Sunday, July 14, 2013


When I first met Rita, back at the beginning of the Pikholz Project fifteen years ago, the central character in her family history was her great-grandfather Arie Leib Pikholz. Based on the ages of his children, he was probably born in the early 1850s. There doesn't seem to be anyone named for him and he doesn't appear in any death records, so we have no idea when he died.

He lived in Proszoma and or Kosowka, a bit south of Skalat. His wife was Risie Epstein from Grzymalow.

Rita had a pretty good grasp of Arie Leib's descendants - aside from several who died young and one son who made aliyah in maybe the 1920s and left no trace that we could find. One of her first cousins is the granddaughter of a first-cousin marriage - Sophie being a daughter of Ari Leib, but we don't know the parents of her husband Solomon.

Rita also knew (or knew of) several of her grandmother's first cousins: Bassie, the daughter of Arie Leib's brother Jacob, and Morris (Moshe Hersch) and Nathan, probably the sons of Arie Leib's brother Josef. (There is some doubt and debate about Josef, but that is another topic for another time.)

In the course of our research we found additional births to some of the older couples, without knowing what happened to the children who survived childhood.

We also found that Arie Leib had a brother Simon, who had four children by each of two wives. Simon may also be the father of Solomon, whom I mentioned above.

All these families lived in smaller towns around Skalat - Mikulince, Tarnoruda, Kosowka, Proszoma - though Jacob lived for a time in Tarnopol.

Bassie died 30 December 1875
At some point, even before JRI-Poland came into play, I found a Skalat death record from 1875 for fifty-eight year old Bassie Pikholz of Kozowka, who appeared to be the mother of Arie Leib and the others. This even though Jacob seems to be the only one with a descendant named Bassie.

That same batch of Skalat death records included forty year old Getzel Pikholz in 1866. He too was from Kozowka and it appeared to me that he would have been Bassie's husband, even though he was eight or nine years her junior. This fit well from another standpoint. Rita's family had some Nachmans and the other two Skalat-area family with Nachmans also had a Getzel.

Of course, I did not record either of these as fact. I just noted that they may have been a married couple and may have been the parents of Arie Leib and his cohort.

That is more or less where we stood for eight or ten years. Until this showed up in the newest batch of records. A death record from Mikulince.
Simon Pikholz of Kozowka, son of Moses Hersch and Basie, died 19 Nov 1906. Buried in Mikulince. Age 58.
So I was right about Bassie's being the mother, but the father was not Getzel, but Moshe Hersch. And I am certain enough to have recorded them in my database.

That sent me back to a table that I had begun preparing a few years ago, listing every known Moshe Hersch in the Skalat Pikholz families. I am still fiddling with it, but here it is today.
The third entry on the list is Rita's great-great-grandfather.

The most senior of the Nachman-Getzel families begins with Nachman Pikholz (1795-1865), the great-great-great-grandfather of Jacob Laor and my guess is that Rita's Moshe Hersch is his son. That would make Rita and Jacob fourth cousins. Fourth cousins is well-within the capability of an autosomal DNA test, though it depends on exactly how the DNA has been passed down the generations. Jacob and another of his branch have ordered tests as has Rita. I have asked a couple of Rita's cousins to test as well, including the one with the cousin-grandparents. They have not yet replied to that request.

(I have asked descendants of the third Nachman-Getzel family as well, but here too I do not yet have any replies.)

The thirteen Moshe Hersch in the chart above include Rita's ancestor (#3) and three of his descendants (#s 10, 11, 13).

Entry number seven is the head of a family with no known living descendants, but Jacob has long been convinced that they are part of his family, based largely on the proximity of Kaczanowka, where they lived, and Klimkowce, where Jacob's great-grandfather lived.

It is possible that the first entry on the list is the same person as Rita's ancestor. A couple of DNA tests from Steve's family would be helpful here, but that family is complicated by an adoption and I have no real connection with the biological descendants. (Steve's great-grandfather is here on the right.)

The second entry is the father of a girl who died in 1842 at age three and he is almost certainly the same as #1 or #3.

Entry number four is named, with his wife Jente, on the birth records of some of his grandchildren. The first we know of was born about 1869, so his 1825 birth year is a guess based on that. He could be the same as Rita or Steve's ancestor, though if Rita's we would have  an issue of multiple wives. This Moshe Hersch has living descendants but testing them might be a hopeless task as there are several cousin-marriages muddying up the water.

Number five died in 1872 at age thirty. We know nothing else about him. He is too old to be the grandson of any of the others, but he could be a nephew.

Numbers six and twelve are the sons of Pikholz mothers. We do not know who the grandparents are, but I'd really like to.

Number eight was born in 1877 to Leib Pikholz, whose parents are not known. But they could include one of the Moshe Hersch listed above.

And that's about where we are for now. Other than the DNA, we have no plan for moving forward.

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