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.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Small But Meaningful Segments on DNA

Some short but meaningful segments, all of them about DNA.

(Note: There is now an email sign-up box, here on the right. Thanks to genealogy blogger Lara Diamond for showing me how to do that.)

Lazerizing my mother
Recreating my father's DNA using Lazerus last week was easy. I mean, he has three descendants who have tested, both his brother and his sister and one of his two living fIrst cousins. I didn't need to use the first cousins once removed and the second cousins and I still got about 62% of his 22-chromosome set.

My mother is another story. The same three descendants for Group 1, two of my sisters and I. But my mother's two brothers and two sisters predeceased her and the first yahrzeit of her last first cousin is this Wednesday evening. To top that off, Mother has only one niece and
one nephew we can work with and the nephew has not tested. We do have two of my second cousins on my grandfather's side who have tested. One on my grandmother's side has tested but I cannot get her onto GEDmatch. So all we have for Group 2 are Kay, Ruth and Judy - the last two first cousins to one another.

The resulting kit is about 36.6% of a full set of 23 chromosomes - including the X - if I have the math right. I am quite sure that we have some endogamous segments here from Ruth's father and probably from Ruth and Judy's grandfather, so maybe it's just 32% or 28 %. But since I am not planning on doing anything with my mother's kit for now, it doesn't matter.

I am just trying to get a handle on how many people we need in Group 1 and Group 2 (and how close) in order to get some meaningful results. GEDmatch will not do "one-to-many" comparisons with the Lazerus kit unless it gets over a certain threshhold and Mother's kit passes that test.

Meantime another of my sisters has ordered a test.

Matching my mother-in-law
Tuesday evening Jerusalem time, I posted the following on the Facebook pages International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) and Tracing the Tribe, as well as my own timeline.

It provoked quite a few "Likes" and comments.

My point was not to be entertaining, though it certainly got its share of yuks (and some yucks).

My point was to say something about endogamy and how and why I do what I do with autosomal DNA.

I would guess that of those using DNA for recent genealogy (not, for instance, deep ancestry or medical matters), almost all are either looking for new relatives in hopes of working their ancestry back additional generations or are looking for specific unknown individuals, as in cases of adoption and abandonment.

The problem with Jews using DNA to look for new relatives is that when you get right down to it, we are all related, very possibly in the last fifteen-twenty generations and often many fewer.

We keep marrying withing the closed tribe and we share many ancestors, not only with others but with ourselves. So when someone shows up as a suggested fourth cousin (on average about 50 cM of matching DNA), the relationship is usually composed of multiple incidents of more distant cousinhood.  Sixth, seventh and eighth cousins share on average12.5 cM, 6.25 cM and 3.125 cM so there are many ways to use small numbers to build to the 50 cM that makes it look like fourth cousins.

This is not as much of an issue with close cousins. Second cousins share an average of 200 cM, so some distant cousinhoods floating around in the background are part of the margin of error and don't really affect the larger number.

I am not looking for new relatives, nor do I have specific missing fathers or grandfathers to look for. I won't say that what I am doing is unique, but I can say that no one I know is doing it. 

My Pikholz research is single-surname. I have a number of Pikholz lines that go back to 1800-1830, three with pre-1800 patriarchs. I also have a few lines that only go back to the mid- or late-1800s because the name of the partriarch or matriarch is too common to identify further. I am using DNA to figure out how those families connect to one another back then.

Although I am still on the trail of documented proof, I have reduced the number of "free-standing" Pikholz families from Skalat by at least two and have laid the groundwork for at least four more, pending tests that are either in process or in begging-mode. I have also disproven at least two putative connections, when DNA did not show the expected results, (and not due to "false fathers").

I discussed some of that recently here and here, for instance.

This works. Slowly and carefully. Trying not to jump to conclusions. Doing my best to remain relatively free of endogamy.

Yes we are all related. But some of us are more related than others. I think I can demonstrate it. (See "Moshe Hersch" below.)

But back to my mother-in-law
Awhile back, I decided to get a DNA sample from my wife's mother, since she is the last of her siblings and on her father's side, the last of the cousins. I figured some day I might have reason to work on her family and who knows if she will be here by then.

I had no intention of doing anything but skimming the results, for now.

But her results showed matches with seven of the nine descendants of my great-grandparents, four of whom including Aunt Betty and my sister Amy are suggested third-fifth cousins. On the other hand, my sister Sarajoy is among the missing. She also matches both Kwoczka cousins, from my g-gm's family.

My mother-in-law also has remote matches with eleven other Pikholz descendants, including the putative descendant of Uncle Selig. Also Jane, who looks to be quite close to my own family.

So this really does seem focused on my personal family, probably from the Kwoczka side. She does not match any of my four first and second cousins on my mother's side.

My mother-in-law's mother was born in Przasnysz Poland and her father's family is from Kurima Slovakia. I am curious which of her sides is connected to my father's people, so I wrote to some of her first cousins on her mother's side and first cousins once and twice removed on her father's side, asking them to test. We'll see how that goes. The first three have agreed to test..

I have no idea what I am getting into with this.

Meantime, I'll let this exchange speak for itself.

Moshe Hersch
Two posts ago, I wrote about the second cousins Charles and Leonora, whose great-grandmother Sara Pikholz (~1847-1887) is the daughter of Moshe Hersch. I also wrote that the second cousins Jane and Nan are the great-granddaughters of Berish (1837-1918), whose father is also Moshe Hersch.

I suggested that these two Moshe Hersch may be the same person, which would mean that Charles and Leonora are third cousins of Jane and Nan.

At the time, we had test results from Jane, Leonora and Charles. Nan and her two children had submitted Family Finder tests. Nan's daughter's results just came in.
I couldn't have hoped for better than this
And the chromosomes look very good - see the nicely triangulated bits on 2, 16 and 20. Nan's results can only make this better.
Nonetheless, there are two things that bother me here. First, if Charles is indeed a third cousin of Jane and Nan, then their parents are second cousins. So why was there no known contact between Charles' mother in Newark and the others in the Philadelphia area either as part of the 1939 immigration or afterwards? I do not think that Charles' mother would have been closer to Sam Marenus (who assisted with her immigration) than to Jane and Nan's family. This does not necessarily indicate a problem with the "one Moshe Hersch" theory, but it does raise a small doubt.

The other is the given names. Berish has children named Olga (Alte), Anna (Chana), Fannie (??) and Odessa-born Vodolya Volodya* (Zev/Wolf). Sara, Berisch's putative sister, had Josie, Perl, Osaias, Leisor, Jenta and Taube. I would have expected at least a few names to appear in both families. Again, it proves nothing, but it makes me uncomfortable.

Small segments
In recent days, there has been quite a bit of very lively discussion on Facebook on the value of small segments of DNA in evaluating matches. The consensus is, and has loing been, that small segments are not really indicative of inherited DNA in any meaningful sense. There are, of course, differences of opinion about what size segments should be ignored because of their smallness.

Blaine Bettinger responded to the debate with a major article, full of numbers and graphs. I have not yet read it but I understand that he presents alot of statistics about the likelihood of small segments being useful and about what exactly is a  small segment.

The article has prompted a new Facebook discussion about the article itself.

It is my nature to distrust rules that put everything into a single category and that's how I feel about small segments. Sometimes they are meaningful and useful, sometimes not.

When I reconstructed my father's DNA using Lazerus (described last week in Genes From My Father), I happily accepted all small segments of whatever size because those small segments were in the DNA of at least one of his children and at least one of his brother/sister/first cousin. If I have a particular small segment, I must have received it from my parents. If my father's brother (or sister) has it as well, then it is eminently clear to me that I got it from my father and that it came to him and his brother from my grandfather. And it is not reasonable to say that a sliver of that small segment might have come from my mother, because my father's people share it.

Whether that segment came down unchanged and intact from one of my great-grandparents can be a matter of legitimate debate. Whether it came unchanged and intact from someone two-three generations further back can be a matter of legitimate doubt.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Housekeeping notes
Seven Eight Pikholz descendants, all from Skalat, have ordered Family Finder tests in the last week.

*Thanks to Liba Zilber for correcting my typing error.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Genes From My Father

My father's name
This Wednesday evening, the fifth of Kislev, my father will have been gone thirty-four years. His name is Eliezer Yitzhak. Aunt Helen called him "Leizer Yitzchok."

Based on his initials, Lawrence Irwin Pickholtz, my mother often called him "Lippy." (Actually, "Lippy dear.") What my mother didn't realize is that the standard Yiddish kinui (=nickname) for Eliezer is Lipa.

My father was named after his great-uncle Lajos/Ludwig Bauer who was a Hungarian government minister at some level and who was probably living when my father was born. He would have been two days short of forty-eight.

Simon Bauer's 1862 marriage record, naming his father Lasar
We know that my third-great-grandfather was Lasar Bauer but we have no specific knowledge that either he or Lajos/Ludwig had the second name Yitzhak. I missed the chance to ask my grandmother about that.

It is quite possible that the Yitzhak comes from my grandfather's side, as my second-great-grandfather was Isak Fischel Pikholz. My grandfather had an older brother named Eisik Fischel who died at nineteen months. So my father's second name may have come from there. Otherwise none of the descendants of my great-grandparents carry his name.
Eisik Fischel's birth record (adjusted on the page)
My father's DNA
A few weeks ago, GEDmatch came out with some new analytical tools that require a subscription. One of them - Lazerus - uses descendants and relatives who are not descendants to reconstruct the DNA of deceased people.

You enter descendants in Group 1 and non-descendants (siblings, cousins etc) in Group 2. Lazerus then assigns the reconstruction any segments that match people in both groups. The assumption is that if my aunt and I have a match, my father must have had that same segment. (I am probably over-simplifying here.)

As with all DNA issues, the more actual test results, the better.

The reconstructed kit, if large enough, can then be compared to other kits, the same way any other kit can be.

I have been talking about doing this for my great-grandparents since last summer, using the tools developed by Kitty Cooper. But Lazerus is easier, almost automatic. This is good, but also problematic, for reasons I'll explain below.

Running Lazerus for Leizer
But before I tried Lazerus on my great-grandparents, I decided to run it on my father. (The irony of using Lazerus to reconstruct the DNA of someone named Leizer was not lost on me.)

I hope the explanation is not too technical and that I make myself understood, to both the laymen and the citizen-scientists among my readers.

I have three descendants for Group 1 - two of my sisters and me. (A third sister said she will test, but hasn't done so yet.) For Group 2, I used the kits of my father's sister and brother, Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob, and their first cousin Herb. (There is one other living first cousin and I am working on him to test.)

There are several others a bit more distant whom I could have used, but I decided to start conservatively in order to reduce the possibility of endogamy. If, for instance, I were to include my second cousin Terry or my father's second cousin Bruce in Group 2, I would be taking the chance that their mothers have some kind of match with us via my mother and that would find its way into my father's Lazerus kit where it doesn't belong.

Herb and Kay (Surely no one in our family has ever referred to those two cousins together!)
The way I set it up, the only person who could have that endogamous match would be Cousin Herb. So to check that out, I looked for segments where Herb matches my first cousin Kay, whose mother is my mother's sister. There are five such segments.
Matching segments - Herb and Kay

On the first segment on chromosome 3, Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob both match my sisters and me, so we don't need Herb's match.

On the second match on chromosome 3, Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob do not match us, so this segment is disqualified from the Lazerus because it is based solely on Herb's match with my mother's side.

On chromosome 7, we have the same thing. That segment has to be disqualified.

The segment on chromosome 20 is covered by Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob.

The segment on chromosome 12 is more complicated. Part of the Herb-Kay match is covered by Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob, but a bit at the beginning is not.

I cannot be precise, but it looks like I should remove 2100-2200 SNPs from the Lazerus kit that was generated for my father. If there were a way to do so. (GEDmatch does not offer a mechanism to remove - or add - specific segments.)

The total Lazerus kit has 666,901 SNPs, so we are talking here about less than a third of one percent, so the Lazerus kit for my father is essentially free from endogamy.

I'll spare you the math, but the kit has about 62% of a full set of twenty-two (X2) chromosomes. Others may have more or less.

A second trial kit
I then ran a second kit for my father, but I added six other people to Group 2 - a child of each of three of his first cousins and three more distant cousins. Those have a higher likelihood of introducing segments that should not be there. That kit has about 1.24% more SNPs than the first kit. That increase hardly seems worth the bother, so I decided to stick with the first kit.

Very small segments
Let me clarify one other point. Generally, when we compare peoples' DNA to one another, we ignore the really small segments. Where we draw the line is a matter of personal preference, but most choose somewhere between 6 and 10 cM as a lower limit and reject anything smaller. In this case, I decided to accept all the small segments since we are talking about known close relationships, where the small segments would have certainly been passed on from the previous generation. It doesn't matter if they are not relevant to three-four generations back.

In any case, it would not be significant. I have only one segment smaller than 7 cM  matching the Lazaerus kit. My sister Sarajoy also has only one and my sister Amy has three. Not much to be concerned about there.

Analyzing the Lazerus kit
So how do I analyze my father's kit once I have it? And why is it significantly different from what I can do with the kits of Aunt Betty or Uncle Bob? I am not sure about the second question, but I can show you some of what I did.

I ran my father's kit - remember it's not a full kit - in GEDmatch and of the fifteen hundred matches, I pulled out the twenty-five that are part of my own project.

Those twenty-five break down as follows:
The descendants of my great-grandparents - 9
Kwoczka cousins (my g-gm's side) - 2 (Bruce and Pinchas)
Descendants of my g-gf's sisters - 1 (Ralph)
Other Skalat Pikholz - 8
Other Pikholz - 3
My mother's Jaffe cousins - 2
I ran a chromosome browser with those twenty-five. What I would really like to do is to see how the other Skalaters might fit together, but I am not really sure how best to do that.

In any case, here are a few of my father's matches, by chromosome. The colors indicate the quality of the match for each segment.

The order of the matches as displayed is different for each chromosome. (Note to GEDmatch: It would be easier to read if the order stayed the same throughout.)

On chromosome 1, as on most of these charts, the top five are my sisters and I, Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob. The order of the basic five is not important. We do see that they line up pretty well with one another.

Line 6 is my second cousin Rhoda and 7 is my father's cousin Herb. Line 8 is Micha from Rozdol. Line 9 is Charles, a Skalat cousin whom I wrote about a few days ago, who should be moderately close to us. Line 10 is the putative great-grandson of Uncle Selig.

There is a nice set of overlapping matches on lines 13-17. Line 13 is Ralph, which should identify this segment as Pikholz rather than Kwoczka. Jane is 14, my cousin Lee is 15, 16 is Gene from the Irene family and 17 is Lloyd. (Some of these names should be familiar to you from my previous post, where I identified them in detail.)

Lots of other small scattered matches.

In chromosome 3, the first eight are the basic five plus Herb and my cousins Terry and Rhoda, followed by my cousin Lee on line 11. In between, on lines 9 and 10 are the two Jaffe cousins on my mother's side. I do not believe this is an error of endogamy, but rather a legitimate very old connection between the families. One or both of the Jaffes appear in other chromosomes as well.

Line 12 is from Uncle Selig.

There seems to be a bit of grouping at the bottom right, involving a group of Skalater Pikholz  descendants. Here too we see Micha on line 19. He seems to have some round-the-back connection to the Skalat Pikholz families.

On chromosome 7, we have something interesting. Directly after the basic five comes my second cousin Lee and there is a significant segment on the far left that includes mainly those six people. Lee's grandfather is my grandfather's brother, but our grandmothers are sisters. So my guess here is that this segment - which has no other Pikholz matches of note - is from our grandmothers' side - the Rosenzweigs (or Bauers or Sterns or Zelinkas).

On chromosome 18, lines 7 and 10 are the Kwoczka cousins Bruce and Pinchas. We can safely say that those segments come from my great-grandmother's Kwoczka side rather from my great-grandfather's Pikholz side. We have the same phenomenon on other chromosomes, particularly for Bruce, who is my father's second cousin. (Pinchas is one generation later.)

 Finally, chromosome 19, where we have the basic five followed by Herb and Lee, taking up almost the entire chromosome. The important one here is line 9, where Ralph claims that segment as Pikholz, rather than Kwoczka.

The longish segment on line 8 is Gene from the Irene family. His third cousin Bonnie is on line 11.

All this is mostly experimental. The real test will come from a look at the great-grandparents. Lazerus or no, it still may make sense to copy some of these segments into Kitty Cooper';s Chromosome Mapper for the great-grandparents.

Moving on to the great-grandparents
As I said, what I really want to do is Lazerize my great-grandparents, Hersch Pickholz and Jutte Lea Kwoczka. Both parents of Hersch Pickholz are named Pikholz and if I can recreate a significant amount of his DNA, I can compare that to other Skalat Pikholz families, as well as the Rozdol Pikholz descendants and the set of non-Pikholz who have joined our project.

I discussed this subject three months ago when I wanted to do this using Kitty Cooper's Segment Mapper. This was a difficult task and in any case, there was no easy way to compare other people to the finished product.

This is no simple matter because although we have tests for nine descendants of Hersch and Jutte Lea, we have only one relative on his side and two on hers to help distinguish between them. And there is the matter of endogamy - having to try to figure out whose matches might be from another direction.

I am also thinking about whether it is right to include my father's kit in my ggps Lazerus - or whether it makes a difference in the results.

Lazerus kits are easy to compare, so that problem is solved, but the problem of distinguishing between my two great-grandparents remains. And checking for endogamy is both an uncertain task and a tedious one.

Also note that Lazerus looks for matches between the segments in Group1 (the descendants) and those in Group 2 without our having any control. When I was doing it with Kitty Cooper's Segment Mapper, I could look at each potential match and decide if it was good enough for me.

The great-grandparents is the next big project on my list.

My thanks to Curtis and Jon at GEDmatch, to Jim Bartlett and to Rebekah Canada for comments along the way. And, as always, to all the cousins who have tested.

Housekeeping notes
FamilyTree DNA is having a sale on DNA tests and upgrades.   A good explantion of all the options is here. Order here.

One Pikholz has already ordered a Family Finder at the sale price..

There is now a dedicated Facebook group for GEDmatch Lazarus tool.

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.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pikholz in the Land of the Czechs

Those who see my postings on Facebook are aware that I found a new Pikholz branch two weeks ago.

First there was this. The remark about none in the US turned out to be wrong.

(These were all on my personal "status." I also posted on Tracing the Tribe and elsewhere, so there are many more "Likes" and comments than just these.)

Then these.
So let me share some of what I have learned and what I am thinking.

My starting point was Milton in Australia who had posted a tree on Ancestry. His great-grandparents were Eisig Baar and Sarah Pickholz who lived in Hranice Czechoslovakia (known as Mährisch Weisskirchen in German), 150 miles from Prague. They had twelve children who reached adulthood and there was no mention of any children who died young. Milton shared a photograph taken in 1892 showing the parents and all twelve children, the youngest maybe a year old.

Milton is the grandson of Emil.

The Ancestry tree listed the children in near-alphabetical order, though there were names on the photograph.

The tree on Ancestry was light on specifics, but Milton also forwarded some information recorded by a cousin, with a bit more detail. That cousin said he thought there was a thirteenth child.

My first assumption was that Sarah must have come from east Galicia - near either Skalat or Rozdol, where all the Pikholz families lived in the mid-1800s - and perhaps the Baars' first children were born there.

So I had a look at the JRI-Poland database and turned up three births to Eisig and Sura Baar in Jagielnica, not far from Skalat. Rifka was born in 1865, Roise in 1867 and Juda in 1869. I could not be certain that this was the family we wanted. But when I saw the photograph, it was clear that the four eldest children were Regina, Rosa, Julius and Gustav (who was born in 1874, according to the Ancestry tree), so that looked like an excellent fit.
Documents that I found later stated that the family had indeed lived in Jagielnica.

So far, nothing with the name "Pickholz," but the family's word was good enough. For now.

As far as living descendants, Milton knew of three grandchildren of Josef Baar, one in England and two in Canada. For sport, I checked JewishGen's Family Finder and turned up two results, one looking for Baar in Vienna. He had registered with JGFF in March 2011  and hadn't checked back in since April of that year. Not promising.

But in fact, this American is the grandson of Gustav and he is now participating in our discussions. The three grandchildren of Josef are not. Yet.

It was not clear at all who Sarah is within the Pikholz structure. I had a look at my Given Name Analysis and saw only one Sara who was even remotely possible and she was married to an Eisig. They were listed as the parents of a Dwory Pikholz who had children in Skalat in the period 1877-1893. Could this Dwory be the missing thirteenth child? She looked a bit too old for this family. Dwory has children named Sure and Eisig, born while the Baar parents were still alive, so it is unlikely that this is the same couple.

So I see no obvious candidates for Sarah's parents or siblings.

My next step was to find some documentation for Milton's tree. I  contacted Traude Triebel of the Austrian site GenTeam. Traude had helped me with several Viennese questions recently and promptly came up up with marriage records for Gustav and Moritz and several Holocaust-related documents. Gustav's marriage record showed his Jewish name to be Gabriel and his birth year 1872. Moritz was Moshe and he was born 1874 - so the photograph label identifying him as a young boy sitting on the floor was incorrect.

Traude also provided a 1908 death record for Isaak Baar, who appears to be our Eisig. No death record for Sarah and no birth record for any of her post-1876 children, where we would expect to see her parents' names. 

I inquired about Czech records on Tracing the Tribe and Raymond Minkus sent me to Václav Bednář in Hranice who provided me with more than two dozen images. There were no birth records, but a police record for Moritz from 1941 lists his mother as Rosalie Pikholz. I suspect that Sarah died and Rosalie was a second wife of Eisig, but I cannot say for certain. Other documents referred to the family's business and professional lives. Marcel Elias lent a hand in translation.

I found nearly eighty records of interest at Yad Vashem, though some of those were other Baars who might be interesting to that side of the family, not to me. Many of the family - both from Hranice and from Prague - were sent to Theresienstadt. Some remained there and others were killed in Auschwitz, Maly Trostinez and Lodz.

Much of the Baar family did not self-identify as Jews and had intermarried, but that did not save them.

Four of the records from Yad Vashem were for Milton's father Hans Milosch Baar. (The Arolsen records are in a German Soundex, which means among other things that every Hans is listed under Johann, even if Johann is not his actual name.)
These cards show an inquiry by Hans' brother-in-law in Australia and his subsequent passage there in 1948.

Milton's mother writes:
Hans grew up to never be sure of what he had, and felt very insecure. This went on into his adult life because of the Depression and later because of the Hitler oppression. He did not believe in thinking of or preparing for "the future". It was "what you had today" that counted. Have it NOW, spend it NOW, enjoy it NOW. For him there was no "tomorrow". That is how he came to have the nick-name "Tobby". He was known by his family and friends to say each day - "Well, is it To be or not To be" - in reference to whether he would be able to eat that day, get or keep a job that day, or later on to survive that day. He was eventually known jocularly as "To be", and he spelt it as Tobby. When he came to Australia he was naturalised as Hans Milosch Baar (known as Tobby Milton Baar) and on all legal documents became Tobias Milton Baar.
We are still working on all these documents and other aspects of the Baar family, but in the meantime, I think I figured out who Sarah is.

Four months ago, I wrote here about the RISS family and the seven children of Breine Riss, the daughter of Gabriel Riss and Ryfka Pikholz. Breine's children were born in the 1860s and 1870s and five of them have names that appear among the twelve Baars. There is nothing remarkable about two families with children named Rifka, Rosa, Josef and Moshe, but when both start with Rifka and both have a Gabriel, it is worth considering that these may be Sarah's parents, not just Breine's.

Add to that the fact that Breine has grandaughters named for her in 1888 and 1889 and Sarah's youngest is Berta.

I am trying to get a few members of both families to do Family Finder tests. We have great-grandchildren of both Sarah and Breine and third cousins is easily within the scope of autosomal DNA.

In addition, there is a family story that the Baars came to Poland from Spain, so I suggested to Milton that he might want to do a Y test as well.