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.