Sunday, July 8, 2018

Pinkas

I have long said that one of the advantages of a surname such as Pickholtz is that it is both uncommon and unusual, so most anyone who has ever met one of us will remember. Since I have been working with genealogy records, I can add to this that many people recognize the name and send me references that I otherwise might not see.

The newly released AGAD records at JRI-Poland have produced several of these in the last two weeks.

The great Logan Kleinwaks sent me two records. The first is a marriage record from Chodorow, a town which I do not think appears in any of my family records.










I know the father of the groom, Aba Pickholz from Zurawno but this is the first I have seen his wife or any children. And here his son Mojzesz Jozef is being married.

The second is a death record from Bobrka, which appears in a few Pikholz records, mostly in regard to spouses.









On 20 January 1920, Nuchym Pickholz the son of Abraham and Taube died at age 76. They have him marked as a female, but that has to be just a clerical error.

We actually have someone who nearly fits, in this 1855 birth record..



Nachim Bikholz, the son of Abraham and Taube was born in house 295, a known Pikholz house. So this is the birth of the man who died almost sixty-five years later at age seventy-six. Wait, that cannot be right. The age on the death record almost certainly wrong and I will probably record it as such.

So Logan gave me two records which added significant information about people I already knew.

Early last Friday morning I received a record from Mark Jacobson who was working on Boryslaw records. The first is a death record for a woman we know.














Sara Tallenberg (sometimes Thalenberg), the wife of David Samuel Pikholz, died on 4 June 1920 at age 83.

Mark came back to me a bit later with a Drohobycz death record for someone who is clearly her son. As Mark said a couple of times as we discussed it, "This family definitely wanted to be found today."

Pinkas died 15 May 1921 at age sixty. His parents are clearly identified. But although I have birth records for this couple beginning 1865, I do not have this older child. At least if I do, I do not have him attributed to these parents.

As I discussed a few weeks ago, we have a number of David Samuel in the Rozdol Pikholz family. Three of them have sons named Pinkas and all three of those have death information. So this must be someone else.

There are two Pinkas who are about the right age for the death record (based on the ages of their children) whose parents are unknown. The first lived in Stryj with his wife Feige Nestel and their first child was born probably 1877 or 1888. They have living descendants.

The second was married to Esther Neuman. They lived in Zydachow and had four known children, the first was born in 1890 and lived for two days. Their second child was named David Samuel and he lived to age five and a half. I have no idea what became of their two younger children. The David Samuel angle was intriguing, but I had nothing to connect this man in Zydachow to Drohobycz. But a second look made it clear.

The Pinkas who died in 1921 in Drohobycz lived, in fact, in Zydachow. It says so right on the death record.

So we now have four David Samuel Pikholz from the Rozdol area, with sons named Pinkas, after the patriarch of the Rozdol Pikholz family.

As Mark said, "This family definitely wanted to be found today."

"Today." Last Friday. The Torah portion we read yesterday begins "Pinehas ben Elazar ben Aharon Hakohen..." So on Friday we identified this Pinkas.

The one whose unnamed first son was born on the second day July 1890. The 24th of Tammuz, 128 years ago yesterday.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

64.2 centiMorgans

A few weeks ago, Beth Long - Hungarian researcher extraordinaire - asked me to join a project she was working on regarding a woman born during the Holocaust but has no idea who her parents are. More on this another time, perhaps with a guest blog by Beth herself.

But there is one corner of this project which warrants a spotlight now. One of my favorite soapboxes.

The woman - we'll call her the Holocaust Baby - did a DNA test at Ancestry and uploaded her results to GEDmatch where she found a number of matches of interest. Two of those - male first cousins to one another - match her in the 220-260 cM range. (All the DNA information cited here is based on GEDmatch on-to-one searches with the standard threshold of 7 cM. These do not include the X chromosome.) That is second cousin territory.

A third first cousin tested and his match is 336 cM.

There are several segments where these three cousins match the Holocaust Baby, particularly on chromosomes 7 and 8.

The first question was which side of these cousin is relevant, their grandmother's side or their grandfather's side. Beth tested two second cousins on their grandfather's side (orange) and their matches with the Holocaust Baby are less than 50 cM.

Wrong direction.

The connection with the Holocaust Baby must be on their grandmother's side. Beth built trees and went after the relatives.

The grandmother had a brother (green) and two of his grandchildren tested. One matches with 323 cM, also second cousin territory.

The other, with only 64.2 cM - well, who knows!

A second cousin once removed of the original three testers (in blue) is in the testing process.


The grandmother had a sister (pink) with a living grandson from her first husband and two great-grandchildren from her second. They would be second cousins and second cousins once removed to the original blue testers.

Here too, the sizes of the matches point to an as-yet-unidentified sibling of the blue grandmother, though 423 cM is high for a second cousin. But of course these Jewish families are subject to the vagaries of endogamy, where people are related multiple ways.

We have proceded beyond this and results there are not in, but that is not the point of this article. The green second cousin with the 64.2 cM match is way out of line with everyone else. I expected that he is not really a second cousin. The genetic father (or grandfather) is not who he is supposed to be.

But that is simple enough to confirm. We compared the 64.2 cM cousin to the rest of his known cousins, his green close cousins and the blue and pink second cousins..



















At 64.2 cM he may not look like a second cousin to the Holocaust Baby, but he matches everyone else quite well. He has a particularly large match with his first cousin, at 1158.6 cM. So there is no misattributed paternity here. This man is a second cousin to the Holocaust Baby - at least as much of one as the the others with the "normal" matches..

Here is what Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Project says about second cousins.

64.2 cM is way below the expected 213 cM for second cousins. It is below the 95th percentile which goes as low as 99 cM. Note that the pink cousin who matches the Holocaust Baby with 423 cM is also outside the 95th percentile, but in the other direction. And these two match each other within the norm.

So the lesson here is that norms are just that - norms. The ninety-fifth percentile still excludes five percent and five percent of the matches will be out there on the fringes. It is easy to say "This doesn't look like a good match." Easy - even lazy.

For this project it doesn't matter, but I would be curious to see what kind of match the Holocaust Baby would have with Mr 64.2's siblings, if he has any.

I have said this before. You have to test everyone. I expect I will find opportunities to say it again.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hidden Names

After getting what I could from the newly-indexed records from Skalat, Rozdol, Skole, Zbarazh and Komarno, I decided to circle back for a look at the earlier Stryj records that I had not gotten to when they came out a couple of years ago. Unlike the new records, the JRI-Poland site links to most of the actual older records.

The records in question are births, deaths and marriages for 1906-1914. I searched only for "Pickholz" and turned up thirty-five births, eleven deaths and eight marriages. Most of them are people I already knew, but there is often additional information. (Of course, I need to find others that take into account name changes based on marriage.)

Leibisch's wife Chaja Kohn
Then there was this:

The 1907 death of Beile Kohn age twenty-eight days. Her parents are Leibisch Pickholz and Chaja Kohn. We have no one named Kohn, by any spelling, so Chaja is obviously a "new" person and I hadn't a clue who brought her into the family.

My Given Name Analysis page for variations of Leib was not much use. We do have an Aryeh Leib Pickholz married to his first cousin Chaja Pickholz, with seven children born in Stryj during the period 1899-1918, but no one in Chaja's family was called Kohn. Her mother is Sara Rivka Pikholz and her father is Salomon Lerner, with the family known as Pikholz everywhere - even on Salomon's death record.

On the other hand, Solomon Lerner is a kohen. Nah...that's can't be the explanation. Quite impossible.

Fortunately when I moved on to the birth records, this same Beile appears, with the same parents - Leibisch Pickholz and Chaja Kohn. There is no house number but there is a clear identification of Chaja.

Her parents are clearly indentified as Salomon and Sara Ryfke from Rozdol. No "probably" about this one.

Someone in Stryj decided that Chaja's parents are not Salomon and Sara Rifka Pickholz - and not even Salomon's birth name Lerner - but the caste name Kohn. This was done only for this one child, and on both the birth and the death records. (We have birth records for five other children in this family, with everyone named Pickholz.)

Who would have even considered this possibility??

Leib, the father of Lea "Pickholz/Langenauer"
Having identified two "Leib Pickholz" records in Skalat in the last couple of weeks and another Leib from Rozdol/Stryj above, we have another unknown Leibisch Pickholz in the Stryj birth records.








Sara, born in 1913, is the daughter of Lea who is in turn the daughter of Leibisch Pickholz and Czarna Langenauer. (We have a Reisel Langenauer-Josef Pickholz marriage, but Czarna is not one of theirs.)

So who is THIS Leibisch Pickholz? We have the 1912 marriage record for Joel and Lea which gives her birth year as 1886. So Leibisch would have been born no later than the mid-1860s. But all the Leib Pikholz we have in the Rozdol area before 1870 are either married to other people or dead from childhood. So is this someone new?

But wait. Lea's mother is Czarna Langenauer as expected, but her father is Leibisch Mandel, not Leibisch Pickholz.

And Joel and Lea have another daughter, Lybe, whose 1912 birth record also identified Lea's father as Leibisch Mandel.

So is this Leibisch a Mandel or a Pickholz? Or maybe both?

(Bear with me a minute)
As it happens, we have a marriage between Kalman Pikholz and Libe Mandel. Might Leibisch be their child? (Joel and Lea named their first daughter Lybe.) We have three records for daughters of Kalman and Libe - a death for infant Hendel (or Heudel) in 1886 and births for Chawa (1887) and Serka (1891). Might Kalman and Libe have had a son twenty years earlier?

And who is Kalman? We have only two Kalman Pikholz in our database, this one and the son of David Pikholz and Serka Kawa. Serka died in 1888, so when Libe and Kalman have a daughter in 1891, it gives me the idea that these two Kalmans are the same person.

The first Kalman, the documented son of David and Serka, was marriied to Feige Lerikstein and they had children in 1879 and 1880. Perhaps Feige died and Kalman then married Libe Mandel. That theory has worked for me until today and it is noted in my database as "probably."

But Leibisch puts paid to that. I have no reason to think that Kalman had a son with Libe before he married Feige, then had more children with Libe after Feige died.. Besides, we have Kalman's birth record from 30 Septenber 1856. No way was he Leibisch's father at age ten.

So we are back to the question who is Leibisch who was married to Czarna Langenauer? (Wait for it...) I have a theory. One that doesn't rely on an actual error in the record. Nor is it connected to the fact that Libe Mandel had a brother Leib (1858-1912).

Libe Mandel - the same one, her identity confirmed by her parents' names - was married to Abraham David Wiesler. They had two daughters - Chaje Jochewed (1876-79) and Rachel (1878-79). Abraham Wiesler died at age thirty-two on 30 November 1880. Was Leibisch his son? (Named for the same person as Libe's brother?) Then when Libe married Kalman, some people referred to her son as Pickholz? I think that is what happened. I am not sure that this rises to the level of "probably," but certainly warrants a strong "maybe." I find it satisfactory, for now.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rosa Pickholz, the Teacher, Her Family

I posted this on the small Shoah section of the Pikholz Project website, with permission. It was published by Avraham Weissbrod in his Yiddish yizkor book "Skalat, Death of a Shtetl," pp. 58-59 of the Hebrew translation and reprinted in Haim Bronstein's Hebrew-language "Skalat - A Community Destroyed," pp. 68-69.

The Weisbrod version contains one additional sentence which Bronstein omits.

The crowd envied her pain-free death.

So why am I writing about this pre-Passover event now? Well, it's about the new records and her family.

Until now, we knew that her parents are Eliezer and Gittel and that she was 35 years old, based on a Page of Testimony submitted to Yad Vashem by Yitzhak Kiwetz in Haifa. Yitzhak filled out scores of Pages of Testimony and did not explain his relationship with any of the victims.

A later Page submitted by Giza Zehavi names Rosa's father but not her mother and says she was 38.

Yitzhak's grandmother Chana Chaja Pikholz was married to a man named Eliezer (~1822-1878) with dozens of descendants, including a number of Eliezers, but I could not find anyone among them who might be Rosa's father. (I have just submitted a Y-37 test for the one living male-line descendant of this Eliezer.)

The identity of Rosa's Pikholz family has been nagging at me for nearly twenty years. The only other thing I knew was that Rosa had a younger brother Moshe (aka Munio) whose wife was Giza's aunt. And that Rosa herself was never married.

Last week, I reported on my first look at the newly-available Skalat records from JRI-Poland and I have now had a deeper dive. One of the new marriage records was Leiser Ber Pickholz (b. 1876) and Marjem Gittel Baras from Zbarazh. Leiser Ber's parents are Leibisch and Ruchel Pickholz, according to the marriage record, which we have only as an index.

I have long known of Leib Pickholz and his wife Rachel Qualer (or Kweller). She was from my grandfather's Zalosce. (There was a Zalosce Kweller in my high school class in Pittsburgh.) I had always assumed that their first known child Leiser Ber had died in childhood, as they had a son Markus Leiser in 1884. But this marriage record made it clear that he lived to adulthood. I went back into my colllection of records for people whose places in the Pikholz family were unknown.

For instance, this:

Reisel born in Skalat 7 February 1903 to Leiser Pickholz and Gittel Barasch of Zbarazh.

And this:









Max born in Skalat 8 April 1905 to Leiser Pickholz and Gittel Baraz of Zbarazh.

So Rosa was shot dead two months after her fortieth birthday and her brother was killed the same day. Moshe was Max, a name almost always associated in east Galicia with Mordecai.

So we now know Rosa's parents are Leiser Ber and Marjem Gittel and that her grandparents are Judel and Reisel Baras(ch), Leib Pickholz and Rachel Qualer. Leiser Ber had five siblings at least three or four of whom did not survive early childhood.

Who is Rosa's grandfather Leib? I mentioned this last week. We know Aryeh Leib Pikholz who was born about 1829 and lived until 1919. His wife Sara Kreisel Glisner died in 1874. They had six children, four of them under age fifteen when Sara Kreisel died. It would have been normal for Aryeh Leib to marry again.

Did this forty-five year old widower with youngish children marry Rachel Qualer, who was barely twenty. Their first child Leiser Ber was born in 1876. I think that is what happened but I am not going to enter that into my database, other than in the comments as a "probably." I am too conservative for more than that. But if it is true and if Aryeh Leib's father Mordecai is indeed the brother of my g-g-grandfather Izak Fischel, Rosa is my father's third cousin. I shall begin referring to her that way.

Now I wonder who Rachel Qualer's family is. She and Leib didn't find each other on J-Date. And Skalat and Zalosce are not close enough for casual contact. She must have been someone's relative. I'm betting it had something to do with my Uncle Selig.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A First Look at the New Skalat Records


I have in hand the Excel file for the newly released Skalat records from JRI-Poland.. They consist of deaths for 1916-1930 and  marriages for 1902-1935. Thus far I have identified those with the name Pikholz plus a few other Pikholz married daughters. That would be twenty-two deaths out of 905 total and thirty-two marriages out of 707 total.

Of the marriages, there was one I did not know at all. I knew the bride's Pikholz parents, but not her or the groom. Another fourteen were spouses of people I had not known were married. Two others were couples I knew and for whom I now have proper identification.

One marriage record is wrong, almost certainly from the transcription process. The Pikholz groom's parents are listed with the same names as the bride and groom themselves. This is an important record because I do not know who the groom's parents are. I have asked Mark Halpern to have the indexers recheck that and he said he would.

There is one particularly odd case. We have birth records for the nine children of Jakob Pikholz and his wife Henie Malka Ginsberg. On one of those birth records, the registrar reversed the mothers' names of that birth and the following one so the mother is listed as Bleich instead of Ginsberg. On the mariage record of that child, her mother is listed as "Henie Malka Pickholz/Bleich" as though taken directly from the erroneous birth record. Two other children of Jakob and Henie Malka are listed correctly in this batch of marriages.

The deaths are more difficult. In most of the records, neither parent is named and in others only the father is listed, leaving me to guess which family the deceased belongs in. There are seven whom I have not identified - two adults, one teenager and four babies.

In one case, I was able to identify a sixty-six year old woman because she died in house 23, where most of her children had been born.

I was surprised to find a 1918 death for sixty-five year old Josef Pikholz in the village of Klimkowce. We had seen earlier that a grandson was named Josef in 1911, but we had not seen a death record for Josef. (We knew he was still alive in 1910.) So now it seems the grandson was given the name of his living grandfather - either after him or for someone else. Not totally unheard of, but unusual nonetheless.

In 1919 there is a death for ninety year old Leibysz Pikholz. We have an Aryeh Leib Pikholz born 1829, but we have a death record for him in 1901. We have another Aryeh Leib Pikholz, the son of Mordecai (b. 1805) Pikholz and his wife Taube. This Aryeh Leib's wife Sara Kreisel Glisner was born about 1829 and they had their first known child in the early 1850s.

There are grandchildren named for Sara Kreisel after she died in 1874, but I had seen none named for Aryeh Leib, until a Leon and a Leonard in the 1920s. And maybe Leslie in 1922. So I guess we can consider this an identification of ninety year old Aryeh Leib. Everything fits and there are no known alternatives. I have recorded it.

And a bonus. While I was looking at the Leib page in my Given Name Analysis, my attention was drawn to a Leibisch who appears in the Skalat death index, the fifth entry on the page.



The record it comes from is the 30 October 1866 death of nine year old Michel, with no other information. When I saw that record years ago, I considered that this may be Aryeh Leib, whom we now know as the son of Mordecai, who appears on the sixth line in that chart, with a note that they may be the same man.

I am now sure that these two Leibs are the same person, though true to my standards I will not yet merge them. After all, if I do, I will never reexamine the question. In fact I barely revisited this death even now.

But there is something else. Michel is a nickname for Jachiel. If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I was considering the identity of the father of Mordecai and Izak Fischel Pikholz and one of the candidates in my mind was some unknown Jachiel. Having one here, the son of Aryeh Leib ben Mordecai gives additional weight to that theory.

There is still much work to do here, updating the website, dealing with the unidentified deaths and combing the file for descendants of Pikholz daughters. And today I go to Herzliyya to take DNA from another descendant of Mordecai, the third in the last three months

Friday, June 8, 2018

An Extraordinary Victory For DNA

This article was published in the "Journal of One-Name Studies," the quarterly magazine of the Guild of One-Name Studies, of which I am member 6934. This piece appeared in Volume 13, Issue 2, April-June 2016.

I present it here now, two years after publication, because it was recenty honored with a "Guild Award of Excellence." It appears in blog form rather than directly from the Journal to enable readers to enlarge the images.
My flagship research is the single-surname Pikholz Project, the study of a Jewish family from the three provinces of east Galicia, which is Ukraine today but Austria before WWI. In 2012, I began doing genetic research and as I write this, over seventy Pikholz descendants have tested for me, We have done most of our testing with FamilyTree DNA and our analysis with FTDNA and GEDmatch.

In the 1800s, the Pikholz families lived in two east Galician towns, the larger group of families from Skalat (4926N, 2559E) between the provincial capital Tarnopol and what was then the border with Russia. My own family lived in Skalat. We know of five Pikholz men from Skalat who were born in the period 1780-1805 and four of the five have living descendants. At the start of our DNA project, we had fifteen other Pikholz families of four or more generations whose heads had been born about 1810-1870; thirteen of those have living descendants. One of the goals of both the DNA project  and the traditional research is to attach those fifteen "younger" families to the five older men.

In November 2014, I happened across an Ancestry.com online tree featuring Sarah Pikholz, her husband Eisig Baar and twelve children.  The tree had them in Czechoslovakia with non-Galician given names such as Gustav, Victor, Rudolph, Emil and Berti, but I quickly found the first three births in Jagielnica in east Galicia. The first child was born in 1865 so I figured that Sarah was born in the early 1840s. I had no candidate for this "new" woman. Every other Sarah that I had in that period either died in childhood or married someone not named Eisig Baar.

Milton, the great-grandson of Sarah, who had posted the tree at Ancestry, hadn't a clue about Sarah's parents or siblings. Indeed, east Galicia and Jagielnica meant nothing to him. None of the records I was able to find were helpful except some Holocaust-era police records which cited the Jewish names of the children.

My attention was drawn to the son Gustav, whose Jewish name was Gabriel, a rare name in the Pikholz database. Rare but not unique. Breine Pikholz, the wife of Avraham Aron Riss, named the first of her seven children Gabriel Wolf (Wilhelm) in 1860. Breine's father was Gabriel, so he must have died young, as eastern European Jews do not name after the living. Breine's mother – based on a late birth record of two of Breine's children, filed after Breine's death – was Ryfka Pikholz. Both Breine and Sarah named their first daughters Rivka, with the secular name Regina.

There are other matching names among the children of the two women, but Moses, Juda, Josef and Rosa are too common for us to infer that the women are closely related.


Because of the names of Gabriel and the eldest daughter Rivka, it appeared to me that Breine and Sarah are sisters. I turned to DNA for help; perhaps the descendants of Breine and Sarah – putative third cousins – could appear to be closely related. Milton was willing to do an autosomal test, what FTDNA calls "Family Finder". Between Milton and me, we are in contact with five of Milton's second cousins – two from Gustav and three from Josef – but they have been unwilling to test.

On Breine's side, Wilhelm's granddaughter tested as did the two grandchildren of Isidor, first cousins to one another. Here too, there is a Josef with three grandchildren who have been unwilling to test. And Breine's youngest, Rosche, has a grandson from her elder daughter. But Rosche also has a living daughter, Lillian, who lives in Chicago.  I have tried unsuccessfully to contact her over the years.

Breine's three great-grandchildren matched one another exactly as expected. But Milton's results were a surprise. His very first match was with my father's brother, followed by my second cousin Lee, Breine's great-granddaughter from Wilhelm and my father's first cousin Herb. Milton's matches with his putative third cousins from Isidor are more distant. The closer is twenty-second on his match list and a suggested second-fourth cousin. The other is a distant "suggested fourth-remote cousin."

Figure 2 shows chromosome browsers for Milton and the three Riss cousins from the vantage point of each, using a threshold of 3 centiMorgans. The three Riss cousins match each other as expected, but Milton (the first diagram and the orange segments in the other three) has very little in the way of matching segments with the three Riss cousins.


This was not good enough for me to accept that Breine and Sarah are sisters, though it certainly does not indicate that they are not. Third cousins can be tricky like that..

But since I already had their Family Finder results, I compared each of the four to the other Pikholz families from Skalat, where over sixty descendants had tested for the project. All four clearly matched one particular Pikholz branch much more than any of the others. This is the branch which begins with (Isak) Josef (b. ~1784) and Rojse. (Note that both Sarah and Breine named children Josef and Rosa.)

Using both documents and DNA analysis, I had already determined that Isak Josef and Rojse had at least four children – Moshe Hersch, Selig, Berl and my great-great-grandmother. Clearly Ryfka, the mother of Sarah and Breine also belonged on that list, a daughter of Isak Josef and Rojse. But my great-great-grandmother was Rivka Feige and Isak Josef and Rojse certainly didn't have two daughters named Rivka/Ryfka.

The obvious theory was that after Ryfka's husband Gabriel died young – how young we don't know but Breine named her first son for him in 1860 – Ryfka, who was a young widow with two small children, was married off to an indeterminate cousin Isak Fischel Pikholz with whom she had four children. That is how their social safety net worked. A young widow or widower with young children was married off to a family member – the dead wife's sister or a niece or cousin or in-law. We don't have precise ages for the four children of Rivka Feige and Isak Fischel but the wife of the eldest was born about 1847, which would fit the scenario.

I am not concerned that the one is Ryfka and the other Rivka Feige. We know the name Ryfka from a birth record from 1888 when Breine is already dead and Riyfka herself had been dead  for many years. So the name provided by her grandchildren or son-in-law may well have been incomplete.

By this time, in early summer 2015, Lillian had agreed to meet me during my upcoming trip to the US. Lillian is one generation older than Breine's other living descendants (or Sarah's), so her Family Finder would be twice as good. But it was more than that. Last year, I asked my third cousin Joe in Denver to do a Family Finder for the project and also a Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) test. That would show his maternal line going back to Rivka Feige. Only Joe, his brother and his sister's two children could do that test as there are no other all-female lines. He said "What do you want to prove?" and I said "I don't know but maybe I’ll need it some day."

If Ryfka and Rivka Feige are the same woman, Joe and Lillian would have identical MtDNA. If they do, it would not be proof, but it would be supporting evidence. If they do not, Ryfka and Rivka Feige cannot be the same woman and I go back to the drawing board.































Lillian's Family Finder results came back in early October. Her first three matches are her known close cousins. Fourth is my father's cousin Herb, perhaps Lillian's half-second cousin. Her sixth match is Milton – a good sign. Ninth is my father's sister. Five more of my personal family are suggested second-third cousins and nine are suggested second-fourth cousins. This looked very good indeed. But if the MtDNA doesn't match, we have nothing.

A few weeks later, Lillian's MtDNA results came in and she is a perfect match to Joe. That is not a unique match, to be sure – there are over ninety other people with the same perfect match who would be connected further back in time. But together with the Family Finder results, it is enough for me to declare Ryfka and Rivka Feige to be the same woman and to merge the families.

There is another lesson from this particular inquiry. Milton's matches with the three cousins of his own generation – his third cousins – are not on their own convincing. But when I compare all four to the other Pikholz descendants, the pattern becomes quite clear, even obvious. When looking at third (and fourth) cousins, we must keep in mind that they may match other people better than they match each other and in ways that can clarify their relationships with each other. Of course, if some of Milton's cousins would test, we might find that they match the Riss group much better than does Milton.

DNA is supposed to be good, but not usually that good.

And another lesson - Do It Now