Sunday, April 17, 2016

My Pedigree Has Collapsed!

Well, it's happened. My first instance of pedigree collapse. While I've seen examples in my family of cousins related in multiple ways, I had no examples of any of my direct ancestors appearing on my tree more than once.

And then along came Avraham Vizel.

Avraham Vizel was the father of Rechel Vizel Rutner, who was the mother of my great-great-great grandfather Mendel Rutner. Avraham lived in what is now Bilovartzi, Ukraine (and what was called Bilvaritz in Yiddish). There's an entire section with his story in the Yizkor Book Sefer Maramaros which deserves (and will get) its own post.

Recently, as I was doing research, I found another branch of Vizels to whom I was related. I had traced them back to the dual villages of Kis-Kirva and Nagy-Kirva. But “coincidentally,” the furthest back I traced them was to a man also named Avraham Vizel.

So it looked like I had two 5th great grandfathers with the same name! Perhaps they were related? I checked to see how far apart they lived.

I'd looked up Nagy-Kirva in JewishGen's Communities Database (an incredible tool to find Eastern European towns by both their prior and present names). There was one result:
JewishGen's Page on Kryva, Ukraine (Formerly Nagy-Kirva, Hungary)

Nagy-Kirva was said to be today's Kryva, Ukraine, a bit to the west of Khust. Kind of in the area of my Maramaros county towns, although a bit out-of-the-way.

Then I looked up Bilvartzi to see about how far away it was from Nagy-Kirva.
JewishGen's TownFinder results for Bilvartzi

Today's Bilovartzi, Ukraine was formerly known as Kiskirva in Hungarian (suspiciously like the Kis-Kirva to which I'd traced the "other" Vizels). How far was Bilovartzi/Kiskirva from Kryva/Nagykirva?
JewishGen's Page on Bilovartzi, Ukraine (Formerly Kiskirva, Hungary)

Bilovartzi is southeast of Khust, very near my other family towns (Novoselytsya, Kolodne, Dulfalva, etc.) in the area. JewishGen says that Bilovartzi and Kryva are 37km away from one another, with some mountains in the middle. My first instinct was that the two Avraham Vizels, who lived 37km apart, were likely cousins named for the same person, although I'd still need to prove that.

But this is odd because in the 1828 Hungarian property tax census, Nagykirva and Kiskirva were enumerated together.
Joint Enumeration of Nagy & Kis Kirva; 1828 Hungarian Land Census

So I looked more closely at the map around Bilovartzi:
Map of Bilovartsi, Ukraine--just next to Kryva!

Immediately adjacent to Bilovartsi is another town called Kryva. This was the original Kiskirva; the Communities Database had linked to the wrong Kryva!  I looked at some old maps and discovered that the Hungarian name of the town that JewishGen has linked here was Tisza-Kirva. (Yes, I've reached out to JewishGen to get the Town Finder corrected--and of the hundreds of times I've used this tool, this is the first issue I've had.  It's already been updated, so thankfully I got screen shots for this blog post first!)

There was only one Avraham Vizel in either Kiskirva or Nagykirva at the right time, based on census records.  It turns out that my two 5th great grandfathers Avrohom Vizel were the same person. My great-great grandparents, Shmuel Moshe Ruther and Rochel Fuchs, were second cousins.

Pre-Marriage Relationship of Shmuel Moshe Rutner & Rochel Fuchs
So my pedigree has collapsed. I am my own sixth cousin!

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Feel free to follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. This is so very close to Vyshkovo for which everyone says there are no records at all.

  2. This reminds me of of a story my great aunt (by marriage) told me a few years ago when my second cousin was getting married. After my cousin got engaged both her and her now husbands families got together to celebrate. Well, my great aunt recognized the fiancee's grandmother - they are second cousins. My cousin and her husband don't really talk about this from what I understand, but I find it amusing that it still happens (4th cousin's marrying).

  3. Lara, I really like the way you walked us through your discovery, piece by piece. Wow. Amazing!

  4. Shouldn't it then show up that your autosomal match with Avraham Vizel turns out to be double that of a single 5th great-grandfather? Since you have so many of your family DNA tested, would you be able to triangulate them to Avraham Vizel and see if you can DNA-prove the two to be the same?

    1. Good idea, but the problem is that the only known descendants who have tested are myself, my mother, uncle, great aunt, and my mom's first cousin. So too close for this to have a chance of working.

  5. Wow! Amazing research as always, Lara. I am always impressed by what you are able to find.

  6. would you be able to help become your cousin? i know that my great grandfather moses czig married a wizel (on the birth record) and we know that she was a grandchild of avraham wizel from bilowarits (kiskirva) but we can't find the connection