Thursday, December 28, 2017

MyHeritage Announces Mandatory Citizenship Files Acquistion

Thursday evening I received an email announcement in Hebrew from MyHeritage, announcing that they have approximately 67,000 petitions for naturalization from the British Mandatory Government in Palestine, for the period 1937-1947.

I never renewed my MyHeritage subscription after a one trial year, but since I have extensive experience with the Mandatory Citizenship records, I figured I should at least see what they are offering.

The twelve Pikholz files are all on one index card
The Israel National Archives used to be five minutes from home, so I was a frequent visitor. There is an index of their files from about 1933, on microfilm. Each frame is an indexcard and they are arranged by surname, using some sort of Soundex. All the spellings of a name are listed on the same card or set of cards. The cards are supposed to have given name, year of birth, town of birth and file number but sometimes the birthplace or year is missing.

The file number enabled me to order the specific file. They say that about a third of the actual files were lost, perhaps trashed by the British before they left. The pre-1933 files were lost even before the index was made. Remember, these are British files, so everything is in English, though some of the forms are in Hebrew as well.

A few years ago, the National Archives moved across town to a place much less accessible and with no convenient parking and about the same time the indispensible research assistant Helena (whom I ran into at the mall just this week) retired.

But they made an attempt to put whatever they had online. Sometimes this proves successful. So this MyHeritage announcement should be an excellent development, at least for anyone who has their paid membership.

I followed the link in their promo letter and searched "Pikholz" in both their Hebrew and English versions and wrote the name in both languages. All the searches gave me the same twenty-one results, though they were presented slightly differently from one version to the other. Six of the twenty-one are Buchholz, so there are actually fifteen.
The Hebrew version has the same information, though they write Fischel as Faisal.

The blue lines are links, all of which lead to their subscription page. I was not able to enlarge the image on the left.

Their list of fifteen includes the last four on the index card above, plus Mordechaj from Bialystok on the third line of the index card, but the birth year is 1912 instead of 1914. I have that file and it says 1914, so MyHeritage's 1912 must be a mistranscription.

The seven entries on the index card which MyHeritage does not have include several whose naturalizations were definitely in the 1937-1947 period which My Heritage says it covers.

Of the ten which My Heritage has and the index card does not, five are women:
Cyla Pikholz Dlugacz. I know her children. She is in her husband's file as they married in Skalat before their immigration. MyHeritage calls her "Chila."
Chaya Sara Bitan. She is the first wife of Dr. Fischel Pickholz and is mentioned in his file. MyHeritage spells her maiden name "Betten." 
Blanka Rindenan (1922). This should be Rindenau. She is the first wife of Gustav from the index card and is named in his file.
Betty Hilsenrath (1910). She is the first wife of Mathias (on the index card) and is named in his file 
Dora Neuman (1912). She appears in the file of her husband Josef Neuman and they have a daughter Esther Thema. I have to find out who they are. She was from Tarnopol. One of their character witnesses is a Queller, which is a Zalosce name. We have a Pikholz-Qualer marriage, so she may be from that family.
 And the five men that MyHeritage has and the index card doesn't.
Dr. Pickholz (1875). I would think that is Eliezer Haniel who discovered oil in Kibbutz Hulda, but he was born in 1880. Close enough? Maybe. So why isn't he on the index card?
Fischel Pickholz. No birth year. This is Ephraim, the older brother of Wolf from the index card. We went to Galicia together seventeen years ago. I have no idea why he is not on the index card.
M. Pickholz appears in the citizenship file of Benjamin Swierdlin as a character witness.
Finally, there are two files in the name of Moshe Pikholz, though MyHeritage uses the spellings Pikholz, Pikholtz, Pinkholz and Pikhole. One is listed as born 1871 and the other 1926. I do not know who they are.
This appears to be a useful database, though no one should see it as complete. The National Archives has more. Of course, it requires a subscription.

Housekeeping notes
On 8 January, I shall be giving two presentations for the genealogy course run by Yad Vashem and the Central Zionist Archives, "From Roots to Trees." Both in Hebrew.
5:30-6:15 – The Importance to Genealogy of Understanding Jewish Culture and Customs
6:16-7:00 – Using Genetics for Genealogy Research

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cousin Herb's Y-DNA

My father's first cousin Herb Braun was the third person to test for my family DNA project. That was five and a half years ago. We had met once, when I was fourteen but had been emailing for a few years about family history.
We met a second time, in 2013

Herb's mother is my grandfather's older sister, so he carries the mitochondrial DNA of my Kwoczka great-grandmother and Pollak second great-grandmother. At first he did the Family Finder (autosomal) test alone and then did the basic MtDNA. Later I upgraded him to the full MtDNA. That test led do a second family test, which I wrote about last year.

Herb's Braun (then Brunn) family lived in Zalosce (east Galicia, about twenty miles NNW of Tarnopol) where the Kwoczkas also lived and I figured that since the families might have other connections in the near background, I should probably test his Y-DNA as well. I ordered a Y-67 after he died last year at ninety-seven and we were fortunate that his initial swab was good enough for this fourth test.

Herb's results at 67 markers show 133 matches, one at a genetic distance of one and three at a genetic distance of two, with nothing that stood out to me. (At 37 markers, he is a genetic distance of four with our cousin Bruce who tested for the Kwoczka male line.)

One of Herb's GD-2 matches is Gary Simon, whose sister is married to a first cousin of mine. But more important, Gary's wife Judy is one of the administrators of the Y-DNA project that both Gary and Herb belong to.

Gary has a terminal SNP called Y-18621 and Judy asked me if Herb could test for that SNP with Y-SEQ. Herb, of course, can no longer test for anything and his two sons predeceased him. But I am in touch with one of his two grandsons and he agreed to my request to do the Y-SEQ test.

I guess we'll see what happens.

Join projects. It can help you and as it helps others.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Uncle Max' Middle Name - Possible Success from FTDNA Match Alerts

Uncle Max
My grandfather Mendel (Morris) Pickholtz was the youngest of seven children. I knew two of his brothers, Uncle Joe and Uncle Dave, well. The three brothers were in business together and most of their children and grandchildren were the same age cohort as my grandfather's. I didn't know the three sisters, though I remember meeting Aunt Bessie once, shortly before she died. Aunt Becky died before I was born and Aunt Mary lived in Florida. The sisters' children were older, so they were not as close to us as the brothers' children.

Then there was Uncle Max, Mordecai Shemuel. He was the eldest and the only one of the brothers whose English betrayed his European upbringing. He and Aunt Sadie had no children and they lived in Canonsburg (Washington County), where he was a jeweler, rather than in Pittsburgh where everyone else was. Eventually they moved to Florida but maintained the house in Canonsburg and spent some of the summer there. We would make a pilgramage every summer and play in the yard while my parents sat with them in the kitchen talking about who knows what. We never saw any of the house beyond the kitchen and the bathroom and I never realized that there was much more to the house than that. Eventually a share of Uncle Max' will enabled my parents and sisters to move to Israel.

Uncle Max outlived all his brothers and two of his sisters. After his wife died, he spent some time with family in Pittsburgh but I was out of the house by then, so I didn't really know him. He almost certainly knew the answers to many of the genealogy questions that I have struggled with for years. But no one asked him and he wasn't one to talk.

Someone who was talking was my grandmother. One afternoon when I was in maybe eighth or ninth grade (it was after my grandfather died but before she remarried), I was at Nana's house on Northumberland Street (she lived on my way home from school in those years, so I occasionally stopped in) and for no good reason, she told me that her mother-in-law had borne ten children, not just the seven who came to Pittsburgh. I didn't ask questions much as a child and though I wondered about the other three, but I never asked.

Doing genealogy
I had begun to show an interest in the family history so before moving to Israel, Aunt Betty took me to the two family cemeteries in Pittsburgh and I learned the names of the fathers of my father's four grandparents - Isak Yeroham Fischel Pickholtz, Mordecai Meir Kwoczka, Yitzhak Yehudah Rosenzweig and Shemaya Bauer, assuming the spellings of the surnames as I knew them. At the time I knew of no one in the family who bore the names of the first two, but noted the similarity of Uncle Max' Mordecai Shemuel to his grandfather Mordecai Meir.

In time, largely through JRI-Poland, I learned more of the family names, including my grandfather's two brothers who died before their second birthdays. And one nameless brother who died at birth. That accounted for the ten that Nana had told me about forty years earlier.
So all four of the grandparents are named for in the subsequent generation, though two of those children died young. Uncle Joe was named for his great-grandfather and my grandfather for his uncle Mendel Kwoczka. I have no idea where Aunt Mary and Uncle Dave's names came from, perhaps the parents of Isak Fischel or some non-ancestral relatives.

But Uncle Max is a bit of a puzzle. I figured that since the name Mordecai Meir was important, they wanted to use it again after the older brother died, but made a change to protect against the "evil eye." That was not unheard of. So why pick Shemuel as a second name?

In fact, they didn't. His birth record has it reversed. He was born Samuel Mordche so this must have been more than a name substituted to fool the "evil eye."

It is not a name I see anywhere else in the close-ish family. There is a death in 1835 for three year old Samuel Kwoczke, parents not listed, but that seems like a stretch. I filed that question - together with Miriam and David - as unknown, perhaps unknowable.

FTDNA Match Alerts
I have written about my new strategy regarding the FTDNA autosomal match alerts - here and here. A few weeks ago, I had some interesting matches with a man named Alan Kronisch who has kindly alloewed me to quote from our correspondence.

Two weeks ago I wrote:
> What I am looking for is segments of >10 cM with multiple matches.
> On chromosome 6, you have a segment of ~23 cM four of my parents'
> children, my father's sister and two second cousins (brother and
> sister) on my father's father's side.Plus ~17 cM with a half second cousin of
> my father. This is a Pikholz segment, as all of those I list are descendants of
> my g-g-gm Rivka Feige Pikholz, the daughter of (Izak) Josef Pikholz, b.
> ~1784 in Skalat, east Galicia. (We know nothing of his wife.)
> Do you have cousins who might test in order to pinpoint this from your side?
> On chromosome 8, you have > 11 cM with my aunt and uncle, one second
> cousin and one third cousin. The family here is Kwoczka, my g-gm. (Her
> mother is the Pollak from Jezierna). The Kwoczkas lived in Zalosce, not far
> from Jezierna.
> This is a weak segment probably from before 1800. I say that both because it
> is only 11 cM and because I have only four people on this segment. (I have
> about twenty family members who are Kwoczka descendants.)
The Kwoczka/Pollak segment is here:
Weak but real. About as best as can be expected from that distance.

And here is the Pikholz segment which also includes a double fourth cousin who is descended from Rivka Feige's brother. It is a better segment than the one above, but because the Pikholz family is so intertwined with itself, it is hard to say anything meaningful.

Alan's reply included this:
My father’s father was Moshe (Moe/Morris) Mordecai Kronisch, born 1896, Zborow, Galicia. He was the only child of Shmuel Kronisch and Esther Rosie Pollak. His grave confirms “ben Shmuel”  but I have found no record of Shmuel in the archives other than on Moe's birth record. I am investigating the possibility that Shmuel was also known as Shulim Kronisch. There are records for 2 Shulim Kronischs along with possible clues. One of them died in 1897 which is consistent with family lore. The other’s mother was a Goldstein which is an ancestral surname of another autosomal match (2nd-3rd cousin) of mine.
Esther (b. 1877 Zborow, d. 1960 Los Angeles) was the daughter of Mordecai Schmeil Pollak (b Zborow) and Gittel Gruber (b~1850 Plaza Weilka).
(Emphasis mine - IP)
Mordecai Schmeil Pollak from Zborow, nine miles from Jezierna (aka Ozerna). His daughter Esther is a contemporary of Uncle Max, whose grandmother is a Pollak. This looks excellent. Both Alan's second-great-grandfather and Uncle Max may have been named for a common ancestor. And Uncle Max' name may have no direct connection to his grandfather Mordecai Meir Kwoczka.

JRI-Poland does not have specific Jezierna records. There is a woman names Sara Beile Pollak (parents Juda Ber and Chane) from Jezierna who had children in Zalosce. Her husband was Moses Wolf Ambos. And a Hena in Lwow who looks like Sara Beile's sister.

This is my first movement of any sort on the Pollak family.

JRI-Poland has 598 Pollak (exact spelling) records in Tarnopol Province, over forty of them in Zalosce. Plus 39 within 10 miles of Jezierna on the All-Galicia Database. Mine from Jezierna and Alan's from Zborow could me connected to any (or all) of them. I am going to let Alan run with this for now.

Perhaps Alan has some cousins whose tests could help clarify some of this.

Uncle Max, who I knew at the time to be Mordecai Shemuel, was my grandfather's eldest brother and had no children. Nana's eldest (half) brother, Uncle Fred was Shemuel. He too lived a long life but had no children. I gave my third son the middle names Shemuel Mordecai to cover them both, not knowing that this was the correct order of Uncle Max' birth name. Less than a year later, one of my sisters named her third son Shemuel Mordecai, for the same reason.

It may be a better reason than we know.

Housekeeping notes
This week's project is going over the Match Alerts for October and November.