Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The DNA of My Kaplan Second Cousins

Alta Rosenbloom's husband Berl Kaplan
It's been about twenty months since my friend and colleague Galit Aviv found my Kaplan  cousins. I wrote about them a couple of times before that and several times after that, when I visited three of them in Columbus Ohio, Nuremberg Germany and Moscow. And when their DNA results came in.

My grandmother - who died when I was  eleven - never spoke of her older sister's family, but I learned something about them from Uncle Hymen, who had a 1920s photograph of his sister Alta and four children in Moscow. He did not know much about them and only knew the names of three of the four children, but he did say that Alta's husband was Berl Kaplan.

Uncle Hymen (standing) with Alta's family - 1914
When I actually made contact with the cousins, I learned that there were not four but six and they had a photograph of the whole family with Uncle Hymen just before he left for America in 1914 at age twenty. That would probably have been not long before they moved from Borisov to Moscow.

When I visited Moscow last year, I was able to visit Alta's grave and those of all six of her children. Her husband had been killed in some early Soviet-era purge, probably because as a shoemaker he represented some kind of capitalist counter-revolutionary. Whatever the case was, he was never spoken of and the family knew nothing about him.

Actually, they did know that his name was Bor/Boris, but that seems very unlikely both because Uncle Hyman was sure his name was Berl and because he had a son Boris, whom Uncle Hymen knew as Boruch Yosef.

One possible cousin of my Rosenblooms wrote on her passenger list that she was going to
her cousin "A Kaplowitz" in New York and I considered it a possibility that Kaplan had been changed from Kaplowitz, especially since I had a good DNA match with Adam Brown who has Kaplowitz ancestry from Borisov.

Some of our DNA matches are significantly stronger than I would have expected and it crossed my mind that we have another connection to the Kaplans, but I have not been able to turn anything up. As yet.

This is the general structure of my Rosenbloom family from Borisov. It is not meant to be comprehensive. It includes those who did DNA tests for our project (in yellow) and the six Kaplan children who lived to adulthood.
The one with six children who tested is my mother

Maria Kaplan
A few weeks ago, I received  an email from a woamn named Maria Kaplan in Smolensk, who having looked at her GEDmatch results and read parts of my blog and determined that she is likely related to my Rosenblooms.

I had a look at GEDmatch and saw that her best matches with my family are my three Kaplan second cousins. These numbers are large enough to take seriously. (Note that she has a small X-match with Lydia which cannot be from the Kaplans and is almost certainly from Alta Rosenbloom as Lydia's mother is not Jewish. But that is neither here nor there.)

Maria also has matches with two of my sisters and my second cousin Sam, but these are all less than 67 cM with no segment longer than 13 cM.

And speaking of endogamy, Maria matches all three of my Jaffe second cousins whose grandfather was also from Borisov.. The largest of these is 55 cM and the longest segment is 24 cM. And there are no shared segments.

The Kaplan matches include one on chromosome 18 where Maria matches all three of my Kaplans on overlapping segments two of which are in the 19-17 cM range. 

A second segment, on chromosome 22 has 31 cM with Liya and 21 cM with Inna.
Maria's Kaplan grandfather Abram (1906-1995) lived in Minsk and was a shoemaker - as was our Berl. Abram's grandfather Zelik lived in Dokshitzy. My feeling is that Maria's Zelik is a brother to the father of our Berl, but at least for now, that in unknowable. Maria's father lives in Smolensk and she will ask him to test. Once we have his results, I will take a deeper dive into the Kaplan family.

In the meantime, I have introduced Maria to a couple of my younger Kaplan cousins.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Murder of the First Pikholz Family in Tarnopol

Early Pikholz families in Tarnopol
We know that there were Pikholz families in Skalat - about 19 miles or 30 km ESE of the provincial capital Tarnopol - just before 1800. Later in the 1800s we find Pikholz families and individuals in nearby Mikulince, Grzmaylow, Kacanowka, Zbarazh, Klimkowce, Husiatyn and Tarnopol and its suburbs. Later we find Pikholz families in Kozivka, Buczacz, Terembowla, Podwoloczysk and elsewhere. Most of these individuals and families are traceable to known Skalat families.

But some are not. Almost certainly they come from our known families but the records don't give enough information to work with. For that matter, we have fifteen-twenty Pikholz deaths in Skalat itself whom we cannot identify.

In the case of Tarnopol, we have a few like this. Pikholz infants named Samuel, Perl, Gabriel, Moses and another young Samuel died during the period 1848-1852. Do they all have the same parents? Maybe, but we don't know.

Menie Beyle Pikholz died in Tarnopol in 1867 at age twenty-six, but she may have been a Pikholz spouse.

Jankel Pikholz was born in Tarnopol in 1854 to Marcus and Ruchel.

The 1910 Tarnopol census shows a Herman Pikholz, age 66, "born in Tarnopol."

These are the earliest records of Pikholz descendants living in Tarnopol. That would have been about 1844.

The murdered family
That changed last week when Gesher Galicia announced the availability of several new record sets including
Tarnopol (Ternopil). TsDIAL, Fond 701/1/328, 331, 332 and 334
 - Jewish deaths, May 1845-December 1869 (10,662 records).
I went to Gesher Galicia's All Galicia Database and searched "Pikholz" using the "Records added in the past month" filter

Among the search results were these:
A whole family - Abram Pikholz, his wife Welle, daughters Esther and Sara - all died on 22 March 1855 and son David died three days later. (I was not familiar with the female name "Welle" but others tell me that it indeed occurs in their families. Perhaps it is a female version of Welwel.)

And it's spelled in the German way, with a "c" - perhaps it was the custom in the provincial capital.

Tony Kahane provided the actual record and wrote:
I found the page from the Tarnopol D 1854-1857 records listing the deaths of the five members of the Pikholz family in March 1855, in Borki Wielkie, near Tarnopol. These deaths were not from cholera (unlike many others in that year). The part of the note that it is easier to decipher (attached screenshot) is line 3 and  the beginning of line 4:
"… in der Nacht v[on] 19. auf 20. d[ieses] M[onat] ermordet …".
These people were murdered in the night of 19-20 March 1855.

Roger Lustig had a look at the German-language note on the right and wrote:
was, at the Sbrutin (?) Inn in Borki wielkie, on the night of the 19th-20th of the month, murdered, and, as a result of Imperial and Royal [something] order of 20 March 1855 No. 4363, 
So the family were murdered at the inn in Borki Wielkie (currently known as Velikiye Borki) six miles ESE of Tarnopol. Were they passing through? Did they live in Borki? Were Abram and Welle the innkeepers? How is this family connected to the deaths of children in Tarnopol whom we had already seen?

Well, they seem to have lived in Borki. An additional record in the new set is this:
One-month old Chajem Moses lived in Borki and died 22 December 1854, three months before the murder. This seems to be the same family, living in Borki. So they were at the inn but lived locally. 
The actual death record of Chajem Moses
 Who is Abram?
The father, Abram, was thirty-two when he died. That seems to make him the first Pikholz in Tarnopol, though there I doubt that he was born there. Who is he? Who are his parents? How does he connect to the known Pikholz families from Skalat? 

The only other Avraham from the Skalat area, born before the 1870s is a son of Nachman Pikholz and he was born about 1841, so there is a good chance he is a son of my third-great-grandfather Izak Josef. In fact, we have no children for Izak Josef between Berl (1816) and Selig (1830) so it is reasonable that there are missing children born in the 1820s. I think I shall record Abram as a probable son of Isak Josef, though he might be a son of Berl (1789).

On the other hand, as far as I know, no Pikholz from the Skalat area named a child Avraham in the years following the murder.

I have contacted Alex Denisenko to see what might be found about the murder and the family. 

UPDATE: Traude Triebel provided a link to a newspaper report. It confirms what we already have and provides no additional information.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

When Spira Became Pikholz - Filip's Y-111

Last month, I posted the results of my Y-111 upgrade which showed that my Y-67 matches that were a genetic distance of zero or one had grown by three or four in the uprade to Y-111.

This is the relevant part of the chart I presented then.

At the Y-67 level, it is clear that our three (identical) Skalat Pikholz descendants came from a common ancestor with a group of Spira descendants. That seemed to indicate that we were Spira not that long ago, likely no earlier than the late 1600s.

But with the Y-111 showing three or four additional mutations, there are two possibilities:
Perhaps the common Spira ancestor was earlier than I had thought and the fact that the 3-4 mutations are all in markers 68-111 rather than markers 1-67.
But perhaps some of those new mutations are mine personally, rather than being a general Pikholz thing.
That is easy enough to test. I am a perfect match with two other Skalat Pikholz descendants. All of our earliest known ancestors were born a bit more than 200 years ago. So if I test the other two, I will see if my new mutations are mine alone or more general.

I ordered upgrades for both and the results for the kit known as "Filip" came in earlier this week. (Filip is not the name of the actual tester.)

Filip matches me perfectly at 111 markers. Needless to say, the rest of his Y-111 matches are the same as mine.

So clearly these new three-four mutations happened BEFORE the births of our earliest known Pikholz ancestors - Filip's in ~1795 and mine probably ten to twenty years later. So all of these mutations happened between the Spira-Pikholz split and the late 1700s.

Over how long a period did those three or four mutations occur? Almost certainly beginning well before the late 1600s. It makes the whole "Megalleh Ammukot" descendancy less likely, at least for the Pikholz family, since he was born in 1585.

The third Skalat Pikholz Y-111 upgrade should have results in the next few weeks.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Quarter Chicken or Burekas - aka The Engineer and The Engineer's Wife

Searching for the Fuchs couple
Four months ago, I was contacted by a woman in Efrat who wanted to find her possible relatives Sigmund (Chaim) Fuchs and his wife Bella, who had come to Israel from the US maybe fifty years ago. (Her sister visited them in Ramat Gan in 1976.)

I was not able to turn up anything significant - not even graves - though Bella appears to have been alive twenty-five years ago. In the meantime she learned that they were not actual relatives, just people her parents knew who were called "aunt" and "uncle."

But something about those names gnawed at me. I was sure I had heard of this couple before. This Chaim and Bella Fuchs.

The Comedians
Two of the premier Israeli comedians of the previous generation were Yossi Banai (1932-2006) and Rivka Michaeli (who is still with us at age eighty). They did a number of sketches together, including one written by Hanoch Levin in about 1970 called "Quarter Chicken or Burekas." It was also known popularly as "The Engineer and the Engineer's Wife."

See it here.

The couple are at a wedding and he keeps worrying whether they will be served a quarter chicken as was the custom in those days, or if the cheapskate family would serve only burekas. She on the other hand was concerned that the hosts and other guests would not realize that he is an engineer (rather than a technician or a clerk) and she an engineer's wife.

They went back and forth on these two subjects for the whole seven minute sketch. Maybe there will be chicken, but not dark meat. Or maybe there will be a choice but they will start serving from the other side of the room. Or there won't be proper fries with it. Or the groom's side won't know they are an engineer and an engineer's wife.

Trust me - if you knew Israel back then, it was very very funny. It is still funny but in a very different way.

At 5:45 of the clip, they decide that they cannot stand the tension any longer and are going home. Home, where no one doubts that they are an engineer and an engineer's wife. Because, as she says, there is a sign on the apartment door "Engineer and Engineer's WIfe, Chaim and Bella Fuchs."

Sometimes we remember very old things. Just because. You never know where a solution will come from.