Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Breakthrough Using Family Finder?

Not quite two months ago, I reported here that three people from previously untested Pikholz families had submitted Family Finder tests. Results are in or two of the three and although this is really preliminary, I am excited about where this seems to be going.

This is the chart I showed here in my earlier post.
The two people whose test results have come in are Charles a few weeks ago and Leonora last night. We are still waiting on Sam's daughter. In the meantime, we have heard from a second cousin of Jane's - Nan - that she and her two children have submitted tests, so we may get additional support from them.

Leonora's mother Taube has four Pikholz grandparents and at least five Pikholz great-grandparents. That has the potential to make Leonora's results either very useful because of the strong dose of original Pikholz DNA or quite useless because of the endogamy factor. Or perhaps both at the same time. Leonora herself was born in Tajikistan (long story!) and her father would have had nothing resembling Pikholz DNA that might interfere with this analysis.

Let me also explain where my own family fits in here. My great-grandfather Hersch Pikholz had two Pikholz parents. His mother Rivka Feige was almost certainly the daughter of Isak Josef and the sister of Berl in the top-center of the chart. Her husband, the father of Hersch, was Isak Fischel who was probably a fairly close relative of Mordecai (on the top left) - perhaps even a brother or a nephew.

Of Leonora's first fourteen matches, are all "second cousin - fourth cousin," eight (including the first five) are Pikholz descendants and five are descendants of my own great-grandfather. The other three are Charles (her closest match), Lloyd (her third closest) and Jane. Charles and Leonora are in fact documented as second cousins. Lloyd is nearly documented as a fourth cousin but Leonora has more than double Pikholz DNA on that side so she would appear closer.*

Leonora also has six Pikholz matches who are suggested "third cousin - fifth cousin" and the closest of those is Dalia, who is part of the chart above.

Jane's appearance as a close match with Leonora is not exactly a surprise, but we had no real reason to expect it either. Jane's four closest matches are all Pikholz and they include Charles, Leonora and my father's first cousin Herb. (Herb is Leonora's fourth closest match.)

We do not yet have Leonora on GEDmatch, so I ran some chromosome browsers using FTDNA. There is a limit there on the number of kits we can compare in one go, so I started with Lloyd and compared him to Charles, Dalia, Leonora, Jane and Herb. (I could have used my father's brother or sister instead of Herb, but I chose him because of his excellent match with Jane.)

It would be unusual to find someplace where all of them match, but there are sets of matches of three, four and five of the six on four different chromosomes.

Here we have some other sets of matches among the same group of six.

So what does all this tell us?

Well, I am thinking that
  1. Jane's great-great-grandfather Moshe Hersch and Charles' and Leonora's great-great-grandfather Moshe Hersch are the same person. I'd call that high probability. Nan's test will help nail this down.
  2. That same Moshe Hersch could be a brother of Mordecai but is more likely to be a brother of Berl, the son of Isak Josef. (In fact, Mordecai could be a son of Isak Josef as well, but I am not ready to go there at this time.)
  3. Simon, the grandfather of Sam (Shalom) Marenus is probably the brother of Szulim, the great-grandfather of Charles and Leonora. Sam Marenus' daughter's test will help here. I'd like to have another test or two in that family.
  4. The name Moshe Hersch is prominent in the family of Nachman as well and very likely is the name of a common ancestor of the two families.

In my own family, my great-grandfather was Hersch without Moshe. My father's brother is named for him. But my uncle also carries the name of his other grandfather - Moshe (Moritz) Rosenzweig - so we have our own Moshe Hersch. His birthday in the Jewish calendar is this week.

I think there are two others (living) in Jane's family, but also not named for one of the originals.

* Leonora's matches are very focused, not like some of the other Pikholz descendants whose matches are all over the Pikholz map. She has only seven Rozdol matches among her twenty-one Pikholz matches and she does not match anyone on my mother's side, nor the Kwoczka cousins.

Housekeeping notes
The first of the putative RISS-BAAR family has ordered a Family Finder test. That one is a Riss. There is a Baar who plans to order one next week. I'd like to get three or four from each family both to test my theory that the great-grandmothers are sisters and to give an idea how they connect to everyone else.


  1. On the other hand, if the Moshe Hersch, the g-g-gf of Charles and Leonora, is a son of Isak Josef, I would expect to see a match between them and the descendant of Uncle Selig. Leonora has no such match and Charles' match with him is very remote.

    That, of course, is not dispositive.

  2. axvq70@dsl.pipex.com30 November, 2014 12:49

    I assume none of these have Lustig relations?

    1. Not so far as I know, Eleanor.

      Are you asking for a particular reason or is this a stab in the dark?