Thursday, September 26, 2019

FOR THE RECORD: My Grandfather's Name

Sometimes I write about matters of general genealogical interest; other times it's more personal.  Knowing (hoping?) that this blog will be a significant part of the official family record, I have an occasional post with the intent to get certain facts and stories "on the record." This is one of those.

The question
My father is the eldest of three. In the last two weeks we lost both his brother, Uncle Bob, and his sister, Aunt Betty. Uncle Bob was buried in Huntington West Virginia where he lived his final months with his daughter and son-in-law Linda and Mitch. Aunt Betty is in Poale Zedeck Sheraden in Pittsburgh, behind her parents. Over forty years ago, she pointed and said "That's where we will be."

Aunt Betty being brought
to rest behind her mother
During the service at the funeral home, Aunt Betty was called "Basche Feige bat Chaim Menahem." At Uncle Bob's funeral last week, he was also called "ben Chaim Menahem (and Miriam)."

After he returned home, my eldest son wrote and asked about the fact that my grandfather's grave says "Menahem Chaim." So I would like to set the record straight.

My grandfather, Morris Pickholtz, was Menahem, called Menahem Mendel by some in his close family. When he was fifty-one, he had a serious heart attack and for a while it was not clear if he would survive. I was born during that period and there was a definite possibility that I would be named for him. The name Chaim was added.

He lived another nine years and eventually died of a stroke and in the intervening years, his used Chaim Menahem. Both my father and Uncle Bob were called to the Torah as "ben Chaim Menahem." I know all this because I was there.

The actual story
When his gravestone was erected, the long-time rabbi of Poale Zedeck, Rabbi Joseph Shapiro, told Aunt Betty that his original name should appear first so his stone says "Menahem Chaim."

Four in a row. My grandparents on the left. Next to them Aunt Helen and Uncle Joe. Two brothers married two sisters.
Two grandsons were born after my grandfather died.  Aunt Betty's youngest son is Menahem Chaim, as on the stone. Uncle Bob's son in Chaim Menahem, as he was called. If my youngest sister had been a boy, she would have been Chaim Menahem. (Two of my second cousins are named for my grandfather - one with Menahem as a first name and a second name from his other side, the other is Menahem Mendel.)

Background on the names
My grandfather was the youngest of ten. Before him were three sisters, three brothers and three more brothers who died before their second birthdays.

My grandfather was born in late 1896 and was given the name Mendel on his birth record.

The death of Mendel Kwoczka
Some months earlier, his mother's uncle Mendel Kwoczka died at age seventy-one. I have no doubt at all that this is where his name comes from.

The uncle Mendel is identified explicitly as the son of Josel and Jute Lea Kwoczka and we already know them as my great-grandmother's paternal grandparents.

My grandfather and his siblings - who is named for whom
We know whom seven of the ten children of my grandparents are named. Well, almost. I wrote at some length about Uncle Max' name here. Both Uncle Max and Uncle Joe reversed their first and middle names - in fact they probably never knew the correct order. In Uncle Joe's case, it was no doubt because the great-grandfather he was named for was known as Josef, as were all the Isak Josefs who were named for him.

I have no idea whom Uncle Dave and Aunt Mary (Miriam) were named for. My guess is that they are both named for people in Isak Fischel's family. We don't really have any Davids or Miriams in the early-generation Skalat Pikholz families.

Also note that my great-grandfather was called Hersch on all his European documents. On his grave as well as on the graves of my grandfather, Uncle Joe and Aunt Bessie, he is called Zvi Hirsch, while on the graves of Uncle Max, Uncle Dave and Aunt Becky, he is called Zvi. Aunt Mary's grave has no Hebrew.

Wishing everyone a good new year. May you be written and sealed in the Book of Life.

לְשָּנָה טוֹבָה תִּכָּתֵבוּ וְתֵחָתֵמוּ

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The New Skalat Pikholz Haplogroup

From time to time, I have reported in this space about my Y-DNA matches, with particular emphasis on the apparent fact that the Skalat Pikholz family are part of the older Spira (sometimes Spiro)  family. In my most recent post on the subject eight months ago, my emphasis was on the Y-111 results of a Spira and a Spiro, whom I have known about for some time, and the three Skalat Pikholz testers (Zachy, "Filip" and I). I also included two other Spiras who had done only Y-37 tests; one I call "Z-man" and one new tester whose actual surname was changed from Spira recently.

My guess at the time was that the Pikholz line split from the other Spiras about nine generations ago. Perhaps a few more. (There are no significant autosomal matches within the above group of seven.)

So what's new?
We have several new developments. First of all, the new Spira tester has upgraded to Y-111 and he is a genetic distance of 3 from "Filip" and me and 4 from Zachy. That is closer to us than the others. The new tester has still not done a Family Finder (autosomal) test, but I would be surprised if he is close enough for an autosomal match.

Second, Family Tree DNA has a new test called Y-700, an upgrade of the Big Y-500. The Y-700 has taken some months because they wanted a new cheek swab. This test is based on Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), as opposed to the Y-37 and Y-111 which are based on Short Tandem Repeats (STRs). In general, STRs are relevant to more recent generations, while SNPs are more ancient. (That is an oversimplification and you can read more about this subject here and at other blogs.)

The big deal about the SNP tests is that while the STR test can assign all of us to the huge R-M269 haplogroup, the SNP tests assign us more sophisticated haplogroups based on what they call the "terminal SNP." These terminal SNPs are outlined in a haplotree structure.

This is the relevant section of the R-M269 haplotree. All these people are part of haplogroup R-FGC20765, which is the way my own haplogroup was defined when we first began talking about SNPs.

Then, about three years ago, some of us were redefined as R-A9700, while the group on the left had its own set of terminal SNPs. I have been graciously guided through the world of SNPs by Rachel Unkefer, who is an administrator of our haplogroup project.
My paternal and maternal haplogroups
as they appear on my FTDNA home page.

The Y-700 test has identified a new SNP - R-FT56914 - for which three of us (Spira, the new tester and I) have tested positive. The Spiro test is still pending. R-FT56914 is my new terminal SNP and FTDNA shows it on my home page and in the center column of the haplotree above.

The Spiras have a later terminal SNP and they are defined as R-A10520. We have no idea exactly what "later" means, only that it was later than R-FT56914.

This is the newest version of my Y-111 results. "Filip," Zachy and Spiro do not appear in the second column since they have no Y-700 results. (Spiro is, as I said, waiting for his results.)

Since "Filip" and Zachy have not done SNP tests, I cannot know if the new R-FT56914 terminal SNP arose within the last two hundred years which would make it peculiar to me or if it is older and covers all three of us.  At some point, perhaps I'll scrape together some budget to run the Y-700 on one of them.

The two at the bottom are from the R-FGC20755 group. They appear in the far left column on the haplotree together with a third man whose Y-111 does not match mine.

Then there is Jerry Simonowits, on the third line from the bottom. He is significantly further from me than the Spiras. He did the Y-700 but, unlike the rest of us, tested negative for the R-FT56914 SNP. So he remains defined as R-A9700 and appears to my right on the haplotree. 

This is the TiP report for the closest of the Spiras, based on our Y-111 results. Nine-ten-eleven generations to the common ancestor still looks reasonable.

We are still clearly closer to the Spira/Spiro family than to anyone else.