Sunday, October 22, 2017

Mazal Tov - Uncle Selig Gets Married

The find
From the JewishGen SIG announcements from Friday.
Gesher Galicia is pleased to announce the addition of new sets of
Jewish records on the All Galicia Database

Tarnopol (Ternopil)
- Jewish marriages, 1859-1876. State Archive of Ternopil Oblast
(DATO), Fond 33/1/716. (379 records)
 I went in and used the new "Records Added in the Past Month" function and this came up.
I am assuming that the wife's name is Rachel.

The only Selig Pikholz we have is the brother of my great-great-grandmother Rivka Feige Pikholz. I have written about him in this space numerous times, most recently here. I even have a presentation called "Why Did My Father Know that His Grandfather Had an Uncle Selig," which I gave at JGS Maryland last winter and at the IAJGS conference in Orlando.

This find - and it is not a full document, only an simple index record - answers and documents several open points and opens the door to a possible significant new development.

Identifying Uncle Selig
This is definitely Uncle Selig, not only because there is no one else, but because the age (43) in January 1874 fits his 1830 birth year (based on the age in his death record.)

Many years ago, I concluded that Uncle Selig's (and therefore Rivka Feige's) father is Izak Josef Pikholz (~1874-1862), who was known as Josef. This was based on the fact that Uncle Selig named his son Itzig Joseph right after Old Izak Josef died and the fact that Rifka Feige had a grandson called Joseph Yitzhak but who was actually born Isak Josel.
I also have DNA evidence, as I discuss in Chapter Seven of my book "ENDOGAMY: One Family, One People."

But I never had an actual document. Now I do, for the marriage index calls him "son of Josel Pikholz."

Of course that also verifies the identity of my own third-great-grandfather, even though that has been settled in my mind for probably eighteen years. I can now totally ignore the fact that Selig was born when his father was at the relatively advanced age of forty-six. We finally have a document.

Uncle Selig in Tarnopol
Uncle Selig and his wife Chana lived in Skalat, where most of the Pikholz families lived. Chana died 11 September 1873 at age forty-five of cancer (raka).

But later in life, Uncle Selig lived in Tarnopol. And his youngest son Meir, who was born about 1872 or maybe 1874, is listed as being from Tarnopol, not Skalat where Selig and Chana lived. After visiting Meir's grave in Vienna a few months ago, I suggested:
The thing is Uncle Selig's wife Chana died of cancer in September 1873 at age forty five, so she could have had a son in 1872 but not 1874. Of course Meier could be from a second wife, but we have no evidence that Uncle Selig remarried and certainly none that he remarried so quickly after Chana died.
Except that Meir was born in Tarnopol and Chana died in Skalat, where the family lived. Maybe Uncle Selig married a second time, this time to a woman from Tarnopol. And they lived in her hometown. Where Meir was born.
So do we reopen the question if Meir was born to Chana in 1872 or the twenty-four year old second wife in 1874? That marriage was 21 January, so birth the same calendar year was certainly possible.

But we do know that Uncle Selig married a woman from Tarnopol and that is likely why he lived there from the time of that marriage.

And speaking of the second wife...
This young woman is Rachel Nagler (b. ~1849) and he married her barely four months after his first wife died.That sounds like the standard practice when a widow or widower is left with young children. (For this reason I believe that Meir is the son of Chana. We know of no other "young children.")

The new spouse is often from within one of the families.

So who might Rachel Nagler be? Peretz Pikholz (~1820-1873) is the son of Berl Pikholz (~1789-1877). We do not know how he is related to my Pikholz families. Perhaps Berl is the brother of Old Izak Josef - or a cousin or a nephew. Peretz was married to Perl Nagler (~1823-1904). Selig's wife Rachel is surely related to Peretz' wife Perl, a niece or cousin, perhaps.

Perhaps this points to a Pikholz-Nagler connection that is more substantial than the Peretz-Perl marriage. Perhaps the actual record will tell us something. Thus far, the folks at Gesher Galicia are not encouraging regarding getting an actual record from the Tarnopol archives.

Housekeeping notes
I have three talks coming up, all here in Israel. All are in Hebrew.

19 November 2017, 7:00Israel Genealogical Society, Bet Sapir, Sderot Yerushalayim 2 (second floor), Kefar Sava.
Lessons in Jewish DNA – One Man’s Successes and What He Learned On the Journey

8 January 2018 as part of the Yad Vashem / Central Zionist Archives series “From Roots to Trees” at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. 
5:30-6:15 – The Importance to Genealogy of Understanding Jewish Culture and Customs
6:16-7:00 – Using Genetics for Genealogy Research

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Scoring A Big DNA Win - For My Cousins

Dealing with Family Tree DNA "Close Match" alerts

I manage over a hundred family DNA kits, almost all with Family Tree DNA. So I get many scores of these notices every week. Not only each person, but since, for instance,  Dan is a member of all five of my projects, I get all of his notices five times. Others are members of multiple projects and for them too I get multiple notices.These notices of "Close Matches" means matches that FTDNA considers to be suggested second-third cousins.

A few months ago, I decided to deal with these alerts in a systematic fashion. As I wrote in detail at the time, I decided to download as an Excel file all the matches during the month of May for each of my project members. Then I arranged them in separate Excel files by group: my mother's side, my grandmother's side, the Rozdol-Pikholz side, etc. That's a lot of work by itself but after that I had to sort by the names of the new matches to see who may have interesting matches with several people within each of my groups.

I wrote to the ones that looked promising, asking them to give me their GEDmatch numbers so I could have a proper look. Some replied, most did not. Some gave me their GEDmatch numbers, others did not care to share this secret information with me. Others needed help even creating GEDmatch numbers. Oh, and a few would send me a list of all the GEDmatch kits in their families.

I looked at each one against all my kits - after sorting on the "Name" column of their match lists so all mine would come up together near the top  - and created 2-D Chromosome Browsers. For most I would do two or three Chromosome Browsers for different parts of my families.

There were some successes, of the sort that determined that so-and-so is definitely connected to my family through my great-grandfather's Rosenzweig or Zelinka sides or my maternal grandmother's Rosenblooms. Most were either vague or turned out to be scattered across the family with no direction at all. I wrote about the successes for May and repeated the experiment for the June alerts, writing about those successes as well.

Since then I have been busy with other things - including holidays - but I finally decided to look at all the alerts for July-August-September, limiting the analysis to my mother's side and my paternal grandmother's side. There were about 125 worth looking at just on my paternal grandmother's side.

I got some of that done before the Sukkot holiday and during the Intermediate Days at the beginning of last week but it was very frustrating and I was not even getting the level of successes that I had previously with the Duncans and Robbie and Sam and the others.

I worked on the responses from my mother's side last night and this morning sent out analyses of the GEDmatch kits of about thirty of these supposed matches. One of those was for a woman named Barbara Jo Strauss, who had nine matches with people on my mother's side. People who appear in the Borisov Project that I am doing with Galit Aviv Sisto.

It turns out Barbara is the sister of Mark Strauss whom I met two years ago the day of my book launch at JGS Maryland. He was there with his wife's brother's wife who is a Skalat Pikholz cousin of mine. Mark is an experienced genealogy researcher with a good working knowledge of DNA and it was he who responded when I first wrote Barbara last week.

Barbara's results
I reported to Mark that Barbara had two Borisov matches of interest, plus a third which I considered marginal at best.

The three green bits on chromosome 1 are 11-12 cM. The first is my second cousin Sam, the second my first cousin Kay and the third my second cousin Inna. That means one representative of each of the three children of my great-grandparents Israel David and Etta Bryna Rosenbloom.

This is not impressive at barely 12 cM but it is definitely a valid match. (Kay has no Jewish DNA on her father's side, so that pretty much eliminates the endogamy factor.)

We have only the one surname Rosenbloom on my grandmother's side, so it's really not much to work with - like so many others of these alerts analyses.

Chromosome 6 has a slightly stronger match - 14-15 cM - with four of my parents' children, my first cousins Kay and Leonard and a second cousin Liya. No one from Uncle Hymen's family. This too appears a legitimate match, though it was also unlikely to lead us anywhere absent some Borisov or Rosenbloom knowledge from Mark.

There was one other match I didn't even mention to Mark. A segment on chromosome 10 of near-identical 13.5 cM matches with five of my parents' children, but with not a cousin to be found, it was quite useless.

The one I thought marginal is on chromosome 12. There Barbara has matches of nearly 15 cM with my father's sister, my brother, one of my sisters and my second cousins Rhoda and Marty, who are sister and brother. Together with those are smaller matches with my other three sisters and me.

So that is a match on the east Galician Pikholz or Kwoczka side and those never go anywhere, as we have so little to work with in the way of surnames.

I reported all of this to Mark in my usual generic fashion, without all the names and numbers. His response was:
Ok.  If you give me the kit numbers of a few of the most significant matches, I can see which of my cousins also match those same segments to narrow geography and surnames.
 So I did.

Mark then asked me for more detail about Rhoda because she is Barbara's best match among my project members - 90 cM total with a largest segment of 41.1 and 11.1 cM of X to boot.

Mark's reply included:
They all share my paternal grandmother’s Berkowitz family in common, originally from around Humenne, in Eastern Slovakia, near the border with Ukraine. Other known surnames are Eichler and Burger.
For some reason I do not recall, I had discussed Rhoda's mother's family with her a couple of years ago and remembered that someone was from Slovakia/Hungary. Rather than hunt through my correspondence, I copied Rhoda on my reply to Mark. A few minutes later Mark told me that Rhoda's maternal grandmother was indeed an Eichler with the correct geography. He and Rhoda share a fourth-great-grandfather "Moyzes Eichler, who was born in 1785 in Hencovce, Slovakia."

And Rhoda (who carries the name of our second-great-grandmother Rivka Feige Pikholz) just told me that her youngest daughter has taken an interest in genealogy.

So that is a success for Mark's family and for Rhoda. For me it's a collateral success and a good reason to continue plugging away at the FTDNA Alerts. Of course, it helps when the person on the other end of the conversation understands the material.

Perhaps I'll send a notice about this blog to all those whom I've been talking to about alerts this month.

Housekeeping notes
Cousin Debbie's sister's DNA results just came in. She does not have the big segment that Debbie shares with us, but when we get her on GEDmatch, we'll see if perhaps she has some other matches of interest that Debbie does not.