Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Father and Uncle Selig - The Solution?

I have discussed my great-grandfather's Uncle Selig at length here, here and most recently here and I thought I had said everything there was to be said, considering the paucity of records and the few known descendants.

I am now certain that Uncle Selig is the younger brother of my great-great-grandmother Rivka Feige Pikholz and that this is the relevant family structure.
The children of Isak Fischel and Rivka Feige were born in Podkamen, near Zalosce.

I do not actually know that Uncle Selig's mother is Rojse. Due to the age difference, I suspect he may be from a second wife.

I first learned of Uncle Selig when my father sent me a note many years ago saying that his grandfather Hersch had an uncle, Selig Pikholz, and that they lived in the same area. No one else of my father's generation - at least none that was alive when I began my research - had ever heard of Uncle Selig. and I always wondered how it was that my father knew any of this. My father's grandfather Hersch died when my father was eight, so I don't imagine they had meaningful conversations. 

Great-grandfather Hersch had lived with Aunt Mary and Uncle Max for some years and their son Herb - who is five years older than my father - had never heard of any Uncle Selig.

When I found an actual reference to Uncle Selig in the records, I saw that a son was born in Skalat in 1862 and that his wife was Chana, the daughter of Markus Kaczka. The distance between Skalat and Zalosce according to the JewishGen Gazetteer is 36.7 miles (59 km) from Zalosce, where I knew my great-grandparents had lived. This does not really sound like "in the same area" for that time and place. I later found Skalat references to two older daughters.
Yes, some of the records say Pick or Pik or even Pyk rather than Pikholz.

I began considering that my great-grandmother's name, Kwoczka, was a local version of the more common Kaczka, both related to poultry. I had seen that Kwoczka is unique to Zalosce and that almost all the Kaczkas in east Galicia are from Skalat. Not to mention that the fathers of both my great-grandmother and Uncle Selig's wife are named Marcus (=Mordecai). So my first theory was that we were related to both Uncle Selig and his wife, Chana, so that had something to do with why my father had heard of him.

Not very convincing, is it?

Then when we found that Uncle Selig was present at the circumcision of his great-grandson David Eisig Lippmann in 1911, I wondered if perhaps Uncle Selig had lived into my father's lifetime and it was his longevity or perhaps his death which had brought him to my father's attention.

That theory lasted until I found Uncle Selig's death record, in 1913, some ten years before my father was born.

Then, a few days ago, because of my obsession with this particular issue - I mean it's the only real bit of genealogy that my father knew - I took a step back and saw it all fall into place.

Rivka Feige was named after (by one of the daughters of her first husband) in 1862*. She was dead by the time Hersch was ten years old. Hersch's brother Jachiel would have been no more than about seventeen, maybe a few years younger. I don't know when Isak Fischel died, but he was named after by his daughter Bassie in 1873 when Hersch was probably twenty. He could have been dead five or ten or more years. And even if Isak Fischel lived to marry off his first three children, who knows if he is the one who raised them after his wife died.

The four children seem to have been born in Podkamen, near Zalosce. Jachiel married a woman from Skalat and lived in Zalosce. Leah married a man in Zalosce and went to Pittsburgh in the mid-1880s. Bassie married a man from Skalat and her children were born there, before one-by-one the family went to the US. Hersch followed Leah to Pittsburgh - Uncle Max in 1901, the first two sisters in 1902, Hersch himself and Uncle Joe in 1903 and his wife and the three youngest in 1904.

I think it went something like this. The four motherless children were raised - at least for a time - in Skalat. Probably by Uncle Selig and his wife Chana. They surely knew their grandfather (Isak Josef) who died there in 1862. At some point, Jachiel married a local (Skalat) girl and went back to Zalosce, which was near his birthplace Podkamen. Leah too went to Zalosce and married there.

Bassie married in Skalat - not because she was sent there to marry someone the family knew, but because she was already there.

Hersch may have gone to live with Leah or perhaps the Kaczka-Kwoczka connection is real and Uncle Selig's wife arranged him a shidduch with someone in her family in Zalosce. Or maybe both. Hersch and Leah must have been close, because he followed her to Pittsburgh.

And that's why my father knew. Because someone must have said - to him or in his hearing - that his grandfather was raised by his Uncle Selig. He heard, paid attention, remembered and passed it on.

And with all that back and forth, Zalosce and Skalat were not so far apart after all.

And while I am on the road between Skalat and Zalosce, let me touch base with another family. There is an unidentified Leib Pikholz of Skalat who was married to a Rachel Qualer or Kwaller or Kwahler of Zalosce who had children in the late 1870s and through the 1880s.

The given names there include Taube, Markus, Leiser and Moshe Hersch. Sounds to me like Leib is a son of the known couple Mordecai and Taube. They have a son Aryeh Leib who had children in the 1850s and 1860s. His wife died in 1874, so this could be the same Leib with a second wife, though I don't really think so.

Most of the Pikholz-Qualer children have both death and birth records, so I have no idea if there were descendants even in 1900.

There is a Kweller family from Zalosce who may have something to do with these - a descendant of that family was in my high school class. There were quite a few Zalosce families who went to Pittsburgh during the same period as my family.

* This is why I only now noticed the fact that Hersch was orphaned young. Only now have I established that there was a first husband who had children who named their first daughters "Rivka."

Housekeeping Notes
You can hear my December 1 interview on Savory Spotlight here.

Kitty Cooper had an excellent review of my book, including this
It is as easy to read as it can be, given that genetic genealogy is not easy to understand.  

My winter speaking schedule now includes 2 February at 6 PM at the Utah Jewish Genealogical Society. That's the evening before the RootsTech convention.

My full schedule (as it stands at the moment) can be found here. There are some available dates 25 January and the week following RootsTech.

No comments:

Post a Comment