Sunday, May 29, 2016

Before Galicia

Nearly three years ago,  I posted a bit of speculation whereby our Pikholz families -  both the Skalaters and the Rozdolers - came to Galicia in the late 1700s from Visk, in Maramaros County Hungary. This town is now called Vyshkovo and it is in Ukraine, just north of the Romanian border. Khust is 10 miles NNW and Sighet is 23 miles ESE. I don't know much about this mountainous area of Sub-Carpathia, though one of the outposts of our Rozdol family, Skole, is only 68 miles to the north.

The speculation was based on the fact that a Hungarian (non-Jewish) family named Pikolcz lived in the town. They were landowners - some kind of minor nobility - who had fallen on hard times and I wondered if perhaps our family had lived on their lands and when required to take surnames, took Pikholz as their own.

There are no records for Vyshkovo for that period so the whole thing was left in the realm of speculation these past fifteen years.

For the past few months, I have been watching in awe as my friend, colleague and sometimes collaborator Lara Diamond blogs week after week at Lara's Jewnealogy about her families' records. It seems like every month she adds another ancestor. (When is the last time I did that!) Most of the events in her records were after 1895, but some were records that documented births decades previous. I knew that the towns she was looking at are in today's southwest Ukraine, but had once been Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

When I told her my Vyshkovo story, she said that not only are her two primary towns very close to Vyshkovo ("right across the river") but that quite a few of them were for people named Pikkel. Maybe these folks had something to do with me. Maybe if we actually lived in Vyshkovo, we were one family.

Lara had transcribed the records into a spreadsheet. They included 102 Pikkel birth records, twenty-six marriage records and and forty-six death records. Almost all of them were from the towns Vajnag and Talaborfalva, now known as Vonihove and Tereblya. Talaborfalva is nine miles from Vyshkovo and Vajnag is maybe half that. Though it no doubt seemed like longer considering that they had to get down from the mountain.

I entered all of those plus the entries in the JewishGen Hungarian SIG database and at that gave me a total of seventy-four men and sixty-four women with the birth names Pikkel or variant spellings. After sorting out the relationships as best I could, I have eighteen men and twelve women from Lara's lists whose parents are thus far unknown, plus another fourteen from the JewishGen lists. The rest I was able to organize in to families. There is nothing in the way of given names that indicates a connection to our Pikholz families, but there wouldn't be since we would have long gone our separate ways.

I did nothing more than glance at Yad Vashem or American records, or even the post-1895 Vyshkovo records - there is time enough to do that if this pans out. The new Yad Vashem site is not working well, but I looked for people named Pikkel who submitted Pages of Testimony for other people named Pikkel and there are twenty-eight of those. I hoped that would give me some candidates for Y-DNA testing since I have very clear Y results for both our Rozdol and our Skalat branches.. So far I have one candidate in suburban Chicago, whose phone goes to voice message.

I also wrote to about ten Pikkel on Facebook, with one response so far. He is not relevant.

And I succeeded in contacting one person who had submitted a tree on Ancestry. He referred me to a family member in New York State who confirmed that her family is from Vajnag, but so far no Y-DNA candidate.

So this is all very preliminary. But I find it quite exciting. More as it happens.

Housekeeping notes

I'm off to London and Toronto on the first of June. (Looks like I may need a sweater and a raincoat.) The offer to order (signed) books for pick up in those two places expires 30 May. The savings in shipping is significant. Order here.

The summer is falling into place. I'll be speaking in Buffalo Grove Illinois, Baltimore, Fairfax Virginia, Charlotte and Durham North Carolina, Cincinnati and perhaps another venue or two, before heading to Seattle for three presentations at the IAJGS Conference. See details here.

You can order books for Seattle pickup here. I'll have books with me at the other venues.

I shall also be giving an evening presentation during the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) on 20 July.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Let Me Say It Once Again - Siblings!

Less than a year ago, in a tail-end segment in a larger blog, I discussed the importance of siblings' testing.

The case at hand then was our fourth cousins Anna and David, two of the three living great-great-grandchildren of Uncle Selig Pikholz. Or more precisely, the demonstration that they are indeed our fourth cousins.

Anna and David are half-siblings and both have all their Jewish DNA from the father that they share.

Many of us have a tendency to test one person from each family, then move on to known first and second cousins, in order to get a genetic picture of our families. Partly it's a matter of budget. Who has funds available to test everyone. And besides, we tell ourselves, how much different will one sibling be from another. And if I have two, do I really need the third? And the fourth?

Many of us did that back in the pre-genetic days when the biggest thing was interviewing relatives. Who has time to get to everyone? And how different will one older relative be from another. We know they can and will be different, but we rationalize because we really cannot get to everyone.

Many of us did the same with records. When the AGAD records - for east Galicia - became available in the archives in Warsaw, we often saw hundreds of relevant records in the index. Our budgets were limited so we'd order one or two of each family. The parents are the same from one to another, so what's the point of spending money for another six births to the same couple.

The same is true for DNA. As this is important, I am going to quote myself verbatim before adding a new point.

If we look at the chromosomes below, we see that Anna matches everyone in my family except my sister Sarajoy and me. Her brother does not match the two of us nor does he match our second cousins Rhoda and Terry.

On Chromosome 8, both have a nice set of matches with Aunt Betty, Uncle Bob and Herb - who, remember, are their third cousins once removed.

Both have very large matches with Marty on Chromosome 15 - Anna's is 50 cM!

But Chromosome 3 is remarkable. Anna's brother has a nice set of matches with five of us, two of which are a bit more than 20 cM. But Anna has seven matches, all over 30 cM and four of them are 57-69 cM! This is huge for four fourth cousins and three third cousins once removed. And keep in mind that Sarajoy and I are not there at all.

If Anna were not known to be a cousin, these numbers would jump off the page - but only by looking at the largest segments or the individual chromosomes.

In fact, if we only looked at the Family Finder match list (on the right), we would see nothing remarkable at all. We would not even see that Anna's matches with us are significantly different from her brother's.

There are lessons here galore. Lessons about looking specifically at the large matches. Lessons about looking at the chromosomes, not just at the total cMs and the overall suggested relationships. 

And perhaps most important is the lesson about testing cousins and siblings. Before Anna tested, her brother's results were anything but inspiring. If someone had said "Why do we need her? We have her brother!" look what we would have lost out on. 

And even with Anna, if all we had from our side had been Uncle Bob, Terry, Rhoda, Lee, Judith, Sarajoy and me, it would have been a fine test collection of seven people but we would have missed the best results. 
In the meantime, we have one new test, Lee's brother Marshal. Does he matter? Could he possibly make the case stronger than it already is? Let's have a look.

Lee's matches with David and Anna on FTDNA
Marshal matches only David - and FTDNA considers it much weaker than Lee's.
Marshal's match - such as it is - adds nothing.

Let's look at GEDmatch, where Lee has that 31.3 cM segment with Anna and 9.8 cM with David on chromosome 3 and another 9.2 cM with Anna on chromosome 21.

What does Marshal have? 
Marshal matches David, but not on the chromosomes where Lee has his significant matches. And Marshal doesn't match Anna at all.

So indeed, why do we need Marshal in this analysis? (In fact, no one pushed him to take the test after lee had done so. Marshal decided that on his own.)

But this is the wrong question. This test was ordered for Cousin Margie, their mother. She was not able to do it and after she died, Lee took her test. I assume that was a random decision - Marshal could have taken it then. If he had, Lee could have said (we all could have said) "Marshal has tested, why do we need another one?" From where we are now, we know the answer to that. Lee had this wonderful match with Anna that Marshal didn't. Like three of my sisters who match Anna, while Sarajoy and I do not. And David's unremarkable matches do not compare to Anna's.

So let me say it again. Test siblings. As many as you can. As many as will cooperate. As many as your budget will allow. And even moreso, test a variety and a multitude of first cousins. Test every second cousin. as many as you can. Don't say "Josh already tested."

This is probably not the last time you will hear me on this particular soapbox.

Housekeeping notes
The deadline for ordering "ENDOGÀMY: One Family, One People" for pick-up in London on 1 June or in Toronto at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference is 30 May.

I shall be speaking in Buffalo Grove Illinois on Thursday 14 July. Time and address to be announc3d.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Cousin Debbie

In the course of putting together my summer travel schedule, I did some emailing with Deborah Long, the founder of the Triangle Jewish Genealogical Society in North Carolina. I shall be speaking for them on Sunday 31 July in Durham. (Program directors please note: The Thursday before and the Monday after are still available.)

Debbie did a MtDNA test more than six years ago, but only recently did the autosomal (Family Finder) and her match list came in at the end of April. She sent me a note with all the enthusiasm of the new DNA researcher (including the required exclamation points) showing me that we are second-fourth cousins. She gave me access to her data at FTDNA and I saw that in addition to me, Debbie is a suggested second-fourth cousin to three of my four sisters, my father's sister (Aunt Betty) and my double second cousin Lee. But her best match with my family - and her third best match overall - is Lee's brother Marshal, who is a suggested second-third cousin.

I fiddled a bit within the limited reach of the FTDNA chromosome browser, then helped her upload to GEDmatch where I could do this properly. The matches on GEDmatch are different. Two of her three best matches with my family are Pinchas and Bruce, descendants of the brothers of my great-grandmother Jutte Leah Kwoczka. They are 3.6-3.7 generations away on GEDmatch but only suggested third-fifth cousins on FTDNA. Other matches of under four generations on GEDmatch are Marshal and Lee, Aunt Betty, two of my sisters and my second cousin Susan on my grandMOTHER's side. (Susan is also a second cousin to Marshal and Lee.) FTDNA has Debbie and Susan as suggested fifth-remote cousins.

Debbie and the Kwoczkas
I decided to do several chromosome browsers on GEDmatch, with different combinations of my family and Debbie. First I did the Kwoczkas. I used Pinchas, Bruce and Pinchas' nephew Ben, plus the thirteen (of fourteen) descendants of Jutte Leah that Debbie matches. The results were weak, but there are two of some note. On all the following charts, note that the start and end points are often identical from match to match.

Chromosome 4 has a nice grouping of Pinchas, Ben and Bruce, but without any of Jutte Leah's descendants. The segment is small - not quite 6 cM. Nothing to get excited about, but worth noting, perhaps for future reference. Perhaps, for instance with better results for one of Debbie's relatives.

Chromosome 9 has a match of just over 10 cM with Bruce and matches just under 10 cM with (Aunt Betty's son) Ed, my father's brother Uncle Bob, followed by Aunt Betty, my second cousins Rhoda, Marshal and Lee. Nothing remarkable here, but it does appear that Debbie and the Kwoczkas have a common ancestor.

Debbie's ancestrral surnames and geography:
  • Auerbach [Poland],
  • Chonig [Poland],
  • Dobrzynski [Poland],
  • Galas [Poland],
  • Kozlowski [Poland],
  • Landau [Poland],
  • Munk [Hungary Slovakia],
  • Praskier [Poland],
  • Weisz [Hungary Slovakia]
do not point to anything meaningful vis-a vis the Kwoczkas.

Debbie and Nana
Since there was nothing obvious between Debbie and my Pikholz side, I had a look at my grandmother's side, which also includes Marshal and Lee whose mother is a double first cousin of my father. Nana is Bauer and Stern on her mother's side and Rosenzweig and Zelinka on her father's side.

Outside Marshal, Lee and the descendants of my grandmother, there are only a few others who have tested. Susan, our second cousin, Shabtai - a second cousin of my father on my gm's mother's side, and Fred - a half-second cousin of ours on my gm's father's side. (Fred's grandmother is his only source of Jewish DNA.)

I do not see my 5C1R on the Rosenzweig side among Debbie's matches and although my fifth cousin Cyndi on the Zelinka side is a fifth-remote with Debbie on FTDNA, I do not see a match between them on GEDmatch.

This time the chromosome browser was much more helpful.

Chromosome 2 has a segment with significant matches between Debbie and everyone in the group except Susan, Shabtai and my sister Amy. (Well, Ed's isn't exactly significant, but it's there.) Most are in the 19.5-20.5 cM range and aside from Ed, they all have the same starting point. The significant match is Fred. His match tells us that this segment comes from Nana's father, either the Rosenzweigs or the Zelinkas. Both those families are from Trencin County Slovakia, back into the 1700s.

But we can get more specific, using the matches on the X chromosome.

Here we see Aunt Betty, Uncle Bob and all four of my sisters, with some of those segments identical. This cannot come from my father's father because the X cannot go from father to son. It could come from Nana's mother's side, but nothing hints at that as a source. That leaves Nana's father's side, as on chromosome 2 above, and it cannot be from his Rosenzweig father. It must be, therefore, from my great-great-grandmother, who is a Zelinka. And the line from her to the common ancestor with Debbie cannot have a father-son on either Debbie's side or ours. Since both our side and Debbie's almost certainly have another woman or two on the way to the common ancestor, I do not expect that person to be either a Zelinka or one of Debbie's Munks.

In citing her ancestral surnames, Debbie mentions Munk from Slovakia. She specifically mentioned the town of Baán in Trencin County..According to the JewishGen Communities database, Baán is the Hungarian name for what is now known as Bánovce nad Bebravou, located at 48°43' N 18°16' . This is Zelinka-Rosenzweig territory, though we do not have anyone in that particular town, so far as we know. But now with Debbie, it seems we do.

Descendants of Rivka Feige Pikholz
I ran a chromosome browser on GEDmatch which includes the descendants of my great-grandfather Hersch Pikholz, one descendant of each of his two full sisters and four descendants of one of his two half-sisters. (The other has no matches with Debbie.) The common ancestor here is my great-great-grandmother Rivka Feige Pikholz.

Debbie has no matches to speak of involving Hersch's two full sisters. There are, however, matches involving Lillian and Erika - a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter of Hersch's half sister Breine Riss.

First of all, Debbie has three segments of 5-6 cM - on chromosomes 1, 3 and 16 - where she matches both Lillian and Erika. So we see a common ancestor between Debbie and Rivka Feige (or perhaps her first husband).

Second, Debbie has matching segments with Lillian and my second cousin Rhoda on chromosome 7. These segments of are also in the 5.5-6 cM range. If these are legitimate segments, they too point to Rivka Feige.

On chromosome 11 (above), Debbie has matching segments of about 7.3 cM with Erika, Uncle Bob, one of my sisters and me. This too, points to a common ancestor for Debbie and Rivka Feige, though once again, the segments are small.

Finally, as an afterthought, I did the same chromosome browser again, adding three kits of descendants of Rivka Feige's two brothers who are not known to have additional Pikholz ancestry. That showed Debbie with one more matching segment in the 8.7-10.3 cM range. This is a segment on chromosome 19 and it includes Jane, three of my sisters and me.

Let us keep in mind that with all the matches of this sort, we cannot see how exactly they match Debbie without getting tests from some of her first and second cousins.

Due Diligence
I ran a chromosome browser on my mother's side - two first cousins and two second cousins on each side. There was nothing significant there with us, but Debbie has two small matches with my two second cousins (first cousins to each other) on my grandfather's side. On chromosome 15, the two matches are nearly 10 cM and have the same starting point. On chromosome 16, the two matches are identical - 5.62 cM. If these are real segments, they are probably on the Jaffe side of those cousins' grandfather. But likely a very long time ago.

Debbie matches thirteen of the fourteen Rozdol Pikholz descendants according to GEDmatch, with three at 4.0 generations or closer. (FTDNA shows only seven matches, with one as close as suggested third-fifth cousin.) Nothing particularly significant there, though there is a <10 cM match with two second cousins on chromosome 9 and another with two 1C1R of chromosome 16. The relevant surnames here aside from perhaps Pikholz, are Blum and Mensch.

Finally, I checked Debbie's matches with the rest of the Pikholz families, descendants of Nachman (b.1795), Peretz (b.1820), Mordecai (b.1805) and a few others whose lineage is unknown. Chromosome 1 has a match of about 8 cM with Irene and Gili, great-granddaughters of Peretz. Chromosome 13 has small overlapping matches with Jacob, Maciej and Maxine, descendants of Nachman.

Debbie also has two sets of matches on the X chromosome - one with Thelma and Daphne who are not know to be related, the other with Ron and Charlie, also not known to be related. These - and the Nachman/Peretz matches - are no doubt indicative of common ancestry, but probably no more than vestigal, from quite long ago.

Housekeeping notes
My London program with Debbie Kennett is barely three weeks away. It is under the joint sponsorship of the Guild of One-Name Studies and the JGS of Great Britain. Order tickets at

London will be followed immediate by the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Toronto, where I will be giving several presentations.

Those who want to order "ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People" for pick-up in London or Toronto, signed and with no shipping charge, may do so here until 30 May.

You can also order for pick-up at the IAJGS Conference in Seattle, where I'll be giving three presentations. Deadline for Seattle order is 10 July.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Olga's Testimony

It was a few days before Hanukkah twelve and a half years ago and I was in the library at Yad Vashem when I first laid eyes on the testimony of Olga M. Pickholz-Barnitsch. I had first seen her name four years earlier in the bibliography of an article in the Journal of Historical Review, citing two articles she had written in the Yad Vashem bulletin. I did not know who she was or what became of her; I assumed that she was born Olga Pickholz and Barnitsch was her married name. I certainly did not know that she had submitted a testimony of her own that covered more than thirty pages of typewritten Polish.

The cover of Olga's personal testimony 12 March 1959
Dr. Olga Barnitsch of Ramat Hasharon Israel, born 27 June 1914 in Lwow, gave testimony which mentioned, in addition to her own family, the following surnames:

Tennenbaum, Zellermayer, Liebling, Kurzrok, Markel, Oberlander, Friedman, Igel, Lippmann, Migden, Schwefelgeist, Switajlo, Monis, Mehrer, Parnas, Landesberg, Rotfeld, Hoch, Bader, Linsker-Hafter, Buber, Hausmann, Tauber, Axer, Teichholz, Hescheles, Aleksandrowicz, Koch, Weigl, Rentschner, Schranz, Maleszewska and others.

The opening passage identifies her father as Maurycy Pickholz, the son of Jozef of Grzymalow. and Zisli (Gruber). From the opening line we learn that Michalina Pickholz took the name Olga Barniczowa during the war and her husband was Leon Auerbach of Stanislawow.

Later on page four, she names her Migden, Lippmann and Schwefelgeist cousins.

It was many years later, after our DNA project bore fruit, that I was able to identify Michalina/Olga as my father's third cousin, a great-granddaughter of Uncle Selig.

This is the family as we came to know it, down to Olga's generation.

But I am not here on this Holocaust Memorial Day - Yom Hashoah - to tell the story of the family structure. I am here to tell you that this week, Anna Mecik, the daughter of Olga's cousin David, has completed a translation into English of Olga's personal testimony. A copy has been submitted to Yad Vashem.

You can find Olga's testimony linked from this page, as a Word file. If I may say so, this is a good day to read it.

The population registry knew that Olga had died in 1964 at age fifty, however had no idea where she was buried. But the sole remaining Migden cousin knew and a few years ago I visited her grave at the very back corner of the Old Ramat Hasharon Cemetery.

The inscription reads:

Here lies buried
bat Moshe
Died 18 Kislev 5725
TNZB"H (May her soul be bound in life)
In memory of
Who were killed in the Shoah 5700-5705
May G-d avenge their blood

Anna Mecik, my fourth cousin, has begun working on a translation of Olga's report on the crimes against the Jews at the camp at Stutthof.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Julian's Father: Using Ethnicity Percentages

Each of the major DNA testing companies has an analysis of ethnicity based on their autosomal tests. They appear more based on statistics than on science and my feeling is that it's more a marketing tool than anything else, useful in a general sense, but not to be taken too seriously. These reports are meant for inquiries into deep ancestry, but many people use them to see if they had a Cherokee great-great-grandparent and such. I don't think that many people use them to solve twentieth century questions. Certainly not questions that are ancestor-specific.

Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) where I test, calls their analysis "My Origins" and here is what they show about me.
They have a breakdown by percentages and a map showing where those different groups are located today. As expected, they say I am 90% Jewish Ashkenazi with a bit of "Eastern Middle East" and a few margin-of-error types thrown in. My sisters are similar to me, but with small differences. As I say, useful in a general sense especially for people who have little idea of their ancestral backgrounds, but not to be taken too seriously.

Last week I spoke at the Israel Genealogical Society's Petah Tiqva branch, giving my usual basic DNA talk. I told the story of Joanna, the Polish woman whose grandfather Julian (1911-1986) was supposedly the illegitimate son of a Pikholz who was the estate manager in Klimkowce, not far from Skalat. The structure we worked out over time in our first foray into genetic genealogy was this:
The people who tested are Jacob and Joanna's uncle who insisted on anonymity. His kit is listed as Filip, who is in fact Joanna's son. Jacob himself was in the audience in Petah Tiqva. The reason this looked like a good bet for genetic testing was not only that the relationship is close enough to be doable, but also because even if DNA showed a slightly more distant relationship, there was no alternate explanation. Any DNA that "Filip" and Jacob have in common could not have come from anyone else as all of Joanna's family is strictly Polish.

You cannot go into all the possibilities in that kind of lecture, but in fact Jacob and I were always aware of one other possibility. We don't know if Josef was still alive when Julian was conceived. A grandson was named for Josef six months after Julian was born, so perhaps Josef could not have fathered Julian. But Josef had several sons who would have been in their twenties and there is a good chance that whenever Josef died, one of the sons became the estate manager in his place. So perhaps one of Josef's sons was Julian's father. (The sons, by the way, were not full-brothers of Jacob's grandfather. After Jacob's grandmother died, Josef married a Pikholz niece and the other sons were from her.)

It was, however, my best estimate that Josef himself was the father, especially since Julian named his first son Josef for reasons that no one in the family ever knew.

The DNA was ambiguous. Here are "Filip's" first six matches:
As is clear from the ancestral surnames on the right, four of the six are Pikholz descendants. The first three of those are Jacob and two of his cousins. (The fourth is my third cousin in Denver. I don't know why he is here.) All of them are called "2nd cousin - 4th cousin." I would have expected Jacob and "Filip" to be 2nd-3rd cousins, but in fact if you look at the shared centiMorgans, Jacob's connection is the weakest - both in longest segment and in the aggregate.

The weakness of the match between Jacob and "Filip" could be the randomness of DNA, but it also could be because Julian's father was one of Josef's sons. I preferred the former. Jacob himself was less certain.

So as the Q&A continued in Petah Tiqva, Jacob also mentioned that "Filip's" My Origins showed him to have only 17% Jewish Diaspora making it quite impossible for him to have had measurable Jewish DNA from any non-Pikholz source.

In any case, "Filip's" grandfather was a Pikholz and about twenty-five percent of his DNA should have reflected that - regardless of whether it came from Josef or one of his sons. Seventeen percent seemed to me beyond the norm. (I'd say "beyond a standard deviation" but that would imply that I know something about statistics.)

After I got home, I had a closer look. Here is "Filip's" My Origins:

Filip's "Ashkenazi Diaspora" component is 20%, not the 17% that Jacob had cited. FTDNA recalibrates these numbers from time to time. That's still less than what we would expect from someone whose grandfather was fully Jewish. I also called up Jacob's My Origins.

Jacob appears to be 86% Ashkenazi with another 14% that is probably Sephardic. Filip has none of the Sephardic or other Southern European  or Turkish..

If I had to decide between Josef and one of his sons as the father of Julian, based on the DNA results and the My Origins (remember, I am not a big fan of My Origins and no one really thinks it is a precise measure of anything), I would say it like this.

Filip got less than the normal 25% of his grandfather's DNA. So no wonder that Jacob's match with Filip is weaker than one might expect. But Jacob's match with Filip is not extraordinarily weak - not enough to account for both the 20%/25% difference and the addition of an extra generation, even an extra generation which comes from Josef's niece/wife..

So I will stick with "Josef himself is Julian's father." But then I don't know much about statistics. And I don't much trust My Origins. It may be that these ethnicity percentages can occasionally be used to address ancestor-specific questions from 106 years ago. Who knew?

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Bauers and the Rosenzweigs

Autosomal results came in recently for Susan, my second cousin on my father's maternal side.

This is the structure of the family. The shaded names have tested and results are in. One more is not on GEDmatch yet.

We have two children and six grandchildren of my grandmother, a grandson of my grandmother's sister and now Susan a granddaughter of my grandmother's brother. All these are descendants of my great-grandparents Moritz Rosenzweig and Regina Bauer. Their mothers are Zelinka and Stern, respectively.

We also have tests from my father's second cousin, Shabtai, on the Bauer/Stern side and from Fred, the grandson of my grandmother's half-sister on the Rosenzweig/Zelinka side. Fred's Jewish DNA is all from Aunt Ella.

Susan's first matches, as ranked by Family Tree DNA, include all those known relatives plus a second cousin on her mother's side.

I set up a chromosome browser on GEDmatch for all eleven of Susan's matches on our sides to see if we could discern a significant amount of DNA from each of my great-grandparents' sides.

GEDmatch estimates Susan to be 2.4-2.6 generations from Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob and 2.7-3.1 generations from the seven second cousins. They have her as 3.2 generations from Shabtai and 3.3 from Fred.

On the right is the color code that GEDmatch uses to distinguish segment sizes. Remember, the sizes of the graphic bars are not proportional to the actual centiMorgans.

On the chromosome browser which follows, I marked Fred's matches with Susan in red and Shabtai's matches with Susan in blue. I didn't label any of the rest of us because it doesn't matter who is who for the purpose of this exercise.

I did not include the X chromosome because Susan is related through her father's father, which produces no X component.

Seven of Susan's chromosomes have matches with both Fred and Shabtai, eight with Shabtai but not Fred, four with Fred but not Shabtai and three with matches with neither. After triangulation, we can tell without much doubt that certain segments of our DNA come from one side or the other. Of course, we also have segments which are clearly on my grandmother's side, but since neither Shabtai nor Fred shares them, we cannot tell whether they come from the Rosenzweig/Zelinka side or the Bauer/Stern side.

Normally, I would say that we need to test additional cousins on each side, but Fred is an only grandchild and Shabtai has only one living sibling and no known cousins. We have a fifth cousin on the Zelinka side but she does not match Susan and we have a fifth cousin once removed on the Rosenzweig side, but his small match with Susan on chromosome 6 does not match any of the rest of us.

I really have to refresh myself on the use of Kitty Cooper's mapping tools. Doing this on all sides would help understand which ancestral couple provided what parts of our DNA but also what was the make up of the ancestors themselves.

Housekeeping notes
This Wednesday, 13 April, I am speaking about DNA at the Petah Tiqva branch of the Israel Genealogical Society. Seven o'clock at Yad Lebanim, Arlosorov 30. I'll be speaking in Hebrew. Signed copies of ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People will be available for purchase.

Seven weeks until my next programs, in London and Toronto. You can order books for pick-up there until 30 May.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Diamond Endogamy

A Joint Post with Lara Diamond of Lara's Jewnealogy

Dorit and Evelyne
Last week, Dorit sat in my office learning about DNA match analysis. Dorit has tested her mother Evelyne (nee Berger), her mother's sister and a few other relatives and has the benefit of another of her mother's family (Jason) who manages a few kits on his own. (Dorit's father's family is Moroccan and of less interest, at least for now.)

Dorit's tests were done with Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) as were some of Jason's and some of them have been uploaded to GEDmatch.

We went over the basic tools offered by FTDNA for autosomal analysis and looked at some GEDmatch tools as well. In the course of looking at Evelyne's matches in the GEDmatch Tier1 "Matching Segment Search" tool, I saw some segments that match any number of friends of mine in the world of DNA. And, of course, since all European Jews are related to one another multiple times, it cannot be otherwise.

(GEDmatch is free except for a few items in Tier1 which require a donation.)

Among those matches were several with the family of my friend and colleague Lara Diamond, who shows up on GEDmatch as less than four generations away from Evelyne.

I cannot keep track of all of Lara's family, but I did have a look the list of Evelyne's nine matches with people named Diamond. You can see them here on the right, edited to eliminate the personal names.

Five are Lara's family, marked in red. In addition to Lara herself, we see her father, paternal grandmother and uncle. And also her mother, who is not known to be related to Lara's father..

So Evelyne is related to Lara through both of Lara's parents.

But Lara's uncle is a suggested "2nd cousin - 4th cousin" while his mother, Lara's grandmother, is only a suggested "4th cousin - remote cousin." So in addition to Lara's paternal grandMOTHER, Evelyne is also related to Lara's paternal grandFATHER.

Five matches is just what a FTDNA chromosome browser can handle so I opened one for Evelyne and lined up Lara's five matches: grandmother, uncle, father, Lara herself and her mother.

I left the threshold at the default 5 cM and the results look like this. (I am displaying only those six chromosomes where there are two or more of Lara's family on the same segments.) I added to the display the sizes of the segments in cM.

The two matches on chromosome 5 show segments from both paternal grandparents. On the left, Lara's father and grandmother have similar segments - clearly her father received this segment from his mother. On the centromere Lara and her father have an identical segment which is not from the grandmother, so it must be from the grandfather.

On the right ends of chromosomes 7 and 15, Lara has segments which are clearly from her mother.

Chromosome 8 shows a large segment (18.57 cM) where Evelyne matches Lara's uncle, but less than half of that matches the grandmother. In fact, the grandmother, the uncle and Lara herself all have the same starting point (64,372,741) and the uncle, Lara's father and Lara's second segment all have the same end point (85,095,990). The grandmother's segment ends at the same point where Lara's second segment begins (70,702,700). So clearly, the uncle has two adjacent - or nearly so - segments, one that he received from his mother and one from his father.

But it's not so simple
But this raises another question. How did Lara inherit her segment on the left from her grandmother if her father doesn't have it as well?

The same question comes up on the left side of chromosome 15 where Lara and her grandmother have identical segments of 5.1 cM, but her father does not. I ran that question on the ISOGG Facebook group and Blaine Bettinger made the (obvious!) suggestion to lower the threshold. Here is what came up:

Lara's father has a match on chromosome 15 which is slightly smaller than those of his mother and daughter and the excess bits appear to be Identical By State (IBS) rather than properly hereditary. So far, so good.

The eight of Diamonds
But that does not resolve the anomaly on chromosome 8, where Lara still has a segment in common with her grandmother, but not with her father. (There is a school of thought to simply discard all the small segments of this sort, under the IBS banner, but I am not comfortable with that until it proves unavoidable.)

I did triangulation for the segments on chromosome 8. These are the segments pictured above.
Lara's match with her grandmother on chromosome 8 goes from 119,665.558 to 146,255,887. Lara's match with her mother begins at 154,984 and goes on to 146,255,887.

Lara's match with Evelyne is not from her paternal grandmother but from her mother.

Let's drop the threshold from 3 cM to 1 cM and see what happens.
Here we see that Lara's mother has three very small segments that did not appear before. The third of the three is 2.73 cM and it seems clear that Lara received those two right-most segments from her mother, with a bit of IBS detritus in between.

If we look at the same set of matches for Lara's family with Evelyne's sister,
the segments in question are very similar to the matches with Evelyne, but Lara's mother's match appears more complete.

My purpose here was to illustrate for Dorit the complexities of endogamous DNA, which the matches between these five members of Lara's family and Evelyne (and her sister)  show nicely. It is not my purpose here to figure out the multiple common ancestors shared by these two families. Perhaps we can do that later.

But let me give the floor to Lara, who will introduce her other family members into this analysis.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Five-Generation Charts - Parts 1 and 2 ..... and Devir Joins the IDF

This morning, my #4 son Devir was delivered into the hands of the Israel Defense Forces for the next three years.

I'll say some more about that below, but for now here he is when my #3 son was a new recruit.

Part three of the five-generation charts was a few days ago.

Part One
About a month ago, David Allen Lambert suggested on Twitter - @DLGenealogist - that we compose and post five-generation trees showing the longevity of our ancestors. I posted mine on Facebook at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) and probably a few other groups.

Others ran with it, some with small changes, some the way David had set it up. Some took it out to an additional generation. I probably should have used different colored fonts for different decades. The fad ran for about a week or ten days.

Part Two
Then about ten days ago, J. Paul Hawthorne - whom I don't know - posted a similar chart for places of birth. Blaine Bettinger brought it over from Twitter to Facebook where it caught on quickly.

The structure there was to use a different fill color for each US state or country. Blaine's was actually pretty boring, as most of his were from a particular area of upstate New York.

I had done something similar for display at Devir's bar mitzvah six and a half years ago, using flags, so I figured that using flags rather than random colors would be meaningful. As I had done then, I considered each ancestor to have been born under the relevant flag of today. My chart looked like this.

The European countries from top to bottom are Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania and Belarus, but as Karesz Vandor so helpfully pointed out, Slovakia was not an independent state until 1993, so including it here would be very misleading.

If I had used the relevant countries when the ancestors were born, it would be too boring, as all my father's people were under Austro-Hungarian rule and all my mother's Russian. (Not as boring as Lara Diamond's all-Ukraine chart, to be sure...)

So I used that structure but added comments.
I could have gone a bit further and made this for Devir instead of for me. That would put an Israeli flag at the root and would add four Union Jacks and eleven Polish flags, in addition to a few more Slovakian and Ukrainian flags.

This is how it looked at Devir's bar mitzvah, only larger.

Devir and the IDF
Giv'at Hatahmoshet. Ammunition Hill. That's where the boys gathered this morning for preliminary processing. It's where a major battle was fought during the Six Day War, nearly fifty years ago.

There was a popular song about that battle, told in the voice of "the commander."
I was afraid the Jordanians would throw more grenades. Someone had to run from above and cover. I didn't have time to ask who would volunteer. I sent Eitan. Eitan didn't hesitate for a moment. He climbed up and began to fire his machine gun. Sometimes he would overtake me and I'd have to yell to him to remain in line with me. That's how we crossed some 30 meters. Eitan would cover from above and we would clear the bunkers from within, until he was hit in the head and fell inside
Eitan didn't hesitate for a moment.

But he ends with
I don't know why I received a commendation, I simply wanted to get home safely.
I simply wanted to get home safely. Our society has changed like that, from one end of the song to the other.

In 1997, the Israeli security cabinet authorized the Mossad to kill Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in Jordan, using poison. The poison was administered but the two agents were caught. In order to secure their release, The government of Israel had to provide an antidote to the poison and release Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, who was serving a life sentence. I heard the head of the Mossad on the radio saying (and I speak from memory) "The most important thing is that our people were returned safely."

"No," said some of us,"the most important thing is that the mission failed." If the most important thing were that the agents were safe, they should have kept them home.

Many of us are old school like that. I think that most of the boys in our circles think like that - at least when left to their own devices and supported by their parents and their teachers.

I have told Devir that the most important thing is to complete the mission. The second most important thing is to keep themselves and those around them safe. And all this while remaining a ben Torah.

Go in peace and return in peace. You don't have to serve with distinction, but serve honorably. And be a ben Torah.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Extreme Ancestors - A Five-Generation Haplogroup Chart

Part Three
(Parts One and Two should be up in a few days.)

In the spirit of some other illustrative five-generation charts, Lara Diamond posted a chart of her ancestral haplogroups and others have followed suit. Mine looks like this:
The names on the right are the family members who tested for those particular ancestral lines.
I am on the far left and the chart goes back to my great-great grandparents. For male ancestors I show both paternal and maternal haplogroups. For female ancestors, who have no Y chromosomes, I cite just the maternal haplogroups.

The relatives who tested: Leonard is my first cousin, Herb is my father's first cousin. Ruth and Sam are my second cousins, Bruce and Shabtai are my father's second cousins and Lillian is my father's half second cousin. Joe is my third cousin.

This chart appears in a different form in Chapter Twenty-Two of my book ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People. Some of the comments below appear there as well, but there is some additional detail.

I did a Big Y test a few months ago and several Y-SEQ tests as part of a Y project organized by Rachel Unkefer and that has resulted in my Y being redefined to R-FCG20748 instead of the simpler R-M269. This is not a subject I understand well and my summer plans include meeting with Rachel in order to get a better handle on what this is all about.

So let's take the column on the right from top to bottom.

1. Isak Fischel Pikholz at the top in bright yellow is a perfect Y-67 match to two other Pikholz descendants whose known ancestors were born about 1795 and 1805. The Most Recent Common Ancestor(s) must be at least a generation before that.

There is one other person with a perfect match but his Family Finder is not a match to us, so the connection is obviously further back.

2. Rivka Feige Pikholz in light orange. Joe and Lillian have perfect matches with ninety-two other people, but we have not been able to do anything with that. Some have not done Family Finder tests, some provide no information, some don't respond and for some - despite all the good will and effort - we don't know enough on either side.

Rivka Feige's father is Isak Josef Pikholz whose yahrzeit is either today (Tuesday) or tomorrow depending on whether he died before or after sunset.
It says "Pik" but everything else fits including the house number
There is no doubt in my mind that Isak Josef has the same Y as the rest of us, but none of his three known sons have male lines to the present, so we cannot verify this.

When I wrote about Rivka Feige's haplogroup in the book, Lillian had not yet tested. She did so last summer and died six months later. Lillian's test has been critical for our project and this reinforces once again the urgency to test everyone you can as soon as you can. No one lives forever.

3. Mordecai Meir Kwoczka of Zalosce, son of Jutte Leah and Jossel. Bruce did a Y-37 test and has twelve matches that are one step away. One of the twelve is as close as a third-fifth cousin according to Family Finder. For our purposes, the Kwoczka family begins in Zalosce in the mid-1790s and for the time being it will stay that way.

4. Basie Pollak of Jezierna, daughter of Shimshon and Chaia Sara. Herb has no perfect matches, but has about thirty matches one mutation away who are all perfect with one another. That one mutation is in an area called the Coding Regions. The mutation itself is known as C6925Y. This showed me that our line had mutated away from theirs, perhaps within the last couple of hundred years. That made them worth following up. Unfortunately nothing has come of that so far. There is another second cousin I'd like to test, to see perhaps if the mutation Herb carries is as recent as his mother.

5. Ignatz Rosenzweig from Trencin County Slovakia. My grandmother had three brothers, but two had no children and the third has only granddaughters. My great-grandfather had three brothers, but we know of no male-line descendants among the survivors. We have no one to test. A newfound fifth cousin once removed who works across the walk from where I live has an all-male line to his grandfather, but that's as close as he gets.

6. Miriam (Mali) Zelinka from Trencin County Slovakia, daughter of Isaak and Sari. Here too we have no test candidates.

7. Shemaya Bauer of Kunszentmiklos Hungary. I have written about the Bauers a few times, including here. My father's second cousin Shabtai tested and has four matches one mutation away and twenty-two two mutations away. We know that the Bauer name goes back at least until the early 1800s and there are quite a few Bauers in Kunszentmiklos (Hungary) where my great-grandmother was born and in Apostag where the Bauers had lived previously.

None of Shabtai's matches have the surname Bauer. This would be almost unthinkable in western, non-Jewish populations, where surnames went back much longer and were more stable.

8. Feige (Fani) Stern of Kalocsa Hungary. I wrote about this family several times, including here. Aunt Betty did this test and found only eleven matches total, only three with zero mutations. All three did Family Finders and none matched. There is nothing remotely familiar in the geography of their ancestors.

9. Mordecai Gordon of Lithuania (Vileika/Myadel), son of Rachmiel and Diska. Leonard has five matches, two from a single family, with zero mutations and ten more one mutation away. Here too, none of them are Gordon. (Our Gordons go back into the early 1700s, according to two distantly-related researchers.)  One of the zero matches is with a Kapelowitsch family and we suspect a connection between a family of that name and our Rosenblooms, who lived not far from the Gordons. That suspicion appears to be supported by autosomal DNA.

The haplogroup for Leonard, Baruch and Shabtai is E-L117, despite the fact that the Gordons are from today's Belarus, the Kwoczkas are from east Galicia and the Bauers are from Hungary. If we look at the thirty-seven markers, the three families share twenty-one of them. The two that are closest genetically are the Bauers and the Gordons.

10. Basya. We know nothing of this woman and her family. My mother carries her name as does the mother of Ruth who tested for #12.

11. Gershon Kugel of Pleshchenitsy. He had at least two sons, but we know nothing of them, so have no one to test. 

12. Zelda. My second cousin Ruth did this test and has thirteen perfect matches. One of these, my research colleague Adam Brown, has Kugel ancestors from the same place. But this test looks at Mrs. Kugel, not the Kugel surname. Adam and Ruth are suggested fourth-remote cousins, so there may be something there.

13. Yaakov Rosenbloom of Borisov Belarus. Sam's test has a grand total of three matches, none close.

14. Shayna Liba. We have no one to test as we do not know what siblings my great-grandfather Israel David may have had.

15. Yehudah, the Levi. That is all we know of my great-grandmother's father, mother or siblings.

16. unknown. My great grandmother Etta Bryna died in her late thirties and no one knows anything about her.  We have fifteen perfect matches here, but one stands out. That is a third-fifth cousin according to Family Finder and his great-grandmother is Yenta Bryna. But we don't know enough to take this obvious connection further.

Housekeeping notes
Next up, 13 April in Petah Tiqva at 7 PM, Yad Labanim. In Hebrew.

Followed by:
and then
 with more planned for the summer.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

London Pikholz: Part One - Morris

The plan for a London set of Pikholz blogs has been sitting on my desk for at least a year and now that I am scheduled to speak in London on the first of June, it's about time that I present them. The first two - Morris and Jacob - are mysteries. Today I'll introduce Morris. Jacob will follow, probably next week. (I am pleased to say that Morris and Jacob do not appear to interact, so I can write about them separately.) Steve Pickholtz has been intricately involved in this whole London project.

Rather than tell the story and show the documents, I am going to do it the other way round. I'll present the documents in chronological order and then discuss the likely scenarios.

No. 1: The June 1893 birth record of Moses Rywen Pikholz in Strzeliska Nowe.

Moses Rywen (Moshe Reuven) was born to Ryfke Fenster and paternity was affirmed (at the far right) by Samuel Pikhoz (sic). We know that several of the children of this Samuel went to Argentina and one ended up in South Africa. One of the descendants told me some years ago that there was a brother Morris, but no one seems to know what happened to him. Two other children in this family are unaccounted for, Jack and Golde and we have neither ages nor age order for any of the three.

No. 2: A 1901 census record
Line nine: Seven year old Morris Pichols, born in Cape Colony (South Africa).

No. 3: A 1911 UK census record
Line 13: Morris Pickholtz, age seventeen, wood carver, born Whitechapel London

No. 4: Passenger list UK to Canada 1911
Morris Pickholtz, age 18, Hebrew race, wood carver but stamped "farm labourer"

 No. 5: 1911 Canadian census, June 9, Blandford Township, Ontario
Line 34, Morris Pickholtz, born September 1892, farm labourer, British race

No. 6: Record of WWI medal

Morris Pickholtz was awarded this medal. He served in France during the First World War.

I wrote to the Ministry of Defense some years ago to inquire about who he is (birth date, birth place, parents etc.) and what he did to warrant the medal. I did not receive a reply.

No. 7: 1919 passenger list to Canada
Bottom row - Pickholt Morris, age 29, born in Canada, race British, farmer

No. 8: The marriage of Morris Pickholtz and Dora Deitch, December 1927

We have several items here. The British marriage record above which shows Morris to be 35 years old, a photograph of the couple, and the authorization by the London Beth Din (below). The authorization on the left is dated January 1928 and gives Morris' name as Moshe ben Shemuel. The one on the right which was not completed is dated the same as the civil document, has no mention of the wife and calls Morris "Moshe ben Yaakov.."

I corresponded with Dora's family but no one was old enough to know anything about Morris. They had no children.

No. 9: The death of Morris, 1933

Three items showing Morris' 1933 death at age forty. His death certificate (above), his grave (right) and the Burial Society record (below).

There is no new information on any of them.

Dora died in 1948 and is buried elsewhere.

So, we have nine items here. a Galician birth record which may or may not be relevant, two UK census records, one Canadian census record, two passenger lists, one WWI medal and the marriage and death records. We are talking here about one, two or perhaps three men with the same name, born in 1892-3.

The marriage and death records are the same person, as the same wife is mentioned in both.

The name of the father on the marriage record matches the Galician birth record (Samuel). Despite the fact that the second given name (Reuven) is never mentioned, I ascribe a high probability to that birth record as being for this man. I have no other candidate among the other Pikholz birth records.

The "one Morris" scenario says he was born in east Galicia, went to Argentina/South Africa and somehow ended up in London before age seven. Then after the 1911 census, went to Canada where he became a farm laborer instead of what he had been before - a wood carver. Back to UK to serve in WWI and back to Canada afterwards. Returned to UK, married and died a few years later.

The holes in that start at the very beginning, his going as a young child to the southern hemisphere. Three of his brothers indeed did go there, but only in the 1920s. So he was unlikely to be the child from Capetown in the 1901 census, even though I note that the South American sons of Samuel have no idea what happened to their Morris.

Then there are the inconsistent birthplaces. I can see if the Canadians mistakenly thought he was born in England, but the 1919 passenger manifest says he was born in Canada. And the 1911 UK census has him born specifically in Whitechapel London. (FreeBMD lists no such birth.)

And would the Canadian census have listed his nationality as Canadian when he was fresh off the boat? I wouldn't think so, but I don't know anything about Canadian immigration policies.

And the differing birth dates bother me a bit. If they were the only issue, that would be one thing. But it's cumulative.

Once "one Morris" breaks down, the options are not clear. Is Morris from cape Colony the same as Morris in Canada? Not likely. But then we have no obvious conflicts in events, only in information. We do not have two marriages or two deaths, for instance, and each one disappears in tandem with the "one Morris" scenario.

I'll have to give this a think. Maybe when we get to see the 1921 censuses for Canada and UK. Ideas and strategies would be appreciated.

Housekeeping notes
1 June 2016, 7:00 – Guild of One-Name Studies, Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, ORT House, 126 Albert Street, Camden, London, NW1 7NE

3 June 2016, 4:30 – Ontario Genealogical Conference, International Plaza Hotel, 655 Dixon Road, Toronto:
Seminar on Genetic Genealogy, by invitation only

5 June 2016, 10:00 – Ontario Genealogical Conference, International Plaza Hotel, 655 Dixon Road, Toronto:
Lessons in Jewish DNA: One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey

5 June 2016, 7:00 – Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto, location TBA
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove:

24 July 2016, 1:30 – JGS of Maryland Hadassah, 3723 Old Court Rd., Suite 205, Baltimore
Beyond A Reasonable Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

7-9 August 2016, TBA – 36th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, Seattle:
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

More in preparation. 'Nuff said.