Sunday, April 27, 2014

Perfect Timing

One of the lessons of the Kling family story was that sometimes it's all about timing. Here's another one along those lines.

In the course of my single-surname research on the Pikholz families, I have found old records of several families which don't go beyond AGAD birth records from the late 1800s. One such couple is Feige-Minke Pikholz and Moses Hubel, who had five children, during the period 1877-97. I also have a record for one granddaughter, born 1903. This family has been sitting undisturbed on my website, for several years, waiting for someone to stumble across it..

One evening, I received an email from a woman in Paris, telling me that her grandfather Israel Leib was the son of this couple. (He is one of the five that I have.) We had a couple of tentative email exchanges, and Tuesday evening she mentioned that two of her fathers' brothers - Munio and David - had come to Israel. I found David's 1993 grave easily enough and then searched for Munio in the usual ways. 

I was messing around on Google and up came a five-day old blog entry from a fellow named Dor, who said that Munio was his great-grandfather. I traced Dor (who has a very common surname and whose blog had no contact information that I could find) and several; days later spoke with him and his mother. The family was sitting shiva for the grandmother - Munio's daughter-in-law - but were very pleased to speak with me.

Turns out that Dor was thirteen years old and made the blog as part of a roots assignment for school. I sent him AGAD documents that gave him four more generations and a memorial scroll from Stryj which named a number of Munio's sisters and cousins. Then I went to the National Archives and ordered Munio's Mandatory Citizenship file.

The timing here is remarkable. Dor's blog entry was five days old when I found it. A week earlier, I would not have found him. And he is probably thinking how easy this was. One simple blog entry and presto, all these documents fall into his lap. 

This was four or five years ago and although they have been on my family mailing list ever since, I have not heard another word from Dor, his mother or the woman in France. (Don't you know that I'd love to get some DNA.)

(Thanks to Marcy Baez-Lopez for reminding me about this story. She will be using a version of it in her genealogical society newsletter, Genealogy Detectives, in Cecil County Maryland.)

Housekeeping notes

The IAJGS Salt Lake City Conference schedule is out - at least a preliminary one. I am scheduled Wednesday for both my talk and the panel discussion.
Session Code Session Title Speaker(s) Room Venue
9:00 AM - 10:15 AM
W-04 Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove Israel Pickholtz Grand Ballroom/B 2nd Floor
4:45 PM - 6:00 PM
W-21 Internet Collaboration: How Do We Share Our Family Trees Online? Sallyann Sack-Pikus
Adam Brown
Gary Mokotoff
Israel Pickholtz
Grand Ballroom/B 2nd Floor

Speaking of DNA, we received results last week from a double second cousin of mine. Our grandfathers are brothers and our grandmothers are sisters. So in the larger Pikholz structure, our level of DNA matches should be pretty similar. Not so.

That same day I connected with a non-Pikholz family with many matches to us and four of them joined our project.  They represented two sides of that family and their matches with us were varied. My cousin matched all four of them. I matched none.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Who Is Zisl Kling?

About three months ago, I introduced the family of Zisl Pickholz Kling, late of Kiryat Yam, near Haifa.

We know she was born to Mordecai (Markus) and Sarah Pickholz in Lwow 23 March 1920. Her husband was killed in the Janowska camp and her baby son died in the ghetto. Her only sister and family were killed in the ghetto - we do not know their names.

Zisl reported that her parents were killed in the ghetto, and we have a record for a man who may be her father, dying in the ghetto, but with no identifying information aside from age 48. That age is reasonable.

The thing is, although we have over sixty pre-War Pikholz descendants named Mordecai and over seventy named Sarah, we have no married couple with these names. (Actually, we have a Moshe Mordecai Pickholz married to a Sara, but she was born 1907, so is too young to be Zisl's mother.)

We know that Jewish marriages were not always registered, so Zisl's Pickholz surname could have come either from her father or from her mother. And of course, the parents could have been born anywhere in Galicia.

As I mentioned three months ago, Zisl's daughter sent me the affidavit that she used in her application for reparations and it opens as follows:
I underlined in blue her name as listed : Kling    Zisl     Pickholz and in red the words: Max  Sara  Ledra, spread out the width of the page.

Max and Sarah are, of course, Zisl's parents. Perhaps Ledra is the surname of the non-Pickholz parent. So I began a search of the surname Ledra.

The first thing that I found on JRI-Poland looked interesting. It was an 1887 birth in Lwow. It was the only listing for "Sara Sounds-like-LEDRA."

Sara Jutte Ladre of Zolkiew and Abraham Jakob Fruchs had a daughter Karolina. What else is there about this couple? I tried Fruchs.

Four more births for the same couple, in 1888, 1892, 1893 and 1894, with the mother's name spelled Ladrer or Laderer. We also have the marriage record. Sara Jutte's mother is Sosche Marjem. Sosche is the same as Zisl. But this cannot be the family of Zisl's mother Sara. Sara would hardly be the daughter of Sara Jutte. I tried some other lookups. First LADRER and then FRUX.

Two more - Fani in 1890- and Zygmunt Henryk in 1896. I tried a few more searches.

Maksymilian, born 1901. Max. Mordecai. Maybe Zisl's father is the Ladre/Laderer and her mother is Sara Pickholz. Maksymilian would have been nineteen when Zisl was born. A bit young, but possible. But if my suspicion is correct that Zisl was the younger of the two sisters, Maksymilian might really be too young. And besides, we have the ghetto record that shows someone with the same name as dying in 1941-2 at age 48. So maybe not.

But if this is indeed Zisl's father, what Sara Pickholz might be her mother?  Well we really don't have many Sara Pikholz without known husbands, of anywhere near the right age. There is a Sure Feige, born 1903 in Skalat to Leib Sass and Friede Pikholz. There are two born 1904 - Sara born in Rozdol to Aron Fuchs and Itta Chane Pikholz and Sara Lea born in Mikolayev to Markus Pikholz and Blime Jubjener.  But these three would have been sixteen-seventeen when Zisl was born. Maybe, but more likely too young.

Of course, there are missing records. But there's not much we can do about that.

We can always try to get Zisl's birth record, but it would not be in the archives as it is less than one hundred years old. That means a more complicated process and a significant expense. And if Zisl's father is the Pikholz, it would not tell us who he is.

Right now I am thinking that 2020 is not so far away. And if Zisl's sister is older, her birth record would be available earlier.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The DNA of Rozdol

Here is a look at the families of the nine Pikholz descendants of Rozdol families who have tested for our project thusfar.
We believe that Pinkas (upper left) and his wife Sara Rivka are the ancestors of all the Rozdolers.

All nine did Family Finder tests and the three with male lines did Y tests. (Amos, who is our only female line, did an MtDNA test, but for now we have no one to compare him to.)

(We have several Rozdol lines that are not represented here and most of the ones we have could do with additional test participants - particularly the line on the far left. Several people said they would test, both with Family Finder and with Y tests, but did not follow through. A few others simply said "no" or ignored my requests.)

I put the results into the chromosome browser, a tool which shows how up to five people match the person represented by the black background. In this case, the black background is Esther, chosen for that role simply because she matches all the others.

Since the browser can handle only five matches at a time, I did this in two parts - the ones here on the right and the ones just below on the left.

Since Ira (green) and Steve (purple) are fairly close to one another - second cousins - it is not surprising to see that they both match Esther in the same place on chromosome #7.

In fact since a person has two of each chromosome - one from the mother and one from the father -  it is possible that Ira matches Esther's mother's chromosome, while Steve matches her father's (or vice versa) but we shall ignore that for now.

Amos (yellow) and Gadi (blue) match Esther in the same place on chromo- somes #6 and #7.

Gadi and Ira match Esther on chromosome #16 and very slightly on chromosomes #3 and #7.

We also have small overlapping matches between Robert (orange) and Amos on chromosome #12 and between Gadi and Steve on chromosome #15.

On the second browser, we have  the three cousins Micha (orange), Miriam (blue) and Francis (green) and I left Amos there as well.

Micha and Francis match Esther on chromosome #2 and Micha and Miriam have a very small match with Esther on the X chromosome.

But there are also some matches that include both groups. At the left end of chromosome #3, Gadi, Ira, Micha and Francis all match Esther more or less together.

Francis matches Ira on chromosome #6, Steve on chromosome #15 and both of them on chromosome #7. Micha and Gadi have a very small match with Esther at the far right end of chromosome #7.

I have little doubt that we would have a clearer picture if we had additional family members testing, as well as a better grasp of the analytical tools.

While I was at it, I also did chromosome browsers for Esther with the non-Pikholz who match many of us. The left side of the image includes Mark, Lily, Victor, Cynthia and Kenneth. Victor and Cynthia are known to be second cousins. On the right, we have Marla, her uncle, mother and brother - a family I discussed in some detail a few weeks ago.
Please click to enlarge this image.

The matches in Marla's family on chromosome #1 and five others are unremarkable, as we know them to closely related to one another.  What we did not know is that Esther shares these matches with them.

Marla's brother and Victor (both in green) both match Gadi and Esther near the right end of chromosome #12.

When we compare these non-Pikholz matches to the Pikholz marches above, we can see a number of overlapping matches - all with Esther, of course.  We have Amos and Kenneth (chromosome #6), Ira and Marla (#7), Mark and Gadi (#8), Lily and Gadi (#16) and Robert and Marla (#19).

Once again, more data and a better grasp of the tools would help.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Woman Who Matches Etta Bryna

I am posting this on Sunday, the sixth of Nisan, the 118th yahrzeit of my great-grandmother
Etta Bryna bat Yehudah HaLevi Rosenbloom. We do not know her maiden name - a subject which I discussed in some detail two years ago.

This is the ancestral line about which I know the least. Even less than what I know about her husband, my namesake, Israel David ben Yaakov Rosenbloom. At least I know his mother's name - Shayna Liba.

In the case of Etta Bryna, we only know what we do because we have a photograph of her grave, with her daughter Shayna Liba standing along side.

Etta Bryna almost certainly died in her mid to late thirties. Her eldest daughter was about eighteen. Her only living son was a few weeks short of his second birthday. Her husband married again soon after she died and the new wife - who had two children of her own - may have discouraged further connections with the dead wife's family.

Perhaps Etta Bryna's family didn't live in Borisov, so seeing them would have involved some effort. Or maybe they were in town and my grandmother's younger brother Uncle Hymen (Chaim Benzion) simply never realized they were his mother's kin. When Uncle Hymen joined Social Security, he wrote "don't know" where his mother's maiden name should have been.

I am sure my grandmother would have known some things about her mother's family, but no one ever asked her.

Today I want to touch on a different side of this problem. DNA testing.

I first dipped my toe into the waters of DNA testing three years ago in connection with the mysterious line of my father's father's father's father. (That may sound trivial, but trust me, it wasn't at the time.) So I decided to order a Y-67 test to see if anyone out there matched my male line.

While I was at it, I decided to do the same thing for the line of Etta Bryna, my mother's mother's mother. The maternal test looks at the mitochondrial DNA which is separate from the 23 pairs of chromosomes we generally hear about.  It passes from mother to both daughters and sons, but only the daughters pass it along to the next generation. MtDNA tends to remain unchanged for many generations, so I decided to pay attention only to perfect matches since my dead end is so few generations ago. The testing company I used is FamilyTreeDNA. I did the test they call "MtFull Sequence," which is the highest level available.

The results came back and I had six matches. I exchanged some correspondence with the six and they were all over the map. My Etta Bryna lived in what is now Belarus and I had these matches with people from places far away - like Hungary. I had no basis for doing anything further and in any case, I had more productive things to do.

Fast forward a year when we decided to begin a DNA project for Pikholz descendants. Most of that project is based on the Family Finder test, which looks at autosomal DNA, the sort that comes undifferentiated from all ancestors. So I did the Family Finder. It was about six months ago when I had another good look at my MtDNA results.

By now I have twelve matches, all from the haplogroup U1b1, like me. None of them gave much information. Two of the twelve posted the basics of their ancestors in what they call a gedcom file. One of those two didn't have enough information to work with. The other went back six or seven generations in a family called Goldberg, in a town named Divin, in the southwest corner of Belarus, about 360 km from Borisov.

Six of the twelve had done Family Finder tests, so I figured that could give me an idea if any of those might be related to be in the more recent generations. Remember, I have no knowledge of Etta Bryna's siblings, so if she had any, their descendants could be as close to me as third cousins - well within the range of Family Finder matches.

Of those six, one was not a match at all - which means that our MRCA (most recent common ancestor) was probably really long ago. Four others showed Family Finder matches likely to be "remote," which generally means five, six, seven, eight generations back. Also not very useful.

One came out close. Well, not  exactly close close, but estimated as a third-to-fifth cousin. For convenience, we'll say fourth cousin. So this could be a descendant of one of Etta Bryna's mother's sisters.  The match is with a woman named Deborah Sirotkin Butler, and I appreciate her permission to refer to her here by name.

Deborah didn't say much about her family on the site, but was receptive when I wrote to her. She is new at genealogy and told me that her oldest maternal name is Margolin (various spellings), from Gomel, in southeastern Belarus about 160 miles (260 km) from Borisov. According to JewishGen, Gomel had some 20,000 Jews in 1897.

No known relative on my mother's side has tested thusfar, but I had a look at my Family Finder match with Deborah to see who else matched both of us.

There are 1690 people who have done Family Finder tests and match both Deborah and me. I suppose I could plug all of them into the chromosome browser to see if any of them match both of us on the same chromosome. Maybe if there were one hundred, I'd do it, but not 1690.

Thirty-four of those 1690 are projected as third cousins or better - to me. I don't know how close they are to Deborah. I could ask her to see what all of these are to her, but I am feeling my way in the dark and I think that kind of thing is premature.

But what is curious is that Deborah matches eight Pikholz descendants and my two non-Pikholz Kwoczka cousins, Baruch and Pinchas. The eight include my father's sister and a second cousin of mine, Terry. But not my father's cousin Herb.

On chromosome 18, with me as the background and Deborah in yellow, we see matches with (from the top) Aunt Betty, Terry and Baruch. There is no match with Pinchas here. So Deborah is related to me some other way that includes my Pikholz (or Kwoczka) ancestors - in addition to via Etta Bryna. Part of the "fourth cousin" that FTDNA projects for Deborah and me must be from this other source.

I also looked at the other six Pikholz matches that Deborah and I share. Three do not match Deborah and me on the same chromosomes, so they are not relevant here, for now..

The other three are interesting. (Deborah is purple here.) Robert, who is from Rozdol, matches us on chromosome 12, but Rita's cousin and Jane match us on the same chromosome 18 that my own family matches!

Deborah is orange here.
And.... I see that Deborah and I both match with nine of the non-Pikholz who match many of the Pikholz. Of those, there are three who match us on the same chromosome. And those chromosomes are #12 and #18! 
 Mark (blue) and Alexandra (green) match us on both, but not on the right parts of the chromosome. On the other hand, Debbie L. (yellow) matches Deborah and me on chromosome 12 in the same place as Robert.

Debbie, Deborah and I also have a nice little match on chromosome 8, that does not include Robert.

So that accounts for nineteen of our 1690 common matches. But of course, I am looking for my mother's mother's side, not Pickholtz Project people.

So what next? I am not sure. I have asked several of my cousins on my mother's side about testing, but thusfar none have replied. That could help - both regarding Etta Bryna's family and with her husband's Rosenbloom line.

Isn't this fun?

I think I will open a Facebook group for descendants of Etta Bryna.  If you haven't been invited, look for it. Maybe with some luck, we'll locate a descendant of her older daughter Alta Kaplan.

Alta in the mid-1920s in Russia, with sons Yakov, Baruch Yosef,
one whose name we don't know and daughter Etta Bryna
Housekeeping notes

I have the three books that my GRIPitt course recommended and I read the first already. It's called FINDING FAMILY: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA, by Richard Hill. He is an adoptee who describes his quest to find his birth parents. In addition to being an interesting story, it comes with a surprise result which would not have been possible without a little extra bit of testing, after he thought he was done.

I have completed my airline reservations for summer. The major open question is whether I'll be doing my first Shabbat in Baltimore or Pittsburgh. (The other two are in Chicago.) Since I'll be driving from Baltimore to Pittsburgh, I don't have to decide now.

I hope to visit family graves on that drive, in Harrisburg (Kesher Israel & Chisuk Emuna), Johnstown (Grandview), White Oak (New Gemillas Chesed) and Duquesne (Beth Jacob).

One of my two lecture proposals for the IAJGS Conference in Salt Lake City was accepted. I am happy to say it's the better one and the easier one to update.  The topic is Beyond a Doubt: What We Know vs. What We Can Prove

 They also approved a panel discussion called Internet Collaboration: How Do We Share Our Family Trees Online? in which I shall be participating. More on that soon.