Sunday, April 13, 2014

The DNA of Rozdol

Here is a look at the families of the nine Pikholz descendants of Rozdol families who have tested for our project thusfar.
We believe that Pinkas (upper left) and his wife Sara Rivka are the ancestors of all the Rozdolers.

All nine did Family Finder tests and the three with male lines did Y tests. (Amos, who is our only female line, did an MtDNA test, but for now we have no one to compare him to.)

(We have several Rozdol lines that are not represented here and most of the ones we have could do with additional test participants - particularly the line on the far left. Several people said they would test, both with Family Finder and with Y tests, but did not follow through. A few others simply said "no" or ignored my requests.)

I put the results into the chromosome browser, a tool which shows how up to five people match the person represented by the black background. In this case, the black background is Esther, chosen for that role simply because she matches all the others.

Since the browser can handle only five matches at a time, I did this in two parts - the ones here on the right and the ones just below on the left.

Since Ira (green) and Steve (purple) are fairly close to one another - second cousins - it is not surprising to see that they both match Esther in the same place on chromosome #7.

In fact since a person has two of each chromosome - one from the mother and one from the father -  it is possible that Ira matches Esther's mother's chromosome, while Steve matches her father's (or vice versa) but we shall ignore that for now.

Amos (yellow) and Gadi (blue) match Esther in the same place on chromo- somes #6 and #7.

Gadi and Ira match Esther on chromosome #16 and very slightly on chromosomes #3 and #7.

We also have small overlapping matches between Robert (orange) and Amos on chromosome #12 and between Gadi and Steve on chromosome #15.

On the second browser, we have  the three cousins Micha (orange), Miriam (blue) and Francis (green) and I left Amos there as well.

Micha and Francis match Esther on chromosome #2 and Micha and Miriam have a very small match with Esther on the X chromosome.

But there are also some matches that include both groups. At the left end of chromosome #3, Gadi, Ira, Micha and Francis all match Esther more or less together.

Francis matches Ira on chromosome #6, Steve on chromosome #15 and both of them on chromosome #7. Micha and Gadi have a very small match with Esther at the far right end of chromosome #7.

I have little doubt that we would have a clearer picture if we had additional family members testing, as well as a better grasp of the analytical tools.

While I was at it, I also did chromosome browsers for Esther with the non-Pikholz who match many of us. The left side of the image includes Mark, Lily, Victor, Cynthia and Kenneth. Victor and Cynthia are known to be second cousins. On the right, we have Marla, her uncle, mother and brother - a family I discussed in some detail a few weeks ago.
Please click to enlarge this image.

The matches in Marla's family on chromosome #1 and five others are unremarkable, as we know them to closely related to one another.  What we did not know is that Esther shares these matches with them.

Marla's brother and Victor (both in green) both match Gadi and Esther near the right end of chromosome #12.

When we compare these non-Pikholz matches to the Pikholz marches above, we can see a number of overlapping matches - all with Esther, of course.  We have Amos and Kenneth (chromosome #6), Ira and Marla (#7), Mark and Gadi (#8), Lily and Gadi (#16) and Robert and Marla (#19).

Once again, more data and a better grasp of the tools would help.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Woman Who Matches Etta Bryna

I am posting this on Sunday, the sixth of Nisan, the 118th yahrzeit of my great-grandmother
Etta Bryna bat Yehudah HaLevi Rosenbloom. We do not know her maiden name - a subject which I discussed in some detail two years ago.

This is the ancestral line about which I know the least. Even less than what I know about her husband, my namesake, Israel David ben Yaakov Rosenbloom. At least I know his mother's name - Shayna Liba.

In the case of Etta Bryna, we only know what we do because we have a photograph of her grave, with her daughter Shayna Liba standing along side.

Etta Bryna almost certainly died in her mid to late thirties. Her eldest daughter was about eighteen. Her only living son was a few weeks short of his second birthday. Her husband married again soon after she died and the new wife - who had two children of her own - may have discouraged further connections with the dead wife's family.

Perhaps Etta Bryna's family didn't live in Borisov, so seeing them would have involved some effort. Or maybe they were in town and my grandmother's younger brother Uncle Hymen (Chaim Benzion) simply never realized they were his mother's kin. When Uncle Hymen joined Social Security, he wrote "don't know" where his mother's maiden name should have been.

I am sure my grandmother would have known some things about her mother's family, but no one ever asked her.

Today I want to touch on a different side of this problem. DNA testing.

I first dipped my toe into the waters of DNA testing three years ago in connection with the mysterious line of my father's father's father's father. (That may sound trivial, but trust me, it wasn't at the time.) So I decided to order a Y-67 test to see if anyone out there matched my male line.

While I was at it, I decided to do the same thing for the line of Etta Bryna, my mother's mother's mother. The maternal test looks at the mitochondrial DNA which is separate from the 23 pairs of chromosomes we generally hear about.  It passes from mother to both daughters and sons, but only the daughters pass it along to the next generation. MtDNA tends to remain unchanged for many generations, so I decided to pay attention only to perfect matches since my dead end is so few generations ago. The testing company I used is FamilyTreeDNA. I did the test they call "MtFull Sequence," which is the highest level available.

The results came back and I had six matches. I exchanged some correspondence with the six and they were all over the map. My Etta Bryna lived in what is now Belarus and I had these matches with people from places far away - like Hungary. I had no basis for doing anything further and in any case, I had more productive things to do.

Fast forward a year when we decided to begin a DNA project for Pikholz descendants. Most of that project is based on the Family Finder test, which looks at autosomal DNA, the sort that comes undifferentiated from all ancestors. So I did the Family Finder. It was about six months ago when I had another good look at my MtDNA results.

By now I have twelve matches, all from the haplogroup U1b1, like me. None of them gave much information. Two of the twelve posted the basics of their ancestors in what they call a gedcom file. One of those two didn't have enough information to work with. The other went back six or seven generations in a family called Goldberg, in a town named Divin, in the southwest corner of Belarus, about 360 km from Borisov.

Six of the twelve had done Family Finder tests, so I figured that could give me an idea if any of those might be related to be in the more recent generations. Remember, I have no knowledge of Etta Bryna's siblings, so if she had any, their descendants could be as close to me as third cousins - well within the range of Family Finder matches.

Of those six, one was not a match at all - which means that our MRCA (most recent common ancestor) was probably really long ago. Four others showed Family Finder matches likely to be "remote," which generally means five, six, seven, eight generations back. Also not very useful.

One came out close. Well, not  exactly close close, but estimated as a third-to-fifth cousin. For convenience, we'll say fourth cousin. So this could be a descendant of one of Etta Bryna's mother's sisters.  The match is with a woman named Deborah Sirotkin Butler, and I appreciate her permission to refer to her here by name.

Deborah didn't say much about her family on the site, but was receptive when I wrote to her. She is new at genealogy and told me that her oldest maternal name is Margolin (various spellings), from Gomel, in southeastern Belarus about 160 miles (260 km) from Borisov. According to JewishGen, Gomel had some 20,000 Jews in 1897.

No known relative on my mother's side has tested thusfar, but I had a look at my Family Finder match with Deborah to see who else matched both of us.

There are 1690 people who have done Family Finder tests and match both Deborah and me. I suppose I could plug all of them into the chromosome browser to see if any of them match both of us on the same chromosome. Maybe if there were one hundred, I'd do it, but not 1690.

Thirty-four of those 1690 are projected as third cousins or better - to me. I don't know how close they are to Deborah. I could ask her to see what all of these are to her, but I am feeling my way in the dark and I think that kind of thing is premature.

But what is curious is that Deborah matches eight Pikholz descendants and my two non-Pikholz Kwoczka cousins, Baruch and Pinchas. The eight include my father's sister and a second cousin of mine, Terry. But not my father's cousin Herb.

On chromosome 18, with me as the background and Deborah in yellow, we see matches with (from the top) Aunt Betty, Terry and Baruch. There is no match with Pinchas here. So Deborah is related to me some other way that includes my Pikholz (or Kwoczka) ancestors - in addition to via Etta Bryna. Part of the "fourth cousin" that FTDNA projects for Deborah and me must be from this other source.

I also looked at the other six Pikholz matches that Deborah and I share. Three do not match Deborah and me on the same chromosomes, so they are not relevant here, for now..

The other three are interesting. (Deborah is purple here.) Robert, who is from Rozdol, matches us on chromosome 12, but Rita's cousin and Jane match us on the same chromosome 18 that my own family matches!

Deborah is orange here.
And.... I see that Deborah and I both match with nine of the non-Pikholz who match many of the Pikholz. Of those, there are three who match us on the same chromosome. And those chromosomes are #12 and #18! 
 Mark (blue) and Alexandra (green) match us on both, but not on the right parts of the chromosome. On the other hand, Debbie L. (yellow) matches Deborah and me on chromosome 12 in the same place as Robert.

Debbie, Deborah and I also have a nice little match on chromosome 8, that does not include Robert.

So that accounts for nineteen of our 1690 common matches. But of course, I am looking for my mother's mother's side, not Pickholtz Project people.

So what next? I am not sure. I have asked several of my cousins on my mother's side about testing, but thusfar none have replied. That could help - both regarding Etta Bryna's family and with her husband's Rosenbloom line.

Isn't this fun?

I think I will open a Facebook group for descendants of Etta Bryna.  If you haven't been invited, look for it. Maybe with some luck, we'll locate a descendant of her older daughter Alta Kaplan.

Alta in the mid-1920s in Russia, with sons Yakov, Baruch Yosef,
one whose name we don't know and daughter Etta Bryna
Housekeeping notes

I have the three books that my GRIPitt course recommended and I read the first already. It's called FINDING FAMILY: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA, by Richard Hill. He is an adoptee who describes his quest to find his birth parents. In addition to being an interesting story, it comes with a surprise result which would not have been possible without a little extra bit of testing, after he thought he was done.

I have completed my airline reservations for summer. The major open question is whether I'll be doing my first Shabbat in Baltimore or Pittsburgh. (The other two are in Chicago.) Since I'll be driving from Baltimore to Pittsburgh, I don't have to decide now.

I hope to visit family graves on that drive, in Harrisburg (Kesher Israel & Chisuk Emuna), Johnstown (Grandview), White Oak (New Gemillas Chesed) and Duquesne (Beth Jacob).

One of my two lecture proposals for the IAJGS Conference in Salt Lake City was accepted. I am happy to say it's the better one and the easier one to update.  The topic is Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

 They also approved a panel discussion called Internet Collaboration: How Do We Share Our Family Trees Online? in which I shall be participating. More on that soon.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Saul and Sam and Sol and Sam (or something)

Here is a little curiosity about a family on which I had done some research. I did not ask their permission to discuss them, so I shall not get too specific or present any documents. I will refer to the person who initiated the inquiry as "the client," though this term is not strictly accurate

The family consisted of five brothers and a sister, born in the late 1890s and the early 1900s, some in Russia and some in the US. The client knew four of the five brothers, whom we shall call B, H, J, and M, but not very well. There was a fifth brother who was referred to as Uncle Sol (or maybe Uncle Saul), whom the client didn't know. and the sister was deceased.

The parents were also long deceased. The father was Shlomo (=Solomon), so it was pretty clear that "Uncle Saul" would have been correct, as Shlomo would hardly have had a son named Sol. Shlomo was called Sam in the US. His wife was Becky, but her Jewish name was not Rivka (Rebecca).

Research into this family was complicated by the fact that their surname is fairly common and not particularly Jewish. The client thought it was not changed significantly when they went to the US from Europe.

By the time I was brought into the picture as a researcher, that generation was long gone and much of the next generation was getting up there in years. So when the opportunity presented itself, I invited myself to the home of a man I'll call "Dave," the eighty-plus son of one of the  brothers. I asked him about his grandparents and their families, where they came from, when they left Europe, etc - and about Uncle Saul.

He filled in the details as best he could. His grandfather Sam died when Dave was maybe eight or ten. He knew Becky well, but there was never any talk about where anyone came from - except "Russia" - or what other family there was. Dave knew that Sam had two brothers, one in the city and one in New York. The one in New York owned a major brand-name company. Dave didn't recall the name of that great-uncle, but knew the names of two of his sons.

As for Uncle Saul, he said that they did not know him well. He lived in New York and was the eldest of the brothers. Older even than the sister. And Dave thought it was not Saul, but Sol, short for Solomon. I asked him how could he have been Solomon when his father was Shlomo and Dave began to dig into his memory, hemming and hawing.

"I think maybe my grandfather was married twice. Or maybe my grandmother was married twice. Or something like that, but Uncle Sol was not a full brother to the others." That made sense to me. Becky had a son Solomon from her first husband and then married a man with the same name. The biggest reaction was from Dave's wife who had not really been following the conversation. "Second marriage?" she said. "What second marriage? We have been married sixty-two years and you never told me that your grandparents were a second marriage."

I turned to Steve' Morse's One-Step search facility to get at the Italian Genealogical Group's database of New York marriages. There were eleven Sol or Solomon with the correct surname.

Dave knew Uncle Sol's wife name, so we were able to identify the correct marriage record. I wanted to see whom Sol had named as his parents on his marriage certificate, as well as his place of birth.

I ordered the marriage record from Salt Lake City. Sol named his parents as Samuel and Rebecca, though he did give us a surname for his mother. Maybe her maiden name, maybe the name of a previous husband. And "birthplace Russia."

I did some additional inquiry among Dave's cousins and one thought the family had come from a particular place in the Volhynia province of Ukraine. I looked at the JewishGen Family Finder and saw no one working on any similar surname in that town, but there were some doing work on Becky's surname.

I looked for Sol in the 1920 census, shortly before his marriage. He was living with the uncle. Sam's brother.  Sam who is really Shlomo. Shlomo/Sam's brother's name according to the 1920 census is................... Sam.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Simon's Youngest Son, Joseph Leisor

Simon Pikholz and the Waltuch sisters
Simon Pikholz lived in Skalat. We don't know who his parents were, but we think he is closely connected to my own family. (It would help if some of his living descendants would take DNA tests, especially the one male line descendant who could do a Y test. Thusfar no one has agreed to do so.)

Anyway, Simon was married to Dwore Waltuch, the daughter of Herz and Lea, also from Skalat. They had two daughters that we know of - Lea and Breine. Breine was born in 1860 and Lea probably before our earliest Skalat records in 1859.

Lea married Berl Pfeffer and I have written a bit about her children here. We know nothing about Breine aside from her birth.

Dwore died in 1861 at age twenty-three and as was customary when there were small children,
Dwore's death record - 30 November 1861, age 23
Simon married within the family soon afterwards. His second wife was Chana Waltuch, Dwore's sister. They had nine children (1863-1885), four of whom died in childhood, four went to the US and for one we have only a birth record.

We have no record for Simon after the birth of the last child.

Chana and her son Max followed her two daughters to the US in 1892 and by all indications,she was a widow. She lived in Elizabeth NJ until her death in 1923. We have census and other documents for her daughters Malka Dwojra (aka Dora) and Ryvka (aka Beatrice) and her son Max and I am in occasional contact with descendants of all three.

Jossel Leisor and his children
There were five Pikholz births in Skalat in 1881, three more in nearby towns. Jossel Leisor was born to Schimon and Chana on 25 July.

We next see him getting married in 1899 to Katie Smith in Elizabethport NJ. Katie's parents came from Russia and somehow in the US Lechowitz became Smith. The Smiths lived in Philadelphia and the young couple did as well. The 1900 census says that Joseph (who for some reason is called John) worked as a window cleaner.

Joseph and Katie had four children in fairly rapid succession - Sam, Ida, Selma and in 1906,
Katie's grave site
Leonard J. Pickholtz. Katie died in November 1909 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Har Jehudah Cemetery, Upper Darby PA. In the 1910 census, Ida is in an orphanage, the other three children are with the Smith grandparents and Joseph is nowhere to be seen.

By the time of the 1920 census, the elder Smiths have died, Leonard and Selma are in other Philadelphia orphanages and Sam has disappeared. Still nothing on Joseph. We began working on the assumption that he was dead, but could find no trace of death or burial. And none of the descendants of his brother and sisters had ever heard of him. As though he had been some kind of black sheep.

Much of the work on this family was done by Steve Pickholtz of New Jersey, who grew up in Philadelphia. We were joined in this search by a descendant of one of Katie's sisters.

Joseph's older sister Dora had gone to the US with my grandfather's first cousin Sara Frankel, who had ended up in Denver, so I had this cockamamie theory that Joseph had gone to Denver to join family and look for work. I brashly predicted to Steve that we would find that he had died in Denver or en route, probably while Katie was still alive. I even considered that he died before the youngest child was born and that "Leonard J." would turn out to be in memory of Joseph Leisor.

We found a directory reference to Selma Pickholtz in New York in the 1930s. And a file for Ida showing that she had married in 1922 and had a son and that she was in poor health. Steve made contact briefly with the son a few years ago, but we have not been able to find him again.  He knew nothing of the family history. Ida died in 1938.

Ida's file included the name Pickford and it took quite awhile for Steve to convince me to follow that up. He was right.

Sam indeed had become Pickford. He added five years to his age when he married an older woman, Lillian, but he kept the same birthday, making it easy to recognize him. He married in 1917 and took on her son and daughter. In 1919 Sam and Lillian had a son.

Sam, Lillian and the two sons, one unmarked
Sam died in 1996. Lillian's family has a plot in Montefiore Cemetery in Philadelphia and they are buried there. So are the two sons - the younger one in an unmarked grave. Ida too is in that family plot and her grave also contains the remains of an unnamed daughter of Lillian's older son.

I phoned the cemetery to ask about Ida's grave and it turned out that the woman who answered the phone at the cemetery had been a neighbor of Sam and Lillian. She told me what she could. She knew Selma, who had married in NY - there were no children. She knew nothing of Joseph or of Sam's brother Leonard. I think she felt she had spoken too freely and she never took my calls again or answered my letters. When I visited the cemetery three years ago, she had retired.

Following the Pickford name, we found Leonard, in a military cemetery in Houston. He too had lived into his nineties. And I found his wife. His second wife, who didn't know he was a Pickholtz, didn't know he was Jewish, didn't know that he had two sons (one deceased). She certainly didn't know anything about Joseph.

We corresponded for a couple of years and she tried to do some family research. Then she died. Leonard's other son died a bit later, as did the first wife.

So what happened to Joseph?
Joseph was definitely alive in 1909-1910, involved in some matters that are better not spoken of. There is an indication that he had spent some time in Pittsburgh before that.

Then I found this.

Joseph Lewis Pickholtz, born 1 October 1881, registered for the draft in Kansas City Missouri in 1918. He is married to Elsie, is in the junk business and is missing three fingers on his right hand. "Lewis" is a reasonable substitute for "Leisor" and the birth year is correct, though not the full date.

And then he disappears again. Neither he nor Elsie shows up in the 1920 census or anyplace else. I wondered if he was on the way to Denver.

There is a Joseph Pick in Perth Amboy in the 1920 census, born in Galicia in 1881. He said that he came to the US in 1906. With him were his wife Catherine and children John, Joseph, Josephine, Mary and Sophie. Catherine and John entered the US in 1913. It looked too strange and I never followed it up. Perhaps I should.

I considered that he continued his life with the 1 October 1881 birth date that was on the draft registration and just for sport, I looked up people named Joseph with that birth date in the Social Security Death Index, which normally begins in 1962. And this turned up.
The middle initial "L" again. He died in 1953, when we generally do not find SSDI results. And Gatewood certainly sounds like something that could have been derived from Pickholtz!

I went to the 1940 census and found him with his wife Pauline, twenty-four years his junior, in Natchituches Louisiana. The census record says he was born in Kentucky and was a farmer.

Unlikely to be our guy? You bet. I ordered the death record from the State of Louisiana. His parents are not Simon and Anna, but John Gatewood and Amanda Smith, both of Hartford Kentucky. Close but no cigar.

Back to the drawing board.

Housekeeping notes
Motel Weissman died last week. He was born in Skalat ninety years ago and was the person who said kaddish at our annual Skalat memorial.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Dead Man In The Zellermayer House

Last week, I wrote about the new acquisitions from the AGAD archives, including the 1909 marriage record for Abraham Eisig Zellermayer and Basie Pudles and the 1910 birth record for their son Jonas.
For convenience, I placed the record higher on the page, adjacent to the headings

According to this record, Abraham Zellermayer was born 27 February 1883 in a town called Liczkowce, near Husiatyn, to Zelman Juda Zellermayer and Ettel Pikholz.

This index entry from JRI-Poland appears to be the birth of his father. The actual record is just below but it is very difficult to read. (Thanks to Mark Halpern for his help with that.)

The second line is the birth of Selman Cellermayer. I was hoping for a house number. No such luck.
There are several connections between the Pikholz and Zellermayer families, as shown below, with the Pikholz shaded blue and the Zellermayers shaded yellow.  I am not sure exactly how the Zellermayers on the right connect to those on the left, but there are clear indications that they do, including the fact that one on each side (in red) was born in Liczkowce.

I have been particularly interested in Chaje Cirl Pikholz in the top right corner. I haven't a clue who she is.1 We have no other children for her.

It had been my impression that Abraham Zellermayer and his wife had come to Israel in the 1930s, but I had never found any
Adolf & Julius in the Citizenship index of the Mandatory Government.
Adolf is shown here as born 1883 in Liczkowce.
trace of them here and the two granddaughters I know have never been particularly communicative. But once I learned from the marriage record that he had been born in Liczkowce in 1883, I realized that I did have evidence of his arrival. I just hadn't realized that on his Mandatory Citizenship file, he had gone by Adolf. I already had the file for his son Jonas, aka Julius, and it was easy enough to copy Abraham's as well. Basie went by Berta. They had lived previously in Vienna.

When I sent the marriage record to the granddaughters, one of them told me that Abraham and Batya, as she was known here, were buried in Tel-Aviv's Kiryat Shaul Cemetery, which is online and where I had not seen them before. This time I searched by given names and fathers' names and found them.
Deller Meyer Batya and Fellermayer Avraham in the database of the Greater Tel-Aviv Burial Society

I shouldn't have been surprised. I already knew that their younger son was listed as Max Zeller Meyer. Next time I am in the area, I'll photograph their graves and add them to our Virtual Cemetery.

So that should have wrapped up this inquiry, at least for now. Except for the matter of Gabriel.

I  have mentioned the family of Gabriel and Sara Pikholz from Husiatyn several times, including in connection with some of the new records last week. In fact, I wrote at some length about their family only two months ago. Gabriel Pikholz died in Husiatyn in 1852 at age thirty. I believed (and still do) that Gabriel was the son of Nachman Pikholz (b. ~1795) and the father of Moshe Pikholz, whose family appears here.

What I did not mention before is precisely where in Husiatyn Gabriel Pikholz died.

House number 70 in Husiatyn is where one of the Zellermayers lived. We see that Feige Zellermejer died in house number 70 just four weeks before Gabriel, identified as being "from Skalat," died in that same house.

My impression has been that this is where Gabriel stayed when he went to Husiatyn, very likely for some reason to do with his Hassidic rebbe.

I do not know exactly who this fourteen year old Feige is. I have not tried to piece together the Zellermayer clan and we do not have access to the full set of records.

But I do have a full copy of the Husiatyn death records for the period 1816-1876. I started looking through them in reverse order and saw that none of the later ones had house numbers.

Except one. From 1869.

Down at the bottom of the page, in house number 70 is the death of Abraham Eisig Zellermayer, age 73.

Well, we have a birth of Selman (=Zalman) to Abraham in 1859 and he is very likely the father of the Abraham Eisig born 1883. If this Abraham Eisig who died at 73 in 1869 is Selman's father, it would mean Selman was born when his father was past sixty. Maybe. Or maybe not.

We have a thirty-one year old Malka Zellermayer who died in house 70. That's the name of Selman's mother. But this Malka died in 1851, so she wasn't the mother of the Selman born 1859. (No "maybe" about that.)

There was a Juda Zellermayer who died in that same house in 1850 at age twenty-eight and a Nisin(?)2 age ten in 1836 and a baby named Baszie in 1830. There is also a Chanzie Mariem Celler in 1837 and I am assuming that she is also Cellermayer.

The only non-Zellermayer who died in this house was Gabriel Pikholz. But it would be a leap of faith to cite a family connection between Gabriel and these particular Zellermayers - who may or may not be the family of "our" Abraham Eisig.

Or maybe there is one more Pikholz-Zellermayer marriage we hadn't known about. After all, we have no idea what Gabriel's wife Sara's maiden name was. Perhaps Gabriel's presence in Husiatyn (and the birth of his son Moshe there in 1851) had nothing to do with the Rebbe and everything to do with his wife's family.

Now if I could only get some DNA from a couple of Gabriel's putative descendants and from the Zellermayer granddaughters, I could perhaps muddle the picture further.

A happy Purim to everyone.

1 After considering that Gabriel is probably the son of Nachman Pikholz, it is tempting to think that Chaje Cirl (top right corner of the tree chart) might be his sister. But we are pretty sure that Nachman had a year old daughter Cirl who died in 1840. That pretty much rules out his having a daughter Chaje Cirl who had a child in 1848.

2 The handwriting on the 1836 death record is not clear, so I crowd-sourced it on JewishGen. The results were Nisin-32, Ruven-10, Bevin, Nevin and Besin five each, and a handful of names with one "vote" each. In fact, we know that there were Zellermayers in Husiatyn named Rubin. We do not know of any Nisin (Nathan, Nisan, etc.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Nine New Records from AGAD

Until about a year ago, east Galician records were available from the AGAD archives in Warsaw, based on the indexing done for JRI-Poland. During the previous five years, I had placed about two dozen orders for these records - for my own research, for other people and occasionally for research clients.

Then last year, AGAD put those records online and there was no longer a need for these cumbersome orders.

But in the meantime, new records have become available, some listed at JRI-Poland and some in the All Galicia Database of Gesher Galicia and among them were a few records I wanted. This order took a long time to put together because I kept hoping that additional indexed records would be posted, but finally I decided to go with what I had.

Seven records in this order were for other genealogy researchers, six of them for people in Israel. One wanted his record to help him acquire Polish citizenship. Two others were for a man in my shul, whose family comes from Rozdol. The other nine were Pikholz records.

All told, there were a dozen births, five marriages and one death. Seven were from Podwoloczysk, four from Rozdol, three from Lwow, and one each from Drohobycz, Rohatyn, Skalat and Zbarazh.

The records arrived a few days ago via an online link. The total of eighteen were actually seventeen, as two of the Rozdol records were on the same page. In one case, they sent the wrong page and I have requested a replacement.

So here are the nine new Pikholz records.

Nachman, born to Abraham Pickholz and Lea Gelbling in Drohobycz
We already had a death record for this child. He died after only sixteen days. The birth  record shows that he was born 21 September 1911.

We do not know for certain who this Abraham Pickholz is, but I would guess he is part of the family we call IF2, where the name Nachman is prominent..

We know of two sisters before born Nachman, Hinde Feige and Sara Rivka.

Sara Lea, born to Markus Pickholz and Blime Jubjener in Rozdol
Here too, we cannot identify the father's place in the Pikholz structure, as the name is common and there is no identifying information on the birth record. The mother's name also appears as Jupiener.

The birth date is 19 July 1904. The couple had older children Matias and Gittel and a younger son Michal.

Gittel Rappaport, born to Josel Rappaport and Ryfka Luftschein Pickholz in Rozdol
We know this family, although the living descendants have not been willing to speak to us.

The family went to the US in the late 1920s. Gittel was the second of four children. She married Mayer Heilweil and died at age thirty-two.

Gittel's mother is the daughter of Fischel Pickholz and they lived in Bialkes, near Skole - which is where her older brother's birth was recorded.

Josel Rappaport  was from Zurawno - so Gittel must have been born when they were visiting some part of her mother's family in Rozdol. The birth was 1 January 1905.

Izrael Pikholz, son of Moses Hersch of Kaczanowka, recorded in Zbarazh
This is a death record. Izrael is thirty-five, died of cancer and was married. He died 20 April 1909 and was buried the following day in Zbarazh.

We know this family. The deceased had five younger brothers and sisters that we know of.

The best fit I see for Izrael is a man who married Ester Lyncyz. They had a daughter in 1901 who died at birth. But maybe not.

Etie Golde Pikholz, daughter of Gabriel and Breine, marries in Podwoloczysk
This is an odd one. The marriage took place in 1896. The bride is identified as being thirty-two years old and her parents are from Husiatyn. But Gabriel Pikholz of Husiatyn died in 1852, a dozen years before Etie Golde was born. And in any case, the wife of that Gabriel was Sara, not Breine.

The groom is Wolf, the son of Hersch and Male Feldman of Tarnopol.

There is a four-part note which appears to be just technical matters, but we are trying to determine if there might be some interesting information there.

And perhaps there is a Feldman descendant out there somewhere.

Abraham Eisig Pikholz (Zellermayer) marries Basie Pudles in Podwoloczysk
This is a record that I have wanted for years but had my doubts about ever finding.

We knew that Abraham was a grandson of Eliezer and Chane Chaje Pikholz, but had no idea what his mother's name was. Abraham and Basie had three children who all lived in Israel. One granddaughter is a well-known (if you are old enough) radio personality who in recent years has been writing Hebrew subtitles on Sponge Bob and other cartoon shows. Another granddaughter is the wife of an old boss of mine.

So now we have the record showing that Abraham's parents were Zalmen Hillel Zellermayer and Ettel Pikholz, that he had a second name Eisig, that he was born in 1883 and that the marriage took place 29 June 1909.

There is also a lengthy note which we are working on. After we get that figured out, I'll send the record to the granddaughters, as best we can tell, my fourth cousins..

And they had a son in Podwoloczysk
In May 1910, Abraham and Basie have a son. We knew this, of course, but now we have the birth record.

Jente Halpern (Pickholz) marries Schamschon David Sirki in Podwoloczysk
We know this family - or at least we know the bride's parents. She was born in 1884 to Joel Halpern and Chana Pickholz of Husiatyn. Chana is the daughter of Gabriel and Sara whom I mentioned above.

The marriage took place in 1911. One of the witnesses, Salomon Lynczycz was also a witness at the marriage of Etie Golde above. We have two Pikholz men married to Lynczycz women, but I don't see a connection between either of them and a Salomon.

I have not seen the surname Sirki anywhere else. I'd really like to find a descendant.

Ester Reizie, born to Basie Pickholz and Schaje Wolf Jorysz in Podwoloczysk
This is the fourth child we have for this couple. The birth was in August 1909. Ester Reizie was married in Grzmaylow in 1939 to Ojzer Swartz. (We also have a marriage for her older sister.)  We have nothing further.

Basie - or more properly Chaya Basie - is the daughter of Josef and Fradel Taube of Tarnoruda. This should be the RITA family. We do not know if Josef or Fradel Taube is the Pikholz.

I am told that there has been a new transfer from the Civil Records Office to AGAD, but we do not yet know which towns' records those would be.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fiftieth Reunion, Genealogy, Young Cousin Matt, Geni - and More About Marla's family

My Class Reunion
The fiftieth reunion of my high school class (Taylor Allderdice, in Pittsburgh) is planned for the
No, I do not plan to attend
end of the summer. I never had much to do with my 462 fellow graduates during the two years I was there, but it's amazing what happens when you fill in your profile on the reunion website and write "Occupation: Genealogist."

This one writes to me and tells me what his family name was in Europe and throws in some Hebrew ("Shalom Chaver") for good measure. That one remarks on how interesting it must be for me. Others had questions about their families or how to do this or that.

There are also a few whom I approached, because their unusual surnames had some family connections with me. Or with my wife. In one case, a classmate has the same rare name as my wife's late husband. In another, the surname is almost surely from my ancestral town Skalat. (Actually, I think the family of my wonderful fourth grade arithmetic teacher at Linden School may also have been from Skalat.)

The truth is there may be some meaningful communal genealogy to be done among my classmates and others in my home community, based on their towns of emigration.

Zalosce and Podkamen
My great-grandfather, Hersch Pickholz, was probably born in Podkamen, though his family had been from Skalat. Other Pittsburgh families that I knew were also from Podkamen - the Klahrs and the Steins, for a start. But there are no Podkamen records, so I could not do anything on that front.

Hersch Pickholz married Jutte Lea Kwoczka from neighboring Zalosce and their older children were born there. His brother and one of his sisters also raised their families in Zalosce. When JRI-Poland came out with indexed birth from Zalosce for 1877-1890, I was eager to see them. I went through the lists and saw so many names that I knew from Pittsburgh, including from school and the neighborhood. Kweller, Lewinter, Papernik, Chotiner, our own Braun and Kwoczka, Charap, Schwadron, Wachs and others.

There must have been a lot of chain migration from the Zalosce area to Pittsburgh in the 1890s. I don't know if the chain was mostly intra-family or just people who knew each other. There is at least one person is my class whose (great-)grandparents were from two families on the list above.

After WWI, Rabbi Wolf Leiter, the son of the rabbi of Zalosce, came to Pittsburgh where he served until his death in 1974. His memoirs helped me solve a major family relationship in a different town. A story for another time.

Enter Matt
One of the girls in my class (I am allowed to say "girls" in this context even though the next big birthday will be 70, right? Nana always called her friends "The Girls.") tells me that her grandfather came from a town called Nasielsk, not far from Warsaw. The grandfather died here in Israel and is buried in Petah Tikva. She has never been here.

I am not sure how much effort I am interested in putting here, but I figure I can do a bit of poking around to see what comes up.

The grandfather is listed in the cemetery website and appears on JOWBR, with a photo.

His grave is the next section over from my parents, so it's easy enough to visit, next time I am there.

Anyway, just as she and I are corresponding, I meet Matt. Matthew Saunders is newly married to Jessica Gordon, whose late father David is my first cousin. Jessie and Matt were visiting from New York and spent Shabbes here, together with her brother and sister-in-law Ari and Bobbi, who live here in town with their baby daughter Devorah. We had a lovely time, full of Torah and genealogy, as Matt is very much into both of these.

So Friday afternoon we are sitting at the computer talking and Matt says something about his grandfather's having come from Nasielsk. I had him write a note to the girl from my class right there on the spot. We'll see if that leads anywhere.

Matt and I also discussed, which he uses. Some of my thoughts on that appear here. It turns out that despite what Geni says, Matt and my mother-in-law are NOT related. There is a chain leading from one to the other, but as soon as I saw that it depends on a "brother-in-law relationship" in the middle, I knew they could not be truly related.

Speaking of Geni
Which reminds me, I received a note from an experienced genealogy researcher in the US purporting to show how we are related. I removed the names aside from my own, leaving the initials of the fellow who sent me this.
As you can see, there are twenty-one steps here from him to me, including half a dozen in-law relationships, which jump bloodlines It misspells my name and includes a photograph of me that I don't think I have ever seen before; I certainly didn't authorize its use on Geni.

It's hard to take this stuff seriously. But we have to, if only to protect ourselves. And laughter can be oh so effective.

Leftovers from last week
After posting last week, I added a comment, which I revisit here with some illustrations and further explanation.

If Marla and her brother match nineteen Pikholz descendants between them, but their mother matches only seventeen, we must consider that there are some who would match on Marla's father's side. (There are also two that only the mother matches, but that is not a problem.)

The four that the mother doesn't match are Bonnie, Gene, Gadi and Micha. Bonnie and Gene are third cousins from Skalat and Gadi and Micha are from Rozdol. The only interesting overlap involving those four is on chromosome 19, where Bonnie has a 5.97 cM match with Marla and Gadi has a 6.33 cM match, with a large overlap between them.

Marla as background, from top to bottom:
Marla's brother, mother, uncle, Bonnie, Gadi
In fact all four of Marla's group match the entire length of chromosome 19, so I thought that perhaps there was some kind of testing anomaly such that Marla's mother did not match Gadi and Bonnie.

But I ran them against Marla's uncle - who as I say matches them with Marla as a background. But he in fact does not match them on chromosome 19 at all, even though FTDNA calls them remote matches.

Here with Marla's uncle as background,
Bonnie and Gadi disappear entirely.

So it is clear to me that at least Bonnie and Gadi match Marla on her father's side.

Marla's father is deceased so we have to see if she has anyone else on his side who can test.

Her brother did a Y-37 test last week. It was always a longshot, but their surname has a meaning that is related to wood and maybe around 1800 two brothers chose different wood-related names, perhaps as a reflection of their family occupation..There was no match. Too bad. I liked the theory.

Oh, and one other thing for the consideration of the professional explainers. Since both Bonnie and Gadi have an overlapping match on chromosome 19 on Marla's father's side, a chromosome check of either Gadi or Bonnie that includes the other should show that both match Marla and her brother.

Gadi matches Marla and her brother,
on their father's side, but not Bonnie
Bonnie matches Marla and her brother
on their father's side, but not Gadi
So does this mean that Bonnie and Gadi are on different sides of Marla's father?

So much to learn.

Housekeeping notes
1. As a result of what I consider a nearly-confirmed relationship with Marla's family, I had a look at how her family connects DNA-wise with some of the other non-Pikholz families who also match with many of us. We have had an ongoing discussion among half a dozen such families the last few days and I would like to think that we will eventually nail something down. As I write this, several others of the non-Pikholz have joined our surname project at FTDNA, making it easier to do these comparisons.

2. I ordered four books from Amazon to help prepare for the course on Practical Genetic Genealogy in July. Matt brought one of them. My cousin Linda will be here next month and already has the other three. I am really placing alot of faith in this course.

GRIPitt has spaces available in some of the other courses.

3. PIT-ORD flight booked. ORD-SLC-ORD flights booked. International flights will wait until I am more certain of when I want to travel. Prices are way higher than last year.- more than 50% higher.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


After three consecutive weeks of blogging about Pikholz DNA, I planned to change the subject to something else - anything else.

Then I heard from Marla.

I had tweeted about having been accepted for the GRIPitt course in Practical Genetic Genealogy and Marla congratulated me on that. Having recently looked at the MtDNA matches for Pikholz descendant Amos (of the only Pikholz line that is all female) and seen Marla's name there, I decided to see whom she matched within our group.

Marla matches fifteen out of the twenty-six Pikholz who tested, but oddly enough Amos is not one of them.

The most interesting of those matches was with my father's cousin Herb, my father's sister Aunt Betty and me. Using Herb as the base, Marla matches all three of us on chromosomes 1, 16 and 22 (5.46 cM, 5.47 cM and 7.68 cM) and has another match with just Herb and Aunt Betty on chromosome 11 (5.78 cM). She did not match my second cousin Terry.

I reported this to Marla and she told me that her brother, her mother and her mother's brother also tested. Marla's brother also has fifteen matches - eleven of them are the same as Marla's and each has four that the other does not. So that's nineteen between them. Marla's mother has seventeen matches with us and the uncle has sixteen. All four have now joined our group.

Here is how Marla's group of four lines up with our three. Considering that we are defined as "remote" and cannot be closer than six generations, those seem to be very nice matches.
So I am guessing that Marla's family and mine have their Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) six-seven generations ago. Her family surnames on her mother's side do not appear in our family.Those names would be Uszerowicz, Lewkowicz, Organek (previously Organkiewicz), Herszkowicz, Szlamowicz, Lichtman, Szapsiowicz, Baltman, Baran, Rubinow, Abramahow. (Note to self - clarify with Marla that all these "...wicz" names are documented surnames, not just patronymics.)

Lloyd has the same match on chromosome 11 with Marla's mother, but not with Aunt Betty. Dalia - who is Lloyd's third cousin on that same Pikholz side - does not.

Jacob also has the chromosome 11 match with Marla's mother, but not with Aunt Betty. The other three from Jacob's group do not.

I did not discern anything significant between Marla's group and the other Pikholz matches.

What characterizes all the Pikholz who match Marla's family on chromosome 11 is that they are Skalaters and that they all come from our matching Y-DNA group. Perhaps a Y-DNA test of Marla's uncle would help here, though a negative finding would not prove or disprove anything.

I do think that of all the non-Pikholz families who match a large number of Pikholz descendants, Marla's family is the one which appears a match within six-seven generations to a particular set of Pikholz families. So with that, I'd like to extend a tentative but hearty welcome to Marla and the other members of her mother's family. You really appear to be cousins, nearly in reach.

For next week, you'll be pleased to know that I already have another topic that has nothing to do with either Pikholz or DNA.

Housekeeping notes
The left hand that appears in the right-hand column under the "followers" means that I am now registered on the Geneabloggers website. The fellow who runs it is a well-known genealogist and lecturer.

The first of the four books I need to read in preparation for the GRIPitt course has arrived.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


So until now, in the Pikholz DNA Project...
I have looked at the Y (male line) chromosome of some of the Pikholz families and we see that three of the Skalat families have a perfect match to one another at 37 markers. This tells us that these three families have a common ancestor most likely six or seven generations back. (They cannot be closer, as we know the five most recent generations.)

The Y tests also told us that certain other family members do NOT have a male line that matches the rest of us.

We did a MtDNA (female line) test on a member of the one Pikholz family that has only an all-female line. That showed a few good matches with non-Pikholz tests, but nothing good enough to work with.

And we have been looking at autosomal DNA tests, as I have discussed before on several occasions. Those are the twenty-two pairs of non-sex chromosomes. Most of the results have been ambiguous to this point.

The X chromosome
So now I'd like to say a bit about the X chromosome. Men have one, which comes from their mother. Women have two, one from the mother and one from the father. The one a woman gets from her father is the same one he got from his mother, so essentially, women have one from the paternal grandmother and one from the mother.

Genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger put together these diagrams which show how the X chromosomes of men and woman are made up. (Pink represents female ancestors, blue male.)

The circle in the center is the male. His X is from his mother. She in turn gets from her two parents, who get from his mother and her two parents. And so on. The number of ancestors in each generation increases according to the Fibonacci Sequence.

The percentages in the illustration assume that a woman passes on half from her mother and half from her father. but this has been found to be incorrect, as Roberta Estes demonstrates. The mixture that she passes on from her parents can be 50/50, but it can also be 90/10 or 73/27 or anything else.

On the right we see the female chart from the circle in the center. Her right side is the same as that of a man's, all of it coming from the mother in exactly the same way.

But she also has an X from her father and that is what appears on the left.

Family Tree DNA, the test company our project uses, began to include the X chromosome in its results about a month ago.

(Let me emphasize that the X chromosome is not the same as MtDNA, though both involve the mother.)

The surname that will not go away
The first person I looked at was Mark. He is a non-Pikholz from a Skalat family, who matches many of us, and I wanted to examine his theory that he matches us on his mother's side.

He matches six of us on the X chromosome, in two distinct groups, both of them nearly perfectly overlapping. A seventh match (Micha) overlaps no one else, so I am ignoring that.

In the first group, Mark matches Dalia, Gadi and Robert. Mark's matches with Gadi and Robert appear identical. As it happens, both Gadi and Robert are Rozdolers, but these are X chromosomes, so they would be from their mothers' (non-Pikholz) sides.

The match with Dalia is nearly identical. In her case, the match could come from either her Pikholz father or her non-Pikholz mother. Dalia is a Skalater.

The second group has much smaller colored bits but is much more interesting genealogically. Herb and Betty are first cousins. (Betty is my father's sister.) Their matches with Mark are identical. (I could not appear there because my X is from my mother's side. My second cousin Terry could, but doesn't.)

The third person in this second group, Miriam, is a Rozdoler. Her match cannot be from the Pikholz side, as that would be her father's father's side, and her father received his X from his non-Pikholz mother.

So I looked to see what I know about Miriam's mother's side and it turns out that Miriam's mother's maternal grandmother is Miriam WACHS. Well, we certainly know the name Wachs. That was the family I discussed in my very first blog post.

We know that Herb has Wachs in his ancestral backgound, on his father's side. There is a persistent tradition, confirmed by Wachs descendants from Pittsburgh, that there is some sort of connection between them and my own Pikholz family from Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, no one has a clue what it is.

Mark tells me that his paternal grandfather had a cousin who married a Wachs in Tarnopol, but that shouldn't matter because that Wachs would have no common ancestry with Mark and besides, the connection is on Mark's father's side which doesn't affect the X chromosome.

So I haven't a clue how to resolve this.

Next, I decided to look at X matches for Pikholz males - generally their non-Pikholz sides. I wanted to see if some of the non-Pikholz who matched many of us did so on our mothers' (non-Pikholz) sides. When I did this for Robert, I find something remarkable. He matched three Pikholz on his mother's side, two of them men, which meant on their mothers' sides as well.

Not only that, but as you can see on the right, those matches overlap with one another.

Note that I had inadvertently set the level of testing to 1 cM (centiMorgan), which would include very small segments, but as you can see, these are not very small segments, so that appeared to be irrelevant. At least that's what I thought.

Since one of the excuses the experts use to explain this kind of thing is that the matching segment is too small to be meaningful, I had a look at the precise sizes. And here there was a surprise. The longish green match between Robert and Dalia turns out to be two nearly adjacent matches, the first 1.52 cM, the second 5.23 cM. Robert's matches with Micha and Gadi are 5.83 cM and 2.16 cM respectively.  The experts say to ignore bits less than 5 cM, so we can ignore Gadi here entirely.

I'm not sure what the close matches among Robert, Micha and Dalia can tell us, but we can certainly see that the size of the colored bits on the chromosome browser is very misleading. Gadi's match with Robert looks to be bigger that Micha's, but in fact it is less than half the size.

Another odd thing here is that Robert Gadi, Dalia and Micha match in the same place as Mark, Gadi and Robert but Micha and matches Mark in a different place on the X chromosome.

So I went back to Mark
The actual numbers for group with the larger colored matches with Mark are Dalia -1.29 cM. Gadi and Robert - 1.41 at exactly the same place. These numbers are supposedly too small to be on interest, but it is hard to ignore the precise overlap of the three men and the near-precise match with Dalia.

The actual numbers of the very small colored segments in Mark's second group are Herb and Aunt Betty 4.65 cM in exactly the same place and Miriam 8.2 cM. Miriam's match with Mark includes the entire segment of A. Betty and Herb. These are much more significant numbers that the ones that appear larger.

Now I have to figure out what to do with them.

But I have a plan 
I really have to learn more about how all of this works and to that end have successfully enrolled* in the week-long Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh course in Practical Genetic Genealogy to be held in July in Pittsburgh.

I am hoping that that experience will make me better equipped to analyze all these test results.

I also hope that the lecturers do not end up saying that Ashkenazi Jewish (what they call AJ) DNA is too difficult to do well, because the population is too deeply inbred.

* Successful enrollment was no small matter. When registration opened last Wednesday at 7 PM my time, they had so many applicants that the server crashed. They were finally up at 7:09 and when I finished submitting my form at 7:12, all I got was a waiting list. But that came through the next morning.

Housekeeping Notes
My interview is now live.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

DNA says We Are Fourth Cousins (Part 2 of 2)

Part one of this piece appeared last week, with the first of two examples. I am repeating the opening paragraphs here.

Bennett Greenspan, of Family Tree DNA, opened his presentation at the IAJGS Conference in Boston with something like "If we just looked at the raw data, all those of Ashkenazic Jewish descent would show up as second cousins."
This, of course, is a result of the relatively small pool of Jews in Europe a thousand years ago and the fact that for hundreds of years, most of them married within that pool. So your actual sixth and seventh cousins may look several generations closer because you have a handful of connections on your "other sides" two-three-four or more hundred years ago.

So Bennett says that FTDNA has an algorithm for its Family Finder (autosomal) test that takes this into account in order to give a more realistic estimation of cousinhood.

But even after that adjustment, I show 342 matches that FTDNA says are "suggested fourth cousins." That's not 342 fourth cousins in the world, that's 342 fourth cousins who have done Family Finder testing with FTDNA.  A result like that is patently absurd.

For comparison, they show me with forty-eight suggested third cousins.

The question is, are any of the suggested fourth cousins truly that. Let me bring two examples.
Now for the second example.
Dalia and me
I had long believed that Dalia was my fourth cousin. I'll spare you the long explanation, but my theory was this.
It appeared to me that the naming patterns indicated that my great-grandfather Hersch Pikholz had gotten his surname from his mother Rivka Feige and that she was a sister of Dalia's great-great-grandfather Mordecai. (Actually, it could have been the wife Taube who was the Pikholz sister of Rivka Feige, but I am trying to keep this explanation simple.)

Rivka Feige's husband Isak Fischel's surname was a mystery to me and I spent a lot of time examining Isak Fischels from all over east Galicia, looking for some clue to his surname.

This structure would have made their sons first cousins, our grandfathers second cousins and our fathers third cousins. So Dalia and I (marked in green) would have likely been fourth cousins.
Back in 2011, I did a Y-67 (male line) DNA test on the off chance that some match would prove to be from Isak Fischel's family.

When we took the plunge and began our family DNA project a year later, Dalia's nephew, Zachy, did a Y-37 test in order to compare him to other Pikholz families from Skalat. (In fact, he is a perfect match to the person I called "Y" in last week's example.)

But Zachy also matched me perfectly. That meant that the connection between Dalia's family and mine was not Rivka Feige, but Isak Fischel. The naming patterns still indicated quite strongly that Rivka Feige was a Pikholz, so my great-grandfather would have had a double dose of Pikholz DNA, one from each parent.

The calculation tool that Family Tree DNA provided showed a probability of about 93% that our most recent common ancestor was the father of Isak Fischel and Mordecai. There is still some chance that they are not brothers, but rather cousins.- and if so, we don't know whether first or second or even further. The science cannot be that precise.

In the course of our project, Dalia did a Family Finder (autosomal) test, as did several members of my close family. Her results showed her to be a "suggested third cousin" to my father's sister and a "suggested second cousin" to my father's first cousin Herb. Under the best of circumstances, they cannot be that close, as both cannot be closer than her third cousins once removed. But for our purposes, these results verify the idea that Isak Fischel and Mordecai are brothers.

Dalia's match with me is suggested fourth cousin." Perfect. Just what we wanted. I asked Bennett what he thought and he said I should definitely record Dalia as my fourth cousin based on the combination of our Family Finder results and Zachy's Y match with me.

How we overlap with Dalia together: Herb-41.98 cM, A. Betty-37.09 cM,Israel-13.83 cM and Lloyd 28.86 cM

Above is the set of matches that we have with Dalia on the seventh chromosome. Herb is the orange, Aunt Betty is blue and I am green. The purple is Lloyd, a certain-but-unproven third cousin of Dalia, an apparent descendant of Mordecai and Taube. This makes it clear that the connections we have with Dalia are all from the same source.

But it isn't really. First of all, our line has that "extra dose" of Pikholz DNA from Rivka Feige. So we almost have to be getting results that are closer than they ought to be. I guess that can explain why my aunt and Herb are a bit closer to Dalia than predicted. 
But it still leaves a problem with my match with Dalia. She shows up as my "suggested fourth cousin,"  just like 341 other people. (That number has grown in the last week to 343.) Most of those are surely not my fourth cousins, but appear to be because there is DNA from several different directions. Why should Dalia be any different?

Is the fact that we appear to be fourth cousins actually evidence that we almost certainly aren't?

And it's even more complicated
Just for fun, I looked at the same chromosome #7 comparison for the same five people, but changing the person in the background. Here is what I got.
The block on the right with all the matches is pretty much the same, no matter who is the "background" - with one exception. With Dalia as the background, Herb, Aunt Betty, Lloyd and I have a nice overlap, all matching Dalia and matching one another.

But using the others as background, my match (the green) disappears from that block entirely. How can all four of us match Dalia at the same place on chromosome #7, but I don't match the other three. The  answer must lie in the fact that there are two of each chromosome - one that came from the father and one that came from the mother. 

These results seem to be telling us three things.
  1. I match Dalia's "other" chromosome not the one that Herb, Aunt Betty and Lloyd match..
  2. My match may have come from my mother's side.
  3. Dalia's two #7 chromosomes have that same patch, perhaps because her parents are related a few generations back.
Or maybe not. European Jews have been marrying within the tribe for generations, so there are overlaps all over the place.

But clearly some of my match with Dalia comes from someplace else, other than .the last few generations of Pikholz. We only appear to be fourth cousins. Or not.
It gives me a headache.

I definitely have to learn more and I'm working on that.
Housekeeping notes
1. .I have set up a new twitter account only for genealogy. Follow at @allmy4parents.  The old Twitter has been renamed @IsraelP_Jlem and is for non-genealogy matters..

2. My interview on The Genealogy Professional Podcast goes up sometime Monday. 

3. Sunday, the day this  goes up, is the yahrzeit for my father's father. I had just turned nine when he died  and was not invited to the funeral. I never actually asked to go, but I really wanted to. I was unhappy with my parents for years about that. The first time I even saw his grave was seven years later when his brother was laid beside him.

I told my mother years later that I thought they had been wrong about this and she said that there were no children there (I am the eldest grandchild) and that some of the older relatives would have objected had I come. 

I knew who she meant.