Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Wives of Moshe Hersch

Mail from Judy
In Orlando with Rozdol Pikholz cousin Audrey (left) and
my fourth cousin once removed Steve and his wife Diane
I have been very busy lately and have not even written yet about my visit to Moscow. And I'll not be writing about the IAJGS Conference in Orlando.

But some DNA matches came up this week that appear significant and I want to tell you about one of those. (Despite everything, I have been trying to keep up with all these "I have ## matches with your project. How are we related?" emails.)

This one (partially redacted) came Thursday:
Dear Israel Pikholz,
Your reputation precedes you. However, I didn't think I had many matches with you until I looked at it from the perspective of my (full) brother's DNA report, and especially from Chromosome 23. I am attaching a PDF showing all 17 matches of individuals you manage who appear on my brother's list in GEDmatch.

My brother is Ira Rosenberg ... and I am Judy Pritchett .... I have included myself.

Our four grandparents' surnames are:

Rosenberg (unknown, possibly Zbaroz) ff
Dejur/Deshur (Katerinopol), fm
Abramowitz (Odessa), mf
Alter/Alpert (Kriulyani, Bessarabia) mm

On Chromosome 23 there do seem to be two distinct family lines represented. 
This is chromosome 23, as she attached it.

Line 1 is Judy herself, where she matches Ira.

Lines 2 and 3 are my fourth cousin Nan and her son Steve who introduced one of my Orlando talks, ~25.6 cM. Line 4 is Nan's third cousin and my fourth cousin Charlie, ~16.3 cM. The four blue bits (5.3-5.9 cM) are Aunt Betty, two of my sisters and Uncle Bob's daughter. When I ran it myself the following day, Uncle Bob himself also appeared, as did my double second cousin Marshal. (Marshal was missing because Judy only saw seventeen matches with my families, when in fact there are forty-nine.)

All these matches are on my father's side - and in fact must be my grandmother's side because Uncle Bob gets no X from his father.

The large X-match between Ira and Nan & Charlie

Nan and Charlie are, as I said, my fourth cousins, descendants of Moshe Hersch, the brother of my great-great-grandmother Rivka Feige Pikholz.

Charlie could have received the segment in question from either parent of his great-grandmother Sara.

But Nan could not have. Her great-grandfather Berisch received X only from his mother. Since she and Charlie received the X from the same source, it must have been the mother of Berisch and Sara - Moshe Hersch's wife. (I acknowledge that it is possible that the X in question snuck into the lineages of Charlie and Nan via a spouse of one of the intervening generations, but based on what I know of the family, I consider this highly unlikely.)

Ira's Rosenberg family comes from Zbarazh, which is near Skalat, but since Ira received no X from his father, that cannot be the source of this match. But that is another question, not for here.

But now I must introduce a bit of research history. 

The Hebrew side of Berisch's stone.
When we received the 1826-1845 Skalat deaths maybe eighteen years ago (thanks to Jacob Laor and Alex Dunai), we found an 1843 death for seven year old Israel Pikholz, son of Moshe and an 1842 death for three year old Perl Pikholz the daughter of Moshe Hersch. The fathers may be the same person, but not necessarily. We also have the 1918 death of Nan's great-grandfather Bernard / Berisch Pickholtz in Philadelphia - which includes his birth date 14 December 1837. His father is named on his tombstone as Moshe Zvi, which is, of course, Moshe Hersch.

So it appears that Moshe Hersch may have had these three children in a three year period, before 1840.

Later we received an 1887 death record from the AGAD archives for Sara Pikholz, showing her to be forty years old. From the birth records of Sara's children, we know her parents to be Moshe Hersch and Jente. (Sara's husband is Szulim Pikholz, but that has nothing to do with this analysis.)

Sara's 1887 death record - age at death was forty.

Because of the long break between the three pre-1840 births and the 1847 birth of Sara, I was not prepared to declare that this was one family. When I got into DNA, I demonstrated in Chapter Six of my book that the two Moshe Hersch were the same person, but I was still wary of saying that all four children were from the same wife. (Yes, I know that there may have been additional childen in between, but I have seen nothing that mentions such children.)

But since Nan and Charlie share a segment on the X chromosome that can only have come from Moshe Hersch's wife, it is tempting to put the question to bed by declaring that Moshe Hersch had only one wife - the one we know as Jente.

But not so fast. If The mother of Moshe Hersch's pre-1840 children died, it is likely that the family would have married him off to someone else within the family. The dead wife's sister or niece, for instance. So even if Moshe Hersch had two wives, there is a better than even chance that they would have had much of the same X chromosomes. If they were sisters, the X from their father would have been identical.

I still do not know if Moshe Hersch had two wives, and we may never know. But I am now certain that if he did, the two women were closely related. Considering all the difficlties in this research, that qualifies as progress.

What about Ira's matches with my grandmother?
In addition to the six ~5.5 cM segments, Ira also has matches of more than 10 cM with my grandmother's family, on two other chromosomes.

On chromosome 17, Ira has matches of 13-16 cM with Aunt Betty, Uncle Bob, my second cousins Marshal and Susan and one of my sisters. Another sister has ~8.8 cM on the same segment. So we know that Ira is related to my grandmother's side, as I showed above on chromosome 23.

On chromosome 18, there are three identical segments of ~15.9 cM with my father's second cousin Shabtai, one of my sisters and me, plus a segment of ~12.6 cM with another of my sisters. This too is my grandmother's side, but in this case Shabtai makes it clear that the match is on my grandmother's mother's (Hungarian) side. The truth is, I'd be more comfortable if Aunt Betty, Uncle Bob or one or two of the second cousins also showed up on this segment, but we can only use what we have.

This match on my great-grandmother's side does not in any way indicate that the other two segments (on chromosomes 17 and 23) are also my grandmother's mother's side, rather than her father's side.

Now if Judy and Ira have some surnames and geography that fit any of this, or if they have cousins who can test, we may be able to move this along.

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