Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A New Twist In The "Joseph Leisor" Story

The background
Three years ago, I introduced readers to the story of Joseph Leisor Pikholz, probably a second cousin of my grandfather. Then last year, after we received access to the latest batch of Skalat records, I discussed Joseph Leisor's father Simon, after his death record appeared with a date years after I assumed he was dead.

Joseph's wife's Katie's unmarked
grave in Upper Darby PA
Joseph, who had four children in Philadelphia during the period 1901-1906, disappears entirely about that time. His children show up in orphanges or living with his in-laws in 1910, after the wife died (in 1909), so I assumed that Joseph had died.

Joseph's older sister Dora had gone to the US with my grandfather's first cousin Sara Frankel, who had ended up in Denver, so I had this cockamamie theory that Joseph had gone to Denver to join family and look for work. I brashly predicted to Steve Pickholtz - who had taken the lead on this inquiry - that we would find that Joseph had died in Denver or en route, probably while his wife was still alive. I even considered that he had died even before the youngest child was born and that "Leonard J." would turn out to be in memory of Joseph Leisor.

That theory blew up when I found that Joseph was definitely alive in 1909-1910, involved in some matters that are better not spoken of. There is also an indication that he had spent some time in Pittsburgh before that.

Then I found this in Ancestry's collection of World War One Draft Registration Cards:

Joseph Lewis Pickholtz, born 1 October 1881, registered for the draft in Kansas City Missouri in 1918. He is married to "Elsie L," is in the junk business and is "tall," brown-haired and missing three fingers on his right hand. "Lewis" is a reasonable substitute for "Leisor" and the birth year is correct, though not the full date.

And then he disappears again. Neither he nor Elsie shows up in the 1920 census or anyplace else. I wondered if he was on the way to Denver.

The new twist
As I mentioned in my last few blogs, I am speaking in St. Louis and Kansas City in four weeks and I will have some time in Kansas City in between. So I wondered out loud if there is something I can do while there to advance my research and mentioned the draft card to the organizers. Nancy Reicher took up the challenge and sent me this:
This looks like our Joseph, though there is no identifying information other than the middle initial. Getting married. In Golden Colorado, half an hour from Denver. In 1915, three years before the Kansas City draft card.

Is Lena Lipchitz the same person as "Elsie L" - or yet another wife?

And I don't see any Lipchitz or similar in either Denver/Golden or Kansas City in either the 1910 or 1920 census.

So maybe my instincts were correct. He had gone to Denver. Now what? Perhaps I can find a Lipchitz family in the Denver area, who knows this family. Working on it.

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