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By 1923, my great-grandfather Naftula (aka Anatole) Pekler, his wife and all 7 children were living in the United States. We assume, but don’t have documented proof, that he left siblings or cousins back in Zhitomir. There was a shoe shop owner named S. M. Pekler listed in the 1911 edition of Vsia Rossiia, the All Russia business directory. Perhaps this was one of Naftula’s relatives.

Even if these were Naftula’s brothers or cousins, I have no way to prove it at the moment, although it is rumored that the Zhitomir vital records may be microfilmed or digitally photographed in the near future.

I would like to contact other people named Pekler or Peckler (it is not a common name, at least here in the United States) to see if we are related, and thereby reconnect long separated families. But for now, the only way to potentially link to others where there is no paper trail is to test DNA.

So where does Sandy Peckler come in? Sandy is the son of Alexander aka Sasha, who was Naftula Pekler’s son. Since Naftula’s other sons, Matthew and Philip, only had daughters, Sandy is the only direct male in our Pekler/Peckler line. So 6 years ago, I asked Sandy if he would give a saliva sample for 12-marker Y-DNA testing. Only males have a Y chromosome, and two men whose Y-DNA markers match at enough locations share a common male ancestor. Since children in Western cultures take the surnames of their fathers, if two men share the same name and similar DNA, they must be related.  Ideally, another male offspring of one of Naftula Pekler’s brothers or cousins would also test, and voila! We would be able to contact each other and reconnect the families.

But is life ideal? Of course not. Those theoretical Pekler cousins may have been murdered during the Holocaust. If they survived and had male children and grandchildren, the offspring may not have tested their DNA.

So far, after 6 years in the FTDNA database, Sandy’s DNA matches 70 others, not one of whom has the same name. Even so, I write to those who match and ask if they come from the same geographic area. Some people respond, most don’t. None of those who have responded were from Zhitomir. Eventually, I will have Sandy’s sample tested for a larger number of markers, but at the moment it doesn’t seem useful to do so.

The data on this certificate belongs to someone else. If you are a Peckler/Pekler who has had your DNA tested, please comment below with your contact information, and let’s talk.

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