Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rosa Pickholz, the Teacher, Her Family

I posted this on the small Shoah section of the Pikholz Project website, with permission. It was published by Avraham Weissbrod in his Yiddish yizkor book "Skalat, Death of a Shtetl," pp. 58-59 of the Hebrew translation and reprinted in Haim Bronstein's Hebrew-language "Skalat - A Community Destroyed," pp. 68-69.

The Weisbrod version contains one additional sentence which Bronstein omits.

The crowd envied her pain-free death.

So why am I writing about this pre-Passover event now? Well, it's about the new records and her family.

Until now, we knew that her parents are Eliezer and Gittel and that she was 35 years old, based on a Page of Testimony submitted to Yad Vashem by Yitzhak Kiwetz in Haifa. Yitzhak filled out scores of Pages of Testimony and did not explain his relationship with any of the victims.

A later Page submitted by Giza Zehavi names Rosa's father but not her mother and says she was 38.

Yitzhak's grandmother Chana Chaja Pikholz was married to a man named Eliezer (~1822-1878) with dozens of descendants, including a number of Eliezers, but I could not find anyone among them who might be Rosa's father. (I have just submitted a Y-37 test for the one living male-line descendant of this Eliezer.)

The identity of Rosa's Pikholz family has been nagging at me for nearly twenty years. The only other thing I knew was that Rosa had a younger brother Moshe (aka Munio) whose wife was Giza's aunt. And that Rosa herself was never married.

Last week, I reported on my first look at the newly-available Skalat records from JRI-Poland and I have now had a deeper dive. One of the new marriage records was Leiser Ber Pickholz (b. 1876) and Marjem Gittel Baras from Zbarazh. Leiser Ber's parents are Leibisch and Ruchel Pickholz, according to the marriage record, which we have only as an index.

I have long known of Leib Pickholz and his wife Rachel Qualer (or Kweller). She was from my grandfather's Zalosce. (There was a Zalosce Kweller in my high school class in Pittsburgh.) I had always assumed that their first known child Leiser Ber had died in childhood, as they had a son Markus Leiser in 1884. But this marriage record made it clear that he lived to adulthood. I went back into my colllection of records for people whose places in the Pikholz family were unknown.

For instance, this:

Reisel born in Skalat 7 February 1903 to Leiser Pickholz and Gittel Barasch of Zbarazh.

And this:









Max born in Skalat 8 April 1905 to Leiser Pickholz and Gittel Baraz of Zbarazh.

So Rosa was shot dead two months after her fortieth birthday and her brother was killed the same day. Moshe was Max, a name almost always associated in east Galicia with Mordecai.

So we now know Rosa's parents are Leiser Ber and Marjem Gittel and that her grandparents are Judel and Reisel Baras(ch), Leib Pickholz and Rachel Qualer. Leiser Ber had five siblings at least three or four of whom did not survive early childhood.

Who is Rosa's grandfather Leib? I mentioned this last week. We know Aryeh Leib Pikholz who was born about 1829 and lived until 1919. His wife Sara Kreisel Glisner died in 1874. They had six children, four of them under age fifteen when Sara Kreisel died. It would have been normal for Aryeh Leib to marry again.

Did this forty-five year old widower with youngish children marry Rachel Qualer, who was barely twenty. Their first child Leiser Ber was born in 1876. I think that is what happened but I am not going to enter that into my database, other than in the comments as a "probably." I am too conservative for more than that. But if it is true and if Aryeh Leib's father Mordecai is indeed the brother of my g-g-grandfather Izak Fischel, Rosa is my father's third cousin. I shall begin referring to her that way.

Now I wonder who Rachel Qualer's family is. She and Leib didn't find each other on J-Date. And Skalat and Zalosce are not close enough for casual contact. She must have been someone's relative. I'm betting it had something to do with my Uncle Selig.

Monday, June 11, 2018

A First Look at the New Skalat Records


I have in hand the Excel file for the newly released Skalat records from JRI-Poland.. They consist of deaths for 1916-1930 and  marriages for 1902-1935. Thus far I have identified those with the name Pikholz plus a few other Pikholz married daughters. That would be twenty-two deaths out of 905 total and thirty-two marriages out of 707 total.

Of the marriages, there was one I did not know at all. I knew the bride's Pikholz parents, but not her or the groom. Another fourteen were spouses of people I had not known were married. Two others were couples I knew and for whom I now have proper identification.

One marriage record is wrong, almost certainly from the transcription process. The Pikholz groom's parents are listed with the same names as the bride and groom themselves. This is an important record because I do not know who the groom's parents are. I have asked Mark Halpern to have the indexers recheck that and he said he would.

There is one particularly odd case. We have birth records for the nine children of Jakob Pikholz and his wife Henie Malka Ginsberg. On one of those birth records, the registrar reversed the mothers' names of that birth and the following one so the mother is listed as Bleich instead of Ginsberg. On the mariage record of that child, her mother is listed as "Henie Malka Pickholz/Bleich" as though taken directly from the erroneous birth record. Two other children of Jakob and Henie Malka are listed correctly in this batch of marriages.

The deaths are more difficult. In most of the records, neither parent is named and in others only the father is listed, leaving me to guess which family the deceased belongs in. There are seven whom I have not identified - two adults, one teenager and four babies.

In one case, I was able to identify a sixty-six year old woman because she died in house 23, where most of her children had been born.

I was surprised to find a 1918 death for sixty-five year old Josef Pikholz in the village of Klimkowce. We had seen earlier that a grandson was named Josef in 1911, but we had not seen a death record for Josef. (We knew he was still alive in 1910.) So now it seems the grandson was given the name of his living grandfather - either after him or for someone else. Not totally unheard of, but unusual nonetheless.

In 1919 there is a death for ninety year old Leibysz Pikholz. We have an Aryeh Leib Pikholz born 1829, but we have a death record for him in 1901. We have another Aryeh Leib Pikholz, the son of Mordecai (b. 1805) Pikholz and his wife Taube. This Aryeh Leib's wife Sara Kreisel Glisner was born about 1829 and they had their first known child in the early 1850s.

There are grandchildren named for Sara Kreisel after she died in 1874, but I had seen none named for Aryeh Leib, until a Leon and a Leonard in the 1920s. And maybe Leslie in 1922. So I guess we can consider this an identification of ninety year old Aryeh Leib. Everything fits and there are no known alternatives. I have recorded it.

And a bonus. While I was looking at the Leib page in my Given Name Analysis, my attention was drawn to a Leibisch who appears in the Skalat death index, the fifth entry on the page.



The record it comes from is the 30 October 1866 death of nine year old Michel, with no other information. When I saw that record years ago, I considered that this may be Aryeh Leib, whom we now know as the son of Mordecai, who appears on the sixth line in that chart, with a note that they may be the same man.

I am now sure that these two Leibs are the same person, though true to my standards I will not yet merge them. After all, if I do, I will never reexamine the question. In fact I barely revisited this death even now.

But there is something else. Michel is a nickname for Jachiel. If you recall, a couple of weeks ago I was considering the identity of the father of Mordecai and Izak Fischel Pikholz and one of the candidates in my mind was some unknown Jachiel. Having one here, the son of Aryeh Leib ben Mordecai gives additional weight to that theory.

There is still much work to do here, updating the website, dealing with the unidentified deaths and combing the file for descendants of Pikholz daughters. And today I go to Herzliyya to take DNA from another descendant of Mordecai, the third in the last three months

Friday, June 8, 2018

An Extraordinary Victory For DNA

This article was published in the "Journal of One-Name Studies," the quarterly magazine of the Guild of One-Name Studies, of which I am member 6934. This piece appeared in Volume 13, Issue 2, April-June 2016.

I present it here now, two years after publication, because it was recenty honored with a "Guild Award of Excellence." It appears in blog form rather than directly from the Journal to enable readers to enlarge the images.
My flagship research is the single-surname Pikholz Project, the study of a Jewish family from the three provinces of east Galicia, which is Ukraine today but Austria before WWI. In 2012, I began doing genetic research and as I write this, over seventy Pikholz descendants have tested for me, We have done most of our testing with FamilyTree DNA and our analysis with FTDNA and GEDmatch.

In the 1800s, the Pikholz families lived in two east Galician towns, the larger group of families from Skalat (4926N, 2559E) between the provincial capital Tarnopol and what was then the border with Russia. My own family lived in Skalat. We know of five Pikholz men from Skalat who were born in the period 1780-1805 and four of the five have living descendants. At the start of our DNA project, we had fifteen other Pikholz families of four or more generations whose heads had been born about 1810-1870; thirteen of those have living descendants. One of the goals of both the DNA project  and the traditional research is to attach those fifteen "younger" families to the five older men.

In November 2014, I happened across an Ancestry.com online tree featuring Sarah Pikholz, her husband Eisig Baar and twelve children.  The tree had them in Czechoslovakia with non-Galician given names such as Gustav, Victor, Rudolph, Emil and Berti, but I quickly found the first three births in Jagielnica in east Galicia. The first child was born in 1865 so I figured that Sarah was born in the early 1840s. I had no candidate for this "new" woman. Every other Sarah that I had in that period either died in childhood or married someone not named Eisig Baar.

Milton, the great-grandson of Sarah, who had posted the tree at Ancestry, hadn't a clue about Sarah's parents or siblings. Indeed, east Galicia and Jagielnica meant nothing to him. None of the records I was able to find were helpful except some Holocaust-era police records which cited the Jewish names of the children.

My attention was drawn to the son Gustav, whose Jewish name was Gabriel, a rare name in the Pikholz database. Rare but not unique. Breine Pikholz, the wife of Avraham Aron Riss, named the first of her seven children Gabriel Wolf (Wilhelm) in 1860. Breine's father was Gabriel, so he must have died young, as eastern European Jews do not name after the living. Breine's mother – based on a late birth record of two of Breine's children, filed after Breine's death – was Ryfka Pikholz. Both Breine and Sarah named their first daughters Rivka, with the secular name Regina.

There are other matching names among the children of the two women, but Moses, Juda, Josef and Rosa are too common for us to infer that the women are closely related.


Because of the names of Gabriel and the eldest daughter Rivka, it appeared to me that Breine and Sarah are sisters. I turned to DNA for help; perhaps the descendants of Breine and Sarah – putative third cousins – could appear to be closely related. Milton was willing to do an autosomal test, what FTDNA calls "Family Finder". Between Milton and me, we are in contact with five of Milton's second cousins – two from Gustav and three from Josef – but they have been unwilling to test.

On Breine's side, Wilhelm's granddaughter tested as did the two grandchildren of Isidor, first cousins to one another. Here too, there is a Josef with three grandchildren who have been unwilling to test. And Breine's youngest, Rosche, has a grandson from her elder daughter. But Rosche also has a living daughter, Lillian, who lives in Chicago.  I have tried unsuccessfully to contact her over the years.

Breine's three great-grandchildren matched one another exactly as expected. But Milton's results were a surprise. His very first match was with my father's brother, followed by my second cousin Lee, Breine's great-granddaughter from Wilhelm and my father's first cousin Herb. Milton's matches with his putative third cousins from Isidor are more distant. The closer is twenty-second on his match list and a suggested second-fourth cousin. The other is a distant "suggested fourth-remote cousin."

Figure 2 shows chromosome browsers for Milton and the three Riss cousins from the vantage point of each, using a threshold of 3 centiMorgans. The three Riss cousins match each other as expected, but Milton (the first diagram and the orange segments in the other three) has very little in the way of matching segments with the three Riss cousins.


This was not good enough for me to accept that Breine and Sarah are sisters, though it certainly does not indicate that they are not. Third cousins can be tricky like that..

But since I already had their Family Finder results, I compared each of the four to the other Pikholz families from Skalat, where over sixty descendants had tested for the project. All four clearly matched one particular Pikholz branch much more than any of the others. This is the branch which begins with (Isak) Josef (b. ~1784) and Rojse. (Note that both Sarah and Breine named children Josef and Rosa.)

Using both documents and DNA analysis, I had already determined that Isak Josef and Rojse had at least four children – Moshe Hersch, Selig, Berl and my great-great-grandmother. Clearly Ryfka, the mother of Sarah and Breine also belonged on that list, a daughter of Isak Josef and Rojse. But my great-great-grandmother was Rivka Feige and Isak Josef and Rojse certainly didn't have two daughters named Rivka/Ryfka.

The obvious theory was that after Ryfka's husband Gabriel died young – how young we don't know but Breine named her first son for him in 1860 – Ryfka, who was a young widow with two small children, was married off to an indeterminate cousin Isak Fischel Pikholz with whom she had four children. That is how their social safety net worked. A young widow or widower with young children was married off to a family member – the dead wife's sister or a niece or cousin or in-law. We don't have precise ages for the four children of Rivka Feige and Isak Fischel but the wife of the eldest was born about 1847, which would fit the scenario.

I am not concerned that the one is Ryfka and the other Rivka Feige. We know the name Ryfka from a birth record from 1888 when Breine is already dead and Riyfka herself had been dead  for many years. So the name provided by her grandchildren or son-in-law may well have been incomplete.

By this time, in early summer 2015, Lillian had agreed to meet me during my upcoming trip to the US. Lillian is one generation older than Breine's other living descendants (or Sarah's), so her Family Finder would be twice as good. But it was more than that. Last year, I asked my third cousin Joe in Denver to do a Family Finder for the project and also a Mitochondrial DNA (MtDNA) test. That would show his maternal line going back to Rivka Feige. Only Joe, his brother and his sister's two children could do that test as there are no other all-female lines. He said "What do you want to prove?" and I said "I don't know but maybe I’ll need it some day."

If Ryfka and Rivka Feige are the same woman, Joe and Lillian would have identical MtDNA. If they do, it would not be proof, but it would be supporting evidence. If they do not, Ryfka and Rivka Feige cannot be the same woman and I go back to the drawing board.































Lillian's Family Finder results came back in early October. Her first three matches are her known close cousins. Fourth is my father's cousin Herb, perhaps Lillian's half-second cousin. Her sixth match is Milton – a good sign. Ninth is my father's sister. Five more of my personal family are suggested second-third cousins and nine are suggested second-fourth cousins. This looked very good indeed. But if the MtDNA doesn't match, we have nothing.

A few weeks later, Lillian's MtDNA results came in and she is a perfect match to Joe. That is not a unique match, to be sure – there are over ninety other people with the same perfect match who would be connected further back in time. But together with the Family Finder results, it is enough for me to declare Ryfka and Rivka Feige to be the same woman and to merge the families.

There is another lesson from this particular inquiry. Milton's matches with the three cousins of his own generation – his third cousins – are not on their own convincing. But when I compare all four to the other Pikholz descendants, the pattern becomes quite clear, even obvious. When looking at third (and fourth) cousins, we must keep in mind that they may match other people better than they match each other and in ways that can clarify their relationships with each other. Of course, if some of Milton's cousins would test, we might find that they match the Riss group much better than does Milton.

DNA is supposed to be good, but not usually that good.

And another lesson - Do It Now
 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Mordecai and Izak Fischel - Part Two

A few days ago, I explained why I am now convinced that my second great-grandfather, Izak Fischel Pikholz, is the brother of Mordecai Pikholz who was born about 1805. With that, the heads of the Pikholz families from Skalat set up like this, including the names of their known children.:
As I wrote then, "I cannot prove it, but I am quite convinced ... I will not write this in my database, except in the comments, and I will not draw a chart with solid lines. But I think and believe it to be the truth."


I have a lecture called "BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT What We Know vs. What We Can Prove." In it, I advance this rule (on the right):

The idea that Mordecai and Izak Fischel are brothers is not proven and does not even rise to the level of "What I Know." It needs more that just "one more piece of evidence." So what follows here is based on conjecture. But since I think and believe it to be correct, it is worth recording what follows from that conclusion.

So who is the father of Mordecai and Izak Fischel? He cannot be Nachman who would have been only about ten years old when Mordecai was born. He is highly unlikely to be Berl, who was about sixteen when Mordecai was born - but I see no connections between these two families. It could be Izak Josef, who is old enough and the families appear connected, but IZAK Josef would not have had a son IZAK Fischel and in any case Izak Fischel was married to Izak Josef's daughter.

Well, first of all there is this.
Leib Pikholz, a sixty-four year old "shop assistant" died in house 198 in Skalat on 24 February 1844. This is the only mention we have for this man. Born in about 1780, he is an excellent candidate.

However Mordecai's son Aryeh Leib's second child was born about 1856, so that Aryeh Leib would have been too old to have been named for a man who died in 1844.

It is probably a good assumption that the father of Mordecai and Izak Fischel is a brother of Nachman, Berl, Izak Josef and this Leib, so the structure looks like this, with two prominent missing names.

There is another thing to consider. There are additional Pikholz families from Skalat, families we can trace back only as far as 1840-1880. There may be clues among them about those early names.

Four of those families have known living descendants. So going from left to right...

Wolf is not a name we know in the Skalat Pikholz families, so that does not point anywhere. He has a granddaughter here in Israel whom I hear from from time to time, but she knows nothing about her family as her mother died when she was fourteen months old. She has politely declined my repeated requests for DNA.

Yaakov the son of Leib was born about 1870. I have met two of his granddaughters here in Israel. A great-granddaughter in Arizona is a participant in our DNA project, but there are no significant matches with other parts of the family. This Leib may have been born in the 1840s and my guess he is that he is a grandson of Leib 1780-1844.

Israel has living granddaughters (first cousins) here in Israel who are singularly uncooperative. Their DNA would be valuable. Jachiel's three daughters went to the US and I am in contact with grandsons of two of them. They have given me DNA and I fully expected that they would be DNA-compatible with Mordecai's descendants.They are not. Nor do they appear well connected to anyone else.

Esther married Markus Stern and most of that family went to the US before WWI. I am in contact with one great-granddaughter who keeps promising to give me DNA and contact information for some of her cousins. I asked again about ten days ago.

There are also a number of families with no known living descendants.

Kopel has known descendants up to the Shoah but nothing pointing back in time.

There is another Leib here who may be another grandson of Leib 1780-1844 - or he may be the same as above with a different wife. Or neither.

Maybe Fischel comes froim the same source as my Izak Fischel. Or not.

Of this group, David Samuel is the most intriguing. David Samuel is a name which goes back to the first generation of the Rozdol Pikholz family and its appearance in Skalat may hint at the common ancestor connecting the Skalat and Rozdol branches.

Of course, both Moshe Hersch and Aryeh Leib appear multiple times in the early Skalat generations so they are prime candidates for the blank name at the top of the chart. Or his father. Or father-in-law.

And I am not ruling out Jachiel as the father of Mordecai and Izak Fischel.

Or maybe I am hallucinating again. It's been known to happen.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

The Relationship between Mordecai and Izak Fischel

Part One

Mordecai and Izak Fischel
Mordecai Pikholz has three known daughters and four known sons. Descendants of six have participated in our DNA project. They appear in red on the following chart.
Devorah and Szulim married descendants of Izak Josef Pikholz,
whose relationship to Mordecai is unknown
According to Mordecai's 1864 death record, he was fifty-nine, therefore born about 1805. His Y-67 DNA is identical to mine.

My Y-DNA comes from my second great-grandfather Izak Fischel Pikholz, whose parents and siblings are unknown. His wife Rivka Feige is the daughter of Izak Josef Pikholz (b. ~1784) and based on the ages of her daughters from her first marriage, was probably born about 1815. My guess is that Izak Fischel was born 1810-1815, but he may well be either older or younger.

The analysis
Over the last few days, I had a chromosome-by-chromosome look at how Mordecai's descendants match one another and how they match the descendants of Isak Josef. These are the results for chromosome 3. I restricted the data to segments of twenty cM or more.
The red lines are Mordecai's descendants. Those who tested are shaded - Mordecai's descendants in red, descendants of both Mordecai and Izak Josef are in yellow, descendants of Isak Fischel (and Izak Josef) are in green and descendants of only Isak Josef are in blue.

Several of the testers are composites. For example, Judy and Leonora both match at least one of the eight descendants of Morris (my grandfather) on segments of 35 cM and it doesn't matter which or how many of those descendants are involved. We do know it is the same segment, as Judy and Leonora match each other there and this segment is almost certainly an Izak Josef segment rather than one that reflects a relationship between him and Mordecai.

Eight interesting chromosomes
I present here the eight chromosomes which have significant matches between each of the four descendants of Mordecai who are not descendants of Izak Josef, with the descendants of Izak Fischel, that is the red group and the green group.

On chromosomes 4, 11 and 18, the only "red tester" is Ruth.
Ruth has matching segments as large as 46 cM with the descendants of Izak Fischel's son Hersch.

Ruth has matching segments as large as 32 cM with the descendants of Izak Fischel.

Ruth has a matching segment of 21 cM with the descendants of Izak Fischel's son Hersch.


Barbara matches Isak Fischel's descendants on chromosome 13 and on 14 with Ruth.
Barbara has a matching segment of 20 cM with the descendants of Izak Fischel's son Hersch.
Barbara and Ruth have matching segments as large as 26 cM with the descendants of Hersch.
Lloyd and Dalia match Isak Fischel's descendants on chromosome 7, while Lloyd's cousin Mike matches on chromosome 16.
Lloyd and Dalia have matching segments as large as 43 cM with the descendants of Hersch.

Mike has a matching segment of up to 29 cM with many of the descendants of Izak Fischel's son Hersch.



Finally, Barbara and Dalia match Isak Fischel's descendants on chromosome 20.
Barbara and Dalia have matching segments as large as 32 cM with the descendants of Izak Fischel.

I cannot prove it, but I am quite convinced that Mordecai and Izak Fischel are brothers. I will not write this in my database, except in the comments, and I will not draw a chart with solid lines. But I think and believe it to be the truth.

I still want to test descendants of Tema, Gittel Riwka and Chaim (at the left of the chart at the top). If they have matches similar to Ruth's, I will know that these are legitimate Mordecai Pikholz matches and not, for instance, from the husband of Ruth's great-grandmother Etel.

I will have more to say about this in a few days (I did call this "Part One," after all) but I have other things to do right now.
My granddaughter is getting married this evening.