Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Wendy and Carolyn

About a week ago, I received an inquiry about a week ago from a woman named Wendy who begins:
Hi Israel,

I am trying through a process of elimination to figure out my mom’s fathers side. Through Gedmatch, there are 3 relatives that you tested who have matches with my mom. She doesn’t know who her father is but she is 20+% Ashkenazi.
She gave me her mother Carolyn's GEDmatch kit number and the three of my kits that she matches and the chromosomes where the matches occur. I didn't pay much attention to the three people she mentioned but went straight to Carolyn's match list where I saw that she actually matches thirty of my kits.

In looking at the list of thirty, I saw that one was a match of nearly 12.5 cM with my father's second cousin Shabtai. This would be on my grandmother's mother's Hungarian side. I did a chromosome browser for that part of my family and quickly saw that all the action is on chromosome 21, at the far right end.

To remind everyone, Susan is my second cousin, Aunt Betty is my father's sister and Sarajoy is one of my sisters. So this is a nice family group. Not a large segment and probably not much use for someone looking for a birth father, but it does hint at geography as we know our Bauers were in the same area since the 1700s.

So I reported to Wendy:
This group points to my pgm's mother's family. her father is a Bauer from Apostag and Kunszentmiklos in Hungary and her mother is a Stern from Kalocsa.

I don't have more but that will give you some direction.
I also saw in the match list that Carolyn has matches with two second cousins on my father's father's (Galician) side, Rhoda and Roz who are first cousins to each other. But there were no matches with other of my Pikholz second cousins. There is, however, a match with my third cousin Pinchas. Pinchas is a third cousin to Rhoda and Roz as I am but is also a third cousin to them in a direction having nothing to do with me - their Zwiebel and Lewinter families, also from the same area of east Galicia. (It could be a Kwoczka match, but no other second cousins of mine appear.)

So I did a chromosome browser for just those three. And got this:

OK. So Carolyn has a match with the Zwiebels or the Lewinters.

Then I realized that this too is chromosome 21 and that a chromosome browser for both groups gives me this:

This really looks like one group, especially when I note that my start point (41,302,925) is the same as Shabtai while my end point (45,746,864) is the same as Pinchas.

I triangulated the two groups just in case one matchs Carolyn of her mother's side and one on her father's side. (This was unlikely as Carolyn's mother has no known Jewish ancestry.) The two groups triangulated perfectly.

So it appears clear that someplace back in genealogical time there is common ancestry between Shabtai's Hungarian Bauers or Sterns and the east Galician Zwiebels or the Lewinters. Back in time, but recent enough that segments in the 11-13 cM range were preserved in both groups.

Here's to endogamy. Even if it doesn't help Carolyn very much.

Carolyn and Wendy live in Maryland and both plan to attend my presentation at JGS Maryland at 1:30 on the twenty-fourth. That's at Hadassah, 3723 Old Court Road, Suite 205. Come join us. It's my one non-DNA talk other than Seattle. Maybe they'll meet their cousin Pinchas, if he comes.

Beyond A Reasonable Doubt:
What We Know
 What We Can Prove

Housekeeping notes
I'm off to the US for the next four weeks. GRIP, the IAJGS Conference, programs in half-a-dozen places, some private mentoring on Y-DNA and meeting with a few relatives I haven't seen in forever.

Perhaps the most exciting thing will be meeting a male-line descendant of the Pikkel family from Vajnag, which is across the river from Vyshkovo. If you have forgotten the significance of that, review this blog from six weeks ago. I'll have a DNA test kit with me.

I'll blog as I can.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


I could call this post Herb's MtDNA (Part Two) because it's the continuation of something I wrote more than eighteen months ago. I even wrote at the time "I hope there will be a Part 2." But it's worth starting this from scratch. You can go back and reread Part One later.

Prologue - Mutations in Y-DNA
Back when I first started looking at DNA, I had a brief discussion with Bennett Grerenspan of Famliy Tree DNA about the rate of mutations in Y-DNA. At the time, Zachy Pickholz and I had a perfect Y-37 match and I was trying to get a handle on how my g-g-gf and his g-g-g-gf are related. FTDNA's TiP Report said that there was a ~93% chance of having a common ancestor six generations ago and I did not find that answer satisfying.

Bennett  responded:
[T]his is about as close a percentage as you can expect from [Y] DNA since mutations happen unpredictably.
[F]or example I am 36 of 37 with my own father, dad having passed a mutation to me that he did not pass to my brother.
In time, Zachy upgraded to Y-67 and we added a third line from Filip. We all matched perfectly at Y-67 even after 200+ years, so I was not going to spend much time worrying about mutation rates.

Aunt Becky and Aunt Mary
My great-grandparents, Hersch Pickholz and Jutte Leah Kwoczka had seven children who survived childhood.
The seven children in birth order

Aunt Becky and Aunt Mary, being the two older girls, were apparently close. They even crossed the ocean together, barely into their teens, to join Uncle Max. They were the two I never met. Aunt Becky died first, long before I was born and Aunt Mary, though she died last almost exactly forty-one years later, had moved to Florida before I was born. I knew the four brothers and I remember going to see Aunt Bessie before she died in 1953.

Uncle Max had no children. The other three brothers were in business together and their children were mostly the same age cohort - younger than the children of the three sisters - so I knew those cousins (both in my father's generation and in my own) well. And Uncle Joe and my grandfather married sisters. That is why I never knew my second cousin Roz, Aunt Becky's younger granddaughter, even though she lived in the neighborhood and was in my brother's high school class!

I had, however, developed a relationship with Aunt Mary's younger son Herb, though until recently we had met only once, when I was fourteen. When I started with DNA testing, my first priority was the older generation and I was comfortable asking Herb to do both a Family Finder and an MtDNA (Mitochondrial) test on his mother's line.

Herb's Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA)
MtDNA is passed by the mother to all her children. Males have it but do not pass it on.

Mt great-grandmother, Jutte Leah Kwoczka, had two brothers, so only her descendants are useful for MtDNA in that line.

Aunt Becky and Aunt Bessie each had one son whose only daughters have since done Family Finder tests for our project. But their MtDNA would be their mothers' sides, so they would not help us here. Each of the aunts also had a daughter with one daughter each, but I am not in touch with either of them. One of those is Roz.

Herb's sister had no children.

So Herb is the only source we have for MtDNA in that line - my Kwoczka great-grandmother of Zalosce, my Pollak great-great-grandmother of Jezierna and my third-great-grandmother for whom all we have is a given name, Chaie Sara.

Herb initially did the lowest level MtDNA test and later I upgraded him to the full test.

He has no perfect matches. But as of nineteen months ago, he had thirty matches at a genetic distance of one.  That is, he and they are the same, but one mutation away. That number has grown from thirty to fifty-five but I shall continue referring to them as "the thirty."

It occurred to me then that if the thirty are one group, perhaps the mutation that Herb carries is fairly recent, since he has no exact matches. In MtDNA terms, that can be two or three hundred years ago or it could have originated as recently as Aunt Mary or my great-grandmother. But if it is recent, then I should treat the thirty as if they were exact matches to Herb, for the purpose of further inquiry.

I asked one of the thirty, someone I know who lives here in Israel, to check those matches and when he did not respond promptly, I asked another of the thirty - Dr. Richard Pavelle - who agreed immediately

Dr. Pavelle was a perfect match for the other twenty-nine, which means that our line broke away from theirs. (In theory, they could have broken away from us, but since they are thirty and we are one, that is highly improbable.) I confirmed that by looking at the actual mutations. Herb has one extra mutation: something called C6925Y.

Herb's mitochondrial mutations, representing my Kwoczka great-grandmother's maternal line

So I went to work on the thirty. First I looked at the Family Finder matches of those who had done that test. I didn't see any point in chasing after people who were remote matches or no match at all. There were only a handful of the thirty who were third-fifth cousins or closer to Herb. There was next to nothing coming from any of them in response. I also contacted the nine who had not done Family Finders - FTDNA was willing to offer them a special price. No takers.

The effort petered out, as expected. After all, there was a good possibility that our line had separated from theirs two hundred or more years ago, so what was the point. We didn't know enough to chase down relatives that far back anyway.

Yet in the back of my head was this nagging feeling that maybe our mutation was very recent. Really really recent. I could call Roz - still in the neighborhood - and have an awkward conversation which would end up costing me a few hundred dollars for nothing. Keep in mind, that in the last two years, I have become acutely aware of the importance of doing Family Finders for as many people as possible, so I'd have to have Roz do both tests.

I had spoken with Roz' cousin Rhoda - who had already tested - so I knew that Roz had no Internet or email, but Rhoda gave me her phone number.

Then FTDNA had their Mothers' Day sale with a package for MtDNA and Family Finder. I called Roz. She knew who I was, knew (from Rhoda, I suppose) that I was working on the family genealogy with the help of DNA and was only too happy to oblige.  I ordered the kit and promised to see her when I come to Pittsburgh for GRIP-July.

FTDNA's track record on getting results on time leaves much to be desired, but Roz' Family Finder results were nearly two weeks early. Roz' results were what I had expected and I have not had the time to look more deeply. I phoned Roz and set up to go to dinner the Monday of GRIP. And I wrote Rhoda.

I also redid the numbers for the Lazarus talk I am preparing for Seattle, to include Roz.

Roz' MtDNA results came in a few hours ago - also nearly two weeks early. She matches Herb at a genetic distance of one. She is a perfect match with the entire group of thirty - now fifty five. Herb's mutation is his and his alone. We cannot know if it was  created by my great-grandmother Jutte Leah or by Aunt Mary. In any case, it ends with Herb.

It looks like we have threaded the needle here and Roz' test was not money thrown away. What it does mean it is that the group of thirty could include some relatives close enough to make the effort worthwhile. We have pretty much pinpointed the MtDNA mutation. Now how do I use this to our advantage?

I'll see Debbie Parker Wayne soon enough - perhaps she'll have some tricks to suggest. I hope there will be a Part Three.

Housekeeping notes
Last call for ordering books in advance for Seattle.  I will have some with me, of course, but if you order now, you are guaranteed my having one signed for you.

Once again, my speaking schedule begins in Buffalo Grove Illinois next Thursday and is laid out in full here.

I submitted two proposals for RootsTech, to be held in Salt Lake City the second week in February. If that works out, I'll be available for speaking, probably with new material. Anyone interested, please drop me a note.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Some Call Me Rude

When I was young and had to speak in class, it became a joke among my classmates and even a teacher that I'd say too much, go into too much detail.

Years later, I had a boss who criticized me more than once for "writing telegraphically." He'd tell me that the people for whom I was writing - often the Board of Directors - didn't understand the background as well as I thought and I have to spell it out for them in greater detail.

Finding the middle ground has always been an issue for me, both in speaking and in writing.

This morning, I posted the following on my Facebook timeline and in several genealogy groups of which I am a member.
Dear Fellow Researchers,

When you write to me that you match fourteen of my project kits at GEDmatch, but it only takes me sixty seconds to see that you match thirty, forty, fifty or more, you are being fundamentally unserious. I will respond, but it will be a response fitting for a beginner. If you are insulted, I am sorry - which is not the same as "I apologize."

I got quite a few likes and words of encouragement, both in the comments and privately. Apparently I am not the only person who is occasionally faced with this phenomenon.

I also received responses from more than a few people - a minority, to be sure - who called me rude, mean-spirited or worse, from people who thought I was discouraging new researchers and from people who hoped never to match any of my kits and promised not to contact me if they did.

As anyone who follows political journalism knows, when you have to explain yourself, you are already in trouble. But here goes anyway.

I am used to this kind of inquiry. I get several every week, though usually not adoptions. Most of them tell me whom they match in my families, but some, like this one, send me to look them up myself. (Truth is, many an inquirer has given me a list of matches and only after responding in detail do I learn that actually there are many more matches, making my reply meaningless.)

So here is the essence of my response, edited for privacy. With comments in blue.
Before I forget, I wrote about a [Father's name] in my blog maybe a year ago. You should be able to find it there easily enough. I do not recall all the details but maybe there is something useful.  allmyforeparents.blogspot.com
Should I have taken the trouble to cite the specific blog post from last year rather than sending her to look it up? Maybe, but I thought she might benefit from seeing other things on my blog. 
First, to do this, you must be thorough. Saying you have twelve matches with my project when in fact I see thirty - two dozen of which are Pikholz descendants - is not productive.

It's more than "not productive." It's a waste of time. Mine and hers. I can spend an hour responding to her twelve matches, explaining who is connected to whom and who is just a cousin of my mother-in-law. I can point out that there are close relatives of those twelve whom she does not match, perhaps drawing some conclusions, when in fact she does match them. She simply didn't mention them. This is not always a question of sorting. There were more than twelve matches even with the default results.

Perhaps I should have made her a list of the thirty matches. And the ancestors on their "other sides."
Second, GEDmatch shows [you have] no matches closer than 4.5 generations and as we know, Jewish matches are never as close as they appear in aggregate numbers. So we are talking about fourth-fifth cousins at best and likely further. Considering that we rarely know surnames back that far, this is a low probability inquiry. Not where I'd invest my time and resources, if it were me.
Just telling it like it is.
Third, you have has to be able to do a chromosome browser on your matches, usually in family groups - which is relatively easy in this case. That chromosome browser will clarify if there are matches with groups. Without that, those 12 or 24 or 30 are all individuals with no connection to one another.
At this point, sometimes I will say "if you do not know how to do this..." and some of those retort "of course I know how to do a chromosome browser." Sometimes ya just can't win. But usually this is where I find out if the person wants some direction or wants someone to do their work.

And by way of clarification, I added:
On the other hand, if you matched me and my four sisters (which you don't) that group of five would not mean more than any one of us alone.
I suppose I could have explained this in more detail.

I concluded with:
Come back to me if you want some direction.  My GEDmatch codes are at
That will chase her away for sure! 
Or she will ask for direction.
Or she will reply "But how are we related?"

And let me conclude with this word of support, from someone on Facebook whom I do not know:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lazarus and the Good Folks at GEDmatch.com

The last stop on my coming trip to the United States is at the Conference of the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies in Seattle where I'll be giving three presentations.

One of the three is called "GEDmatch.com's Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy" and this is the official description:
Lazarus is a tool offered by GEDmatch 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.
I have been working on this presentation for some time and as I went into the stretch a week or so ago, I needed to look at the results comparing a number of relatives with the Lazarus kit of my great-grandfather Hersch Pickholtz. I summoned the kit as usual and it came up with my great-grandfather's matches in descending order beginning with Aunt Betty, Uncle Bob, Cousin Herb and my sisters and cousins. That is the standard format.

As I have mentioned here before, I name my GEDmatch kits so they will sort together and near the top, otherwise they would not all make the cutoff of 1500 matches that GEDmatch   permits. The naming system also make it easier to see all our kits together, sorted by family group.

So as usual, I hit the small blue triangle at the top right of the "Name" column to initiate the sort. And I got an error message.

I tried a few unsuccessful workarounds while attempting to attract the attention of the GEDmatch team to address the problem. After a few days, I heard from John Hayward, a name I did not recognize. He said that he did not have the problem I described and realized that it was a function of my very large number of matches. He made some changes so that the system would take my top 6000 matches, delete those with privacy issues and then give me the top 2000 matches by whatever criterion I was using to sort.

(It seems that they had raised the number of matches they show from 1500 to 2000. I am not sure if someone announced this but if so, I missed it. In any case, this increase was sorely needed as the total database has grown significantly in the past couple of years.)

This solved my problem and I got my 2000 matches sorted in alphabetical order on the "Name." column. With those parameters, my great-grandfather Hersch Pikholz had matches with eight of the fifteen Pikholz descendants from Rozdol, forty-four of the fifty-two Pikholz descendants from Skalat and one of the three Pikholz descendants whose affiliation is unclear. And another eleven matches with non-Pikholz parts of the family.

John then suggested that he could increase the match limit from 6000 to 50,000, allowing lesser matches to be included in the "Name" sort - still with the limit of 2000. I suggested that we try it to see what difference it would make and after a few minutes the new sort was ready.

My great-grandfather now matches eleven Rozdolers and fifty Skalaters. That served my purposes better, as it increased the number of my great-grandfather's matches by over 15%.

Thank you, John Hayward and the (volunteer!) GEDmatch team. You have been good to us.

So now I can get back to completing my Lazarus presentation for Seattle and preparing to leave for the US in less than two weeks. Wasn't I just there?

Housekeeping notes
14 July 2016, 7:00 – Congregation B’nai Shalom, 701 W. Aptakisic, Buffalo Grove Illinois, RSVP dnatalk714@gmail.com

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

25 July 2016, 7:00 – Fairfax Genealogical Society, JCC of Northern Virginia, 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax VA

28 July 2016, 7:00 – Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room (Charlotte Mecklenburg Library) and the Levine-Sklut Judaic Library, Jewish Community Center in Shalom Park, 5007 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC

31 July 2016, 1:30 – Triangle Jewish Genealogical Society, 6905 Fayetteville Road, Suite 204, Durham NC (across the street from SouthPoint Mall)

4 August 2016, 12:00 – The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, 800 Vine Street, Cincinnati
(Genealogy and Local History Department, Third Floor)

7-9 August 2016, TBA – 36th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy, Sheraton Seattle Hotel:
Sunday 9:00 AM  Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey, Grand Ballroom D

Sunday 4:30 PM  GEDmatch.com’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy, Room Willow A

Tuesday 3:00 PM  Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove, Grand Ballroom C

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Second Cousins..... and Siblings

While working a new presentation, I considered that I might want to say something about my second cousins Ruth and Judy, on my mother's father's Gordon side. They are first cousins to one another and their grandmother was the older sister of my grandfather.

My DNA matches with them seem to me to be odd and I have cited them before.

As you can see on the far right, I share 497 cM with Ruth and 249 cM with Judy; Ruth has about twice as much as Judy. (These numbers have changed a bit since I last cited them. Then Ruth's match was more than double Judy's.) My longest segment with Ruth is 64 cM and with Judy 41 cM. The ISOGG chart says that second cousins are 212.5 cM on average, so clearly Ruth is the outlier.

Blaine Bettinger's chart of shared cM based of reported data from known relationships has second cousins sharing 246 cM, precisely Judy's number before the recent adjustment.

Since Judy and Ruth have the same grandfather, the difference between them - aside from the general randomness of DNA as it passes from generation to generation - is Ruth's father. I don't know much about his background. He was born in New York and both his parents were dead by the time he was twenty-two.

I have not done much to clarify Ruth's father's background, but Ruth has matches of one sort or another with more than forty Pikholz descendants from my ancestral town of Skalat, so I assume he was a Galicianer on both sides.

But before I used these numbers to make my particular point in this new presentation, I took a look at how my four sisters match with both cousins. (The numbers here are from GEDMatch, so are slightly different from those on FTDNA.)

The match between Ruth and me is much greater than her matches with my sisters - 1.7 standard deviations. The average of Ruth's matches with us - 356.4 cM - is nearly sixty percent larger than Judy's - 225.2 - much less of a difference than with me alone.

This would not serve the purpose I wanted for the presentation, but it is worthy of note on its own. Just for sport, I looked at how my sisters and I line up against the rest of our second cousins. I did not include our two double second cousins and our half second cousin, just the straight-forward second cousins with no known endogamy and with standard-issue Jewish parents and grandparents..

Judy & Ruth are first cousins. So are Sam & Beth. Marty, Rhoda and Terry are second cousins.

There is considerable variation in these numbers. Each of our eight cousins except Terry has matches with us that include one with a standard deviation above 1.4. And Sarajoy is less than 1.15 standard deviations from each of the eight cousins, the rest of us being further from the averages for at least one cousin - in my case, three.

The range of averages goes from Judy's 225.2 cM to Ruth's 356.4 cM and Sam's 360.4 cM. There is a very large gap between Sam and Ruth and the next largest matches - Beth and Susan. I am not sure what to make of it except to say that the "other sides" of the cousins are undoubtedly relevant. Blaine Bettinger announces studies from time to time of matches of known relatives and I have shared this with him.

My own lesson - one that I have written about before and which I hope the genetic genealogy community is absorbing - you must test siblings. You cannot assume that once you have tested one or two children in a family, the rest will not add anything. Even moreso first cousins. "I know he is my first cousin, why do we both have to test?" is, shall we say, not productive.

But test the siblings. Your own. Your parents'. Your cousins'. As much as you can afford. You cannot know in advance how and when it will matter. So just do it.

I will probably find another excuse to hammer at this, before too many more months.

Housekeeping notes

Books for Seattle
Anyone who would like to ensure getting a signed copy of my book ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People at the IAJGS Conference is Seattle can order here until 10 July. After that, it depends on how many I have with me.

New Family Finder results
Results are in for a new Family Finder test, this one a Pikholz descendant from Rozdol in a family where no one had tested before. This is the family I call IF3, headed by Abraham Pikholz (~1826-1878) one of several sons of a couple (or two couples with the same names) Isak and Feige Pikholz. Abraham's youngest son lived on Nyar Street in Budapest and the woman who tested is one of two daughters of his youngest son.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


I have been Facebook friends with Jeannie McClenahan Cecil for not quite a year but it seems like much longer. She told me she had matches with me and several members of my family. Family Tree DNA had us as suggested second-fourth cousins, a category with includes about 130 of my matches and which surely doesn't mean we are that close.

Her father was born in Mandatory Jerusalem to a Jewish mother but was adopted by a non-Jewish couple and from his teen years lived abroad. I don't have all the details straight, but in any case, this is her story to tell, not mine.

She visited her father's house earlier
Jeannie and her daughter Gabrielle are here for the first time. A long visit, considering that they are first-time tourists.

Last week we went out to dinner, less than a ten minute walk from where her father grew up.
Her father's house on the right, our restaurant on the left

We talked about her research journey that began some twenty years ago, about her impressions of Israel and Jerusalem, about the first cousin of her father who shares his original name and whose wife does the genealogy research from their side. (I am a suggested second-fourth cousin to him as well and his wife and I are now Facebook friends. They live in the same small community as my third son. In fact another first cousin lives on my son's street!)

Jeannie sprinkled her conversation with basic Hebrew words that she had learned from her father, who passed away only last winter. She was clearly enjoying herself and was experiencing a sense of "home." ("Home" is in fact a small town in northeastern Ohio.)

Our matching DNA
And we talked about our DNA connections. We hadn't done much of that during the past year. I tried to be there to give her advice, suggestions and encouragement - the work she did herself, as it should be.

As it happens, of all the matches with my family members, I am the closest both for her father and for the cousin.

Her father, whose father remains unidentified, is in the Y-haplogroup R-M269. So am I, but not close enough to be a match. The cousin has not yet tested his Y-DNA.

These are my matches with Jeannie's father and his cousin. Two of the three are identical segments, the smallest one is not an identical match.

This looks to be fairly straightforward. The three of us share a little over 30 cM, which is third-fourth cousin territory, so the question is on which side.

Jeannie's father's DNA
Jeannie's father matches my sisters, some more, some less. But he does not match Aunt Betty or Uncle Bob. Nor does he match my double second cousins Marshall and Lee. So that points to a match on my mother's side. He matches all six of my cousins on that side - two firsts and two seconds via each grandparent. Here is how my sisters and I, those six cousins and Jeannie's cousin line up with her father on GEDmatch.

On chromosome 5 where I matched both of Jeannie's kits at 17.32 cM, we see the cousin's yellow bar at the top, followed by my second cousin Sam, then three of my sisters and me. Sam is on my grandmother's side. In the center of that chromosome my sisters and I and my first cousin Kay match Jeannie's father but not his cousin.

On chromosome 7, none of the matches under the cousin triangulate with him except my sister Amy on line four. So these are mostly matches with Jeannie's father including both my first cousins. The small pink segment is a second cousin on my grandFAther's side. But Amy matches Jeannie's cousin as well.

None of my cousins matched the FTDNA segment on chromosome 10.

On chromosome 12, both of Jeannie's kits match my cousin Sam, but not my sisters or me.

Chromosome 17 shows a long list of matches, but only mine (the fourth line) triangulates with Jeannie's two kits. The others who match Jeannie's father but not his cousin include both my first cousins and one of the seconds on my grandfather's side.

So it appears to me that the common ancestor with both of Jeannie's kits and my family is on my grandmother's Rosenbloom side, from Borisov in Belarus. Jeannie's family knows of no connection to that area.

There is likely also a common ancestor also on my grandfather's side who is not reflected in Jeannie's cousin. Since Jeannie's grandfather is not-Jewish, the connection with my grandfather's side must be shared by both him and his cousin since he would have no other way to receive this DNA. It's just the vagaries of recombination that each shows different matches.

The cousin's DNA matches
Jeannie's cousin too has a collection of matches which include my sisters and me and assorted combinations of the cousins on my mother's side. This is the other side of the coin whereby my grandfather's family's DNA came to the two cousins differently. (I am not going to lay all that out here. Jeannie can do it in her spare time.)

But what is interesting is that the cousin has significant matches with me that Jeannie's father does not have. They are not as impressive as the Rosenbloom matches which I discussed above, but there are many and they are pervasive. The cousin has matches with Aunt Betty, Uncle Bob, Marshal and Lee, but they are weak.

There are stronger matches with Craig, Ron and Felisa whose Pikholz roots are not clear, as their farthest known ancestors are from about 1860-70.

The matches cross my parts of the Pikholz family is all directions showing a wide but distant connection. But this does not look to me like a pre-surname common ancestor as there is relatively little with the descendants of Peretz Pikholz and Nachman Pikholz. So perhaps we are talking about the family of Rojse the wife of Isak Josef Pikholz or the family of Taube the wife of Mordecai Pikholz. Or someone via the mother of my g-g-gf Isak Fischel Pikholz. Or my Kwoczka great-grandmother. Most like some some combination of several of these. It would be speculation at this point to try to say more.

What is clear is that this Pikholz connection is with the mother of Jeannie's cousin, about whom I know nothing. Yet.

One other thought. The matches between Jeannie's kits and my mother's side include almost no X chromosome matches, and not many more on the Pikholz side.

Jeannie, you have work to do, though I do not know that we have enough to break this wall down. For now.

Jeannie's story is different from the usual "How I found my family" and I suggested that she might want to propose a presentation for the IAJGS Conference in Orlando next year. With or without the DNA component. A daughter of Jerusalem has come home.

Housekeeping notes
A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the study published in Avotaynu by Rachel Unkefer, J. B. Royal and Wim Penninx called Y-DNA Evidence for an Ashkenzai Lineage's Iberian Origin. This study is being done on a haplogroup called FGC20747 and it includes my line. That article is now available here. I mentioned this to the Pikholz descendants from Skalat, for whom it is relevant and my cousin Terry asked if this would permit us to eat rice on Passover, as the Sephardim do and would it help get EU citizenship.

I am an authority on neither subject, but I think the EU has a list of approved surnames and you have to belong to one of them to qualify for a restoration of Spanish citizenship.

On the question of rice - and I repeat that I speak with no authority - it seems to me that there are several problems. First of all these customs are generally patrilineal.  Terry's grandmother is the Pikholz, not her grandfather. So she is probably stuck with his rice.

Secondly, DNA has not achieved any status of halacha, so Sephardic ancestry would probably require a generation-after-generation proof, not something macro like DNA patterns.

Third - and again, I speak with no authority - even if we pass the test on the first two points, there is probably a requirement for nullification of a vow, as some ancestor six, seven or more generations ago surely took this custom voluntarily.

Books for Seattle
Anyone who would like to ensure getting a signed copy of my book ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People at the IAJGS Conference is Seattle can order here until 10 July. After that, it depends on how many I have with me.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

That Time of Year

The Jewish community of Skalat, one of the two ancestral Pikholz towns in east Galicia, suffered its final aktzia on the holiday of Shavuot in 1943 and here in Israel some of the remaining survivors and descendants gather the following day at the monument in the Holon cemetery. I have described this service in earlier years here and here and here.

The beginning of the scroll of martyrs'
names that is inside the monument
We had a bigger turnout this year than last. Something more than two dozen people and no problem with a minyan. There was no mention of the passing of survivors in the past year.

Yocheved Sarid spoke first. Her three children and her late brother's wife were all there. The row of monuments is along the east side of the cemetery with a major highway right outside, so I found it difficult to hear her.

Tova Willner Zehavi spoke at great length. I don't remember her ever speaking before. She spoke with special emphasis about a baby - one who was never properly given a name. Pikholz descendants, the sister and brother Tzipi Tal and David Dekel are also Willner descendants through their mother's mothers mother. (Before the service began, David and I discussed his DNA results which indicate pretty clearly that he is connected to my family in a way we haven't figured out yet. I discuss this in Chapter Eight of my book.)

There was one new participant - Koby Willner, an American immigrant who got in touch with me last year. Koby's Skalat connections are both Willner and Bomse.

David Braunstein, who has come the last few years after his father's death read a piece that his father had written. (Chaim Braunstein edited the Hebrew yizkor book and was the prime mover in setting up the memorial sites in the Skalat-area itself.)

Zvika Sarid reported that both the Skalat monuments are in need of maintenance and asked that those who can send contributions to Yocheved Sarid at Kevutzat Yavneh and she will send them to Skalat.

We concluded with everyone saying kaddish.

Correcting the database
Steve Pickholtz sent me a very long list of Pickholtz (that specific spelling) on MyHeritage which includes a Rachel Weisinger married to Joseph Pickholtz. There was no identifying information here and I haven't a clue who this Joseph is. I had seen this couple before on Geni.com, but as I have seen before, you cannot always get responses from the folks who manage the Geni.com information.

This time, I got a response via MyHeritage and Olivier in France checked with his family sources and reported that he had no information on the couple but did know the name of a nephew of Joseph. That was enough for me to recognize Joseph as the son of Benjamin (Bendit) Pickholtz of Rozdol, Skole and New York. Joseph had no children but a nephew had told me years ago that his wife was Rae Gross.

I went back and forth with both families for a few hours and then decided to check the theory that made the most sense to me. Using Steve Morse's One-Step site, I found this:

Rae (Rachel) Weisinger married Harold Gross in 1934. That triggered memories in both families where everyone agreed that Rae had been married before she married Joseph Pickholtz. Database corrected.

Housekeeping notes
Family Tree DNA has announced a Fathers' Day sale. I for one am disappointed as I can only see one of our pending orders for which it is relevant. This is their announcement.
I will get one second cousin out of this. The rest will wait. I hope.

I have just set up a couple of additional visits with cousins as I work my way from Baltimore to North Carolina next month. The "new" Pikholz family in Durham has still eluded me.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Beglers: Bonnie and Marla

So Wednesday afternoon, I am minding my own business when I get one of these "I match [so-and-so-many] of your project. Can you tell me how we are related?" messages that seem to come every other day. In this case, the writer mentioned that her grandparents came from a particular town in Poland and when they arrived in Pittsburgh, they shortened their surname. So I asked her if she is related to my seventh grade teacher and sure enough she is.

Bonnie bottom right, me top left
Later, I wrote to Bonnie Morris, who sat in front of me during much of seventh grade, and told her the story. We laughed at that and talked a bit and for the first time I asked her about her family history. I knew her family. Two of her first cousins were also in our class and during much of the 1940s and 1950s her father and my grandfather served together in various synagogue capacities, particularly in the
Men's Club. On this particular occasion, I learned that one of her cousins had an older sister I don't recall knowing about and that her father had another brother I have never heard of.

I asked her what "Morris" had been originally and where in Europe they came from and she said that her grandfather had been Matasarnik and that he had come from Uman, a well-known town south of Kiyev. Matasarnik is a name I had never heard so I had a look at the JewishGen Family Finder and saw no one listing it as a surname of interest.

Then I asked about her mother. Mrs. Morris (Pearl) was a Begler, Bonnie told me, from Russia someplace but Bonnie wasn't sure where. So I make another quick trip to JGFF and find this:
Marla Waltman, President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Toronto, with whom I spent much of last Sunday. Marla Waltman whose mother has DNA matches with almost all the Pikholz descendants from Skalat. Marla has Beglers in what was then Russia and in what is now Pittsburgh. How cool is that!

So I opened a new Facebook chat, introduced them and the fun began.

At first Marla thought Bonnie was Bonnie Eckhouse, a known relative of hers, "the daughter of Israel Louis Eckhouse and Pollie Begler."

Wait. I know who the Eckhouses are. Louis Eckhouse's mother is Rose Braun, the aunt of my father's cousin Herb. But Herb had told me that Louis' wife was Pauline Saville, not Begler. So I go off to the indispensable Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project to look for a death notice for Pauline in the Chronicle. And there she is - sister of (among others) Jack, Sam and Paul Begler. (Scratch Saville.)

The burial database at the Rauh Jewish Archives (at the Heinz History Center) shows four Eckhouse graves at Torath Chaim Cemetery and Pauline's father is Yehudah Lev (sic - should be Leib), whose secular name is Louis.

Louis and (Bonnie's maternal grandfather) Harry (Yitzhak) Begler are brothers. Bonnie knows that. Kind of curious that the first cousins Pauline and Pearl (Bonnie's mother) Begler both married men with the same secular names as their fathers and both had daughters named Bonnie.

So what is Marla to Bonnie? Marla says that her great-grandmother Sosya Beigler is the elder sister of Harry and Louis. Sosya is the eldest and Harry the third. Sosya married Levi Ben Tzion Spektor and their son Louis is the father of Marla's father Irving Waltman.

How Spektor became Waltman is beyond the scope of this particular article, but if Marla wants to write up the family here, I'll be pleased to give her the space to do so whenever she is ready

Marla says that the parents of Sosya and Harry are Simcha Chaim Beigler and Freda Breteal. Marla says further that the family says they are from Shpikov (48 47 N 28 34 E) in the district of Bratzlav Podolia, later Vinnitsa Ukraine, but the records point to Radyanskoye some 27 miles away.

Marla and Bonnie are second cousins once removed. That's pretty close considering that they did not know of each other. For me that's a good day's work. They will no doubt continue talking and I'll be available as needed. Sometimes I'm just a facilitator. But then who else knows both Bonnie and Marla? And I love it when my friends meet each other!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

London and Toronto

I'm afraid that blogging from actual events is more than I can handle and both events have been covered by blogs, Facebook posts and tweets, but having spent nearly a week abroad, I figure I should say something here, if only for my own record.

As I write this, I am in my home office expecting to get a call any minute from the fellow delivering my suitcase. Each of the three legs of my trip included a stopover in Brussels and two of the three times my suitcase was not loaded onto the connecting flight. In London, they delivered it to my hotel at 1:20 AM, in time for my four o'clock taxi. Here they are not in such a rush, but since it's mostly laundry, neither am I.

The Wednesday evening program was sponsored by the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain and the Guild of One-Name Studies (of which I am a member). The program was organized by Jeanette Rosenberg of the JGS and most of the attendees are members of that organization. The audience also included my wife's brother and one of her cousins with his wife.

Jeanette's husband Mark Nicholls picked me up at the airport after what seemed an interminable wait at Border Control, plus filling out papers for the missing suitcase. They took me from the hotel to the program site and back.

Paul Howse of the Guild did the introductions.

With Debbie Kennett, in my traveling clothes
Debbie Kennett spoke first. She gave a nice, professional, comprehensive introduction to the whole notion of DNA and its use in genealogy research. (She also addressed - aggressively - some of the nonsense that is being published in the field.)

I followed with the latest iteration of my basic DNA talk that has accompanied the publication of ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People. I have renamed it Lessons
With Paul Howse (right)
in Jewish DNA - One Man's Successes and What He Learned on the Journey
. It was well received. We took questions together afterwards and in most cases we both had what to say.

Debbie and I exchanged signatures on our books. Hers was on the reading list for the course I took at GRIP two years ago.

My thanks to Mark Nicholls for the photos.

My friend and colleague Lara Diamond and I were invited to the first-ever Jewish stream of the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference, where we heard some of the top speakers in the field. Much of the conference was centered on matters Canadian, which didn't much interest either of us. But there were also some top-notch speakers including CeCe Moore and Judy Russell, whom I already knew, and Maurice Gleason whom I knew only by reputation.

There were some of the usual vendors, but mostly Canadian groups with limited appeal for those of us with no Canadian interests. (Actually, my grandfather arrived in the US via Montreal and St. Albans Vermont, at age seven with his mother and an older brother and sister. That was 1904. The rest of the family had preceded them in stages.
Actually, Uncle Dave was nine and Aunt Bessie was a bit older

Friday, I listened to Maurice on the basics of Y-DNA research. Mostly basic stuff with a lot on the FTDNA surname projects. Even knowing much of the material, I can usually learn something from a new speaker and such was the case here.

I spoke Friday afternoon at a special "by invitation only" seminar for the Genetic Genealogy Special Interest Group of the Toronto branch of the Society, on Observations on the DNA of Populations Who "Marry Within the Tribe." This was a first-time event for this talk and it was well-received.

Lara and I both went to the Jewish neighborhood for Shabbat and I met several very nice couples, all of whom had done genealogies of their families. It made me think about how much genealogy is being done outside what we consider the genealogy community. It is important to harness all these private projects so that others can see their work in a searchable format, learn from it and perhaps connect to them. (Programs like Geni.com where people can change each others' data are not the solution.) I don't think this is being addressed. I don't even think that we are aware of the scope of such works. 

I imagine that the non-Jewish world has the same phenomenon.

Lara at 8:30, from her blog
Bright and early at 8:30 Sunday morning Lara spoke about ancestral movement in Europe in a talk called Movement Between Towns in Eastern Europe (aka Ancestral Towns May Not Have Been So Ancestral). It was a good crowd and it went well. (We aren't competing or anything, but she had more people than I.)

Shamelessly lifted from Lara's blog
I followed with my basic DNA talk, Lessons, in a different room, then we went back to Lara's room for her second talk Jewish Genealogy Research in Ukraine. It was largely the same people she had at 8:30, so they must have liked it.

Later, I did a Pop-up presentation in the hallway - fifteen minutes showing two case studies, while Lara did some "Ask the Expert" consulting.

We moved on to a panel discussion on the future of genetic genealogy, including the panel's thoughts on the long-term viability of the testing companies who control all our spit-and-swab data and many of the analytical tools. The final program was a keynote address by CeCe Moore to a packed auditorium where she impressed everyone with her stories of people who had searched successfully for their birth families. The folks doing that kind of work are having a real affect on peoples' lives.

Sunday evening, I gave a non-DNA talk to the JGS of Toronto. Perhaps they'll have me back to do DNA.

You can see Lara's more detailed descriptions of the conference here and here.

After I arrived in Toronto Thursday, I met with a fellow who had a few weak matches with my family and wanted to talk about trying to nail down the possible Jewish background of his grandfather. That is not the kind of thing that holds much interest for me as it is all so remote and tenuous, but he found it useful and attended my other talks. I thought something similar awaited me Monday morning, when I had a meeting scheduled with a man whose family matched mine on our Y-DNA line.

I was wrong. This one was real. A few days earlier, the latest Avotaynu had an article by Rachel Unkefer, J. B. Royal and Wim Penninx called Y-DNA Evidence for an Ashkenzai Lineage's Iberian Origin. This study is being done on a haplogroup called FGC20747 and it includes my line. It appears to include the Goldlust line as well, and one of the Goldlusts was my Monday meeting. As a result of our meeting, they have now joined that project and we look forward to learning more about our joint heritage, which appears headed for the days of the Inquisition - not generation after generation, but in a more macro view.

As my own work has concentrated on the past 220 years, I really do not fully understand this type of Y-DNA research but between the GRIP course next month and some personal mentoring from Rachel afterwards, I hope to enhance my understanding.

It was a good conference and a great experience. Many thanks to JGS Toronto president  Marla Waltman - whose mother matches over forty Pikholz descendants from Skalat and who was responsible for creating the Jewish stream and inviting Lara and me to speak. Les Kelman, too, facilitated our participation.

Housekeeping Notes
Suitcase arrived.

The call for papers for RootsTech2017 has gone out. I may submit some proposals for that February event. I have also submitted proposals for the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference in Pittsburgh at the end of August of next year.

I have another second cousin lined up for a DNA test as soon as we find out about the Fathers' Day sale prices. Perhaps some others of you will also sign up.

Only a month before my summer trip and things are falling into place nicely. I'll write more later but in the meantime, you can see some of it here.

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 http://tinyURL.com/GuildDNA.

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.