Sunday, March 1, 2015

Getting the Y-Chromosome Right

The Rozdol Male-Lines
It is axiomatic that all the Pikholz descendants from Rozdol are from a single couple, Pinchas and Sara Rivka, whose youngest known child was born in 1818.

I never expected the Y (male-line) DNA to match the three identical lines from Skalat because I have been assuming that if the families in the two towns are related, it is through Sara Rivka, not Pinchas. But at least the Y-DNA of the male-lines from Rozdol should all be identical, unless there was a mutation in the last two hundred years.

Of the nine Rozdol lines, one is a maternal line back to the 1830s, two have no male line descendants, two (Robert and Gadi) have taken thirty-seven market Y tests, one (Micha) took a twelve marker Y test and three have not agreed to test, despite being asked multiple times.

The problem has been that Robert (who is traceable to Pinchas and Sara Rivka as a fourth-great-grandson) and Gadi (traceable to his second-great grandfather David ben Isak and Feige, who was born about 1823) do not have matching DNA. It is possible that the connection between Gadi's David and the original couple Pinchas and Sara Rivka is through his mother Feige rather than his father Isak, but it did not sit well with me.

At the time of the recent sale on DNA tests, when more than twenty Pikholz descendants ordered tests (all but one from Skalat), I decided that we needed to upgrade Micha's test from twelve to thirty-seven markers so we could see how he compares to the other two.

In the meantime I had a closer look at Robert and Gadi.

They were identical except in two markers - DYS437 and DYS438. In the first Gadi is 14 and Robert is 11. In the other, they are reversed. In each case, there is a difference of three so together we are looking a difference of six. Six mutations in two hundred years on those markers is highly unlikely and the numbers are too symmetric for my taste. After a Facebook discussion with some of my colleagues, I became convinced that in one of the two cases, the results were reversed.

A few days ago, Micha's results came in for markers 13-37 and he is a perfect match for Gadi.

I wrote to the always reliable Janine at Family Tree DNA and asked her if she could check Robert's results to see if perhaps they had reversed DYS437 and DYS438. She did and I was right. The results that we have for all three are now identical and will be corrected to haplogroup R-M269. This is the same as our Skalat haplogroup, even though the numbers themselves are very different.

There is a moral here, of course. Sometimes the testing companies make mistakes. When you make good case, they are willing to check their work. But no one will find this kind of thing for you. You have to have enough information to make the case and you must pay enough attention to the details to realize that there is a case to be made.

I'd still like to get those other three Rozdol families to do Y tests. And all six who have not tested to do Family Finders.

And speaking of mutations
Y-37 results came in a couple of weeks ago for a member of another of my families.

There are no perfect matches here, but the 155 matches that FTDNA counts include eleven at a genetic distance of one and thirty-one at a genetic distance of two. Some of those are marked "FF" to indicate that they have also done Family Finder tests. Genetic distance refers to the number of mutations since the most recent common ancestor.

My strategy for following up with these kinds of matches is to see who has both a close Y match and a Family Finder match of "third cousin-fifth cousin" or closer. I have seen experts who say that the Y chromosome has mutations every four or five generations on average, but this can vary, depending on where the mutation occurs and on the vagaries of DNA inheritance. After all, in both the Skalat and the Rozdol Pikholz families, all three DNA tests show no mutations at all in the last two hundred years.

Following up Y matches is more than a bit of a crap-shoot, so I generally think in terms of a genetic distance of one being worth looking at and anything further being too low-probability to bother with unless there is a very good Family Finder match.

But in looking at these particular results I realized that I was missing a point of logic. I am willing to look at a match with a genetic difference of one because the most recent common ancestor might well be four-or five (or less if I am lucky) in the past. But a genetic distance of two does not have to mean double that. The second mutation could be in  the other person's line.

Let's say that Reuven and Shimon have a common ancestor and we figure an average of one mutation every five generations. If they have a genetic difference of one, that is one mutation, that would mean they are likely about fourth cousins because there was one mutation during five generations. But if there is a genetic disrtance of two, that does not mean that an average of ten generations had passed since the common ancestor. It is just as likely that there was one mutation in Reuven's line and one in Shimon's. In that case, the common ancestor might be five generations back, yet the descendants themselves would have a genetic difference of two.

I tested the reaction to that theory in the ISOGG Facebook group, and a brief but spirited discussion ensued. Some agreed that I was making sense. Some not so much. There are always some in that second group. Some of the people I most respect thought I was correct. That's good enough for me. In any case, we are talking about probability, not conclusive fact.

Housekeeping notes
Five Pikholz Family Finder results came in over the weekend. It will take time to analyze, but it appears that two have excellent results, two are about what I expected and one is very odd, having no Pikholz matches in her first fifty-five. (She has lots of known relatives.)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sam and Beth

I have been preoccupied the last couple of weeks and have not blogged. Even this one is brief. But it's something.

Family Finder results came in for my cousin Sam. He is a second cousin on my mother's mother's side. Sam has also done a Y-37, but those results are not in yet.

The only other person in Sam's family who has tested is his first cousin Beth. I have asked Sam's brothers and sister, but no luck yet. If you look at the numbers below, you will see (once again) that siblings can have significantly different matches from one another. "My brother already tested" is not really a good answer to a request to test.

So at least I can look at how Sam and Beth match with my grandmother's descendants. That would be my three sisters and my first cousin Kay. Our mother and Kay's mother are sisters. (On our side, we have another first cousin and my fourth sister whose tests are in the lab.)

First the general comparison.

All of us have better matches with Sam than with Beth. Jean's, Sarajoy's and Kay's are not significantly larger. Amy's match with Sam is about 27% larger than her match with Beth and mine is about 46% larger. Those numbers are significant and might indicate a match with Sam on his mother's side, one that Beth doesn't share.

The other point of note is that Kay has better matches with both Sam and Beth than we do (Amy's match with Sam is an outlier here), so perhaps Kay's mother's DNA is closer to that side than is our mother's. We cannot know, of course. On our side we have tested almost everyone living in our generation..

I also looked at the chromosomes. I am not going to show all of them here - just the ones where Beth and Sam match. Each of has quite a few places where we match Beth or Sam, but not both.  The chromosome browser below includes only segments of 5 cM or greater.

We have a really nice match on chromosome 9, including everyone - well, Amy not so much.

All of us but Amy have a nice little match on the left end of chromosome 2.

Amy, Kay and I have matches with Beth and Sam on chromosome 8.

Beth and Sam have matches on chromosomes 14 and 18. All of us match them on either 14 or 18. None of us matches them on both 14 & 18. I find that curious though not really significant.

I think I will wait until we have our other two test results before setting out to see what unsuspecting new relatives might match us. And of course, we should have Sam's Y-37 results in a few weeks, as well. (I have an MtDNA here, which I have discussed before.)

However, just before I post this, I hear from Sam, who received an email from a woman named Mary whose husband is a "third-fifth cousin" match to him. None of the surnames she has on her FTDNA entry match the very few we have on our side, but I had a look anyway. Mary's husband has matches with both Sam and Beth on chromosome 7 of nearly 16 cM and although he also has some scattered matches with us, they are in different places and he does not match Kay at all.

This tells me that Mary's husband is probably on the side of Sam and Beth's grandmother, probably a few generations beyond FTDNA's prediction. But it may give us something to work with.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Small Segments (and Endogamy)

The issue of small segments
When we compare autosomal matches on the basis of individual chromosomes, there is a natural tendency to concentrate on the larger segments. If you match someone on 30 or 40 centiMorgans (cM), it is clearly a good match. Small matches of one or two cM get overlooked - often deliberately.

When I first began looking at segment matches, I wondered about that because all my DNA came from my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, even the smallest segments and if I match someone who got those same segments from his ancestors, perhaps both of us got them from a common ancestor.

After I raised this question several times at the GRIP course last summer, CeCe Moore convinced me otherwise by agreeing with me. That is, she agreed that these small segments - I prefer the term slivers - had to have come from somewhere in my past but since they are small, they probably came from so far back that searching for a common ancestor on that basis would not be a productive use of my time.

FamilyTreeDNA's chromosome browser starts showing matching segments with a minimum of five cM, but you can raise it to ten cM or lower it to three or even one cM. GEDmatch suggests seven cM, but you can change that to whatever you wish. But when you download raw data or total matches, you can pretty much do as you like.

There are researchers who begin any examination of matches by deleting all segments that are less than whatever minimum threshhold they set for themselves, never looking at those small segments again. Some go so far as to say that it is wrong to look at small segments.

When I met with Kitty Cooper and Gaye Tannenbaum in Salt Lake City last summer, we discussed the logic of starting with nine or ten cM but once you have a segment of that size, other smaller matches - perhaps even four cM - become relevant.

Not everyone takes this approach. One of the most consistent and convincing champions of using small segments is Roberta Estes of DNA Explained. Roberta has defended advocated the use of very small segments for triangulation and is rightly proud of her successes in having done so. Last week, Roberta posted a long blog after several weeks of laying the foundation. As you can see from what she writes, Roberta is a friend of this blog and I want to make a number of comments on what she wrote.

Moshe Hersch (And you thought we were finished with him!)
But first I want to show you something I found during the last few days in my own work which demonstrates the importance of very small segments.

Some weeks back, I concluded a discussion of two men named Moshe Hersch Pikholz, whom I thought might be the same man. Great-great-grandchildren of one (Charles and Leonora, second cousins to one another) and great-great-grandchildren of the other (Jane and Nan, also second cousins to one another) did Family Finder tests.

The maternal grandmothers of Charles and Leonora (sisters) are the daughters of two Pikholz parents whose relationship to one another is unknown. Aside from that, Leonora's maternal grandfather also has two Pikholz parents, in this case first cousins. So on one hand, Charles and Leonora have extra doses of Pikholz DNA, but on the other hand it makes it very difficult to say for certain which ancestor contributed what, moreso than with normal European-Jewish endogamy.

Nonetheless, I concluded that the genetic match between the two pairs of second cousins was good enough to demonstrate that the two Moshe Hersch Pikholz are indeed the same person.

This week, I took a closer look at chromosome 20 of the four cousins, using GEDmatch at a threshhold of 5 cM..
The bar graph is illustrative but it is not at all proportional.
In the first segment of chromosome 20 (the left side of the bar graph and the top row in the two charts above) Charles and Jane have a large match of 34.1 cM. Both match Leonora on the first part of that segment and both match Nan on the second part. Leonora and Nan do not match each other, but that is not a problem. I don't need all four to match.

The second segment (the right side of the bar graph and the second row in the two charts) is not so simple. Here we have a match of 60 cM between Jane and Nan, part of which matches Charles and part of which matches Leonora. Charles and Leonora are not a match. However nearly a quarter of Charles' match with Nan and Jane overlaps with Leonora's match with Nan and Jane. If this description is complete and correct, something must be wrong, because it is inconsistent.

I asked Roberta what she thought and she suggested that I lower the threshhold as far as possible. Perhaps, she suggested, there are some small segments that explain the inconsistency.

So I lowered the threshhold to one cM.

The long blue bar at the top right is the 60 cM match between Jane and Nan. The medium-sized blue bar at the right of the third line is the 24.5 cM match between Jane and Leonora. The bottom right where there is supposedly no match between Charles and Leonora, we see a series of about a dozen small matches in the same segment where Jane and Nan match. It is as though the long matching segment, to use Roberta's phrase, "has been chopped up." Or if you prefer, disintegrated.

If we ignore the red breaks, Charles' match with Leonora extends nearly all the way to the right end of Jane's match with Nan. Not only that, but Leonora's match with Charles extends Leonora nearly all the way to the left. If we count the small segments, all four line up very well together. To me it is clear that the 60 cM segment that Nan and Jane share came from Moshe Hersch (or his wife, assuming he had only one) and that it began to break down somewhere along the ancestors of Charles and Leonora, perhaps as early as their great-grandmother.

This may not always work so neatly and so conclusively, but to repeat a mantra of Roberta's, if you throw out the small segments even before you begin your analysis, you will never see this obvious result.

But that does not mean that I have totally signed on to Roberta's attachment to small segments. When you are talking about matches that are only small segments, the kind that do not overlap large ones, CeCe is probably right. It's generally not a productive use of my time to examine them.

That is even more valid when talking about endogamous populations where we know in advance that there are distant common ancestors simply by virtue of our being Jewish. For us, the strategy I discussed with Kitty Cooper, looking at smaller segments once you have a large match as an umbrella, is still the way to go. How large is large and how small is small is still a matter of personal preference - and mine is to be conservative. To quote myself in another context "If it might be wrong, it doesn't belong."

For the non-endogamous, such as Roberta, you can probably afford to be more liberal.

A Study Using Small Segment Matching, by Roberta Estes
I  am going to step through Roberta's blog and comment as I go along.

Sherlock Holmes is quoted as saying "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." That does not mean that if we have nothing to go on aside from DNA, then DNA must have contain a usable truth. Maybe yes and maybe no.

Roberta writes " So we need to establish guidelines and ways to know if those small segments are reliable or not." I say, very carefully. Different circumstances require different tools and also create different opportunities. I want to read what all the experienced experts have to say but then I want to make my own decisions for my own families. Usually I will write about those decisions and will entertain debate. Ridicule, not so much. Genetic genealogy is way too new to have hard and fast rules, especially ones that begin :You can't..."

Roberta is obviously correct when she says "assuming the position that something can’t be done simply assures that it won’t be." That is true for an individual project which discards small segments according to some rule, as well as studies on small segment research as a genre. Roberta says correctly "The only way we, as a community, are ever going to figure out how to work with small segments successfully and reliably is to, well, work with them." To that I add if you have a few cases that are proven based on small segments, there are almost certainly many others which are not proven because those small segments were never examined.

I am well-aware that my work is different from that of most others because I an not looking for "new" relatives, rather looking to figure out how the ones I know fit together.  One-name studies is a legitimate field with its own requirements and opportunities.

Finding three people who match on the same segment may be "the commonly accepted gold standard of autosomal DNA triangulation within the industry" but among the endogamous, we strive for the platinum standard. There are too many ways to be wrong if you have only three people using segments that are not large enough and not numerous enough.

Sometimes I want to get more than one trangulation within a potential family group. I suppose that has to do with endogamy. I think of these multiple triangulation scenarios like this.

Roberta's Sarah Hickerson article "was meant to be an article encouraging people to utilize genetic genealogy for not only finding their ancestor and proving known connections, but breaking down brick walls." Absolutely. Many of us read to find not only ideas but encouragement. And some of us write not to show how smart we are but to bring others to the point where they say "I can do this too."

Roberta, please note - for some of us 5-6 generations does not qualify as "low hanging fruit."  And still our small segments can be useful.

I can understand that FTDNA and the other companies must draw a line dividing matches from non-matches. But it would me very very helpful if we could get at our non-matches on FTDNA's chromosome browser. Not everyone is on GEDmatch.

I think that will do.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sam and Sarah, Ben and Sadie

My Denver third cousin Joe Pells was one of the last people to sign up for DNA testing during the big sale that FamilyTreeDNA had in December. Joe is the older brother of the late, great Betty Lee (Buzy) Hahn who introduced me to Skalat nearly fifteen years ago. I met Joe a few years back when one of his grandsons celebrated his bar mitzvah here in Israel.

When I first asked him to test, he was not keen on the idea, but now he has both an MtDNA maternal line test and an autosomal Family Finder in process. Joe's mother is the only all-female descendant of our great-great-grandmother, Rivka Feige Pikholz. I have no idea where that test might lead, but at least it will soon be in the system, available for potential matches.

Joe is also the first Family Finder test we have for descendants of my great-grandfather's sister Bessie. (For his other sister, Leah, we have one test and a second on the way.)

But none of this is why I am telling you this story. Joe wants to learn something about the family of his maternal grandfather, Sam Francis who died in Denver in 1963.

Sarah (later Sadie) Frankel, was born to Bessie Pikholz and David Lozel Frankel in December 1872 in Skalat  and arrived in New York in September 1891, about three months shy of her nineteenth birthday. She travelled with Dwore Pikholz, a cousin of some sort, whom I may write about in a few days. It is not clear whether they travelled together because they were cousins or just because they were two teenage girls from the same town.

According to what Buzy Hahn told me years ago, Sarah married Max Hochman and they lived in Baltimore. Max died while Sarah was pregnant with their son, who was born in July 1894. According to the story, the family sent Sarah's cousin Sam to the United States to marry her and he arrived after the birth. Sam gave the child his surname and the family name became Francis. They later had a daughter Jennie (Joe and Buzy's mother) and a son Max who died as a baby. Joe confirms this story.

I had found no documentation when I did this a few years ago..

A word about the surnames. Frankel is of German origin, indicating that the bearer (or his ancestors) came from France. Francos (pronounced Frantzos) is the Polish equivalent. Franzos, best I can make out, is a Germanized spelling of the Polish version. We assume, but do not actually know, that since Sam and Sarah - now Sadie - are some sort of cousins, Sam was originally Frankel, like his wife.

Oh, and Sam is actually Szulim (=Shalom) according to his tombstone. His parents' names are unknown.

So I went to work on the documents. I still see nothing about Max Hochman - not his marriage, not his death and not the birth of a son. But Joe wanted to know about his grandfather, Sam, Sarah/Sadie's second husband..

I have not found them in the 1900 census, but I do see Jennie's 1901 Manhattan birth in which she is called Frankel. So at that point they have not yet become Francis. They had by 1910.

In the 1910 census, we see Sam, Sadie, Jesse and Jennie Francis in Denver. Jesse is not the name that we know for the older son, but perhaps that was changed at some point. Or perhaps the census entry is wrong. Or they reported his Jewish name and the census taker heard it wrong. Fischel can sound like Jesse. Can't it?

But I was looking at the census records for something else. Immigration. Or Sam's birth.

The son Jesse was listed as being born in New York, not Maryland. But I do not see him in New York City by any name. Sam's immigration is listed as 1892, which is earlier than in the family narrative. Sadie's immigration year -  1891 - is correct. Sadie is 37 years old (correct), Sam is 35 (no birth record found). They are listed as being married for seventeen years, which is incorrect and that Sadie has borne two children, both living, also incorrect.

In 1920, Sam Francis is 45 (consistent), Sadie is 44 (having aged seven years in the previous ten) and Jennie's birth has moved to Colorado. Sadie's immigration is 1894 and Sam's is 1895. Maybe no one was home and the census taker interviewed a neighbor.

In 1930, the household has grown to include Jennie's husband and her son Joseph. Jennie's birth has returned to New York. Sam is 55 and Sadie is 58, having made up the lost years. Both were twenty-one when first married. Both immigrated in 1894. Who answered those questions? Maybe Jennie.

The 1940 census does not include immigration or marriage information, but we may note that Sam is 65 and Sadie is 64.

None of this helped me turn up a passenger manifest or birth record for Sam/Szulim.

Then Joe remembered Uncle Ben. This is why I am telling you this story.

It seems that Joe's grandfather Sam had a younger brother Ben, who lived in New York or New Jersey. His wife was also Sadie. Maybe that would lead us somewhere.

In the 1920 census, Benjamin and Sadie Francis appear with their three children in New York. Benjamin is 32, Sadie 29. The eldest child is seven. Both immigrated in 1903. He had applied for citizenship, but the only candidate that seemed to fit was born in "Kief Russia."

I may have had better luck with passenger lists. Benjamin Franzos, age nineteen, arrived in New York in 1903. He had come from Zagorze, which is very close to Zalosce. We actually have a Franzos married to one of my Kwoczka uncles, also from Zalosce and it will be interesting to see if there is a DNA match between her grandson and Joe. There are no records for Zagorze and no one in the Zalosce records that might be Sam's brother Ben.

My last stop was New York marriages and this is why I am telling the story. On 22 January 1912, Sadie Stern married Benjamin Francis in Manhattan. Joe ordered the record. Since Sam and Ben were known to be brothers, at least we could find out Sam's parents names, even if that took us no further.

The record arrived and the groom's name seems to be "Barry Francus," but the signature (which appears on the back, but which I brought forward to show you) says "Benj. Francis." That must have been what the indexers used.

The bride's name, Sadie Stern, is also clearer in the signature.

So Ben's parents are Josef Francis and Sara Halner or maybe Halsner. I suppose Ben has already transferred his  American "Francis" to his father who was Franzos or Francos or Frankel. No town name, just "Austrian Galizia." So we have kind of dead-ended with the mission Joe sent me to do.

But that is not why I am telling you this story.

Look at the bride's information.
Sadie Stern, Ben's wife, was born in Skalat Austrian Galizia. She said she was twenty-one when she married in 1912.

Her father is Marcus Stern. There are fourteen Stern records in Skalat. No Marcus, no Sadie.

Most of the Sterns here are the mothers and almost all fourteen come from someplace else.

Maybe we can learn something from Sadie's mother. And who might that be?
Well, knock me over with a feather. Sadie Stern, a bit player in this story, is the daughter of Ester Pickholz. And I haven't a clue who she is. We have nine Ester/Etie/Ettel Pikholz descendants from Skalat, born in the 1850-1877 range, but they are all accounted for. Either they died young or they are married to men who are not Marcus Stern.

Someone had a daughter Ester and didn't tell me! The genealogists' lament.

(I obviously need to find some grandchildren of Sadie who have some DNA to spare.)

I thought I was not going to turn up any more "new Pikholz descendants" from that period. What do I know?!

That's why I told you the story.

Housekeping notes
A friend of this blog, Roberta Estes, wrote an important blog a few days ago about small segments of DNA. It is long, but worth a read. I plan to dedicate a post to Roberta's thoughts, probably next Sunday. It's important and I need time to get my own thoughts organized.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Are Our Parents Related (to each other)?

Jewish endogamy - the notion that all European Jews share the same ancestors multiple times - means more than that we are all related. It also means we are related to ourselves, probably multiple times. We cannot test that directly, but we can get a handle on whether our parents are related to one another.

GEDmatch has a tool to do just that. It's probably the simplest tool they offer. No choices or options, just enter the kit number, click "submit" and the results appear in seconds.

As a control, we can look at six family members with one fully Jewisih parent and one fully non-Jewish parent. We would expect there to be no relationship at all between the parents in these six cases.

In fact, for all six, GEDmatch returned:
Largest segment = 0.0 cM
Total of segments > 7 cM = 0.0 cM
No shared DNA segments found
No indication that your parents are related.
We must note the words "No...found" and "No indication." That does not mean that they are definitely not related. Esther's father is from Rozdol and her mother is from nearby Drohobycz and I would expect them to show up as reasonably close. But Esther's kit produced the same negative results as the six. The same thing shows up for Dalia, whose parents are both from Buczacz.

As we know, DNA is diluted by half every generation and after five or six generations a person does not always carry traces of every ancestor. Some disappear, while others persist for many more generations. I do not know enough about Esther and Dalia's mothers' sides to say anything further.

Herb's parents' families, on the other hand, are from Skalat and Zalosce and I would expect a fairly close connection. His results show four segments shared by his parents.
Largest segment = 17.2 cM
Total of segments > 7 cM = 50.5 cM
Estimated number of generations to MRCA = 4.1
A bit over 50 centiMorgans and a most recent common ancestor about four generations before them. That is, of course, an estimate. Instead of fourth cousins, they could be sixth cousins four times over, with each of the four matching segments representing a separate cousinhood.

On the other hand, if we could test Herb's late brother and sister - or his parents themselves - we might find additional matching segments.

So let's look at two cases where we have full siblings who tested.

Aunt Betty's parents (my grandparents) have a single match of 12.1 cM on chromosome 8, running from 65,749,351 to 75,056,375. That would make them about sixth cousins.

Uncle Bob's kit shows a slightly larger segment, starting about three million earlier and ending in the same place as Aunt Betty's. His 12.4 cM shows my grandparents to be about halfway between fifth and sixth cousins.  If we had an actual test from my father, we might see them even closer.

My own test shows that my parents have a matching segment of 7.6 cM on chromosome 9.

My sister Amy has a matching segment of 7.8 cM on chromosome 1 and Sarajoy has one of 8.3 cM on chromosome 3. So the three of us together show our parents to have three matching segments of 23 cM, which would make them fifth cousins.

I am waiting for results of two other sisters, so the relationship between my parents might be closer. Or as I suggested with Herb's parents, each segment might represent a different seventh cousin.

Just for fun, let's look at a few others:

Pinchas, my third cousin on the Kwoczka side, has a segment on chromosome 8 that's about seventh cousin.

Charlie's parents are also about seventh cousins, with 8 cM on chromosome 6.

Bonnnie's parents have two matching segments on chromosomes 2 and 8, which may show them to be seventh cousins twice but may indicate a somewhat closer relationship.

Miriam's parents have a large matching segment (18.1 cM) on chromosome 2.

There are more in the seventh cousin range, so for now, Herb has the honor, such as it is, of the most closely related parents, and Miriam for the largest single segment. But we have about twenty more new kits in process.

In fact, Esther and Dalia are not the ony ones who show no indication that their parents are related. Quite a few other do not either. But this is in each case one child who must receive the same segment from both parents. Perhaps it is more unusual that Herb has four large matching segments, that Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob have the same matching segment or that my sisters and I each have a different matching segment.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Kunszentmiklos - The Bauers

I have mentioned my great-grandmother's Bauer family a few times, including here. My
father's maternal grandmother, Regina (Rivka) Bauer (right) was born in Kunszentmiklos Hungary in 1870, the third of seven children of Simon (Shemaya) Bauer and Fani Stern. We know the names of their fathers - Lasar Bauer and Salomon Stern - from their 1862 marriage record and we may have the name of Fani Stern's mother as well. That marriage record gives the ages of Simon and Fani (28 & 21), so we know more or less when they were born.

As I wrote here, we have had a collection of Kunszentmiklos records for the last fifteen years and some time ago I put a summary of them online.

Before Kunszentmiklos, the Bauers lived in Apostag and I have a collection of those records as well, but have not done anything with them.

As many of you know, I work with Facebook open and occasionally something important shows up unannounced.

Regina Bauer's mother Fani Stern was from Kalocsa, so I went to have a look. There is not much there, but I also had a look at Apostag and Kunszentmiklos.

Apostag also has very little, but for Kunszentmiklos there is a list of two hundred thirteen burials.

Nearly forty of those are Bauer or Bauer-related, among them both Simon and Fani, my great-great grandparents. With birth years, death years and grave locations.

Also appearing is their son, Lajos Bauer, 1875-1917.
I know the birth year to be correct, but had no idea about the year of death.

My father was named for him.

Some weeks ago, I was ruminating here on my father's name, Eliezer Yitzhak, and speculated that the Yitzhak might be from someone other than Uncle Lajos. I wondered if we would ever be able to answer that question, but if there is a legible tombstone in Kunszentmiklos, perhaps we can.

The information on the cemetery site includes only name, years of birth and death and grave location, with women identified by their husbands' names. No precise dates, parents' names or cause of death. Nor was it clear if the information came from death records or from the tombstones themselves. (Are the stones even there anymore?)

Ours are numbers 19, 36 and 37 but many others are probably cousins.

I did not succeed in getting a reply from the folks at the website, so I contacted a researcher I know in Budapest. This is a real "I know" as we met on the way to Salt Lake City last summer. He reads Hebrew and is proficient at tombstone photography. We discussed his going to Kunszentmiklos to photograph all the Bauer graves. He told me that the later set of death records - 1896-1939 - which I did not see before, is available at the archives in Budapest. He thinks those records are the source for the cemetery website, but with the additional information I am looking for.

He has given me a quote for the photography in Kunszentmiklos and will give me one for the archives, as well. My family members should be on the lookout for a fundraising letter from me in the next few days.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

How Many Husbands Did Ethel Pikholz Have?

When the Pikholz Project first began acquiring records from the AGAD archives in Poland, we ran found Skalat birth records for Ettel and Chaje Ester Pikholz, daughters of Aryeh Leib Pikholz and his wife Sara Kreisel. (We later learned that Sara Kreisel's maiden name was Glisner.) Ettel was born 9 January 1860 and Chaje Ester 6 April 1862.

This Aryeh Leib was a contemporary of Aryeh Leib the son of Nachman and both may have been named after a common ancestor.

All we know of Chaje Ester is that she married Uscher Rosenblatt, that they lived in Kopicienice and that they had three children who did not live thirteen months.

Ettel had a son Markus in Skalat, 7 March 1880 and the father is identified as Jachiel Pikholz.

Jachiel acknowledges paternity with his signature in both Hebrew and Latin letters.

We next find Ettel sailing to the United States, destination Iowa, in 1890. Her name is now Madansky, she is twenty-nine years old and she is travelling with eight year old Max and four year old Sara. The names and ages are not quite right but we know from US documents that this is the same Ettel. She settles in Omaha and in 1892, Harry is born to her and Edward Elias Madansky.

The 1900 census shows the family in Detroit. Etthel (as she now spells her name) has a sister Minnie Kaplan who arrived in Omaha in 1893 and remained there. A son of another sister, the eldest Rivke Reizel Schapira, also lived in Omaha for a time. But the Madanskys left and moved to Detroit.

The census has correct birth years for Etthel, Max and Harry and we have no way to confirm the years for Elias and Sara. Etthel is listed as being born in Russia to Austrian parents, which we know to be only half correct. The census tells us that Max was born in Austria and Harry in Nebraska, both of which we know to be correct, and Sarah in Russia.

In the 1910 census, Ethel (with one "t") is a widow in Detroit and is correctly identified as having been born in Austria.

In 1910 Sarah is living in Illinois, in a household consisting of her husband, H.H. Madansky, their son Seymour and her brother Harry Madansky. Sarah and Harry are both identified as having been born in Nebraska. H.H. is also Harry.

I shall spare you, dear reader, all the detail, but this family is all over the map. Max too has documents claiming he was born in Nebraska, when we know he certainly wasn't.

Sara's 1950 San Antonio Texas death certificate once again has her born in Nebraska and her father as Edward Madansky. Her husband, H. H. Madansky is now known as Harry May. These are the May department store people, whose name change triggered an infamous anti-Semetic essay by Henry Ford in 1921, which I am loathe to link here among respectable company.

So how do we sort out this family? Max/Markus is the son of Jachiel Pikholz. Harry is the son of Elias Madansky. Sara could be the daughter of either - remember Ethel was already Madansky on the passenger list and both Max and Sara are called Madansky as well.

All this is complicated by the fact that a May family tree at which is full of errors (Elias Madansky died in 1897, for instance, while at the same time appears in Detroit in 1900), tells us that Elias (Edward) Madansky's Jewish name was Yehiel. This raises the possibility that Jachiel Pikholz, the father of Max Madansky is in fact Jachiel (later Edward and/or Elias) Madansky.

As Ethel Madansky is married in Detroit in 1900 and widowed there in 1910, I have been assuming that her husband died during that time and is buried in the Detroit area. But I have never found anything. 

The May tree at Ancestry also gives a death date for Ethel in 1935 in California, but with no sources or place of burial.

I had a theory based on Jachiel's being a Pikholz. Perhaps a son of Uncle Selig. The given name Jachiel had shown up a number of times in the Skalat families, creating the impression that there might be some common ancestor.
Max has a male-line descendant I am in touch with intermittently, so at the very beginning of the DNA project, I got him to do both an autosomal (Family Finder) and a Y-37 DNA test. He has a lot of matches with the rest of the Pikholz families, as one would expect from someone with a Pikholz-Pikholz marriage in the background. But his Y-37 was no where near the three matching Y-37 that seem to delineate the Skalat Pikholz families. So maybe Jachiel is not a Pikholz, but a Madansky, and Max, Sarah and Harry are full siblings..

A few days ago, I went back to look for death and burial information for Ethel and Elias.

This came up.
The date of death cited here matched the Ancestry tree and I already known that Markus/Max had become Maxwell.

But I couldn't get past that.

I was having serious doubts about my ability to solve this with my own research, which often has more than its share of inadequacies. So I turned to my friends on Facebook and at JewishGen.

My first break came courtesy of Bob Wascou, who sent me a link to the death index on Family Search. The actual index. There was Ethel. With her name misspelled. Mandansky.

The date was as expected, February 12, 1935. County Code 70, City of Los Angeles.

I asked Pamela Weisberger where are the first places she would look for a 1935 LA burial. She gave me five cemeteries. I wrote all of them Friday. After Shabbat I found a positive response from Home of Peace. Now to get a photograph. We have two other couples there that I want.

Barbara Zimmer checked in with a long list of references, some I had seen, some I hadn't. The waters were truly muddy.
André Günther said he saw a 1903 divorce. There it was, right there on Ancestry.

Elias Madansky and Ethel Madansky filed for divorce 17 September 1903, divorce granted 23 November 1903. But the important thing ws the date of marriage. 10 June 1877, City of Skalat, State of Galicia.


1877. Markus was born 1880. Elias Madansky is Jachiel "Pikholz." That is, there is no Jachiel Pikholz. At lesast not one who married Ettel.


Unless maybe Jachiel Madansky's mother might have been... Nah. Too complicated. let's not even get into that.


Housekeeping notes
Two more Pikholz familiy Finders so far this week, this time one on the Rozdol side. Plus both Ancestry and 23 and Me tests for Aunt Betty and one of her sons.

And a Kwoczka Family Finder. I'd like some more of those.

And one of my Rosenbloom cousins has ordered both Family Finder and Y-37.

Only a few more days left.there are a few more people I would really like to bring into this project.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Which Families Have Taken DNA Tests - and Which Have Not

There is a bit more than one week left in the current FamilyTreeDNA sale, with Mystery Reward coupon codes thrown in as well. It seems like a good time to see what we have.

As I write, we have sixteen Family Finder tests on order - fourteen from Pikholz families from Skalat and one each from other families of mine. None from the Pikholz families from Rozdol. I am hoping for more before the end of the sale. We also have two new Y-37 tests on order and three Y tests being upgraded. These numbers do not include a few people who took coupon codes but I have not seen them being used.

That brings us up to fifty-two Family Finders for Pikholz descendants alone, thirty-nine from Skalaters.

Let's look at what we have.

In my personal Pikholz family, we have nine descendants of my great-grandparents, two more on order, one additional descendant of Isak Fischel, my g-g-grandfather and two Kwoczka cousins, descendants of brothers of my g-grandmother. We also have one test for an apparent descendant of Uncle Selig and another on order.

Within that group we have tests for three of my grandfather's four lines - one Y-67, one being upgraded to a Y-37 and one MtDNA. I'd love to get the other MtDNA.

We have one Family Finder and one Y-37 for descendants of Mordecai and one Family Finder and one on order for descendants of Aryeh Leib, who is almost certainly the son of Mordecai. Kopel has no living descendants, so far as we know.

We have five tests from the family of Moshe Hersch, which I discussed here recently at length. One more is on order. One of the tests we have is from Leonora who is also a descendant of Mordecai (see above) and is not counted there.

We have reason to believe that there is a close relationship between that family and the family of Simon, where we have one test on order. There is one candidate for a Y in Simon's family, but he has not responded to my many requests.

The Riss and Baar families, which I think are one. Each has one Family Finder test on order. I'd really like three from each family.

 We have Family Finders for two descendants of Nachman, and two more on order. We have two from Moshe Hersch (1825) and have determined him to be a son of Nachman. Gabriel is probably another son of Nachman, but no one there has tested yet. Moshe (1851) is probably the son of Gabriel and we have one Family Finder on order. I'd like to have at least one more.

The only candiate for a Y test in this family is being upgraded from Y-37 to Y-67.

Moshe Hersch (1850) has no living descendants that we know of.

Three descendants of Peretz have done Family Finder and two more have ordered. Those five cover Peretz' four daughters. We do not have one for descendants of his son.

We have Family Finders on order for two descendants of Jachiel and I am trying to get at least one from a descendant of his brother Israel.

I have not yet succeeded in getting a descendant of Wolf or Yaakov to test and I haven't a clue how they fit into the family structure.

Moving on to the Rozdol families, where everyone should be a descendant of Pinchas and Sara Rivka.

We have three Family Finder tests and a Y-37 for clearly documented descendants of the original Rozdol Pikholz couple.

We also have three from descendants of Pinchas (1830) with an upgrade to Y-37 on order. We have one Family Finder from the descendants of Gittel and two from descendants of Izak. I have not (yet) succeeded with the descendants of Pinchas (1860),

We have one Family Finder for a joint descendant of David and Hersch Leib and another for a joint descendant of Hersch Leib and a documented daughter of Isak.

We have a Y-37 for David's line, but I have not succeeded in getting Y tests for Izak's documented line or Hersch Leib's line. Abraham's line has no candidates for Y and they have not agreed to do Family Finders.

We have one Family Finder each for descendants of Mordecai and Necha. I had thought those would prove a close relationship between them and to one of the Skalat families, but I learned quickly that DNA tests can also disprove theories.

There is a descendant of Nachum Leib who long ago promised to test, but hasn't actually ordered one. The one descendant of Mordecai and Sara (we don't know which is the Pikholz) has decided to pass for now. The researcher who is a descendant of Rose has disappeared.

And that concludes the summary of the Pikholz families.

On my father's mother's side, we have three people who have tested or ordered. One half-second cousin on my grandmother's father's side has tested. One fifth cousin on my grandmother's father's side tested independently and is an active part of our project. We have neither a Y test nor an MtDNA test for my grandmother's father's family and no one to ask.

One second cousin of my father's on my grandmother's mother's side has ordered a Family Finder and a Y-37.

I have three remaining first cousins on my mother's side, one of whom is nowhere to be found.  One has done a Family Finder and the other has ordered both Family Finder and Y-37.

On my mother's father's side, two second cousins have done family Finder and one has done MtDNA.

On my mother's mother's side, one second cousin has done family Finder and I am working on some others. I am also working on getting a Y-37. I did the MtDNA myself.

My mother-in-law did a Family Finder.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Herb's MtDNA

 Part 1 (I hope there will be a Part 2)

Herb is my father's first cousin, as I have mentioned here before on many occasions. Aunt Betty is my only known relative who tested before him.

He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, like the rest of my father's cousins, but they moved to Florida several years before I was born. The only time I had met him was when he came to Pittsburgh when I was fourteen. But we have had an email relationship for some years and I was comfortable asking him to do both a Family Finder and an MtDNA (Mitochondrial) test on his mother's line. We met again last year, when I went to Florida for the purpose of seeing him.

MtDNA is passed by the mother to all her children. Males 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.

My grandfather had three sisters, Becky, Mary and Bessie. Aunt Becky and Aunt Bessie each had a one son whose only daughters have 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.

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 I upgraded him to the full test last spring.

He has no perfect matches. But he has thirty matches at a genetic distance of one.  That is, he and they are the same, but one mutation away.

So last week, I posted this question on the International Society of Genetic Genealogists group on Facebook.

There was quite a bit of discussion, particularly with Elise Friedman, one of the public faces of FamilyTreeDNA.

It is indeed possible that the thirty may not all match, but which may be two groups and we are one mutation away from both.

And if the thirty are one group, I am thinking that the mutation that Herb carries may be 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. (Identifying that was the suggestion of Debbie Parker Wayne, one of my teachers at GRIP.)
Herb's mitochondrial mutations, representing my Kwoczka great-grandmother's maternal line

 Angie Bush - with the concurrence of Blaine Bettinger, another of my teachers - wrote:

There is no special significance to that mutation. Your cousin just appears to have a heteroplasmic mutation at that spot.
the Y in the C6925Y means that some of the mitochondria in the cells that were tested have a C at position 6925 and some of them have a T at position 6925.
So having determined that our line is part of the line of the thirty (both are classified as haplogroup V7a), I proceeded to look further at who the thirty are and how they might match us in "genealogical time."

Of the thirty, twenty also did Family Finder tests. So for now, I am ignoring the other ten, since they do not seem to have an active interest in research. Of the twenty remaining, eight (including Dr. Pavelle) are not close enough to be considered an autosomal match by FTDNA. That leaves twelve, but two of those are identical, so we have eleven.

Of the eleven, four are "third cousin-fifth cousin," five are "fourth cousin-remote cousin" and two are "fifth cousin-remote cousin." I decided to concentrate on the first group of four, at least for now. All four are women.

First I did a chromosome browser to see if any of them appear closely related to one another.
I omited those chromosomes where no one matches Herb

There isn't much here. Number 3 has a small match with number 1 on chromosome 11. Number 3 also has a small match with number 4 on chromosome 15.

So I wrote to all four - together, in a single email - introducing myself and my family, asking what they knew about their families, etc. I also asked if they were on GEDmatch.

So far - it's been less than a week - I received a reply only from number 2, who asked me to tell her how to upload her data to GEDmatch.

(I am fully aware, of course, that these women may match Herb is some way - or ways - other than the joint maternal line. But I am going with what I have.)

This is only my second real look at MtDNA data. The first was on my own test last spring. My other two great-grandmothers are also covered. Aunt Betty did one for my father's maternal grandmother's Stern line from Kalocsa Hungary and the results are meagre. My second cousin Ruth did one for my mother's paternal grandmother's Kugel line from Pleshchenitsy Belarus, which is not much better.

At least Herb's results are interesting. I hope I will have enough to say for a Part 2.

Housekeeping notes
We have one new Family Finder ordered from the Pikholz family, a third cousin of Lloyd.

I just learned that one of those I have been after died last month. He is the last of his generation in that family. Maybe I can get his son instead. I take what I can get.

I also upgraded two more Y-12 tests to Y-37, one on the Rozdol Pikholz side and one Kwoczka.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Moshe Hersch - Can We Finally Decide?

During the last few weeks, I have been concentrating on the question of Moshe Hersch Pikholz of Skalat. Not the one whose parents are Nachman (~1795-1865) and Sara.

The  question, which I posed two weeks ago is how likely is it that Sara Pikholz (~1847-1887) the daughter of Moshe Hersch and great-grandmother of second cousins Charles and Leonora, is the sister of Berish Pikholz (1837-1918) the son of Moshe Hersch and great-grandfather of second cousins Jane and Nan. I suggested that the two Moshe Hersch are the same man and that the two sets of second cousins are third cousins to one another.

At the time, we had Family Finder (autosomal) results for Jane, Charles and Leonora. Nan and her two children had tested but we had not yet seen results.

Last week, we received results for Nan's daughter and in my excitement I jumped the gun a bit, fully expecting that Nan's results would settle the question - to the extent that any question of third cousins can be settled by DNA.

We now have Nan's results and I was correct. Nan is Charles' closest match after Leonora; FTDNA has the suggested relationship as "first-third cousins. Nan is Leonora's third closest match: FTDNA calls them "second-third cousins."

These are excellent results. Jane is close enough to Charles and Leonora to make our case worth considering, but Nan's DNA is convincing.

Last week I wrote here that Nan's daughter's match looked very good at the chromosome level. Nan herself brings her chromosome 20 matches, that her daughter does not have.

(Chromosome 20 seems to be where these lines match mine and Uncle Selig's, but I am not ready to go there just yet.)

Leonora is not part of the matching group on chromosome 16, but that need not be a problem.

Chromosome 2 shows two matching groups - one with Charles, Leonora and Jane (on the far left) and one with Charles, Leonora and Nan (towards the center).

As far as I am concerned, the DNA is more than satisfactory to make our point.

Last week I mentioned that I was concerned by the fact that there are no given names that appear in both families. In fact, Berisch has a son Volodya and Charles has an uncle William (Wolf Ber). This however is a false match because William is named for his paternal grandfather Wolf Ber Orenstein, not someone in common with Berisch's Pikholz line.

There is another point which bears mentioning. We know from birth records that the mother of Sara (the great-grandmother of Charles and Leonora) is Jente, a name which carried to Leonora's grandmother. We have no information on Berisch's mother's name, but I do not see any Jente or similar among his descendants.

It is of course possible that Berisch is from a first wife of Moshe Hersch and Sara is from a second, but I think if that were the case, there would be less matching DNA (between Charles and Leonora on one hand and Nan and Jane on the other) than there is.

Tthis brings me to my rule about what to do when you are sure of something but do not have proof. As I say in my presentation "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT - What You Know vs. What You Can Prove," once you are sure of something but have no actual documentation, get one more piece of evidence.

In this case, I have no idea where such a piece of evidence might come from. The only pre-1859 records we have from Skalat are deaths for 1827-1845. Those include one or two deaths of children who may be siblings of Berisch and therefore Sara.

Perl Pikholz, daughter of Moses Hersch, died 27 December 1842 at age three. No house number is listed. This sounds very much like a younger sister of Berisch.

On the same page, Israel Pikholz, son of Moses, died 17 January 1843 at age seven. This may be an older brother of Berisch, but then again, sometimes Moses is just Moses and this is a different family.

Neither of the families we are looking at has a child named Israel, but Sara has a daughter named Perl, which may or may not be after the child who died in 1942.

So before formally merging the two Moshe Hersch, I'd like to find one more bit of evidence.

Housekeeping notes
We now have eleven Family Finder tests on order for Pikholz descendants. The most recent is one from a family that I have been after since we began our project. That is the family which I call TONKA and which I believe to be descendants of Nachman Pikholz (~1795-1865). Although I would like to have two or three people testing from this family, I'll settle for what I can get, for now.

Steve Pickholtz, cousin of Jane and Nan, is now a co-administrator of our project at FTDNA.