Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Finding Florkiewiczs




"Hi, I just discovered ... "

Ten days ago I received an email via the JewishGen Family Finder beginning: "Hi, I just discovered .... ". It was from a lady called Emily Y, and what she had just found was that her grandfather's brother, Barney Rosenberg, had married someone called Sylvia Florkiewitz, in the 1920s, in New York. "The name seems to be quite rare," she said. "Do you have any information about it?".

Florkiewicz is the family name of one of my cousins, Eva, and no, we knew very little about them. I had listed it on the JGFF in the hope that one day someone like Emily, who seemed to know something we didn't, might spot it and get in touch.


Eva is my Second Cousin, her grandmother Chawa Frankensztajn was a sister of my grandfather Lajb. Chawa’s husband was Elias Florkiewicz, they married around 1914. Our Florkiewicz family stayed in Poland, in the village of Juliszew, near Gombin (Gabin), where the Frankensztajns were living. Elias died in the 1930s, and sadly Chawa and three of her children were killed in the Holocaust. The only one to survive was their daughter Laja, who managed to get out in time and was evacuated to the USSR.


After the War Laja returned to Poland with her husband Josef and their son Henrik. Eva was born a few years later, then when Josef died in the early 1960s Laja and the children emigrated to Israel. All Eva knew of her grandfather Elias Florkiewicz was that he had some sisters who had gone to America. It seems Laja knew nothing more about them. You can see more about Chawa and her family in these posts from a couple of years ago.

Emily's email prompted me to start looking again. Where had I got to with my research into the Florkiewicz family?

Well, it turns out that I had had a pretty good lead a couple of years ago, and that I had not followed it up. The clue is tucked away at the bottom of the Registration Card that Laja filled in when she returned to Poland after the War. 

1: Laja Florkiewicz's Poland Registration Card 1946
The Jewish Community in Poland registered the details of all Jews who had survived, and managed to return to Poland after the War. The Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw has an archive of all these registration cards, but they are not available online. Laja returned in 1946, and was registered in Lublin. When I was researching in Warsaw in 2014, Anna, one of the lovely people at the JHI, found her card for me. 






Section 15 of the card is ‘Relatives Abroad’, and there you will see the following entry (see top of this post):

Name: Florkiewicz Sura
Relationship: Grandmother
Country: USA. 

Here was confirmation that Laja’s grandmother Sura - Elias’s mother - had indeed emigrated to America. Anna had then helpfully located Sura Florkiewicz's Passenger Manifest for us, showing that she had emigrated in 1921. She suggested that Eva should be the one to follow this up, since it was her family - her cousins, hopefully - and Anna thinks people should be involved in their own research. I agreed, and passed the Manifest and the message on to Eva. You can probably guess what happened next - Eva and I both left it to each other, and neither of us followed it up.

Until Emily wrote. 

The first thing I did was to have another look at Sura's Passenger Manifest, which should tell us when she went, who she went with, where from, where to, and possibly other things as well.

2: Mendel Florkiewicz ANT-NYC 1921
This is the document that Anna had found for us. It shows Sura, with husband Mendel and children Chana, Laja and Malka travelling from Antwerp to New York in 1921. Their nearest relative back in Poland is shown as: ’son E Florkiewicz, Juliszow’. That’s their home village, and that has to be Elias. These are his parents and sisters.

3: Mendel Florkiewicz ANT-NYC 1921 p2
The New York Passenger Lists often have a second page. This shows where, and who, they are going to - in this case: ‘daughter L Blumenstock, 468 Hinsdale Street, Brooklyn’. This must be a fourth daughter, but all I knew about her was what is written here - she is married to someone called Blumenstock, and has obviously emigrated earlier. And she, or possibly he, has the initial 'L'. 

Climbing Trees
Then, as I was browsing the usual sites, I came across a Tree on Ancestry.com, put up by David G. His Tree had Mendel Florkiewicz (with a wife whose name is denoted 'Private') and 4 daughters: Pearl, Sylvia, Anna and Minnie. This was almost certainly our family - Mendel is Mendel, Anna is probably Chana, and Minnie could well be Malka, and the dates he has for them are a fairly good match to those on the Manifest. Sylvia could well be the person mentioned by Emily, Pearl is a new name, and he doesn't seem to have Laja; could Laja be the L Blumenstock shown on the Manifest?

Unfortunately for us, the only daughter David had any further information on is Minnie, who was the wife of Morris Schonberg. David turns out to be Minnie's grandson, and like us, he's very keen to share information.

Emily also has a Tree on Ancestry, but the only thing she had on Florkiewicz was the name Sylvia, married to Barney William (Benjamin) Rosenberg. She has a birth date of 1900 for her, similar to the date on the Manifest for Chana. She could possibly be the Sylvia on David's Tree. In which case that would give us 2 daughters who came over to the USA independently from the rest of the family - Pearl and Sylvia - making 5 in all. Elias is developing quite a family.

At this point I came across some Trees in a different part of the forest, on the Geni.com website. They were put up by Roseanne S and Marsha Sdescendants of the Blumenstock family who were aware of the Florkiewicz connection. These Trees showed that Pearl Florkiewicz was married to Louis Blumenstock, and so she must have been the daughter 'L Blumenstock' that the family was travelling to in 1921. They also give us the families of Anna, who married Adolphe Feigeles, and Lillian - who must be Laja - who married Charles Eisenberg.

That now gives us families for all 5 of Elias's sisters. The next challenge would be to identify who are the sisters who became Pearl and Sylvia in the USA; we'll have to delve into the Polish records again for that.  

And then, the purpose of the exercise so far as Eva is concerned - to trace their descendants. What cousins does she have? The information we have gathered from the Trees, and the contacts we have made this week, will help us do that. We are in touch with Emily and David, and I have written to Roseanne and Marsha, but I have not yet heard back from them.

Meanwhile, back in Poland - who were Pearl and Sylvia?

4: Florkiewicz Births Warsaw 1915

The prime source for Jewish Family History in Poland is the website of JRI-Poland, who have indexed an enormous number of surviving vital records. I came across the listing in this document some years ago, but until this week did not realise that they are in fact the records of our own Florkiewicz family. The original documents are not available online, but this index shows that Mendel and Sura registered the births of these four children all at once, in 1915, some 10 to 15 years after they were born. I can only think that at this point they were hoping to emigrate, and needed proper documentation to obtain passports. I would not put much faith in the precise dates of birth they give - Chana and Malka are shown as too close together, for a start - but I would think that the order of birth is correct.

The new find is Szejwa, the eldest of the four children appearing here. I was thrown a bit at first by seeing this person listed as 'M' for 'Male'. I had not seen Szejwa as a masculine name before, and indeed Elias used the name for one of his own daughters, Laja's younger sister, born in 1919. I think this is a clerical error, either in the original document or in the transcription for this database.

So who is she? The candidates we have are Pearl and Sylvia, and the similarity of names strongly suggests she will turn out to be Sylvia.

Two further things we learn are that Sura's maiden name was Lipe, and that they all seem to have been born in the Powazki district, in the north of Warsaw. The original documents are held at the Jewish Historical Institute, I will see if I can order copies of them, they may tell us a bit more.

And notice that neither Elias nor Pearl are included here. Elias was already married by 1915, and would be responsible for obtaining his own documentation if he needed it. What about Pearl?

5: Perla Florkiewicz b 1893


The only original birth certificate for this family that I have managed to find through JRI-Poland is this one. It confirms that Perla is indeed a daughter of Mendel and Sura, and is several years older than the other 4 sisters. We don't yet have any document giving a year of birth for Elias, but I would guess he comes between Perla and the others.

Like all records of this period, it’s hand-written and in Russian. Very badly hand-written. However I have managed to decipher that Perla was born on 17 October 1893, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, to Mendel Florkiewicz aged 35 and Sura née Lipe, aged 24. Amongst other things it also gives us the house number: 1659/60, and I have since managed to find out exactly where this building was situated, in the centre of Warsaw.

And the bonus at the end is the signature of the father, in Russian: Mendel Florkiewicz, great-grandfather of Eva and David, and also of Marsha and of Roseanne's husband, if my arithmetic is correct!

We're on a roll now. When did Perla and Szejwa emigrate? Did they go together? Let's see if we can find their Passenger Manifests.

6: Stefania Florkiewicz ANT-NYC 1920
I eventually managed to track down this Manifest for Szejwa (Sylvia), arriving in New York from Antwerp in 1920. She is neither Szejwa nor Sylvia, but Stefania. However, we can identify her by her contact back in Poland: 'mother, Suhra Florkiewicz, Warsaw’. The name ‘Stefania’ is not an Americanisation of her name, as this would not have happened until after she had arrived in the USA, and the Passenger Lists were compiled before they got on the boat in Antwerp. It may have been a name she used in Poland, outside Jewish circles.

7: Stefania Florkiewicz ANT-NYC 1920 p2
Page 2 of her Manifest tells us that she was going to: ‘sister, L Blumenstak, Hunsdale Street 465, Brooklyn’. We now know this was Perla, and her husband Louis. Her passage was paid by: ‘brother-in-law’, ie Louis.

The 1920 US Census for Louis and Pearl Blumenstock shows their eldest child Ruth as 3 years old, which suggests they married before 1917. I'm currently trawling through the New York City Marriage Index, but have not yet found them. The release of this Index, by the way, was obtained by Freedom of Information action taken against the NYC authorities by Reclaim the Records, a not-for-profit organisation set up to "get public data released back into the public domain" - more power to their elbows!

This Census also says that Louis and Pearl immigrated in 1915, and were naturalised in 1918. I have not yet found documentation for either of these events. Did they emigrate together, or separately? Did they marry in Poland, or in the USA? Who were they going to? Did either of them have relatives already there?

------- Hold the Front Page! ------- Hold the Front Page! ------- Hold the Front Page! 

LATEST NEWS
* * I have just this minute found the answer to some of these questions * *
* * Separate post to follow * * 
------- End -------

8: Descendant Chart Isadore Florkiewicz 3gen


Using these documents and many others, such as Census records, Birth, Marriage and Death listings, and others, I have put together this Tree. It shows what we currently know of the family from the parents of Mendel Florkiewicz, through three generations down to the children of Elias and his 5 sisters, Perla, Szejwa, Chana, Malka and Laja.

On Mendel’s Death Record his parents are shown as Isadore Florkowitz and Sylvia Zeshnick - but Isadore and Sylvia are not names that were used in Poland, they are clearly Americanisations. Either they emigrated as well, or Mendel used these forms when he spoke of them. Sura appears to have been the informant for this record, so it will have been she who supplied the names to the Registrar. My guess at the moment is that Mendel’s father Isadore would have been Icek (Isaac) in Poland, and his mother Sylvia would have been Szejwa - remember that Mendel's daughter Szejwa became Sylvia in the USA. Further, that his mother would have died some time before the birth of his daughter Szejwa, so that he was able to use the name for the new baby, in her memory.

I do have some names for the following generation, which is where Eva and David make their appearance, but there are a lot of blanks at the moment, which I hope to be able to fill in before too long.

What's in the name?
Going back through my emails, I have just realised that I was approached a couple of years ago, quite independently, by two people, one in Israel and one in France, who have connections to Florkiewicz families, and who may be connected to ours. The name does not appear to have been used by many Jewish families, but was reasonably common amongst gentile Poles, so many people with the name will not be related to us.

In fact one of our good friends in Gombin is Lukasz Florkiewicz, from a Polish Catholic farming family. He is intrigued by the fact that a Jewish community existed in the town for over 500 years; he now maintains the Jewish Cemetery in the town, and has been a tremendous help in our researches. He has researched his own family history back to the 18th Century, and can find no evidence of a Jewish connection. However we now know - from Perla’s Birth Certificate - that our Florkiewicz family was living in Warsaw from at least the 1890s. I will let him know what we have found!

I can only guess at how a Jewish family came to use the name Florkiewicz. Jewish families in this part of Poland were obliged by the Russian authorities to take on surnames in 1821; previously the tradition was to use patronymics - ie, people were denoted as being the son or daughter of their father. So I rather expect any Hebrew text on Mendel Florkiewicz’s headstone will say he was Mendel, son of Isaac. Jews took on all sorts of surnames at that point, often relating to places, people, or occupations; very occasionally they chose common gentile names. Florkiewicz could possibly just be a name that someone felt was rather nicer than some others, when the time came to make a choice.



Sunday, 23 October 2016

I have a feeling that we are related

So starts the email I received out of the blue from Louis K, about 6 weeks ago. He'd been looking in the Family Finder section of the JewishGen website, where we can list the family names we are interested in, and the places they come from. He'd spotted that I had listed a few names that tallied with his own family, from Gombin in Poland.

He mentioned his great-grandfather, Baruch Nussan Rajn, and Baruch's father Kalman. I knew I had a few Rajns, so I checked on my Tree. I did have Baruch listed, but I hadn't managed to link him to my own family as yet. I had the names of several children, and the given name of his wife, Sura Ryfka - but not her maiden name. Nor, as yet, his father's name.


The Rajn I had in my own family was Gersz Ber Rajn, who was married to two of my great-grandfather's sisters, Tauba and Ryfka Laja Frankensztajn. Not at the same time, I hasten to add. Tauba had two children, and then twins; however she died soon after giving birth, along with the new-born twins, and Gersz Ber then married her younger sister Ryfka Laja. I was pretty sure there would be a connection between this family and Boruch, but I hadn't yet found it.


I then had another look at what I had on Gersz Ber. Sure enough, his father was Kalman. Given that from 1821 onwards, Jews in this part of Poland were required by the Russian Empire to use one surname per family per town, it is unlikely there would have been a second Rajn family in Gombin. So I concluded that there was only one Kalman Rajn, and that Gersz Ber and Boruch were therefore brothers.


So I told Louis we appeared to be connected, but not directly related - he was my great-grandfather's sisters' husband's brother's great-grandson. I'm not sure if there's a cousin-label for that. We agreed to keep sharing notes.


A couple of emails later, Louis mentioned that his mother, Sarah Rose, was named after her grandmother, Boruch Nusyn's wife - Sura Rifka Siegelman. Wait a minute, this was the maiden name I was missing ....


Siegelman? Siegelman??


My great-grandfather's mother was Rachla Zegelman, and I had managed to sketch out some branches of this family from the 19th Century records, but didn't know what had become of any of them, apart from one.


Sure enough, I had a note of a Sura Ryfka Zegelman, born about the right time - but I hadn't found any further records of her. By the same logic as before with the Rajns - same name, same time, same place - she has to be the same person. And I know who she is - she's the daughter of Rachla's brother Hemie.


So, I'm from Rachla's branch, and Louis is from Hemie's. We are obviously both descended from their parents, Wolek Zegelman and Wajla Chern - they are our 3x-great-grandparents. So Louis and I are indeed directly related: we Fourth Cousins.


But there's more.


Rachla Zegelman's husband was Wolek Frankensztajn. Hemie Zegelman's wife was Hana Laja Frankensztajn. And - you've probably guessed it by now - Wolek and Hana Laja were brother and sister. As of course were Rachla and Hemie. So brother and sister married sister and brother. Is there a word for that?


All of which means that not only do Louis and I share Zegelman 3x-g-grandparents, as outlined above - we also share Frankensztajn 3-timers, the parents of Wolek and Hana Laja: Lewek Frankensztajn and Libe Taube Szczawinska.


So we're not just Fourth Cousins, we're Double Fourth Cousins.


And that's not all.


My Third Cousin Fran is not only a Frankensztajn and a Zegelman, as are Louis and I, she's also from the Gersz Ber Rajn family, mentioned at the beginning of this post. So she and Louis both go back to the same 2x-g-grandparents, Kalman Rajn and his wife, another Sura Rifka. So Fran and Louis are related 3 ways: they are not only Double Fourths, they are also Third Cousins!


I'm trying to find a way of visualising the relationships between these families, but they seem to be too complex for the family tree websites and software I'm using. They all use straight lines to portray relationships, and can't display the interconnections on screen - or paper - at the same time.


I'm thinking I'm going to need something more bendy. It might be time for a mind-map ...




Friday, 22 January 2016

Of X-boxes and Abraham’s Ancestors

Or, ‘No’ is also an answer.

I have recently posted - Big Chunks of DNA, Talking ‘Bout Our Generations - about a close autosomal DNA match I have with CG. He has only one Jewish great-grandparent, whereas I have 8, so the match between us almost certainly goes via this great-grandfather, Abraham Lewis. FamilyTreeDNA predicts that we are 2nd-to-4th Cousins, GEDmatch says our Most Recent Common Ancestor is 4.1 generations back. This puts us in 3rd-great-grandparent territory, ie a couple of generations prior to Abraham Lewis.

I ran a number of comparison tests on GEDmatch, on CG, myself, and a few other people who are closely matched to me, and who are also matched to CG. These threw up a number of possibilities, and closed off several others, but so far I haven’t been able to draw any solid conclusions as to how or where any of us match. See the Talking post for a discussion of these tests.

A major problem is that none of us seem to have full ancestral trees going back as far as we need to for these purposes - that is, 4 or 5 generations. At 4 generations we each have 16 2g-grandparents, at 5 we have 32 3g-grandparents. Here’s my current score, for ancestors whose given names and surnames I know:

parents: 2/2
grandparents: 4/4
great-grandparents: 8/8
2g-grandparents: 12/16, plus 3 given names and 1 completely unknown
3g-grandparents: 13/32, plus 3 given names, and 16 complete unknowns

That is a seriously incomplete tree, once you get down to my 3g-grandparents, and few of the others in the sample seem to have any more in theirs.

What about the X?
One test I did not take a close look at in that post was the X-Chromosome Matrix. The reason I didn’t go with the X is that it looks fiendishly difficult to interpret, but seeing as how I didn’t get as far as I’d hoped with the other tests, I thought I’d give the X a whirl.

The problem is that, as a male, I only get an X from my mother. At first sight this appears to be good news, because it means if I match someone on this chromosome, I can immediately discount my father as the source of the match - and all his ancestors. Females however get their X from both parents - this means that my mother’s X is a combination of both her father and her mother. This pattern repeats back through each succeeding generation, and should mean that we can narrow down the source of our matching X.

From the explanations I’ve seen, such as Unlocking the genealogical secrets of the X chromosome by Blaine Bettinger, this has the result that, at the level of 2g-grandparents, only 5 of your 8 maternal 2g-grandparents could contribute to an X-match, and none of your paternals could anyway. One generation further back, and the contributors form an even smaller proportion: only 8/16 maternal 3g-grandparents.

Blaine Bettinger's Male Inheritance Chart
Here’s the chart he devised - male is blue, always to the left, female pink (of course), always right (of course). I’m the blue circle in the middle, the left side is totally blank because my father didn’t give me an X. Two generations further back, and the same applies to my mother’s paternal grandfather - she got nothing from him, so neither do I. Which means that the whole of his line can be discounted for X-matching purposes. Similarly for each male that appears in my ancestry chart - they got no X from their father, only from their mother, so their father’s line doesn’t contribute to the party.



Now all I have to do is map my ancestral Tree to this chart, and do the same for anyone I have a decent X-match with, and hey presto, sooner or later we will spot someone appearing in both Trees, who would be the source of our match.

Well, following Bettinger’s chart, here’s my X-map, showing only those ancestors who could have contributed to my  X-chromosome:

4th Generation (2g-grandparents)
(m: mother, f: father)
m-f-m-f: Lejbus Kohn (1820-1884)
m-f-m-m: Marya Igla (b 1834)
m-m-f-m: Gitla Laja Glasman (1847-1872)
m-m-m-f: Aron Moise Szechtman (b 1845)
m-m-m-m: Laja Ruchla Landenbaum (b 1848)

I know them all. I have names and dates of birth, and some places, for all of them. Anyone I match on the X, the match has to be through one of these. The Most Recent Common Ancestor I share with the match person is not necessarily one of these, but the X-path we share goes through one of them, so the MRCA has to be an ancestor of one of them.

However, the autosomal matches I am considering here are at least one generation further out, and this is where, once again, our paper trail doesn’t quite meet our DNA trail. Here are my potential X-donors from the generation before:

5th Generation (3g-grandparents)
m-f-m-f-m: ? ?
m-f-m-m-f: ? ?
m-f-m-m-m: ? ?
m-m-f-m-f: Pinkus Glasman (d 1895)
m-m-f-m-m: Chawa ? (d 1886)
m-m-m-f-m: ? ?
m-m-m-m-f: Jankel Hersz Landenbaum (b 1822)
m-m-m-m-m: Cyma Elbsztajn (b 1822)

I know fewer than half of them. Or, to put it another way, at this level, which is the first we come to that could possibly host our MRCA, more than half my lines go blank. Worse still, Jews in Poland were only obliged to adopt surnames in 1821, just around the time when this generation was being born. Prior to that, the Jewish custom was to use patronymics, referring to the father’s given name. It is highly likely that the parents of this generation were not born with surnames, and many of them did not have surnames when they married. This makes them extremely difficult to trace even when the records are available, to put it mildly.

So even if I had a full house of 5th Generation ancestors, and knew the given names of all of their parents, I would be extremely lucky to be able to identify an MRCA with any of them. In fact I have names for only 2 out of the 13 candidate X-donors in the 6th Generation, so it looks like Mission Well-Nigh Impossible.

Nevertheless, I gave it a go, just to see where it might lead me.

Our X-matches
Here’s the chart that I get for the group of people who match both CG and myself, for matches on the X-Chromosome, in cM (centiMorgans, the unit used for measuring matching segments of DNA on a given chromosome):


MS
CG
PL
YS
JMN
RNB
LS
AD
BN
MS









CG









PL




41.6
13.4



YS





4.2



JMN


41.6


16.1
27.5


RNB


13.4
4.2
16.1




LS




27.5




AD









BN










The first thing we notice is that 4 of us do not match any other member of the group: CG, AD, BN and myself. Which immediately suggests that I need to rethink the relevance of the X-Chromosome to my match with CG. I don’t match him there. So is the X-test useless for this study?

Well, maybe not quite. We have already deduced (see earlier posts) that my match with CG is not on my father’s side, as Katy, a known 1st Cousin-Once-Removed on that side, does not appear amongst his matches. So he’s almost certainly on my mother’s side. The lack of a match on the X means that we can probably discard those lines that do make an X-contribution - the ones I tried to map above. His match with me is not an X-match, so it is probably along one of my other maternal lines, one that sooner or later passes through 2 consecutive males, so that that particular X-stream comes to a halt.

So we are maybe one small step closer to locating our MRCA - they’re probably hiding in one of the blank boxes on the maternal side of Blaine Bettinger’s chart.

The same logic applies to the other non-matches here. We need to focus on our blank boxes.

On the other hand, the ones that do match look quite promising. JMN matches with 3 others, as does RNB, including their match with each other. JMN also has the two strongest matches, with Big Chunks in common with PL (41.6cM), and with LS (27.5cM). Does this indicate a common line of X-descent for the four of them? And is their MRCA to be found along those lines? If so, what implications does this have for the results we looked at in the two earlier posts?

Our Autosomal matches
In Talkin ‘Bout Our Generations, we noticed that CG and I have reasonable autosomal matches on 3 chromosomes with PL, 2 with RNB, and one with JMN. These matches seem to be quite significant, as there’s only one other match with any other member the group, a small match with YS. There is no other chromosome where any of them matches both CG and myself - they match us both, but in different places. 

What’s more, of the 3 who do match both of us, there are 2 chromosomes where 2 of them join with us to make a foursome: PL and RNB join us on a stretch of Chr 5, and PL and JMN join us on Chr 18. So CG, myself, and PL seem to form a core autosomal group, with RNB and JMN also associated. Is this a hint that some, or maybe all, of us share a single MRCA? Or maybe two MRCAs across the 5 of us, a generation apart?

And as we’ve just seen, PL, RNB and JMN are just the ones who form the core of the X-matching group. We might have a promising lead here, if it weren’t for the fact that neither CG nor I seem to match any of them on the X. However, maybe we can extract some clues from this situation.

Abraham's Ancestors
To re-cap: CG has only one Jewish g-grandparent, the rest of us have wholly Jewish ancestry, as far as I know. His match with us must come through his g-grandfather Abraham Lewis. The MRCA(s) he shares with the rest of the group must be ancestors of Abraham. So how do the rest of us connect to Abraham’s ancestors? And can our X-trails help us find our pathways to our MRCA(s)?

Let’s start with CG himself. His g-grandfather Abraham is on his father’s side, so CG has not inherited any X from his Jewish ancestors, which is why he doesn’t match on the X with any of the others in this group. However, all the rest of us can only connect to him via Abraham’s ancestors.

If I’m understanding this right, the most recent common X-ancestor of a group of people is the same person as their autosomal MRCA, it’s just that X gives us a different way of identifying them. So the X-ancestor of the core X-matching group - PL, RNB, JMN - is their MRCA. I’d really like to make the jump to say that this person is also the MRCA they share with CG, but I’m not sure that’s justified. It would be particularly nice for me, since the 5 of us - PL, RNB, JMN, CG and myself - have a reasonably good overall autosomal match, and the X-match could be pointing the way to our shared MRCA even though 2 of us don’t share in it.

Locating the X-ancestor
We can also narrow down the candidates for the common X-ancestor for each person, by tracing the lines back on Blaine Bettinger’s chart above. Both FTDNA and GEDmatch suggest our MRCA(s) lie 4 to 5 generations back. As we saw before, at 5 generations, for males there are only 8 candidates for X-donor, all on the maternal side. The lines are (m: mother, f: father):

Male pathways to X-ancestors
m-f-m-f-m
m-f-m-m-f
m-f-m-m-m
m-m-f-m-f
m-m-f-m-m
m-m-m-f-m
m-m-m-m-f
m-m-m-m-m

Of the core X-group, RNB is male, PL and JMN are female. So one of the above pathways should be RNB’s personal route to the MRCA he shares with the other two.

Females get their X from both parents, so in addition to the above pattern for the 8 lines on the maternal side of the X-chart, they also have 5 candidates on the paternal side:

Additional female pathways to X-ancestors
f-m-f-m-f
f-m-f-m-m
f-m-m-f-m
f-m-m-m-f
f-m-m-m-m

For PL and JMN respectively, one of these 13 pathways should be their route to the MRCA. All we need is a full family tree for each of them going back 5 generations along each of these lines. We  can then put those trees alongside the 8 candidate lines from RNB’s maternal tree, and wait for a name to jump out at us.

Easy!

'No' is also an answer
My own case is different again. I know that I match CG on my maternal side, but do not match him on the X. This could be where “‘No’ is also an answer” comes in. I do not match him, so our MRCA should lie not in one of the coloured ‘candidate X-donor’ boxes in my X-chart, but in one of the blank boxes. Or, to put it another way, looking at the male-pathway list above, the path to our MRCA should lead to one of my 5th-generation ancestors who does not appear in that list - ie, to one of these:

My blank X-boxes
m-f-f-f-f: Lewek Jakobowicz (1803-1876)
m-f-f-f-m: Libe Tauba Szczawinska (d between 1852 and 1868)
m-f-f-m-f: Wolek Zegelman
m-f-f-m-m: Wajla Chern
m-f-m-f-f: ? Kohn
m-m-f-f-f: Izrael Waksman (1814-1860)
m-m-f-f-m: Chaja Gitla Ejsensztat (b 1822)
m-m-m-f-f: ? Szechtman

Amazingly, I seem to know these better than my X-match candidate ancestors (see list above). I have full names for 6 of them, and surnames for the other 2. So all I need is full lines of descent for each of them, then to put those alongside CG’s tree, and look for his 2g-grandfather Abraham Lewis, and Abraham’s parents Hyman Lisky and Rose (Lewis ?), to pop up.

Done and dusted!

Minor issues
There are a couple of minor issues that could make a bit of a mockery of my reasoning, if I’m not lucky. Many of us reckon that FTDNA, and to a lesser extent GEDmatch, overestimate the closeness of the relationships of Ashkenazi Jews. I have over 100 matches on FTDNA predicted to be at 2nd-to-4th Cousin level, but have not yet succeeded in identifying a single one of them. My guess is that most of the relationships are really a generation or two further out. That would mean looking for MRCAs at a distance of 6 to 7 generations. I have the given names of just 3 of my 128 7th-generation ancestors. 

Hopeless!

The other issues arise from the way in which our DNA is passed on from one generation to the next. We do not necessarily receive exactly a half of our DNA from each parent, and as this is repeated over the course of a few generations, we could gradually have lost all genetic trace of one or more of our ancestors. Also, our DNA is liable to mutate over the course of the generations, and so will no longer match with people who are in fact our relatives.

These factors may be making nonsense of my argument at one point or another of this discussion. There is an outside chance that they could be behind the apparent contradictions in my interpretation of some of these tests. For instance, it is possible that CG is in fact related to me on my father’s side, but that he and/or Katy have lost some of the segments of DNA that would indicate this. The same could apply to my reading of the X data - maybe I’ve just lost the bits of X that would have indicated that I share the X-match with the core group identified above.

It is also possible that multiple instances of the endogamous relationships that are inherent amongst Ashkenazi Jews, such as cousin marriage, or just intra-community marriage over many generations, could be leading us up several garden paths at the same time.

As I have said in previous posts on this topic, I know next to nothing about genetic genealogy. I could be misunderstanding anything and everything, and making false assumptions left, right and centre. These posts represent my current grasp of the issues. Comments welcome.