Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Murder of the First Pikholz Family in Tarnopol

Early Pikholz families in Tarnopol
We know that there were Pikholz families in Skalat - about 19 miles or 30 km ESE of the provincial capital Tarnopol - just before 1800. Later in the 1800s we find Pikholz families and individuals in nearby Mikulince, Grzmaylow, Kacanowka, Zbarazh, Klimkowce, Husiatyn and Tarnopol and its suburbs. Later we find Pikholz families in Kozivka, Buczacz, Terembowla, Podwoloczysk and elsewhere. Most of these individuals and families are traceable to known Skalat families.

But some are not. Almost certainly they come from our known families but the records don't give enough information to work with. For that matter, we have fifteen-twenty Pikholz deaths in Skalat itself whom we cannot identify.

In the case of Tarnopol, we have a few like this. Pikholz infants named Samuel, Perl, Gabriel, Moses and another young Samuel died during the period 1848-1852. Do they all have the same parents? Maybe, but we don't know.

Menie Beyle Pikholz died in Tarnopol in 1867 at age twenty-six, but she may have been a Pikholz spouse.

Jankel Pikholz was born in Tarnopol in 1854 to Marcus and Ruchel.

The 1910 Tarnopol census shows a Herman Pikholz, age 66, "born in Tarnopol."

These are the earliest records of Pikholz descendants living in Tarnopol. That would have been about 1844.

The murdered family
That changed last week when Gesher Galicia announced the availability of several new record sets including
Tarnopol (Ternopil). TsDIAL, Fond 701/1/328, 331, 332 and 334
 - Jewish deaths, May 1845-December 1869 (10,662 records).
I went to Gesher Galicia's All Galicia Database and searched "Pikholz" using the "Records added in the past month" filter

Among the search results were these:
A whole family - Abram Pikholz, his wife Welle, daughters Esther and Sara - all died on 22 March 1855 and son David died three days later. (I was not familiar with the female name "Welle" but others tell me that it indeed occurs in their families. Perhaps it is a female version of Welwel.)

And it's spelled in the German way, with a "c" - perhaps it was the custom in the provincial capital.

Tony Kahane provided the actual record and wrote:
I found the page from the Tarnopol D 1854-1857 records listing the deaths of the five members of the Pikholz family in March 1855, in Borki Wielkie, near Tarnopol. These deaths were not from cholera (unlike many others in that year). The part of the note that it is easier to decipher (attached screenshot) is line 3 and  the beginning of line 4:
"… in der Nacht v[on] 19. auf 20. d[ieses] M[onat] ermordet …".
These people were murdered in the night of 19-20 March 1855.

Roger Lustig had a look at the German-language note on the right and wrote:
was, at the Sbrutin (?) Inn in Borki wielkie, on the night of the 19th-20th of the month, murdered, and, as a result of Imperial and Royal [something] order of 20 March 1855 No. 4363, 
So the family were murdered at the inn in Borki Wielkie (currently known as Velikiye Borki) six miles ESE of Tarnopol. Were they passing through? Did they live in Borki? Were Abram and Welle the innkeepers? How is this family connected to the deaths of children in Tarnopol whom we had already seen?

Well, they seem to have lived in Borki. An additional record in the new set is this:
One-month old Chajem Moses lived in Borki and died 22 December 1854, three months before the murder. This seems to be the same family, living in Borki. So they were at the inn but lived locally. 
The actual death record of Chajem Moses
 Who is Abram?
The father, Abram, was thirty-two when he died. That seems to make him the first Pikholz in Tarnopol, though there I doubt that he was born there. Who is he? Who are his parents? How does he connect to the known Pikholz families from Skalat? 

The only other Avraham from the Skalat area, born before the 1870s is a son of Nachman Pikholz and he was born about 1841, so there is a good chance he is a son of my third-great-grandfather Izak Josef. In fact, we have no children for Izak Josef between Berl (1816) and Selig (1830) so it is reasonable that there are missing children born in the 1820s. I think I shall record Abram as a probable son of Isak Josef, though he might be a son of Berl (1789).

On the other hand, as far as I know, no Pikholz from the Skalat area named a child Avraham in the years following the murder.

I have contacted Alex Denisenko to see what might be found about the murder and the family. 

UPDATE: Traude Triebel provided a link to a newspaper report. It confirms what we already have and provides no additional information.

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