Thursday, March 30, 2017

Striking Out in Subcarpathia

I have addressed the possibility that my Pikholz line lived in Subcarpathia (Ukraine) back in the 1700s when it was Hungary. For instance here.

I updated it last summer in three sections beginning with "Heritage Subcarpathia" in which the theory seems to become real.

To review, here are the basics.

  • We do not know how long our family has been in Galicia or where we were before that.
  • Ron McComb pointed me to Vyshkovo in Subcarpathia regarding his mother-in-law's Pikholcz Hungarian family. Maybe we lived on their land and took their surname.
  • I attended the inaugural meeting of the Subcarpathian SIG at the IAJGS Conference six years ago. (I can't attend this year as it conflicts with one of my own presentations.)
  • Lara Diamond's Subcarpathian Project has a load of Pikkel and Pikel in two towns very close to Vyshkovo. At her urging, I had a look and made a preliminary tree of them.
  • I began looking for Subcarpathian Pikkel descendants to do Y-37 tests to see if they match ours.
  • Rachel Unkefer's Y-DNA project showed people who match me closely (in Y-DNA terms) in the same area, particularly Berehova. My best match there is with a Spira.
  • There are two Spiras with perfect Y-DNA matches to us - one at Y-67 and one at Y-37 - and another one step away at Y-67. No other match is closer than two steps.

  • One of the Pikkels (now Pickel with the accent on the second syllable) agreed to test and I took his DNA when I was in Chicago last summer.

New developments
The Chicago test shows haplogroup R-M269, which is the same as ours, but there is no match due to the more specific characteristics. He may be relevant for other projects, but not Rachels's and certainly not to the specifics of the Pikholz-Spira group.

I wasn't ready to give up on the Pikkels and kept chasing after potential matches, particularly on Facebook. Eventually, I got a bite. My contact was through his mother and he agreed to my sending him a test. I feared it might be a waste and he would match the Pickel test, not ours.

Today we saw results. My fears were well-founded. He and Mr. Pickel are in the same group, one step apart. No match to us.

So much for that strategy. I need a new one. Patience, perhaps. I am not giving up on anything even though I haven't a clue how to best proceed.

Housekeeping notes  
For the first time, I am actually thinking about checking into the conference hotel Friday.
Dates and times for the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have been published. Here are mine.
 –   Monday 24 July 9:45-11:00, Room Swan 9  
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove
–   Monday 24 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey
Tuesday 25 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy
–    Wednesday 26 July 8:15-9:30, Room Swan 8
Why Did My Father Know That His Grandfather Had An Uncle Selig?

Plans for my Slovakia/Hungary trip with cousins Linda and Cyndi are moving along. I am stopping in Nuremberg on the way to see my newfound Rosenbloom second cousin Inna and her family. Then meeting up with Linda and Cyndi in Prague four weeks from today (Thursday). Meeting a couple of Zelinka cousins in Prague, as well.
Nuremberg to Prague is by bus. The rest we'll be driving.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Violating My Own Rule? - Mina's Parents

Israel's Rule
There is a presentation that I have given a few times and will be reprising (with updates and revisions) at the IAJGS Conference in Orlando, called

Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

which explores the question "What do you do when the hard proofs just aren't there, but you are as sure as you can be what they would show if you could find them?" An integral part of that presentation is this slide.
That "one more piece of evidence" is often no simple matter.

Rita's Family
Rita and I go back to the beginning of the Pikholz Project. Her Pikholz family is from the Skalat area, like mine, and she knew most of the descendants of her great-grandfather Arie Leib Pikholz and his wife Ricie Epstein, including those here on the right.

Sara Beile, also known as Soltche, went to the United States in 1907.

Sophie's husband went to the US in 1909 and went back to bring his wife and daughter. Chaje's husband (Rita's grandfather) went to the US in 1913. Apparently the plan was that Sophie's family and Chaje and her daughter would follow soon after, but the First World War intervened and travel was impossible.

In the meantime, Sophie's husband died and eventually the two sisters, each with a daughter, sailed to the US on the Aquitania, arriving at Ellis Island 22 February 1921.

Note that Sophie and Mina are Pickholtz. That's because Sophie's husband was her cousin, Solomon Pikholz. Ray and Mina's daughter "GGR" (the fake name she used on her DNA test) thought that Sophie and Solomon were first cousins, but there was no documentation and no one had any idea who his parents were.

(On the right are Ricie, Chaja, Arie Leib, Sophie and Mina, about 1911.)

I dealt with that like this:
That's how this has stood for years.

Solomon and Sophie get married
Last week, Mark Halpern announced some new records in the JRI-Poland index and while looking at them, I noticed some records that I had downloaded earlier but had not gotten around to recording - or even looking at.  This, for instance.
Groom: Salomon Pikholz, son of Ojzer Pikholz and Chaja Dwora Zlotnik, born 28 February 1879.
Bride: Sossie Epstein, daughter of Ryssi Epstein and Leib Pikholz, born 1880. (She herself said 1881.)

Hey, I know these people! Not only that, but I know him from before.
A birth record for Salmen, same mother, same birthdate.

And the same father acknowledging paternity.

We have two older sons for this couple, both known only by their death records - Jacob who died in 1900 at age 34 and Isak who died in 1882 at age ten.

Based on the eldest known son's birth in 1866, Ojzer was probably born about 1841. As it happens, we have no other Ojzer, but we do
have an Ajzer, who died in Vienna 21 April 1893 at age 51. So he was born about 1842. Vienna records show he was from Kozivka, which is where Arie Leib's family lived. 

He is buried in an unmarked grave.

Right about here.

So it looks like Arie Leib's mystery brother is Ojzer, buried in Vienna. What's the story? The family moved to Vienna, the father died and the son went back to Galicia to be raised by a family member? Maybe that'e why Rita's cousin Benny (Ray's brother) "knew" that Solomon's father was Arie Leib's brother Simon. Because he raised him? Simon had a son Ojser born 1893 in Kozowka, so that actually makes sense.

"My grandparents were cousins"
When I first met some of the Rozdol Pikholz descendants, they all knew to tell me that their grandparents, Berisch and Golda, were both Pikholz. First cousins, in fact.

But as I proceeded to document the family, that turned out not to be the case. Isak and Pinchas were not brothers and their wives had nothing to do with one another or with the Pikholz family.

Isak's parents are Dawid and Serka and Pinchas' parents are Hersch Leib and Sara. Berisch and Golde are not first cousins. They may well be second cousins, but I cannot even prove that beyond a doubt.
Which brings us back to Mina's parents Sophie and Solomon. Everyone says they were first cousins. But maybe not. No one - except Mina as a child - knew Solomon, who had died in Europe. Maybe "cousins" was understood to be first cousins but was actually second cousins or first cousins once removed. Or even uncle and niece.

More than likely they were indeed first cousins, but as I say so often, once I write that down, the subject will be closed and no one will even re-examine it. So which of these do I choose? 
 Even if I am really really convinced, my own rule says "one more piece of evidence." 

Might DNA help?
There are three people in this close family who have done autosomal tests - Rita, Mina's daughter "GGR" and Ray's daughter Thelma. Before we factor in Mina's double dose of Pikholz DNA, the three are simply second cousins to one another. GGR is also a third cousin to the other two.

The wiki at the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) tells us that a typical second cousin match would be 212.5 cM. All three matches here are well above that, moreso than I would expect from second cousins, even in an endogamous population.

I am in the midst of preparing some new statistics from my own families for Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Project, and of seventy-three pairs of known second cousins, I am seeing an average of 395 cM total and an average longest segment of 50 cM. Rita's match with GGR is 30% above my average for total cM and Thelma's two matches are very close to my average.

Mina's father, Solomon Pikholz
So GGR's double dose of Pikholz DNA does not show up at all with Thelma and I really cannot say if the 513 cM that GGR shares with Rita says anything about the degree of cousinhood of GGR's grandparents. There is nothing here that qualifies as "one more piece of evidence." But I have no idea where such evidence might come from.

So although I now know that Solomon's parents are Ojzer Pikholz and Chaya Dwora Zlotnik,  I cannot in good conscience say that Ojser is definitely the brother of Arie Leib. Though I am pretty sure he is. But both Rita and Mina's grandson are really quite certain they are, so I guess I will go with it - rule or no rule.

As an aside, Rita wondered if the 1914 marriage was an actual marriage or just one to "regulate" an earlier Jewish marriage, perhaps in preparation for emigration. (After all, Mina was born in 1903!) This is easily settled.
Please click so you can see this properly.
Solomon's 1909 passenger list says he is married to Sophia and he is going to his sister-in-law, Soltche. So Solomon and Sophie were married by 1909 and the 1914 marriage was indeed a formality. Rita says it probably had to with his having been drafted and she needed the formal marriage to get spousal benefits.

Housekeeping notes
Dates and times for the 37th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy have been published. Here are mine.

 –   Monday 24 July 9:45-11:00, Room Swan 9  
Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove
–   Monday 24 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey
Tuesday 25 July 2:00-3:15, Room Osprey 2’s Lazarus Tool As It Applies to Two Kinds of Endogamy
–    Wednesday 26 July 8:15-9:30, Room Swan 8
Why Did My Father Know That His Grandfather Had An Uncle Selig?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

For the doubters on this morning's post

This morning I posted about a problem I am having with FTDNA results that appear to be skewed in favor of more recent tests.

There are doubters who think that all these odd results are within the norm.

Here is some additional detail. Not comprehensive, mind you, but enough in my mind to make the point.

Dan has a match with someone named MG who is called 2-3 cousin. The match is 135 cM with a longest segment of 12 cM. 

Amy has 139 cM and a longest of 15 cM and is called a 3-5 cousin. Sarajoy has 139 cM with a longest segment of 12 cM. She is called 4th cousin-remote cousin.

Dan has a 2-4 match with a fellow named Mark. The total is 143 cM and the longest is 8 cM.

Jean has 149 cM with a longest of 23. She is called a 3-5 cousin. Sarajoy has 145 cM total with a longest of 8 cM. She is called 5th cousin-remote cousin.

These are unambiguously wrong.

You cannot convince me that Michael and Dan who match with 135 cM and a longest of 9 cM  can be called 2-3 cousins, when the same Michael matches Jean and Sarajoy with 131 cM and a longest of 9 cM are 5th cousins-remote cousins.


Six Siblings - Part Three: Close Matches

Something is wrong with the matches at Family Tree DNA. At least with the matches they call "Close Matches," which is what they define as "2nd Cousin - 3rd Cousin."

For the last year or more, I have been getting project administrator notices like this

that appear to be seriously skewed towards the newer tests. That is, one sibling who tested recently seems to be getting lots of these while others who tested earlier are getting many fewer. I discussed this with Janine at RootsTech and she sent me to the Help Desk people. All they have been able to say - and I paraphrase here - is that different siblings match different ways.

But this evades the question.

Just to make it clear, everyone I am discussing here has the same settings for notifications, but that shouldn't even matter. It's not a matter of notifications, it's a matter of the actual matches.

I ran the numbers for three sets of full siblings - my paternal second cousins Marshal and Lee, my maternal second cousins Sam and Beverly and my own siblings, a group of six. I could have done Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob, but neither of them is what I'd call a recent test.

I looked at the matches through the filter shown on the right.

I removed the known cousins who are third cousins or closer from the numbers below, though it really shouldn't matter.

The absolute numbers are large, but this an endogamous population.

Lee's test was received at FTDNA on 2 April 2014. He has 41 close matches.

His brother Marshal's was received nearly two years later on 11 February 2016. He has 89 close matches.

89 vs 41. Hmmm. More than twice as many. Maybe it's an outlier.

Sam's test was received 12 January 2015 and he has 29 close matches.

His sister Beverly's test was received 5 December 2016, also nearly two years later. She has 95 close matches. More than three times as many as Sam. Another outlier?

My brother Dan's test was received in Houston on 7 January 2017. He has 103 close matches.

The dates and numbers for the rest of us:
  • Sarajoy 8 July 2014, 31 close matches.
  • Amy 9 July 2014, 30 close matches.
  • Jean 31 December 2014, 26 close matches.
  • Judith 5 February 2015, 27 close matches.
  • My own kit was received 30 March 2011 but that was for my Y and MtDNA tests. My first autosomal matches were 13 May 2012. I have 22 close matches.

I'm no statistician but it appears obvious that the recent tests are getting close matches that the earlier ones are not getting. The siblings angle isn't the issue - it's just the way to make the proof argument.

I can't be the only person with results like this. What say the rest of you who have tested full siblings, both recently and say two years ago?

If it's just me, they can try to ignore me.
And if two people do it, in harmony, they can try to ignore both of us.
And if three people do it! ... They may think it's an Organization!
And can you imagine fifty people a day? I said FIFTY people a day.... Friends, They may think it's a MOVEMENT,
How about it, FTDNA? What's wrong and how are you going to fix it?

Previous posts in the Six Siblings series are here and here.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

New Skalat Records from the Excel File

About two months ago, Mark Halpern of JRI-Poland sent me a spreadsheet with 695 Skalat deaths during 1908-1915. That list includes sixteen people named Pikholz and at least two other Pikholz family members with a different surname. Most of the sixteen are listed without names of parents or spouses, so it is not always clear who the deceased is. The index also does not include towns of origin, at least not for our entries, but those may appear on the actual records.

The entries have ages, of course, and also house numbers. The actual records have always had house numbers, but they were usually not included in the index.

One of those records solved a major issue for me and I discussed it here.

Mark tells me that these records will probably be indexed and uploaded to JRI-Poland in another month or so, but in the meantime, I have done what I can with what I have. (The Excel files are sent to town leaders and donors in advance of the indexing, so you might want to consider donations for your towns of interest.)

The headings on the latest Excel file
(There is also a list of 1152 Skalat births for 1898-99, but there appear to be no Pikholz listed.)

Aside from the one I wrote about last month, several of the 1908-1915 raise some interesting questions, so I want to describe them all here, the interesting and the children who only interested their immediate families.

I have not updated the website with this new information and new people. I think I'll wait until I can get the actual records.

Szymon Pickholz, d. 1908
This man died in house 899 at age 78. So he would have been born about 1830, though we should not assume ages on death records to be precise. We do not have other Pikholz records in this house.

We know of one Shimon Pikholz from Skalat born before 1879 and whose death is not more or less known. That one was married to Dwore Waltuch who died ar twenty-three in 1861 after bearing two children. Shimon then married her younger sister Chana. Chana went to New Jersey in 1892 and four of her children lived there as well. Her youngest was born in 1885 in Skalat.

Three of those children had at least one son, all born in New Jersey. One was born in 1933 and was named Shimon; he was his father's only son. One was born in 1906, was named Shalom after Shimon's brother and was called Samuel in the US. One was born in 1901 and was named Sam, but we have no idea what his Jewish name was.

I had always assumed that Chana went to the US after her husband died (why no death record circa 1890?) and that Sam (1901) was likely named for him. I always wondered why the one born in 1906 was not named for his grandfather Shimon. So now I have exchanged that question for another - assuming that this 1908 death record is this Shimon, why did his whole family go to the US in the early 1890s, while he stayed behind for at least fifteen years. Was there a divorce?

For the time being, I am going to record this death record with a note that this is probably the Shimon who married the Waltuch sisters. Probably, but not certainly. I may change my mind later. Though I cannot imagine what evidence may yet appear that would help me do that.

Josef Pickholz, d. 1909
This man died in house 597 at age forty-seven, so he would have been born about 1862. We do not know the house number. Nor do we have a precise date of death.

We actually have a Josef Pickholz born in Skalat in October 1862, that being the son of my great-grandfather's Uncle Selig. The problem is, this Josef - Isak Josef, to use his full name, which he himself did not do - lived not in Skalat but in neighboring Grzmaylow. Is that a problem? Maybe. The actual record may shed light on that.

We have another Isak Josef - almost certainly called Josef like all the others - who was born in Skalat in June 1863. But he was only 45-46 in 1909. On the other hand, his younger children were born in house 587. Perhaps when we see the actual record, the house number will look more like 587 than 597. That would make it easy. I can hope, no?

The seven children
Seven Pikholz children died in Skalat during this period.
  • Ettel Pickholz had a stillborn son in 1909. I cannot identify Ettel.
  • Henia Breina the daughter of Tobias died at age 2 in 1910 I know this family.
  • Tobias' brother Getzel lost a ten-day old infant son in 1911.
  • Tobias lost a four-month old daughter in 1912.
  • Nine-year old Berl died in 1915. We have his birth. He was born and died in house 587.
  • One-year old Debora died in 1915. I know this family, more or less.
  • One-year old Moses died in 1915. I have no idea who he is.

Ruchla Gittla Pickholz, d. 1910
This is a Pikholz spouse, age 55. Her maiden name is Qualer or Kwaler and she came from Zalosce, which makes me think that her family is very close to mine. She and her husband Leib (who is named in the death record) had six children in Skalat, three or four of whom died in childhood. We have no idea what became of the others. We have no idea who her husband's parents are.

Ester Pickholz, d. 1914
Ester Rosenstrauch Pickholz died at age seventy. She and her husband Kopel (~1842-1903), whose Pikholz parents are unknown, had eight children, six of whom died in childhood. The other two were killed in the Holocaust and we know of no surviving descendants.

Udla Pickholz, d. 1915
This woman was eighty years old, died in house 912 and we have no idea who she was. We may never.

Etel Pickholz, d. 1915
This woman was forty-three yers old, and I haven't a clue who this is, nor whether Pickholz was her birth name or a married name. She died in house 530, which does not tell us anything.

Jacob and Henie Malke Pickholz, d. 1915
This married couple died in 1915, 162 records apart - probably representing six or eight months. He was fifty-nine and she was sixty-four. They did not die in the same house. We know this family well.

When I first saw these entries, I thought I would simply record their years - Jacob ~1855-1915 and Henie Malka ~1851-1915. But it isn't quite that simple. According to family tradition, Jacob and his sister Sarah are twins.

We think we have Sarah's grave in Vienna and according to the Vienna database, she died on 8 March 1914 at age 54. That puts her birth about 1860. My upcoming Slovakia/Hungary trip includes a day and a half in Vienna and I hope to have a look at the grave itself. For now, it opens up a new problem - twins born five years apart.

The Ratzensteins, d. 1911 and 1914

The index includes Antschel Josef Ratzenstein (62) and Elias "Racenstern"(42). These are known to be father and son. Antschel's mother-in-law is Alta Pikholz, the daughter of Nachman (~1795) and his wife Sara. We have Elias' birth record and the dates match.

Now can we please get Rozdol death records for the years after 1901!

Housekeeping notes
I am speaking Thursday here in Israel.
16 March 2017, 7:30 – IGRA, Beit Fisher, 5 Klausner Street, Raanana (in English)
Lessons in Jewish DNA: One Man’s Successes and What He Learned on the Journey

I have had four proposals accepted for the IAJGS Conference in Orlando 23-28 July. No times or dates yet. But if anyone wants me to speak in the US before the Conference, now is the time to speak up.

And for the attention of any program chairs (or anyone who knows program chairs), I'll be available in the US late April-early May of 2018. Another bar mitzvah in Chicago.

to these celebrating today (Sunday) and to those of us in Jerusalem whose holiday begins this evening.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mendel (Morris) Pickholtz, 5657-5717 (1896-1957)

Twenty-fifth anniversary, 1946
My grandfather died on the ninth of First Adar - that's Monday evening - sixty years ago. He has been dead almost as long as he lived.

Everyone thought I was too young to go to the funeral, or even the unveiling - something I resented until, well forever. He had had a serious heart attack just before I was born and there was some concern that I would bear his name, but happily he recovered. He kept the extra name "Chaim" that was added during the illness.

In the end, it was a "cerebral vascular accident." Twelve hours from onset until death. I knew without anyone's telling me.

They lived in this house since sometime in the 1930s until I think 1952.
From the 1940 federal census
Sometime in the 1940s, my grandmother's mother moved in with them, until her death in 1950.

My father and Aunt Betty both went to their weddings from that house.
The family lived in Zalosce, east Galicia, and my grandfather's first seven siblings (four of whom survived childhood) were born there. Maybe the next two as well, but Zalosce birth records are available only through 1890, so we are not sure. My grandfather, the youngest was born in Bogdanowka, in house 95, on the holiday of Hoshanna Rabba, during Sukkot.

This Jezierna birth record is from the All Galicia Database of Gesher Galicia

Within a few years, the family began it's multi-stage migration to the Pittsburgh, where his father's sister had settled in the 1880s. My great-grandmother came last with the three youngest children, not through Baltimore or Ellis Island like the others, but through Montreal and the St. Albans Vermont border crossing.

With U. Dave (center) and U. Joe (right)
My grandfather was in the wholesale grocery business on Miller Street with two of his brothers, Uncle Joe and Uncle Dave, a business which closed when Uncle Joe turned sixty-five. I remember being there.

The children of the three brothers (the eldest, Uncle Max, had no children) were close in age and that and the business connection made my father's generation and mine closer with them then with the three sisters' children, who were older. (Not to mention that my grandfather and Uncle Joe married sisters!)

My grandfather had first cousins in Pittsburgh on both sides of his family, but the family connection didn't survive much after that first generation - until I began doing genealogy.

1953. Getting ready for the first seder on Northumberland Street, after leaving the house on Phillips Avenue.
I share the head of the table with my grandfather. Six people in this picture are still with us.

The Pittsburgh Jewish Criterion (thanks to The Pittsburgh Jewish Newspapers Project) recorded many of the key events in his life, including his regular listing as Vice-President of the Poale Zedeck Men's Club (and my grandmother's as President of the Sisterhood). Here are a few.

And finally...

Not mentioned are Aunt Becky and Aunt Bessie who predeceased him.
May his soul be bound in life. תהא נפשו צרורה בצרור החיים.

Housekeeping notes
I am speaking here in Israel in English - 16 March 2017, 7:30 – IGRA, Beit Fisher, 5 Klausner Street, Raanana
Lessons in Jewish DNA: One Man’s Successes and What He Learned on the Journey

I have had four proposals accepted for the IAJGS Conference in Orlando 23-28 July. No times or dates yet. But if anyone wants me to speak in the US before the Conference, now is the time to speak up.

And for the attention of any program chairs (or anyone who knows program chairs), I'll be available in the US late April-early May of 2018. Another bar mitzvah in Chicago.