored Miss Pickholz,
  We acknowledge your writings of Dec 20 1938 regarding obtaining a certificate for traveling into Palestine.
Therefore, we suggest that you contact our Palestine Office in Trieste, Via Del Monte 7.
There you will obtain the important information regarding your Aliya.
With high regards,


There is no further correspondence in the file and we have no idea what transpired in Gusta's life until late 1943. 

However, one of our US family members found a website with a description in Italian of the deportation of sixty-four Jews from Sondrio, in northern Italy to Auschwitz.  This site includes the name of Augusta Pickholz, who is the same as Gusta / Gittel.  This websire ( is no longer active.)

Following is a translation from Italian (translated by Miriam Maimouni) of parts of a letter I received from Ferrucio Scala, who witnessed the deportation from Sondrio and is responsible for the information in the above website.

"Dear Israel,
thank you for having written me. However, I don't know the English language. My son Andrea translated it for me. I am answering you in Italian. If you want to avoid looking around for a translator, get in touch with Herman Marek. You can reach him through GHETTO FIGHTERS' HOUSE MUSEUM - Lohamei Haghetaot M.P. Western Galilee 25220 - Israel. He knows Italian very well and also writes it. He takes care of the Museum to the Memory of the Children. In order to answer adequately to your straight questions, my response will have to be a bit more lengthy. And that's good. The Jews in Valtellina? There were two periods. The first from Sept 29, 1941 to Oct 25, 1943. It is in this period that, due to the laws on race of 1938, the Italian army (as far as the APRICA in Valtellina is concerned) takes numerous families in the Balkan region away from the Germans and the Croatian Ustasha. On March 3, 1943, the Jews in APRICA count about 300 altogether. This is what a note of the Interior Ministry, Head of Police, to the Interior Ministry, says. Subject: The Jews interned in APRICA. The number, starting with 144 in 1941, reached 215, and then 272, and finally approached 300 in 1943. The above-mentioned letter reveals that it was almost impossible to get the number in Aprica reduced.  All other places in Italy did not admit any more arrivals. It says: "In the province of SONDRIO, and to be exact, in the town of APRICA, about 300 Jews of Balcan origin have been interned for some time. Part of them have been permitted officially to reside in Sondrio because they had problems with the mountain climate. It is pointed out that the afore-mentioned Jews urgently need to be interned somewhere else, for the following reasons:

(basically, it was feared that there would be some contact of the antifascist ideas of the Jews with the natives or villagers or refugees [evacuated persons] in the plains of Lombardy. Also eventual contacts with "the community of Aprica [which is] too close to Switzerland and therefore it is not commendable to leave the Jews there who at any moment may take up contacts with elements beyond the border, possibly through third
parties." Fear of the intelligence, and finally: "The Jews in Aprica stir the miscontent of the local population because they acquire the rationed goods at exorbitant prices." (sic!) We know that among the 272 Jews in Aprica, 218 were considered poor. The administrative department of the local police headquarters of Sondrio, paid out 8 Lire daily to the head of family, 4 for the wife, and 3 for every child, so they were living in abundance! Plus 50 Lire monthly for rent or lodging. The Jews were lodged in private houses or in guesthouses/hotels: the Mirafiori, the San Pietro, the Aprica, and a co-operative kitchen in the Albergo Posta in the neighborhood of MAVIGNA. Salomon Mosic was the elected representative of those interned in Aprica. Riccardo Kohn was the president of the Palestine Office of Zagabria, and then, in Switzerland, the director of administration of an institution for young Zionists at Bex near the valley of Rodano. These two and a third [person] were the elected heads, and they dealt with the authorities of Sondrio in whatever problems there were. Who watched over the Jews of Aprica? Two officers of the carabinieri: Luigi Tosetti, who became head of the partisan detachment in Valle Camonica. He died March 19, 1945 through the explosion of a hand grenade. The other, Bruno Pilat, finished in Mauthausen. Friendly guardians. Let us not forget that some Jews in Sondrio were put up in rented houses. Aprica is situated at 1170 meters above sea-level. This does not cause any problem to those suffering from high-altitude syndrom. It is a large former pasture in the shape of a half-curve, vast and airy. It is the passage from the province of Sondrio to that of Brescia. If one continues from there, one arrives at the Tonale Pass, and finally in Trentino. From Aprica one can walk on non-dangerous paths  through the shrubbery to arrive there, one crosses the national road and can climb up further, either by Villa di Tirano (Lughina Pass) or, slightly to the south, through Bianzone-La Bratte-Baita Campione, the Anzana Pass (2200 m), and descend to the Salent valley which leads to Campascio in the Poschavio valley. Sept 9, 1943 - Mosic and Khon write a plea to the Police headquarters of Sondrio. They are asking for all of them to be permitted to leave Aprica. A nice good-bye letter. The Police writes to the Interior Ministry and submits the request (absolutely no negative implication by the Police president). The evening of Sept 8."


"That is the story of what followed. And the Jews? Shadows. Legends. I wanted to bring the shadows to light and finish with the legends. I am very sorry, but I know nothing much about Augusta Pickholz. The Memory Book of Liliana Picciotto Fargion mentions her on page 474: 'Pickholz Augusta, born in Tarnopol in Poland on 30-6-1901. Last residence recorded: SONDRIO. Imprisoned in the prison of Milan. Deported from Milan to Auschwitz on 30-1-1944. Number doubtful. Died there and date unknown: Document 1a Transport 06. (Augusta Pickholz, judging by the characteristics of Transport 06, must have been arrested while trying to get to Switzerland.)"

"Dear Israel, I am rich in time and patience. My relations with the Jews started in November 1942 when I was in hospital for lethal diphtheria. Chances were I would not survive. When I came to, I saw a young woman who stood by the door. She wore a beautiful blue night-gown, had black hair, and she smiled at me. My mother told me: 'She is Jewish". Indeed. 59 years have passed, but after researching like mad I know today that her name was Amendola Giuseppina, born in Kenosha (Wisconsin, USA) on March 17, 1917 - the daughter of Salvatore and Larancio Maria. She was  described as North-American Aryan in the list of refugees of Sept 10, 1943. She was confined to Aprica. That sight was real. But the register of the hospital gave three entries and three discharges. First as born in Aprica, and resident of Aprica. Then born in Canoscia Wiri, then born in Canoscia
[Kenosha - IP] Viscaya [Basque region]. I got bogged down in vain researches in the region of Bilbao in the Basque region. All this as a consequence of errors in the entries, of the malcomprehension of languages and lack of knowledge. Probably Guiseppina was the daughter of Italian emigrants, in a town famous for its canned food, and 150 km from Chicago. How come she was together with Kroats, Serbs and Jews from the Balkans? We shall never know. I have engaged in a long voyage into the past. This is why I remain watchful so it will not happen again. Best regards, Ferruccio Scala "

Miriam writes:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What Shall We Do With An Orphaned Segment?

One of these inquiries that appears every day or so in my email inbox reads as follows:
As you are in the process of writing your July lecture on DNA and the Lazarus tool, I thought that it would be appropriate for me to ask you what should I make of the fact that I match about 50 **0Pikholz DNA kits?
My kit # is [redacted].

Best, Olivier Szlos
So I have a look, as I usually do, and see that he indeed matches fifty-four of my kits.
  • twelve of my seventeen Rozdol-Pikholz kits 
  • all four of my Kwoczka cousins
  • two of my four sisters, my brother and me - but the other two sisters
  • one first cousin on my mother's side and two second cousins, one from each grandparent
  • two second cousins on my Pikholz side plus one of my two double second cousins
  • one third cousin and one 3C1R on my Pikholz side
  • one second cousin and one 2C1R on my father's mother's side
  • six other Pikholz to whom I am fairly closely related (4-5 cousin territory)
  • a few other Pikholz descendants 
  • and a few other kits not specifically related to me
GEDmatch has everyone listed at 4.5 generations or closer. It looked like a decent vein to mine.

On the other hand, Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob are not on Olivier's match list and in general, the potential for patterns of matching segments looked weak.

Six of Olivier's matches with my project have a longest segment of 20 cM or more, but three of those are my brother, one sister and I, all over 26 cM. That in itself got my attention. I ran a series of chromosome browsers but no matter how I did it, the only interesting group is this.

OK, excellent match. But which of my families does it come from? Nothing at all from Aunt Betty or Uncle Bob, but my father may have received this segment while they didn't. But surely someone else must have.  One would think, after all that testing!

On my grandmother's side, Olivier has matches with Marshal (my double second cousin) and my other cousins Susan, Fred and Shabtai. But not there. (And not with Marshal's brother at all.)

On my grandfather's side, there are matches with my second cousins Terry and Marty, but not on this segment. And not at all with Herb, Rhoda and Roz. And none of Olivier's matches with the four Kwoczka cousins fall on this segment. (They match each other enough to identify that Olivier has a distant common ancestor with the Kwoczkas.)

Or maybe our match with Olivier comes from my mother's side. But only one of our two first cousins is a match with Olivier. And one of two second cousins on my grandfather's side and one of four on my grandmother's side. Needless to say, none of those matches show up on "our segment."

Moving a bit further away on the Pikholz side, my regular readers will recall that my great-grandfather Hersch Pikholz had two Pikholz parents. Hersch's father seems closely related to Mordecai and Taube Pikholz and six of their descendants match Olivier - not very strongly, mind you - and in any event, not on our segment. And not much with each other either.

Two of those six are related to Hersch Pikholz through both of his parents, but others who are related only through Hersch's mother Rivka Feige do match Olivier at all.

So in some ways this is very typical - lots of matches but not much we can do with them.This is not the first time I have run into someone who match my siblings but no one else, but the other occasions have been smaller segments - 10, 12, maybe seventeen cM. This orphaned segment - one with no clear ancestry - came to three of us in chunks of more than 26 cM. And Judith has two bits there that total more than 17 cM.

I have done my due diligence here and it has left me frustrated. Sometimes you do everything you are supposed to do and it doesn't help.

The one thing we do know is that Olivier's father has those same matches, so we are at least certain which of Olivier's sides this comes from. His geography is the Lublin area of Poland, which is not much help.

Housekeeping notes
I'll be speaking in Hebrew for the IGS Rishon Lezion branch, 6:30 PM 19 June at the Rishon Lezion Museum, 2 Ahad Haam Street.

When I sent out my pre-Passover greetings and genealogy summary to the Pikholz descendants, I asked if anyone wants to attend the Conference in Orlando and introduce one of my talks. Thus far one Rozdoler has registered - for the entire Conference, no less - and will introduce my presentation Monday morning. I have never met her, but I look forward to doing so in Orlando. The talk she will be introducing has a couple of references to her grandfather, great-grandfather and and both second and third great-grandparents.
–   Monday 24 July 9:45-11:00, Room Swan 9
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove
Introduced by Audrey Pickholz Sandford.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Jutte Leah Kwoczka's Lazarus Kit

Last summer at the IAJGS Conference in Seattle, I gave a new presentation called’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy. It was well-received but I felt it needed some changes. I also received a few more kits that I had to add. I am beginning to work on those for the Orlando Conference in July. This is the summary I submitted with my proposal.
Lazarus is a tool offered by, which can create a partial genome of a person based on autosomal test results of descendants on one hand and non-descendant relatives on the other. This recreated kit can be compared to other kits in order to help determine and clarify relationships. 
But for endogamous families, this is more complicated, especially when you consider that there are two distinct types of endogamy. 
This presentation will address the two types of endogamy and the way to best use Lazarus while reducing "contaminated" input inadvertently introduced due to multiple relationships. It will also address the use of Lazarus as a tool for DNA analysis. 
The presentation – much of which is based on the speaker's recently published book "ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People" – will use examples from the single-surname Pikholz Project.
The talk will take place on Tuesday 25 July at 2 PM in a room called "Osprey 2" and will be introduced by Mindie Kaplan. The handouts are mostly tree charts so people will be able to follow the family structure.

The kit I am most interested in recreating in this presentation is my great-grandfather Hersch Pikholz (~1853-1931), but along the way, I shall recreate kits for my father, my great-grandmother and Hersch's mother Rivka Feige, with a nod to my grandfather as well.

People who have done Family Finder tests are shaded in green.
It is the kit of my great-grandmother, Jutte Leah Kwoczka (~1855-1926), Hersch Pikholz' wife, which I wish to comment upon here. We have Family Finder tests for fifteen of her descendants - three grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. 

Those fifteen descendants should be fine as Group 1*. (Actually we have two more great-grandchildren, but I am not using their tests as their parents are already included.)

For Group 2*, I used the grandson of one of Jutte Leah's brothers and a great-grandson of the other. That gave me a Lazarus kit for Jutte Leah of 1490 cM, not quite enough for GEDmatch to make it useful for one-to-many comparisons to other people.

I figured I should be able to make up the missing 10 cM and then some by testing a great-great-grandson of Jutte Leah's brother Pinchas.

The "and then some" turned out to be more than one hundred cM and the new kit was 1816 cM, more than enough for batching.

Finally - well not quite finally - this week I received Family Finder results for a sister of the great-great-grandson that I had added previously, giving me a fourth person in Group 2. The total cM went up by another 16 cM, for a total of 1833 cM. Not very much gained there.

But there are definitely false matches in that total. Aunt Becky's husband, Uncle Harry, is the son of Pinchas Kwoczka's wife's sister. 

That means that Aunt Becky's two granddaughters share Zwiebel/Lewinter DNA with the three descendants of Pinchas - DNA which has nothing at all to do with Jutte Leah Kwoczka and should not (MUST NOT) be included in her Lazarus kit.

So I had no choice but to remove the granddaughters of Aunt Becky and Uncle Harry, leaving thirteen members of Group 1*. This reduced the size of Jutte Leah's kit to 1644 cM. The irrelevant Zwiebel/Lewinter DNA was 189 cM, a very significant amount.

Please note that the last day of Passover begins this evening (Sunday) - the last two days if you are still in exile. I'll not be reacting to comments made during the holiday until my Wednesday morning.

* In fact, GEDmatch gives you only slots for ten kits in Group 1. But I have more than that in this case, so I had to reverse Group1 1 and Group 2. That doesn't matter to the computation.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Second Cousins - Lydia's Family Finder Results

Less than three months ago we found the descendants of my mother's mother's missing sister Alta Rosenbloom Kaplan, who had remained in Russia when the others went to America. I wrote about this here, then again here when I met my second cousin Lydia in Columbus Ohio.

It took two months, but we now have Lydia's Family Finder results. As expected, her first eleven matches are her known second cousins. Eight are grandchildren of my grandmother Sarah and three are grandchildren of her brother Uncle Hymen.

The ISOGG table says that second cousins should share about 212.5 cM and Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Project (at that same link) has that about ten percent higher, so Lydia's numbers are very high. With one exception, all her second cousin matches are upwards of 342 cM and two are over 420 cM. It's worth noting that those two are not from just one of Alta's siblings - Kay is from my grandmother and Beverly is from Uncle Hymen.

Here is the whole set of matches for the twelve second cousins.

The average match between Sarah's grandchildren and Uncle Hymen's grandchildren is 346 cM (longest 47 cM). Between Sarah's grandchildren and Lydia the average is 365 cM (48 cM) and between Lydia and Hymen's grandchildren the average is 377 cM (59 cM). Those are large numbers but Lydia's total matches are less than 10% greater than the others.

It is very tempting to say that this is a normal result of structural endogamy, the kind that affects all Jewish families, especially those who come from the same areas. But that would be wrong.

Lydia's mother is not Jewish. Her matches with her second cousins should not be this large. They should certainly not be larger than the matches between the grandchildren of Sarah and Hymen. And lest anyone suggest that Lydia's non-Jewish mother may have Jewish roots, let's look at her myOrigins.

Lydia is estimated to be 45% Ashkenazi Jewish and 46% East Europe non-Jewish, plus a few fragments. This is what we would expect from a child of a Jew and a non-Jew. So no endogamy between her parents.

But there is more. Lydia's closest second cousin match is Kay, who also has Jewish DNA from only one parent. Kay's myOrigins shows 44% Ashkenazi Jewish, 6% Asia Minor and 50% West and Central Europe. No relation between her parents either. But Kay and Lydia share 438 cM!

So why are Lydia's second cousin matches nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the Rosenbloom second cousins? It seems to me that Lydia's grandparents Alta Rosenbloom and Berl (or Baruch, there is some debate) Kaplan must have been closely related. Even first cousins. That would give Lydia an extra dose of DNA to be shared by the second cousins.

As it happens, we can test this theory. In two weeks, on my Hungary/Slovakia trip, I'll be stopping in Nuremberg to see Lydia's first cousin Inna. And to take some of her DNA. Both of Inna's parents are Jewish so her matches with the second cousins should be significantly greater than Lydia's, benefitting from both the structural endogamy that Lydia lacks and the personal endogamy of related grandparents.

And if my summer plans work out, I will stop in Moscow on my way to Orlando, to see another first cousin of Lydia and Inna. That would be Lea and she too is Jewish from all directions. So if Lea and Inna match the second cousins significantly more than does Lydia, I shall see that as strong evidence that Alta and Berl are closely related. Whether we can use that to get anywhere is another question.

Speaking of my maternal grandmother, Sarah Rosenbloom Gordon, today (Thursday) is her yahrzeit. Fifty eight years.

Here she is with her husband and first four children. My mother, the youngest, was not yet born. Aunt Ethel and Uncle George are on the right.

The picture was taken in Vandergrift Pennsylvania.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Six Siblings - Part Four: Origins Revisited

Nine weeks ago, aftter we received my late brother's Family Finder results, I began a series called "Six Siblings." Part One was about FTDNA's "ancientOrigins" and "my Origins," neither of which I put much stock in. Parts Two and Three followed and dealt with comparisons among the siblings' matches. I intended Part Four to be about our second cousins and our matches with them, but we have a second cousin in a new line whose test results keep being postponed, so I have busied myself with other things.

In the meantime, FTDNA came out with a new version of myOrigins. An Enhanced Version. In their words:

This simple tool delivers both new and newly refined reference populations, including smaller trace-percentage results previously not available. These latest additions to our populations and the refinement of existing clusters ​provide a deeper look into your family history and what makes you…YOU.

The original myOrigins results for the six siblings, in birth order
Now the first thing everyone does is to look to see what has changed since the earlier version, both in the product and in our own results. If we happened to have saved our results. I wouldn't have saved mine, but as it happened I had just blogged about it in Six Siblings, so I had our results, though not those of other project members.

(Let me remind my readers that I do not take this analysis seriously and certainly do not give much credence to the precision, but as they say, it's for entertainment purposes.)

So what has changed? Well, here is how the results look. Mine, for instance. Can you spell B-O-R-I-N-G? It shows 91% Ashkenazi Jewish, 8% Asia Minor and <2% North African.
So 1% migrated from Western/Central Europe to Ashkenazi Jewish. No other changes.

Blue stars indicate changes
But it is not quite so. Genetic genealogist Diahan Southard posted a chart explaining the differences in terminology and I shall assume she writes with authority.

I had been assuming that my Eastern Middle East and North Africa were an expression of the Sephardic Jewish Diaspora

"Not so" says Diahan's chart. What was previously Ashkenazi Diaspora was actually both Ashkenazi and Sephardic. (Why FTDNA spells only one has a "c" at the end? Who knows!) In any case, they think my 91% is all Ashkenazic and the Turkey-Azerbaijan and North Africa are meant to be just that.

FTDNA explains what the two Jewish groups are, but does not explain why they had previously been grouped together under the heading "Ashkenazi."

So here are the results for the six siblings, again omitting those categories where we have no representation at all. (We appear in birth order.)
  • Each of us is 91-99% Ashkenazi and within 1% of the old version results.
  • The average of our Ashkenazi results went up from 94% to 95%.
  • None of us any Sephardic, as defined by FTDNA.
  • Other than Amy and Sarajoy, the total of out Ashkenazi and Asia Minor is at least 99%.
  • Judith, Amy and I had our Eastern ME changed to Asia Minor. Sarajoy did not.
  • A lot more tiny fragments which are really just for entertainment.

In short, BORING!
For comparison, I looked at the myOrigins for our two closest relatives, my father's sister and brother. Aunt Betty is 99% Ashkenazi and Uncle Bob is 97%, with a few fragments which are not attributed to Asia Minor.

I was not going to write about this at all, but it has been the subject of a lot of talk on genetic genealogy social media. Besides, there have been two other new developments that I have found even less interesting. (Not to disparage other population groups who may have results of significance.

One is the new MtDNA analysis. The company writes
We’re excited to announce the release of mtDNA Build 17, the most up-to-date scientific understanding of the human genome, haplogroups and branches of the mitochondrial DNA haplotree.

As a result of these updates and enhancements—the most advanced available for tracing your direct maternal lineage—some customers may see a change to their existing mtDNA haplogroup. This simply means that in applying the latest research, we are able to further refine your mtDNA haplogroup designation, giving you even more anthropological insight into your maternal genetic ancestry.
My MtDNA has nothing new.

The other is the Ancestry Genetic Communities which they describe as follows:
This new advancement is only possible through the millions of AncestryDNA members around the world who have chosen to participate in the Research Project as well as the massive collection of family trees, only available on Ancestry. The science behind this feature was recently published in one of the prominent scientific journals Nature Communications...
At launch there will be over 300 Genetic Communities all around the world to go and explore, with many more on the horizon. We will compare you to all of them and list the ones you have a connection to based on your DNA. These Genetic Communities dot the globe and are often more specific than what’s possible to discover with an ethnicity estimate, providing a more recent connection to your past.

What they told me? This.
Exactly what I expected? By no means. But interesting? No. About what I would expect from someone who is 91% Ashkenazi.

Housekeeping notes
Actually, as far as housekeeping goes, pre-Passover is nearly complete. Cooking and such remains to be done before the seder Monday evening. (Remember, we have only one here in Israel.)

My pre-holiday letters to the Hebrew-speaking Pikholz descendants have been mailed. The email summaries and holiday greetings will probably go out today (Sunday).

The rabbis of old tell us that just as Nisan was the month of geulah (redemption) from Egypt, so we expect it to be the month of geulah in our own day. Faster please.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Disappearing Skalat Families

Blogger deleted the first version of this while I was writing it. So I'm trying to recreate it.

The Families
The Pikholz families of east Galicia, as of last week
The chart on the right has appeared on the Pikholz Project website since its inception. It breaks down the Pikholz families for which we have four or more generations, into east and west and by family size. The western families are from Rozdol and the eastern families are from Skalat. Inevitably, there are a few families which we cannot identify with either group.

A few days ago, I received the following remarkably non-specific inquiry, of the sort I receive several times a week.
Hi, your gedmatch kit came up as a match to mine (Axxxxxx), and I was wondering if you might have any info or ideas about the connection (like what side of your family etc.) Do you have a tree online? I am on ancestry and geni if you want to see mine.
I responded immediately as I often do and when he thanked me for my prompt reply, I wrote something like:
I try to answer inquiries like this quickly. If I don't, they end up in "the pile" and who knows when I'll get to it.
I am a terrible procrastinator. I like to go after the low-hanging fruit, to do the things that are easy. I call my research "electric" because it follows the path of least resistance. I put them on my calendar of things to do and move them along from month to month, sometimes without even looking at them. It was always thus, but it has gotten worse in the past four years as I have gotten more and more involved in DNA-based research.

For instance, in the run-up to the publication of my book "ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People," I found enough genetic evidence to allow me to declare exactly how certain of our families are connected to one another. As a result, I was able to merge some of those families together.

I demonstrated that two men named Moshe Hersch are in fact the same man and I also determined who his parents are. I demonstrated that the family I called "TONKA" was part of the family I called "HUSIATYN"  and they together they are part of a family called :"LAOR" as is the family called Rita. I recently confirmed the Tonka-Husiatyn relationship based on a paper trail, as I described here.

And there were more such discoveries - two years ago.

Updating the website
So what's the big deal and why am I writing about it now? Well, my website is very high maintenance. I do it all by hand and am not interested in trusting it to an online service that will do everything automatically.

When I find some "new" Pikholz descendant who lived a hundred years ago, I have to update my database, and the relevant web pages. These could include immigration, the Given Name Analysis, recording and displaying European records, the schematic tree of the

The first lines of the Given Name Analysis for older Pikholz descendants named Shimon, Simon or similar

particular family, the Virtual Cemetery and yahrzeit table, the Holocaust pages, the password-protected tree in outline form that includes information on the living and more.

It's a ton of work.

It's even more work when I make a change in the structures of the families. That involves adding parents' names, changing links and names, and more in all those departments which I mentioned above. A simple example is the Shimon list above where I can now add parents' names to the first and third entries.  And we now have a death index entry for Shimon, so we can replace the 1835 birth date with "1930."

It's a huge project and I have been moving it along my calendar for two years.

Doing it
One day last week, probably prompted by my discussion with Rita which I described here, I decided to work some of those mergers into the website. The family pages RITA, TONKA and HUSIATYN are gone as Nachman Pikholz of the LAOR family expands from 162 descendants to 377.

While I was at it, I merged my own family, Steve's Uncle Selig's and the Riss/Baar family (from my great great-grandmother's first husband) into ROSA, which now numbers 687 descendants instead of just 110.

And the descendants of Mordecai and Taube Pikholz (the family called ELIEZER) now number 621 instead of only 395. That reflects the addition of their sons Simon (previously DORA family), Szulim (ORENSTEIN) and Arie Leib (MATI).
I also got around to adding two new five-generation families STERN and WEINSTEIN, whose origins are unclear. (I have been in touch with them for nearly two years.)

The eastern families are now down to nine, where the image at the top of this page shows seventeen.
The ROSA and ELIEZER family schematic charts became unwieldy, so I kept four families on their own pages, similar to what I had already done with FISCHEL from Rozdol.

That leaves cleaning up the links. I have done some. I will probably do some more. The rest will go on the calendar.

Housekeeping notes
Dates and times for the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have been published. Here are mine.
 –   Monday 24 July 9:45-11:00, Room Swan 9    
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

–   Monday 24 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey

Tuesday 25 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy

–    Wednesday 26 July 8:15-9:30, Room Swan 8
Why Did My Father Know That His Grandfather Had An Uncle Selig?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

New Rozdol Births 1906-1915

According to Yad Vashem's Pinkas Kehillot, there were 2262 Jews in Rozdol in 1900, 2110 in 1910 and 1725 in 1921. In all three of those years, the Jews were just under half the town's population. The population was decreasing but Jewish babies were still being born. According to JRI-Poland, 997 of them in the years 1906-1915. Thirty-eight have at least one parent named Pikholz, though that spelling was gone - replaced by "Pickholz."
Of the thirty-eight, twelve are people I already have in my database, usually with birth dates and house numbers. Sometimes the birth years are not the same as what their relatives remembered in my interviews with them or in Pages of Testimony.

Parents of seventeen others are known from previous births and I simply have to add these new ones. The Excel file has the house numbers, the parents' names and towns of origin. It does not have birth dates other than the years or maternal grandparents' names and there is no indication if the child died while young. Those seventeen births were to ten sets of parents.

One birth is to a couple whose identity is unclear because we have several of them, but the actual birth record, when it becomes available, should give us the maternal grandparents' names, thus solving that question.

The remaining eight births are to couples I cannot yet identify.
  • Three births to Markus Ber Gross or Grossman and Szerka Pickholz.
  • One birth to Samuel Leuter and Rechel Pickholz.
  • One birth to Symon Harzstark and Rechel Pickholz, both of of Mikolayev.
  • Two births to Aron Schymin Morgenstern or Morganthau and Syma Pickholz, both of Mikolayev.
  •  One birth to Tobias Pickholz and Marjem Kleingesich.
The maternal grandparents' names on the actual records should help, at least for the four couples where the Pickholz is the mother.

There are also four births to Benzion Bender or Bander and Selda Pickholz or Pistohl, both of Mikolayev. I don't know if this is ours or not. (There seem to be a lot of Mikolayev births here. Very possibly the mothers are sisters. But there are also a lot of non-Pikholz Mikolayev births.)

I have noted some additional records which may be ours. As we move further from the original families, we have more married daughters' names to keep track of. I can no longer do a straight "sounds like Pikholz" search and assume everyone is covered. I'll deal with this when we see the actual records linked online.

I'm still hoping to see post-1901 Rozdol deaths.

Housekeeping notes
For the first time, I am actually thinking about checking into the conference hotel Friday.
Dates and times for the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have been published. Here are mine.

 –   Monday 24 July 9:45-11:00, Room Swan 9  
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove
–   Monday 24 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey
Tuesday 25 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy
–    Wednesday 26 July 8:15-9:30, Room Swan 8
Why Did My Father Know That His Grandfather Had An Uncle Selig?

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Striking Out in Subcarpathia

I have addressed the possibility that my Pikholz line lived in Subcarpathia (Ukraine) back in the 1700s when it was Hungary. For instance here.

I updated it last summer in three sections beginning with "Heritage Subcarpathia" in which the theory seems to become real.

To review, here are the basics.

  • We do not know how long our family has been in Galicia or where we were before that.
  • Ron McComb pointed me to Vyshkovo in Subcarpathia regarding his mother-in-law's Pikholcz Hungarian family. Maybe we lived on their land and took their surname.
  • I attended the inaugural meeting of the Subcarpathian SIG at the IAJGS Conference six years ago. (I can't attend this year as it conflicts with one of my own presentations.)
  • Lara Diamond's Subcarpathian Project has a load of Pikkel and Pikel in two towns very close to Vyshkovo. At her urging, I had a look and made a preliminary tree of them.
  • I began looking for Subcarpathian Pikkel descendants to do Y-37 tests to see if they match ours.
  • Rachel Unkefer's Y-DNA project showed people who match me closely (in Y-DNA terms) in the same area, particularly Berehova. My best match there is with a Spira.
  • There are two Spiras with perfect Y-DNA matches to us - one at Y-67 and one at Y-37 - and another one step away at Y-67. No other match is closer than two steps.

  • One of the Pikkels (now Pickel with the accent on the second syllable) agreed to test and I took his DNA when I was in Chicago last summer.

New developments
The Chicago test shows haplogroup R-M269, which is the same as ours, but there is no match due to the more specific characteristics. He may be relevant for other projects, but not Rachels's and certainly not to the specifics of the Pikholz-Spira group.

I wasn't ready to give up on the Pikkels and kept chasing after potential matches, particularly on Facebook. Eventually, I got a bite. My contact was through his mother and he agreed to my sending him a test. I feared it might be a waste and he would match the Pickel test, not ours.

Today we saw results. My fears were well-founded. He and Mr. Pickel are in the same group, one step apart. No match to us.

So much for that strategy. I need a new one. Patience, perhaps. I am not giving up on anything even though I haven't a clue how to best proceed.

Housekeeping notes  
For the first time, I am actually thinking about checking into the conference hotel Friday.
Dates and times for the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have been published. Here are mine.
 –   Monday 24 July 9:45-11:00, Room Swan 9  
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove
–   Monday 24 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey
Tuesday 25 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy
–    Wednesday 26 July 8:15-9:30, Room Swan 8
Why Did My Father Know That His Grandfather Had An Uncle Selig?

Plans for my Slovakia/Hungary trip with cousins Linda and Cyndi are moving along. I am stopping in Nuremberg on the way to see my newfound Rosenbloom second cousin Inna and her family. Then meeting up with Linda and Cyndi in Prague four weeks from today (Thursday). Meeting a couple of Zelinka cousins in Prague, as well.
Nuremberg to Prague is by bus. The rest we'll be driving.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Violating My Own Rule? - Mina's Parents

Israel's Rule
There is a presentation that I have given a few times and will be reprising (with updates and revisions) at the IAJGS Conference in Orlando, called

Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

which explores the question "What do you do when the hard proofs just aren't there, but you are as sure as you can be what they would show if you could find them?" An integral part of that presentation is this slide.
That "one more piece of evidence" is often no simple matter.

Rita's Family
Rita and I go back to the beginning of the Pikholz Project. Her Pikholz family is from the Skalat area, like mine, and she knew most of the descendants of her great-grandfather Arie Leib Pikholz and his wife Ricie Epstein, including those here on the right.

Sara Beile, also known as Soltche, went to the United States in 1907.

Sophie's husband went to the US in 1909 and went back to bring his wife and daughter. Chaje's husband (Rita's grandfather) went to the US in 1913. Apparently the plan was that Sophie's family and Chaje and her daughter would follow soon after, but the First World War intervened and travel was impossible.

In the meantime, Sophie's husband died and eventually the two sisters, each with a daughter, sailed to the US on the Aquitania, arriving at Ellis Island 22 February 1921.

Note that Sophie and Mina are Pickholtz. That's because Sophie's husband was her cousin, Solomon Pikholz. Ray and Mina's daughter "GGR" (the fake name she used on her DNA test) thought that Sophie and Solomon were first cousins, but there was no documentation and no one had any idea who his parents were.

(On the right are Ricie, Chaja, Arie Leib, Sophie and Mina, about 1911.)

I dealt with that like this:
That's how this has stood for years.

Solomon and Sophie get married
Last week, Mark Halpern announced some new records in the JRI-Poland index and while looking at them, I noticed some records that I had downloaded earlier but had not gotten around to recording - or even looking at.  This, for instance.
Groom: Salomon Pikholz, son of Ojzer Pikholz and Chaja Dwora Zlotnik, born 28 February 1879.
Bride: Sossie Epstein, daughter of Ryssi Epstein and Leib Pikholz, born 1880. (She herself said 1881.)

Hey, I know these people! Not only that, but I know him from before.
A birth record for Salmen, same mother, same birthdate.

And the same father acknowledging paternity.

We have two older sons for this couple, both known only by their death records - Jacob who died in 1900 at age 34 and Isak who died in 1882 at age ten.

Based on the eldest known son's birth in 1866, Ojzer was probably born about 1841. As it happens, we have no other Ojzer, but we do
have an Ajzer, who died in Vienna 21 April 1893 at age 51. So he was born about 1842. Vienna records show he was from Kozivka, which is where Arie Leib's family lived. 

He is buried in an unmarked grave.

Right about here.

So it looks like Arie Leib's mystery brother is Ojzer, buried in Vienna. What's the story? The family moved to Vienna, the father died and the son went back to Galicia to be raised by a family member? Maybe that'e why Rita's cousin Benny (Ray's brother) "knew" that Solomon's father was Arie Leib's brother Simon. Because he raised him? Simon had a son Ojser born 1893 in Kozowka, so that actually makes sense.

"My grandparents were cousins"
When I first met some of the Rozdol Pikholz descendants, they all knew to tell me that their grandparents, Berisch and Golda, were both Pikholz. First cousins, in fact.

But as I proceeded to document the family, that turned out not to be the case. Isak and Pinchas were not brothers and their wives had nothing to do with one another or with the Pikholz family.

Isak's parents are Dawid and Serka and Pinchas' parents are Hersch Leib and Sara. Berisch and Golde are not first cousins. They may well be second cousins, but I cannot even prove that beyond a doubt.
Which brings us back to Mina's parents Sophie and Solomon. Everyone says they were first cousins. But maybe not. No one - except Mina as a child - knew Solomon, who had died in Europe. Maybe "cousins" was understood to be first cousins but was actually second cousins or first cousins once removed. Or even uncle and niece.

More than likely they were indeed first cousins, but as I say so often, once I write that down, the subject will be closed and no one will even re-examine it. So which of these do I choose? 
 Even if I am really really convinced, my own rule says "one more piece of evidence." 

Might DNA help?
There are three people in this close family who have done autosomal tests - Rita, Mina's daughter "GGR" and Ray's daughter Thelma. Before we factor in Mina's double dose of Pikholz DNA, the three are simply second cousins to one another. GGR is also a third cousin to the other two.

The wiki at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) tells us that a typical second cousin match would be 212.5 cM. All three matches here are well above that, moreso than I would expect from second cousins, even in an endogamous population.

I am in the midst of preparing some new statistics from my own families for Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Project, and of seventy-three pairs of known second cousins, I am seeing an average of 395 cM total and an average longest segment of 50 cM. Rita's match with GGR is 30% above my average for total cM and Thelma's two matches are very close to my average.

Mina's father, Solomon Pikholz
So GGR's double dose of Pikholz DNA does not show up at all with Thelma and I really cannot say if the 513 cM that GGR shares with Rita says anything about the degree of cousinhood of GGR's grandparents. There is nothing here that qualifies as "one more piece of evidence." But I have no idea where such evidence might come from.

So although I now know that Solomon's parents are Ojzer Pikholz and Chaya Dwora Zlotnik,  I cannot in good conscience say that Ojser is definitely the brother of Arie Leib. Though I am pretty sure he is. But both Rita and Mina's grandson are really quite certain they are, so I guess I will go with it - rule or no rule.

As an aside, Rita wondered if the 1914 marriage was an actual marriage or just one to "regulate" an earlier Jewish marriage, perhaps in preparation for emigration. (After all, Mina was born in 1903!) This is easily settled.
Please click so you can see this properly.
Solomon's 1909 passenger list says he is married to Sophia and he is going to his sister-in-law, Soltche. So Solomon and Sophie were married by 1909 and the 1914 marriage was indeed a formality. Rita says it probably had to with his having been drafted and she needed the formal marriage to get spousal benefits.

Housekeeping notes
Dates and times for the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have been published. Here are mine.

 –   Monday 24 July 9:45-11:00, Room Swan 9  
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove
–   Monday 24 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey
Tuesday 25 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy
–    Wednesday 26 July 8:15-9:30, Room Swan 8
Why Did My Father Know That His Grandfather Had An Uncle Selig?