Sunday, May 5, 2013


This Wednesday, we celebrate the liberation of Jerusalem forty-six years ago, after nineteen years of occupation by the Jordanians. It seems like a good time to tell the story of Baruch, a freshly-retired superviser for Gihon, the Jerusalem water company.

I have been going to this particular shul fairly regularly for maybe two years and that's where I met Baruch. He has an Israeli surname which was obviously something else beforehand and one day I asked him about it. He told me that his name was originally Graniwitter and that his father had changed it after coming to Israel from Europe.

Right: Golda bat Zvi Aryeh, died 18 Kislev 5719
Left: Israel ben Nachman, died 22 Teveth 5748
I asked him where his father was from (Baruch himself was born here) and he said "Galicia." I asked him where and he said "a small town you have never heard of Roz..-something." "Rozdol?" I asked. Yes it was Rozdol. It's a town I know well, because the "other" Pikholz families are from there. He wasn't sure exactly when his father - Israel ben Nachman - was born.

Baruch's mother had died when he was young and he didn't know much about her family. Her name was Golda bat Zvi Aryeh and he knew she was born in Stryj in 1902. But no surname.

Later, at home, I went to work, beginning with JRI-Poland. Rozdol birth records are indexed only through 1900, so I was not surprised that Baruch's father Israel did not appear. I found four other records - three births to (Jakob) Israel and one Nachman Sisze born to Mendel Zaumfus and Taube Granivetter.
The "View Image" links are new and were not  available when I first did this search.

I saw quite a few Graniwitters in other towns in the area and several Nachman Sisze of one spelling or  another, so it appeared likely that the one born in 1878 was Baruch's grandfather. It would not be the first time that a middle name was lost along the way.

I turned my attention to Baruch's mother. Golda bat Zvi Aryeh, born 1902 in Stryj, without a clue to her surname. Clearly Zvi Aryeh would appear in Galician records as Leib Hersch so I searched for the given names Golda, Leib and Hersch in Stryj and limited the search to the 1898 and on.  (We only have indexed births for Stryj through 1903.)

Here too, we did not have the benefit of the "View Image" link at the time.

The third one here looked good. I presented it to Baruch and he said that his older sister Hencha is named for their maternal grandmother, so it makes sense. He later spoke to his sister and she recognized the surname Messinger.

I ordered the records for Baruch's mother and paternal grandfather, learned their mother's parents' names and ordered a few more records. In the end, I put together a nice picture of Baruch's ancestors, complete with documents - including for some of those ancestors' siblings.

But it wasn't the end.

As I said, we have a large number of Pikholz records from Rozdol and in the course of scanning some of them, I came across this:

Click to see a larger version
The record before the 7 April 1875  birth of Jakob Pikholz was the birth - on the same day - of Nachmen Granenweter. His parents are Israel Jakob and Golde. That's the other Rozdol family that had shown up earlier. This made way more sense to be Baruch's grandfather. Nachman without Sisze. The father Israel Jakob, where Baruch's father (Nachman's son) is Israel.

Now I can go to the birth records of Nachman's younger brother and sister and get the mother's parents' names.

Why didn't this birth show up before? Well, the "sounds like" function does not catch everything that we might think sounds like what we want. In this case, the second "n" in Granenweter was enough to keep it out of the results. And of course, since there was another reasonable-looking result, I fell into the trap of thinking it is correct. I should know better, of course.

I have since done some additional searches, including "starts with Gran," but this was the only result that I really missed. I gave Baruch this newfound record and he was pleased.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Housekeeping note
I am speaking (in Hebrew) at the Israel Genealogical Society's Petah Tikva branch on Wednesday evening 29 May.  The subject is

No comments:

Post a Comment