Sunday, March 12, 2017

New Skalat Records from the Excel File

About two months ago, Mark Halpern of JRI-Poland sent me a spreadsheet with 695 Skalat deaths during 1908-1915. That list includes sixteen people named Pikholz and at least two other Pikholz family members with a different surname. Most of the sixteen are listed without names of parents or spouses, so it is not always clear who the deceased is. The index also does not include towns of origin, at least not for our entries, but those may appear on the actual records.

The entries have ages, of course, and also house numbers. The actual records have always had house numbers, but they were usually not included in the index.

One of those records solved a major issue for me and I discussed it here.

Mark tells me that these records will probably be indexed and uploaded to JRI-Poland in another month or so, but in the meantime, I have done what I can with what I have. (The Excel files are sent to town leaders and donors in advance of the indexing, so you might want to consider donations for your towns of interest.)

The headings on the latest Excel file
(There is also a list of 1152 Skalat births for 1898-99, but there appear to be no Pikholz listed.)

Aside from the one I wrote about last month, several of the 1908-1915 raise some interesting questions, so I want to describe them all here, the interesting and the children who only interested their immediate families.

I have not updated the website with this new information and new people. I think I'll wait until I can get the actual records.

Szymon Pickholz, d. 1908
This man died in house 899 at age 78. So he would have been born about 1830, though we should not assume ages on death records to be precise. We do not have other Pikholz records in this house.

We know of one Shimon Pikholz from Skalat born before 1879 and whose death is not more or less known. That one was married to Dwore Waltuch who died ar twenty-three in 1861 after bearing two children. Shimon then married her younger sister Chana. Chana went to New Jersey in 1892 and four of her children lived there as well. Her youngest was born in 1885 in Skalat.

Three of those children had at least one son, all born in New Jersey. One was born in 1933 and was named Shimon; he was his father's only son. One was born in 1906, was named Shalom after Shimon's brother and was called Samuel in the US. One was born in 1901 and was named Sam, but we have no idea what his Jewish name was.

I had always assumed that Chana went to the US after her husband died (why no death record circa 1890?) and that Sam (1901) was likely named for him. I always wondered why the one born in 1906 was not named for his grandfather Shimon. So now I have exchanged that question for another - assuming that this 1908 death record is this Shimon, why did his whole family go to the US in the early 1890s, while he stayed behind for at least fifteen years. Was there a divorce?

For the time being, I am going to record this death record with a note that this is probably the Shimon who married the Waltuch sisters. Probably, but not certainly. I may change my mind later. Though I cannot imagine what evidence may yet appear that would help me do that.

Josef Pickholz, d. 1909
This man died in house 597 at age forty-seven, so he would have been born about 1862. We do not know the house number. Nor do we have a precise date of death.

We actually have a Josef Pickholz born in Skalat in October 1862, that being the son of my great-grandfather's Uncle Selig. The problem is, this Josef - Isak Josef, to use his full name, which he himself did not do - lived not in Skalat but in neighboring Grzmaylow. Is that a problem? Maybe. The actual record may shed light on that.

We have another Isak Josef - almost certainly called Josef like all the others - who was born in Skalat in June 1863. But he was only 45-46 in 1909. On the other hand, his younger children were born in house 587. Perhaps when we see the actual record, the house number will look more like 587 than 597. That would make it easy. I can hope, no?

The seven children
Seven Pikholz children died in Skalat during this period.
  • Ettel Pickholz had a stillborn son in 1909. I cannot identify Ettel.
  • Henia Breina the daughter of Tobias died at age 2 in 1910 I know this family.
  • Tobias' brother Getzel lost a ten-day old infant son in 1911.
  • Tobias lost a four-month old daughter in 1912.
  • Nine-year old Berl died in 1915. We have his birth. He was born and died in house 587.
  • One-year old Debora died in 1915. I know this family, more or less.
  • One-year old Moses died in 1915. I have no idea who he is.

Ruchla Gittla Pickholz, d. 1910
This is a Pikholz spouse, age 55. Her maiden name is Qualer or Kwaler and she came from Zalosce, which makes me think that her family is very close to mine. She and her husband Leib (who is named in the death record) had six children in Skalat, three or four of whom died in childhood. We have no idea what became of the others. We have no idea who her husband's parents are.

Ester Pickholz, d. 1914
Ester Rosenstrauch Pickholz died at age seventy. She and her husband Kopel (~1842-1903), whose Pikholz parents are unknown, had eight children, six of whom died in childhood. The other two were killed in the Holocaust and we know of no surviving descendants.

Udla Pickholz, d. 1915
This woman was eighty years old, died in house 912 and we have no idea who she was. We may never.

Etel Pickholz, d. 1915
This woman was forty-three yers old, and I haven't a clue who this is, nor whether Pickholz was her birth name or a married name. She died in house 530, which does not tell us anything.

Jacob and Henie Malke Pickholz, d. 1915
This married couple died in 1915, 162 records apart - probably representing six or eight months. He was fifty-nine and she was sixty-four. They did not die in the same house. We know this family well.

When I first saw these entries, I thought I would simply record their years - Jacob ~1855-1915 and Henie Malka ~1851-1915. But it isn't quite that simple. According to family tradition, Jacob and his sister Sarah are twins.

We think we have Sarah's grave in Vienna and according to the Vienna database, she died on 8 March 1914 at age 54. That puts her birth about 1860. My upcoming Slovakia/Hungary trip includes a day and a half in Vienna and I hope to have a look at the grave itself. For now, it opens up a new problem - twins born five years apart.

The Ratzensteins, d. 1911 and 1914

The index includes Antschel Josef Ratzenstein (62) and Elias "Racenstern"(42). These are known to be father and son. Antschel's mother-in-law is Alta Pikholz, the daughter of Nachman (~1795) and his wife Sara. We have Elias' birth record and the dates match.

Now can we please get Rozdol death records for the years after 1901!

Housekeeping notes
I am speaking Thursday here in Israel.
16 March 2017, 7:30 – IGRA, Beit Fisher, 5 Klausner Street, Raanana (in English)
Lessons in Jewish DNA: One Man’s Successes and What He Learned on the Journey

I have had four proposals accepted for the IAJGS Conference in Orlando 23-28 July. No times or dates yet. But if anyone wants me to speak in the US before the Conference, now is the time to speak up.

And for the attention of any program chairs (or anyone who knows program chairs), I'll be available in the US late April-early May of 2018. Another bar mitzvah in Chicago.

to these celebrating today (Sunday) and to those of us in Jerusalem whose holiday begins this evening.


  1. "Szymon Pickholz, d. 1908 ... at age 78. So he would have been born about 1840"
    Surely he was born about 1830?

    1. Surely, yes. Thank you. I have fixed that typo.