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.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Which Markus? And How Many Daughters Did Lot Have?

It sometimes sounds as though this is a blog about DNA in genealogy, but it really isn't. Sometimes I write about records. This is one of those times.

This is a Vienna death record from 1915.

And here are the important parts, a bit larger.

Markus Pickholz died 1 May 1915 (Shabbat) and was buried Monday.
He came from a town called Gaje Wielkie and he was twenty-four years old.

There is no further identifying information.

But we have someone who pretty much fits the description.
I moved the record closer to the headings for convenience.

Markus Pikholz born 15 March 1889 to Sussel Gruberg and Josef Pikholz in Bereszow Wielkie, which is very close to Tarnopol. This is probably a grandson of Uncle Selig, as I discussed two months ago.

He would have been nearly twenty-six at the time of the death in Vienna, but we needn't quibble about that.

Except for one thing. We have another candidate.

This Markus Pickholz was born 6 November 1892 to Esther Zellermayer (who had a Pikholz grandmother) and Isaac Pickholz in Gaje Bereszow, also quite near Tarnopol. He would have been twenty-two when the Vienna death occurred.

So one is between one and two years too old and one is between one and two years too young.

We want someone from Gaje Wielkie - the two we have are from Bereszow Wielkie and Gaje Bereszow.

I consulted with Alexander Sharon, JewishGen's expert on small towns in Galicia but none the towns he came up with are near Tarnopol.

So which of these two Markus Pickholz died in his early twenties in Vienna? And perhaps more important, what happened to the other one?

There is one possibility that comes to mind. About seven months ago, I wrote about Zisl Kling, whose parents are an unknown couple named Mordecai and Sarah Pickholz. At the time, I suggested that Zisl's mother Sarah was the Pickholz and that her father's surname was Ladre or Laderer. But what if that is wrong and Mordecai is the Pickholz? Zisl was born 1920 and she had a sister a few years older, so one of these two Markus could be her father.

In fact, we have a DNA test from the grandson of the 1889 Markus, so a test by Zisl's daughter might clear that up. I'll have to approach her about that.
Lot's daughters
This past Shabbat, we had a kiddush in shul for the hattanim from Simhat Torah, of which I was one. Each of us spoke briefly and I took on a question based on two of my favorite subjects - genealogy and Biblical punctuation.

The week's reading included the rescue of Lot from Sodom.

There is some debate among the commentaries about whether Lot, Abraham's nephew, had two married daughters in addition to the two unmarried who are mentioned specifically both before and after the destruction of Sodom.

There are three relevant verses: 12, 14 and 15.

(There is also a suggestion by the Midrash that the reason Abraham stopped bargaining when he reached ten righteous people, was because he figured that he had ten - Lot and his wife, the four daughters and their two husbands and two fiances.)

In verse twelve, the mention of son-in-law, sons and daughters seems to imply the existence of grandchildren from daughters, for if it referred to Lot's sons, they would have been mentioned before the son(s)-in-law.

Verse fourteen mentions "his sons-in-law the takers of his daughters" and there is some debate about whether that means "and the takers" or "who took."

Verse fifteen verse says "Take your wife and your two daughters who are here," perhaps implying that there are specifically daughters who are not present.

The Biblical puntuation on verse fifteen clarifies that it does not specifically mean additional daughters, but does not rule it out. The Biblical punctuation in verse fourteen comes down pretty clearly on the side of only the two unmarried daughters.

The above is based on a piece by my teacher Michael Perlman.

Housekeeping notes
The Israel Genealogical Society is planning to resurrect the Jerusalem chapter with a two-day program on 3-4 December. The program will include the IGS annual meeting. I am not sure how involved I will be in that.

The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies has issued a Call for Papers for the Conference that is planned for next summer, here in Jerusalem. It will be five days instead of the usual six and the presentations will be forty-five minutes including questions, instead of seventy-five minutes including questions. I think I am going to pass this year.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

A Salk Guinea Pig On Tier1's Relationship Tree Projection

The GEDmatch Relationship Tree projection
Last week, I wrote about the Matching Segment Search offered by GEDmatch on its new subscription program, Tier1.

Kitty Cooper has blogged about the triangulation feature. Blaine Bettinger has blogged about a tool they call Lazerus, that recreates the DNA of ancestors based on the tests of living descendants and has put together a Facebook group to work with it.
That leaves the Relationship Tree projection.

This tool was on GEDmatch until a few years ago, but was removed because it was not really ready for prime time. There were, however, people who had used it with success, so it was revived as part of Tier1 due to popular demand.

Nonetheless, it is a work in progress, not a polished finished product.

The Relationship Tree projection is basically a calculator, using self-reported data rather than data that is drawn directly from the database. The results, therefore, are displayed very quickly. It also means that the user must be careful that the numbers are entered correctly.

I cannot get Blogger to show the entry form properly, so you'll have to take my word for the fact that it requires the following information:
  1. The numbers of the kits being compared and the sexes of the people
  2. The total cM and longest segment in the match
  3. The total cM and longest segment in the X chromosomes
  4. Which of the two kits is an older person and by how much
You can also add the names of the people being compared and there is a box for comments at the bottom of the page. These are optional.

I ran my own kit against four other people - my father's first cousin Herb, my no-closer-than-fourth cousin Dalia, my indeterminate but fairly close cousin Jane and my probably-about-fifth cousin Jacob. I have perfect Y-37 matches with Dalia and Jacob, but these are not considered by the calculator.

The calculator determined that Herb is indeed my first cousin once removed.

The calculater shows Dalia and Jacob to be my second cousins once removed and Jane to be my third cousin. These results are way too close and are no doubt a result of our Jewish endogamy, which the calculator does not consider.

The three results other than Herb also showed a very long vertical, multiple-path chart that I could not even see well, let alone understand. It is way too long to show here.

I ran my comments past the developers, John and Curtis, and John added two things I did not know:
To work properly, the 2 kits being used should have non-zero X-DNA comparison results.  Otherwise, the number of possible paths becomes very large.
Entries in the "comments" box are not used by the software. They were intended to be feedback to us during the development process, but quite frankly no development has been done for several years.
The fact that this tool was returned to the site because users found it useful means that there are users who found it useful. You can hardly argue with that, ready for prime time or not..

If you have significant amounts of endogamy in your family, this is probably not for you.

The calculator is "a work in progress," but that does not mean that is being worked on at this time. The developers themselves refer to it as "experimental."

John and Curtis are very responsive within what their time and resource constraints permit. Not everything is going to be useful for everyone. Knowing that something is not is also useful knowledge. I can hardly complain when three out of four tools are useful.

Guinea pigs for Dr. Salk
On the occasion of last week's one hundredth birthday of the great Dr. Jonas Salk (thanks to Google Doodle for pointing that out), please indulge me a bit of personal recollection.

From the National Registry of Historic Places
I attended first grade at Dilworth School in Pittsburgh in the 1953-54 school year. (I am quite certain about that because we moved and changed schools at the end of that year.) Dilworth was - and still is - at 6200 Stanton Avenue, on the corner of Collins Avenue, backing onto Saint Marie Street.

We lived in easy walking distance, at 6401 Stanton Avenue.

One day, someone came into our classroom and told us that we were to be given a new shot that was supposed to prevent some illness that most of us had never heard of. Polio, they said. As they passed out the parental permission slips, most of the children began crying - no six year old ever liked shots. Most cried, but not all.
Miss Merritt and her first grade class

I didn't cry. I was not concerned in the least. I hated shots, but whenever I had an injection of penicillin, Mother would say something like "It's for your own good. We don't enjoy this either. YOU KNOW WE WOULD NEVER ALLOW YOU TO HAVE A SHOT IF YOU WEREN'T SICK." And there it was. I wasn't sick, so there would be no shot for me.

And that evening at home, they signed the paper. It was years before I truly believed them again.

That was only the first part of the trauma. The day of the shots itself seem to have been designed to create the greatest amount of hysteria. First of all, they led us to the gym. That huge room with the fancy wood floor that no first grade shoe was ever allowed to touch. The only other time we had been there, we were in socks.

And so not to contaminate the floor further, they lined us up single file along one wall. The wall was on our left and we were as close to it as they could get us. And as we looked towards the head of the long line of children ahead of us, we saw a large table with medical personnel in white gowns and these large tubes of blood hanging from racks.

No one had said anything about blood!

We watched in horror as each child came up to the table, received an injection from what looked like a really fierce needle, then extended an arm and had their arms tied with rubber straps to make another cup for Dracula. Some of the children yelled and thrashed and had to be restrained throughout the process.

And we all watched.

And moved another couple of feet closer to the table.


No doubt some screamed when it was their turn, just because they thought it was expected.

I have no recollection of subsequent years. I was in a different school and do not even remember where the injections were administered.

Years later, when Pitt had some kind of ceremony marking fifty years since those first school injections, I first learned that we had been guinea pigs. I supposed it was common knowledge by then, but not for me. They knew the vaccine itself was safe, but there were some questions about effective and safe dosage. Hence the blood tests. Somehow I doubt that was on the permission slip that my parents signed.