Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Two GEDmatch Tools Plus More About Testing Siblings

Some weeks ago, a woman named Sherri contacted me via Ancestry.com. Ancestry said we were a very small match - 25 cM across six segments - and Sherri wanted to see if we could follow it up. She was already on GEDmatch, so I had a look.

GEDmatch showed a slightly larger match - nearly 32 cM over four segments, but still not much. Her mother's sister is also on GEDmatch, but she matched me even less, but with only a single segment of 11.8 cM on chromosome 12, where Sherri does not match me even at 3 cM.

I ran Sherri's kit against my families on the GEDmatch Multiple Kit Analysis, using a program called Short Keys to fill in my own kits.

The GEDmatch Tier1 tools


 

Sherri matches a few of my family members on my mother's side on three <12 cM segments, but all of these are matches with various cousins, none with me or my siblings. Sherri's aunt shares one of those three matching segments.

Then there was this, on my father's side. A nice segment of ~25 cM on chromosome 19, with eight of my family, not including me.






We have my brother and three of my sisters, my father's sister, two double second cousins (brothers) and my second cousin Susan. Susan nails this onto my grandmother's side, the one from Slovakia and Hungary. This is geography that Sherri didn't recognize from her own family. It is definitely Sherri's mother's side, as her aunt has this segment as well, although only ~11 cM.

And our match with Sherri is recent enough that a 25 cM segment has been preserved, despite that my Hungarian and Slovakian ancestors were in place at least since the mid-1700s.

(My guess is that Sherri matches my Hungarian great-grandmother rather than my Slovakian great-grandfather due to some other smallish matches she has with one specific cousin on each side, but I am way too conservative to jump to any conclusions here.)

Sherri's match with *G
So I asked Sherri about other family members who have tested and she mentioned a man we shall call *G, whom she has determined is her second cousin once removed. The relevant surname is Feldman from Belarus. Sherri's match with *G includes 37.4 cM on the segment we share on chromosome 19. That match is larger than even what Sherri shares with her aunt (31.4 cM).

My next step was to look at the Segment Search tool on GEDmatch. Like the Multiple Kit Analysis, this is a Tier1 tool, which requires a small payment. (I use GEDmatch enough that I generally pay for Tier1 12-18 months in advance.)

After removing the matches that are (or appear to be) from Sherri's father's side, these are Sherri's other matches on this segment. I removed the emails and kit numbers for privacy and coded the names for the same reason.

The four marked in red match Sherri's family members, but not my family - but they might if they were a bit longer. The seven marked in purple match Sherri's family and mine. The email for *G in the top row is one I recognized. It belongs to Leonid, whom I have mentioned here before. Our great-grandmothers have essentially the same given name and our maternal haplogroups are a perfect match. But that is a different part of our two families.

I wrote to the four people in Group 1 and the seven in Group 2, on the off chance that one of them may know something that can help connect the Belarus Feldmans to my Hungarian (or Slovakian) family. And of course I touched base with Leonid. 

Thus far (after a week) I have heard back from the first two people in Group 1 and the first two in Group 2. None of them has been able to shed much light, but I see that they are more Sherri's Belarus/Lithuania, rather than my Hungary/Slovakia. It looks like my family is the outlier.

Besides telling the story, I am writing about this for two reasons. One is to give a bit more detail on the use of the GEDmatch tools Multiple Kit Analysis and Segment Search. The other is to bang the drum yet again for testing siblings. This inquiry began with a match between Sherri and me. But I do not share the interesting segment on chromosome 19. For that we needed my brother and some of my sisters. Without them, we don't find this.

Furthermore, although we usually place an emphasis on the older generations, had we only had Sherri's aunt and not Sherri herself, this segment would have been only 11 cM and I probably wouldn't have paid it any attention. But clearly Sherri's mother got a larger segment here than did her sister (Sherri's aunt). So once again, testing first and second cousins is of primary importance, but test the siblings too. Why? Who knows! There might be a difference in some segments that matter.

Monday, March 22, 2021

BENZION - A Wild Wild Ancestral Theory


Benzion. בֶּן צִיוֹן or בֶּנְצִיוֹן. Son of Zion.

Could there possibly be a better name?

One of my regrets is not giving it to Devir as a middle name.

 

With his second son, Phil
My maternal grandmother's brother, was named Chaim Benzion. Hymen Benjamin in the United States. He was born in Borisov Belarus in 1894 and had four older sisters, born about 1879, 1886, 1887, 1889. The spacing is odd, with long breaks after the first and the last of the girls.

I knew Uncle Hymen and the way he told the story, his parents had other sons who either died young or were stillborn. (I don't recall how specific his knowledge was.) So when he was born, the rabbi said to use the name Chaim (=life) for good luck.There is a Jewish tradition of playing with names to fool the Angel of Death. At least, that's the way Uncle Hymen told me the story.

So I have always assumed that Benzion was one of Uncle Hymen's ancestral names, hence one of mine. And I was pleased as punch to have a Benzion among my ancestors.

Uncle Hymen's parents - my great-grandparents - are my namesake Israel David (aka Srul) Rosenbloom, the son of Yaakov and Shayna Liba, and Etta-Bryna the daughter of Yehudah the Levite, surname and mother's name unknown. So Benzion was not Uncle Hymen's grandfather, but could have been any of his four great-grandfathers. Or perhaps an uncle, though that seems much less likely.

The Belarus database on JewishGen shows a number of Benzian Rosenbloom references, but much younger, so I always thought there was a good chance Uncle Hymen's namesake was his father's paternal grandfather. Not so good a chance as to actually write it that way in my database, but slightly more likely that any of the others.

Yesterday that changed. A woman named Michelle Sandler posted in several Facebook groups:


In the course of signing on to this project, I took another look at the JewishGen Belarus Database, which I'd not seen in some time. It had a surprise for me, in the 1858 revision lists.

There is no doubt in my mind that these are the parents of my great-grandfather Israel David Rosenbloom, together with two sisters I had not seen before. I had never seen any evidence of siblings, though I assume he had some. For both of his parents, the fathers' names were listed. New names for me. Srul's paternal grandfather is Itska (Yitzhak) and his maternal grandfather is Khaim (Chaim). No Benzion.

And the wheels began turning in my mind. Chaim was not just a good luck name to fool the Angel of Death. It was a full-fledged ancestral name. Surely Uncle Hymen hadn't made up the story of his naming from whole cloth. But maybe it was a real story with the details wrong.

There were sons who died young. Even if their names are important, we generally don't reuse them as is. That makes it too easy for the Angel of Death. My father's father's eldest brother was named Mordecai Meir after his grandfather, but he died at thirteen months. For the next son, they kept the Mordecai, but changed the second name to Shemuel and Uncle Max lived to age eighty-six.

It makes sense that the dead sons of Srul and Etta-Bryna were named for their own grandfathers. Perhaps one was Chaim Yitzhak for Srul's grandfathers. And he died young so you don't want to use it again. Maybe change the order of the names? Or maybe something more clever.

The numerical value of the four letters of name Yitzhak is 10 + 90 + 8 + 100. That's two hundred and eight. Maybe thought Srul, or Etta-Bryna, or the local rabbi - we can play with that. How about 2 + 50 + 90 + 10 + 6 + 50 = 208. BENZION! Chaim Yitzhak becomes Chaim Benzion and we fool the Angel of Death.

I love this beyond words. I love the idea that my great-grandfather and namesake might have thought of it himself, or at least adopted the idea. A solution after my own heart. I really really want this to be true. I suppose we shall never be able to prove it, but if we can find Etta-Bryna's  grandfathers' names, we can call it progress.

We cannot record it as fact, but we might accept it as our working assumption.

Rosenbloom cousins, what do you think?? 


Monday, February 15, 2021

Narrowing It Down Using The X

As I have mentioned before, every few months I review the newest autosomal matches on my many Family Tree DNA kits to see which are the best candidates to investigate further with GEDmatch. Maybe a third of those respond to my inquiries and of those perhaps one or two, maybe three, will show anything useful. On this last round, I sent out about eighty-five inquiries and was surprised how many people got back to me in the first forty-eight hours. This is the story of one of these.

The match is a woman named Donna who was adopted and is looking for information that might lead her to her birth parents. One of her two matches with my families was this, a quite ordinary segment of 16 cM with seven Pikholz descendants.

Jean, Sarajoy, Judith and Amy are my sisters. Uncle Bob is my father's brother. Roz is my second cousin on my grandfather's side. Marshal is my double second cousin - our grandfathers are brothers and our grandmothers are sisters. The seven matches triangulate; they all match one another. So this looks to be pretty straightforward. This segment comes from either my great-grandfather Hersch Pikholz or my great-grandmother Jutte Lea Kwoczka.

But this segment is from chromosome 23, the X.The chromosome that never passes from father to son.

Roz gets to our great-grandparents through her mother and grandmother, so both Kwoczka and Pikholz are viable sources for her segment. But the others are all from sons of our great-grandparents, so they would have no X from Hersch Pikholz. Which means this is a Kwoczka segment.

But that cannot be right either. Uncle Bob would have to have received the segment from his father, which is clearly impossible. Uncle Bob received this segment from his mother. That option works for my sisters and for Marshal, but Roz has nothing to do with my grandmother's Hungarians and Slovakians. The Pikholz and Kwoczka families lived in the Tarnopol area of east Galicia.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Three and a half years ago, I discovered a segment shared by two supposedly unconnected parts of my families, one being my grandmother's Hungarians and the other the Galicianers on the non-Pikholz/Kwoczka side of the family of my cousins Rhoda, Roz and Pinchas. 

I have since found about forty strangers who share this segment with matches of anywhere between twelve and twenty centiMorgans. I wrote all of them, but have not gotten any firm leads on how, when and where my two families connect. It is a good ways back, as the families have been in the same places since the mid or late 1700s, but it's recent enough to preserve this 20+ cM segment intact.

Wendy and Carolyn, at JGS Maryland, 2016,

my earliest cousins on this segment


I have also written about this segment of chromosome 21 here, here and most recently here.

My guess is that the same ancestor who gave us the segment on chromosome 21, gave us the newfound X segment, though I cannot prove it. Until now, I have had seven surnames to work with, five from the Hungarians and two from the Galicianers. Of course there was no reason to assume that the common ancestor actually used one of those seven names - if he (or she) used any at all. But they were starting points. 

Now, we know that two of those lines are completely irrelevant. The X cannot be from my third-great-grandfather Lasar Bauer or his wife Rosa Lowinger, because it could not have been passed to Cousin Shabtai Bauer. One of the forty "strangers" has a Bauer ancestor, so that was a candidate for chromosome 21. But it cannot be for the X.

The others are still possibilities simply because we do not have other known descendants of those families who might share the segments in question. We can neither confirm nor eliminate them. Here are the earliest known ancestors in each family.

On the Hungarian side:

Salomon/Yehoshua Selig STERN ~ 1805-1862, son of Izak Leib of Paks could have received this segment from his unknown mother.

Jakob GRUNWALD of Perkata whose daughter was born about 1806 could have received the segment from his unknown mother.

Fani/Feige HERCZ, Jakob Grunwald's wife, could have received the segment from either parent.

On the east Galician side:

Shimon Leib ZWIEBEL, ~1825-1910, son of Isak, from the Tarnopol area, could have received the segment from his unknown mother.

Ester Chava LEWINTER, ~1831-1907, from the Tarnopol area, could have received the segment from either parent. She is Shimon Leib Zwiebel's wife.

I would love to see some tests from any of these families. Zwiebel is probably the easiest place to start.

It feels like progress. I'll certainly notify the forty-odd strangers.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Playing The Role Of My Grandfather, With Stops Along The Way

(~8 years later)
My bar mitzvah
Sixty years ago yesterday, I celebrated my bar mitzvah. As was customary in that time and place, I did the Torah reading, the Haftarah (from the prophets), gave a speech in both Hebrew and English and conducted the musaf. The first two people who were called to the Torah - the Kohen and the Levi - would not have been members of my family. The other five surely were and would have included my father. But the only one I remember specifically is my maternal grandfather Raymond (Yerachmiel ben Zvi) Gordon, who was called up third. (My other grandfather died when I was nine.)

My grandfather was a very old man at the time. Nearly seventy-five. Well maybe not so "very old."

I wore a tallit (prayer shawl) bought for me by Aunt Ethel and Uncle Kenny, whose story appears here. It has long been lost.

I was taught by an Israeli teacher from my school and it was several years before I realized how substandard the teaching was.

The tape 

A few days later, Wednesday or Thursday, my father sat me down at his desk and recorded me doing the readings and the speech. I had hoped that the tape was lost years ago, during one of my parents' moves, like the tallit. It would have been really bad according to my present standards and I surely would have found it embarrassing.

No such luck. It turned up three years ago. During this very week! As a genealogist who could never throw out such a thing, much as I didn't want anything to do with it, I had someone make it into an mp3. Only one person has heard it - my son Eliezer. He said "It wasn't as bad as I expected."

Devorah
Thirty-four years ago in Arad, my sister Devorah walked over - maybe twenty minutes - to hear me read my bar mitzvah. That would have been typical for her. We spoke very briefly on that occasion. I never saw her alive again. She was killed three days later. Today is her yahrzeit. Her story is here.


Snow in Hevron
Then there was the Shabbat twenty-one years ago that my mother and I paid a surprise visit to my friend and one-time roommate Zvi Ofer (who died this past summer) and his wife Celia, in Kiryat Arba, near Hevron. It was my bar mitzvah week and I prevailed on Levi, who ran the service in Kiryat Arba and whom I have known for years, to let me read, which he did. I have seen him maybe fifteen times since and he always says 'You remember the last time I saw you, when it snowed and you read your bar mitzvah?

The story of that adventure is here.

There may be a few more memorable Shabbat Bar Mitzvah stories, but those are the ones that come to mind.

Shloimie
Yesterday was the bar mitzvah of my daughter Merav's third son Shelomo (aka Shloimie) Brand. My
With Yudi & Naomi
Torah reading. As is customary in his shul, he read only the Haftarah. He will be speaking at a small week-night affair this week.

(Before anyone asks, let me say that the masking was adequate.)

I quite like their shul, though I rather stick out in the crowd of black or round fur hats and big beards (mine is on hiatus). They always treat me respectfully and the rabbi makes a point of mentioning me by name when he has his mishebayrach. Some of them also know that I can teach them a thing or two about proper Torah reading.

I, the maternal grandfather, was called up third. And it was only at that moment that I realized that my own maternal grandfather was called up third for the exact same reading at my bar mitzvah sixty years ago.

Hasdei Ovos Synagogue, Upper Modiin
After the service there was a kiddush and just before the rabbi spoke, he told me that he would introduce me to say something. (I really dislike being put on the spot like that.)

So I spoke about the coincidence with the two maternal grandfathers doing the same thing sixty years apart and the significance of carrying on traditions, even unintentionally. We read the Ten Commandments yesterday and I referred to the first chapter in Ethics of the Fathers where it tells us that Moshe received Torah at Sinai, and passed it to Yehoshua, Yehoshua to the Elders and so on down the generations. But I pointed out that there are less formal traditions. It doesn't say anywhere that we are supposed to name our kids after our ancestors, but that has been a traditional Jewish practice for ages. etc etc. (Or - as an afterthought - like my sister walking across town to hear me read.)

Afterwards, the rabbi, the Torah reader and a few others hung around and we mixed it up discussing some intracacies of Torah reading. A great day all in all.

Monday, June 1, 2020

It's That Time of Year Again. The Skalat Memorial Service.

Sunday at five-thirty, the Skalaters in Israel gathered at the memorial in the cemetery in Holon, just south of Tel-Aviv, to remember our community and its members, seventy-seven years after the destruction of the ghetto. No "all the Skalaters," of course, especially this year when some are still considered "high risk" for the virus. Yocheved Sarid is one of those who was not able to be there, but her four children were.


There were nearly thirty people in attendance - fifteen men and nearly that many women. Three women who actually lived in Skalat. Everyone wore masks.

There were copies for the taking of the Hebrew version of Avraham Weisbrod's Yiddish yizkor book. This edition includes about sixty pages of personal testimonies, organized by Lusia Milch. Zvika Sarid, who has run the memorial service for quite a few years now, read one of those testimonies, by Phyllis Nissenbaum Linnel, (p. 153).

Zipi Tal - the daughter of Chaim Dlugacz and Cyla Pikholz  - read some prepared remarks based on her own experience as a second-generation survivor. Her parents came to Israel in 1939 and her mother's two surviving sisters came some years after the war ended.

Zipi Tal, center, with the hat
Tova "Giza" Zehava, who survived the Holocaust in Skalat as a child, spoke from the heart about her own experiences, with an emphasis on her mother's sister Betka Marder and her infant son. Betka's husband was Moshe "Munio" Pickholz, whom I believe to be a third cousin of my father.

Chaim Sarid reviewed the situation of the two memorials in Skalat - one in the corner of the soccer field which had been the Jewish cemetery and one in nearby Novosilka. He reported on the need for repairs and the associated finances. He had sent some photos in advance of the service and asked for $100 contributions.

The memorial in Novosilka in better days
Zvika asked me to read Psalm 130 and say Kaddish.

Same time next year.

Monday, May 18, 2020

The 1929 Envelope From Penza

Seventeen months ago, I wrote at some length about a company which can take DNA samples from old envelopes - whether from the sealed flaps or the stamps - for use in genealogy. I have nine envelopes that were sent in the 1920s from Penza Russia, where my great-grandfather and namesake was living, to my grandmother's brother in Brooklyn. I scanned the envelopes and the company - totheletter DNA in Brisbane Australia - thought that three of them looked suitable for DNA extraction.
The process is two-fold. First they extract the DNA, then if that is successful, they test it and upload it to GEDmatch. Of course, I have no idea if my great-grandfather is the person who sealed the envelope. That could have been done for instance by his second wife, who is not my great-grandmother. Or her daughter. Or the post office worker.

A few months ago, I decided to give it a try, using the May 1929 letter.

This morning, I received the report on the extraction. Here it is in full.


Hi Israel

We’ve finally received the results from the lab. We only found a minute amount of DNA in your sample. This will not be suitable for further processing at this time.

We’ve attached two images below - one of what a fresh DNA sample would look like during a quality check, and your sample. You  can see the images are quite different. We would not expect DNA from an old envelope to ever look like the fresh sample, but nevertheless we would expect to see some “bumps”.

We are working on a solution to process very low yield / quality samples which we hope to have in place by the end of the year. Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) is currently an option, but is very expensive and still carries the risk of failing. Our solution will aim to bridge the gap between microarray technology (the much cheaper option, which would have been used when you did your own DNA testing at a company such as Ancestry.com) and WGS.

What we can do when we have our solution ready, is to process this sample at some point to see if we do get any data out of it. I really can’t provide you with an estimate of the chances of success. The fact that there was such minimal DNA in your sample makes it challenging.

I’m sorry we weren’t able to get a better result with your envelope, but I hope we will be able to help you in the future. Please do ask if you have any questions.

Thank you for your support and we wish you well during this time.

Kind regards
Joscelyn
 
This is what a fresh sample looks like:

And this is what ours looks like:
 
Definitely not good enough.
 
I am certainly not going for the very expensive Whole Genome Sequencing. I could try another of my samples, but the rest of the batch was not encouraging.

Hi Israel

We had 17 samples. Five had no DNA at all. The rest could potentially be successful via Whole Genome Sequencing but we are reluctant to recommend that when the stakes are high i.e. it is very expensive, and we may still not get a useable result. We expect to overcome this with our solution we are working on right now. If it were available today, we would recommend running your sample on it.

Kind regards
Joscelyn
 
So I shall take Joscelyn's advice and wait until they have completeed their new process which is currently under development. Even then, I might try an extraction from a second envelope to increase the chances of success.

I like to say that sometimes "no" is also an answer. But sometimes "no" tells you nothing at all.

So that's the story.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Testing Siblings - Redux

I have written about the importance of testing siblings on any number of occasions, each time as background to a story. Here is another one from the last few days.

I received an email from a fellow named David, saying that he had seen indications on GEDmatch that we may be second cousins. He gave me a list of eight family surnames, none of which match any of mine.

I expected to tell him that the matching segments are likely from two or more distinct common ancestors, but first I looked at our kits on the GEDmatch One-to-One tool.

Three segments, all less than 10 cM. Nothing near second cousin level.  Obviously his match must be one of my cousins, listed under my email.

So I looked at David's top matches and one of my paternal second cousins stood out.
Well, 248 cM certainly looks like a second cousin - with segments of 42.6 cM, 34 cM and 33.4 cM and five more over 19.5 cM. But still, these could have come from several different common ancestors. On the other hand, a segment over 40 cM and two more over 30 cM looks encouraging.

I also recognized one of David's surnames as someone on that cousin's other side - I think a maternal grandmother.

This second cousin has a full brother who has tested as well as a first cousin, who is also my second cousin. Here is the brother.
Where David matches the sister with 248 cM, he matches the brother with only 116.8 cM. That's less than half. And of those 116.8 cM, only the segments on chromosomes 10 and 16 are among David's matches with the sister.

David's match with their first cousin is not worth mentioning.

So I wrote all this to David, bcc'ing the female cousin, so they can examine surnames. (This particular cousin is good about that.)

But my point, of course, is that had the sister not tested, all David would have had is the brother's second-cousin-once-removed level match. Would he have followed it up? Who knows!

Test first cousins. Especially test second cousins. But don't neglect the siblings. It matters.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Very Deep Connection or Just A False Segment

Every few months, I look at the recent FTDNA matches of my 100+ family kits. I save all those which the company calls "third cousin to fifth cousin" or closer, put them in separate spreadsheets for each of my families and sort by match names. Then I go through them painstakingly looking for matches which look worth following up, based on the longest matching segments. Most of my fully Jewish kits have 2-300 such matches.

Then I write to the matches and ask them to give me their GEDmatch kit numbers so I can run the match against each family, using the indispensable Multiple Kit Analysis on Tier1.

In this round, covering the previous five months, I wrote to eighty-nine people and after two weeks thirty-one have responded. I consider that a good rate of reply, perhaps helped by the fact that people are stuck at home with nothing to do. Some of those give me other family kits to check as well.

It is rare when one of these turns out to be an actual, identifiable relative - either of mine or of some of my cousins - but I find the exercise useful in giving some direction. (I plan to write about a new actual relative later this week.) I also get an occasional new match on one of my special segments, such as the right end of chromosome 21.

Then there is Helen's match.

Helen has a run of the mill match on chromosome 19 with six Pikholz descendants which is too small to be useful, probably going back well before 1800. Not only is it small, but it only includes a few of the twenty-odd family members who might match that segment.

On chromosome 10, Helen has an unusual match with both my half second cousin Fred, my fifth cousin Cyndi (over 15 cM) and Cyndi's brother. Fred's only Jewish grandparent is my paternal grandmother's half sister, so matches with Fred do not have the endogamy which so complicates our Jewish research. This should be my great-great-grandmother's Zelinka from Trencin County Slovakia, where they lived since at least as far back as the mid-1700s.

On the other hand, we have tests from descendants of my grandmother and her full brother and sister and they do not share this segment. So perhaps this segment is from Fred's grandmother's other side, who lived in Budapest.

None of this rings any bells for Helen.

Then I ran Helen's kit against my mother's side and found these two segments on chromosome 7. The one on the left is about 12 cM and the one on the right is 18 cM. The matches are with one of my first cousins and his nephew. Since there are no matches with the rest of my family, this clearly appeared to be on my cousin's mother's side, where the known surnames are Kalson (or Keilson), Sadofsky and Brinn, all from Lithuania.
Then I took a more comprehensive look. The segment on the right includes five near-identical matches of nearly 8 cM with my brother, two of my sisters, my paternal second cousin Susan and Fred. And everyone triangulated with everyone else.







There seemed only three possibilities. Perhaps my maternal cousins' Lithuanian ancestors and my own Slovakian Zelinkas or Rosenzweigs had a common ancestor who left us some common DNA. Perhaps the set of seven small matches were a false segment that somehow carried through to five descendants of my great-grandparents. Or perhaps only Fred and Susan's segments are false and this segment is on my mother's side, shared with her brother's son and grandson.

That third possibility seems wrong to me. But I am not enamored of either of the others.

But Helen has one other segment that may shed some light. On chromosome 10, Helen has a segment of 15 cM with Fred and 10 cM with my cousin's nephew. And they triangulate.
It is hard to call this one false. So there really appears to be a long ago common ancestor of my Slovakians and my cousin's mother's Lithuanians.

I think. Helen, of course, has no idea.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Nava - A New Match on Chromosome 21, With A Twist

I have written in this space about my great-grandmother's chromosome 21 on several occasions, most recently barely two months ago, based on an article I wrote for the JGSGB publication Shemot.. The quick background is that two of Regina Bauer's grandchildren and three great-grandchildren match her brother's grandson on a segment of 23 cM on chromosome 21. Her known ancestral names are Bauer, Lowinger, Stern, Grunwald and Hercz from Hungarian towns south of Budapest.

Smaller matches on that same segment are three of my cousins on a different side, which are almost certainly from an ancestor they share with one another, but not with the rest of my family. Their ancestry there would be Zwiebel and Lewinter from the Tarnopol area of east Galicia.

As I wrote two weeks ago:
This is a classic case of Jewish endogamy, where my Hungarian family and my Galician cousins have some sort of common ancestor. Maybe on the Bauer side, maybe on the Stern side. Maybe on the Zwiebel side, maybe on the Lewinter side. Who knows! But a common ancestor there is – recent enough that the match between the groups survives yet far enough in the past that it predates the known geography of the families.
 My recent piece discusses the fact that I have about three dozen other people who match on that segment, the largest being Robbie whose match with Shabtai is 19 cM. Those who have responded to my inquiries have little to add to my research, though one has Bauers with different geography.

So what brings me back to this segment? A week or so ago, I received an inquiry from a woman named Nava, here in Israel, who has a match with me on MyHeritage. This is not the Nava whom I discussed in red two weeks ago, but someone else.

This is Nava's match with our group. The six with the red blobs near the top are my Bauers and the three towards the bottom are the Zwiebel/Lewinter cousins. I have labelled Shabtai and Robbie by name.
Nava's match with Shabtai is over 18 cM, nearly as large as Robbie's but a bit further to the left.

She also has matches that go further left with lines 3, 4, 5, 12 and 33. I brought that to the attention of those matches but have not heard from them. Truth be told, I do not know that I want to midwife that correspondence on my own.

But it gets better. We also have this new segment. This is a small match - just over 10 cM with Shabtai and generally barely worth mentioning. Except for one thing.
This smaller match belongs to Joseph - Nava's husband!

In fact, they have five small segments in common which indicate one or more ancestors common to both of them, but probably much further back than their own ancestral knowledge.

And of course, some of those segments may be false.

But there is more. Two weeks ago I wrote this:
When I first learned of DNAPainter.com nearly two years ago, I mapped out twelve segments where Shabtai matches multiple descendants of Regina with at least 18 cM. The largest of these are 61, 57, 47, 38 and 35 cM.  Using the “Segment Search” tool on GEDmatch Tier1 (this was previously known as “Matching Segments Search”), I was able to see other people who match those specific segments. Most of my larger segments of interest had few outside matches, but I wrote to the matches where I could and none of them knew anything helpful.
Nava's husband Joseph is the first of the matches on chromosome 21 who also matches another of my Bauer segments, in this case on chromosome 17. The matches are my father's sister and brother and three of my sisters. And of course Shabtai, who is the basis for this comparison.








Of course, I have no way of knowing - at least for now - if the segments on chromosomes 21 and 17 come from a single ancestor but the lead itself is interesting. I am waiting to hear from Nava and Joseph about their ancestral surnames and geography, but I am not optomistic. Nava keeps referring to Belarus/Lithuania.

The "Segment Search" tool gives quite a few matches on chromosome 17, all on the segment on the right in the figure above. (I ran it with a threshold of 13 cM, just to keep it manageable. There are another two dozen in the 10-13 cM range. And remember, "Matching Segments" is limited to the top ten thousand matches.)
I wrote to some of these chromosome 17 matches about two years ago. Perhaps I shall revisit these.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Vagaries of Autosomal DNA

I received Family Finder matches today for a known cousin. He is not yet part of my project so I cannot look at his matches with all the cousins together, but I did have a look at five individuals.


The first two are known first cousins to the match, and to each other.  The total cMs fall within the norm for first cousins according to Blaine's Shared cM Project.


The third match is with a half-nephew, which according to the Project is clustered with first cousins. But this match is significantly larger than the two first cousins, even a bit higher than the 95% percentile (1159 cM).

The fourth is a known second cousin - reasnable but slightly over the 95% percentile (397 cM).

The fifth is a bit of a surprise, as she is the sister of the second match at the top. Her match is more than 30% larger than his and this too is outside the 95th percentile. Her longest segment (94 cM) is about the s ame as her brother's (92 cM), so clearly there are significantly more segments. That longest segment is the same for both matches and is the segment we famously share with the descendants of Uncle Selig.

Each has segments that the other does not but clearly the sister has some very large ones, most notably 83 cM on chromosome 4, 49 cM on chromosome 11,  and 70 cM on chromosome 16.

Nothing here is out of the ordinary, but it gives me another opportunity to bang on the drum for testing everyone you can. Yes, siblings too.  They can be very different.