Sunday, October 28, 2018

Reviewing Endogamy - What Does it Mean?

But First Things First
This is Pittsburgh. 

Yet, evenso, somehow we always come back to the yellow Star of David.

(When my parents brought me home from the hospital, we lived half a block down Shady Avenue. Later, from when I entered second grade, we lived fifteen years about two minutes walk away from the Tree of Life.)

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Why endogamy is different
We have been throwing around the word "endogamy" for some years now. Most people understand in a general sense that it means all Jews (as well as members of similar populations) are related to each other multiple ways and that we have tons of "matches" that are virtually meaningless, but not everyone understands how that translates to individual DNA matches.

A few days ago, someone asked me what I thought of this match, which comes from the GEDmatch on-to-one search.

The total of 118.3 cM looks nice. The typical non-Jew looks at Blaine Bettinger's Shared cM Project, sees:

...and says "This looks like Cluster #6 and the match is probably a half second cousin or a second cousin once removed." I have heard lecturers and read bloggers who say exactly that.

And I sit in the audience or at my desk and laugh at the simplicity of DNA in the non-Jewish world. This kind of thing is meaningless to Jews and Jews who use the Shared cM Project in this way, miss the point of the match.

We are related to each other in multiple ways. The matching 27.4 cM segment on chromosome 3 and the matching 39.6 cM segment on chromosome 18 may be from different ancestors. Perhaps one on the father's side and one on the mother's. Perhaps both from the same parent and grandparent but from different great-grandparents. Maybe even further back.

If the first three segments all come from one ancestor and the last three all come from another, Shared cM would say the two testers are third cousins twice removed (or 2C2R, etc) as in Cluster #7.

But, of course, the six matching segments could come from four or five or six different ancestors, none as close as third cousins and most much further.

Matching Ed
Michelle's father and Ed
Case in point, fresh in my memory. A couple of weeks ago, I received an inquiry from a woman named Michelle whose father matches my cousin Ed on four segments. She was asking me for information about his family.

GEDmatch said that they have 84.3 cM in common and that the estimated number of generations to the Most Recent Common Ancestor is 3.7. But that includes segments as small as 5 cM. Using segments over 7 cM produces only 58.9 cM and an estimated MRCA at 4.0 generations.

Ed's mother has tested and Michelle didn't mention matches with her, so it appeared that at least some of this match would have to be from Ed's father - who has no interest in any of this genealogy stuff.

Michelle's father and Ed's mother
It turns out that Michelle's father matches Ed's mother on only one of those four segments - the one on chromosome 9 - but she also has a nice segment of 15.3 cM on chromosome 1 with Ed's mother.

So about sixty-eight percent of Michelle's father with Ed is through his father. And since we have no testing for Ed's father's family, we cannot know how many ancestors are represented by the three segments with an (unimpressive!) total of 41 cM.

When I looked more deeply into the segments that Michelle's father has with Ed's mother on chromosomes 1 and 9, I see that both segments show multiple matches with descendants of my great-grandparents.

On chromosome 1, there are three matches of 12-16 cM and on chromosome 9 there are five matches of 14-19 cM. In each case there is also one descendant of my great-grandmother's two brothers - one from her brother Pinchas on chromosome 1 (~11 cM) and one from her brother Rachmiel on chromosome 9 (20 cM). In addition there is are small segments (<6 cM) with descendants of the opposite brother on each of the two segments.

So both these segments came from one or the other of the parents of my great-grandmother Jute Leah Kwoczka of Zalosce. Are they from the same Kwoczka/Pollak ancestor? Who knows!

(The segment on chromosome 15 has several cousins, including one with >12 cM - but there are no descendants of the Kwoczka brothers, so this may be a Pikholz segment. Or it may be Kwoczka.)

In short, what appears to the non-endogamous eye to have been a third cousin match between Michelle's father and Ed is no such thing. It is composed of multiple common ancestors, more distant than four generations, one both his father's and mother's sides.

This is endogamy and this is its challenge.

While we are remembering
This evening, 20 Heshvan, is the twenty-sixth yahrzeit for my mother's sister, Aunt Sadie Gordon. This was her letter home, published in Pittsburgh's Jewish Criterion in 1943.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Genealogists and Geneticists

I got a phone call a few days ago from a woman whose father is named Pikholz -. or at least he had been until he changed his name at age twenty-one. I had not met him but I had met the grandfather and knew names of family members. She wanted information on her family.

She interrogated me about my credentials, especially regarding genetic genealogy. Where had I studied, with what institution am I affiliated (university? hospital?), etc I explained patiently - as most of us have to do from time to time - that genetic genealogists do not have to have studied genetics in order to do genealogy and geneticists do not always understand what genetic genealogy is and how it works.

She had done a DNA test with 23 & Me, as had her daughter, but she said she knew that this could not help regarding her father's family - since she is a woman and the women's test is not relevant. And I began to explain about Y and MtDNA and autosomal tests and she cut me off. "My daughter is a medical student and she said..."

Which demonstrated my point.

(Eventually I'll get both of them on GEDmatch.)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Named After A Living Grandfather?

Josef Pikholz was the estate manager in Klimkowce, a town a dozen miles from Skalat and 15 miles from Zbarazh. We know he was alive in 1910. We have no birth record for him, but we have a birth record for a son Wolf in 1874 so we assumed Josef was born around 1850.

Josef's daughter Roza, who was married to Markus/Mordecai Linden, had a son named Josef on 27 August 1911. We know that Jews in Galicia did not name after the living, so we assumed that Josef Pikholz had died by the time his grandson was born.

Most of the Klimkowce records are to be found in the Zbarazh collection, even though Skalat is a bit closer, but we did not see a death record for Josef in either place.

The birth record for Josef Linden, 27 August 1911
When we received new Skalat records four months ago as an Excel file, I saw thist.

I wrote at the time, in this space:
I was surprised to find a 1918 death for sixty-five year old Josef Pikholz in the village of Klimkowce. We had seen earlier that a grandson was named Josef in 1911, but we had not seen a death record for Josef. (We knew he was still alive in 1910.) So now it seems the grandson was given the name of his living grandfather - either after him or for someone else. Not totally unheard of, but unusual nonetheless.
Josef Pickholz, age 65, died in Klimkowce in 1918. Some seven years after his grandson Josef Linden was born. The age was about right and we had no other Pikholz family in Klimkowce. Jacob Laor was certain this was indeed his great-grandfather. How could he be anyone else?

My readers know I am hesitant to jump to comclusions, even though this seemed pretty straight-forward. I was concerned about the grandson who was named Josef in 1911. But it's Jacob's personal family and he is a senior member of our project team, so the best I could do was stall until we could see the record itself.

The record itself - showing the death in Klimkowce on 20 December 1918 and burial in Skalat the next day - was clear.

In the meantime, Jacob came up with another birth record for Markus and Roza - a son Benjamin, born in 1915. The sandak, the witness to his naming, was Josef Pickholz. Well that settles that. Grandson or no, Josef was alive in 1915.

But, nonetheless, I wanted an explanation. Perhaps they didn't hold to the tradition. My grandmother and her older brother were named for their paternal grandparents while they were still living - a fact she surely knew but never mentioned to me. I had come to the conclusion that this was my Slovakian great-grandfather showing that he was not superstitious like the Galizainers.

Or perhaps young Josef Linden was named after someone in his Linden family, perhaps his paternal grandfather. I knew a few cases like that. My father's first cousin Herb was given the same name as his grandfather Hersch Pickholz, who was alive for Herb's first twelve years. He was named, not for his grandfather, but for Hirsch Wachs, who is on Herb's father's side.

In another case I know, a woman whose parents are Chaim and Chaya named her third and final son Chaim while her father was living. It seems that her husband also had parents Chaim and Chaya. His father had died and since he is an only child, it was their only chance to name for his father. They asked her father's permission, which he granted.

That wouldn't work for the Lindens because the marriage record for Markus and Roza shows Markus' father to be Isak. Not Josef.

Markus Linden, son of Isak born 1880 married Roza, daughter of Josef Pickholz and Lany Feldman

Not being in the mood to give up, I had a look at the records for the Lindens in Zbarazh.

And here we see Riwka, Ziwie, Moses Selig and Abraham Leib, children of Josef Isaac Linden and Hinde Fleischfarb all born in the same decade as Markus. Markus' birth is not here, but I am ready to consider that his marriage record had only one of his father's names and that he was in fact Josef Isaac.

And I looked at one more document. Markus' son Leon/Aryeh submitted a Page of Testimony for his father to Yad Vashem.
Markus Linden, born 1880, was murdered in Zbarazh in 1942. His father was Yosef Yitzhak.  I do not know when Markus' father died, but it is clear that he is the one whose name passed to Markus' son in 1911.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Zachy's Mutation

For several years, we have seen the identical Y-DNA results for the three Pikholz descendants from Skalat. First at 37 markers and later at 67 markers. The three count back to known ancestors who were born around 1800.

Zachy, who lives here in Israel and whom I have never actually met, counts back to his third great-grandfather Mordecai Pikholz. Mordecai's 1864 Skalat death record says he was fifty-nine years old, so I list him as having been born about 1805. "Filip" (not his real name) lives in Poland and counts back to his second great-grandfather Nachman Pikholz, whose 1865 Skalat death record says he was seventy years old.

My own second great-grandfather is Izak Fischel Pikholz and we are guessing he was born about 1810. Autosomal DNA and the relationships within the families have brought me to the tentative conclusion that Mordecai and Izak Fischel are brothers. These same considerations tell me that Nachman is not a brother - rather an uncle or perhaps a cousin.

At the same time, we saw that we also had a perfect match with two Spiras and a genetic distance of one with a Spiro. In the case of the Spiro and one of the Spiras, this was based on Y-67 tests. The second Spira, whom I refer to as "the Z-man," has only done a Y-37. That brought me to the clear conclusion that we were Spira before we were Pikholz. And probably not that long ago.

Comparing Spira to us (Y-67)
FTDNA said with 99.4% certainty that our most recent common ancestor (MRCA) was within the last nine generations. For reasons that are not clear to me, that 99.4% is the prediction both for the Spira with a perfect match and for the Spiro with a mutation built-in.

Both Spira and Spiro had upgraded to Y-111 and during the recent summer sale, I decided to do the same. Much to my surprise, the additional 44 markers showed three mutations between me and Spiro and four between me and Spira. Whether they were my mutations or theirs, I couldn't tell.

So I upgraded the other two Pikholz kits to Y-111, first Filip and then Zachy. Filip and I remained identical, so clearly the mutations happened before our common Pikholz ancestor. That gave me the clear feeling that our split from the Spira/Spiro family was several generations earlier than I had thought.

Now we have Zachy's Y-111 and he has a mutation, compared to Filip and me. This is clearly in the generations between Mordecai and Zachy because I do not have it. The mutation is at the marker called "DYS712" where Filip and I have a value of 21 while Zachy has 20.

The FTDNA probability chart shows a change in the expected MRCA due to Zachy's mutation, but of course we know for fact that this is not relevant.
I also ran the probability chart to compare my results (and Filip's) to each of Spira, Spiro and the Z-man. I used the same nine generations that I had assumed back in the days of the Y-67 results.

At 37 markers, all three show a 98.3% probability of a MRCA with us at nine generations, despite the fact that Spiro has a mutation that the others do not.

At 67 markers, that rises to a 99.4% probability.

At 111 markers, the probability plummets to 84.5% for Spira and 92.9% for Spiro - despite the fact that in both cases there are four mutations. Apparently Spira's mutations are more significant than Spiro's. (Two of the four mutations are on the same markers and two are on different markers.)

Nine generations still looks good. Less certain, yet a reasonable guess. Perhaps even the early 1700s, if you believe that sort of thing.

Thanks to Igor Schein for his assistance in counting up the markers.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

And Sometimes The Record Is Plain Wrong

We all know that records can be wrong. Census records are based on self-reporting and depend on proper recording by the census taker, not to mention transcription errors before they appear online where we can find them in an index. Passenger lists have much the same problem.

The informant on a death record may have given the wrong parents' names, birth place.or other information. Naturalization records often have errors.

Birth records are less likely to be wrong, but it happens. Marriage records should not be wrong - the bride and groom know their ages, birth places and parents' names - but generally no supporting documentation was necessary so there could be errors. Especially when the bride is older than the groom and takes off a few years. Draft cards should be right, but are not always.

So I am not breaking any new ground in the title of this blog. Nonetheless, it's a story worth telling.

Earlier this week, I received a note from the great Logan Kleinwaks who was looking at Sambor records and came across one of mine.  He wrote:
While examining Sambor marriage records without public JRI-Poland indexes, I found the attached (top) involving Abraham Chaim Langenauer from Rybnik, son of Izak Pickholz and Reisel Langenauer.
The record is from 24 June 1923

I know this couple. I received a large amount of information from the eldest daughter, Mahla, who died nearly four years ago. She also sent me a recording of her recollections of growing up in France and escaping Europe. I have met at least two of the other three daughters and I think they are all still living.

Avraham Chaim died in 1954 and is buried in Raanana. His wife Hinde Lea died in 1983 and is buried in Zichron Moshe Cemetery in Benei Berak. I have been to both graves. Their one son died in France soon after his mother.

The father's grave lists him as Avraham, without the Chaim, though Mahla's grave has his full name. But on the grave, we see that Avraham's father is Yosef, not Yitzhak as in the marriage record.

The grave is correct. Yosef Pikholz was born in about 1865 to Yeroham Fischel ben Moshe Pikholz and Gittel Luftschein. He was named for father's mother's father's father Yosef Steg as were a whole set of Yosefs in that family. Yosef married Reisel Langenauer and the family used the Langenauer name. We know all this every which way.

In Skalat, we have my third great-grandfather Izak Josef Pikholz who was known as Yosef, as were most of the descendants named for him. But there was no such phenomenon with any of the descendants of Yosef Steg.

The Sambor marriage record is plain wrong. Sambor is the bride's town but obviously the groom was there and knew his father's name! It happens. So by all means, find documents - but you cannot assume that any single document is precise.

Lia Landberg pointed out on Facebook that the second note in the far right column of the marriage record says that the birth record had been presented. 

So let me show you that the birth record gives the father's name as Josef, and includes his signature.

Housekeeping notes
I just posted this on Facebook.
I just heard from a known-but-missing branch of one of my mystery Pikholz families. This could be one of those where MtDNA may be very useful.
This is the family. More as it happens.