Sunday, February 11, 2024

My Pikholz Third Great-Grandfather

My great-grandfather is Hersch Pickholtz, who died in 1931 and is buried in Pittsburgh. Years ago, I saw from his tombstone that his father is Izak Yeroham Fischel. (Fischel is a Yiddish form of the Hebrew Yeroham. He was in fact known as Izak Fischel.) I was never able to get past that, but I did learn that Hersch's mother was also a Pikholz, so her father Izak Josef (~1784-1862) was eliminated as a possible father for Izak Fischel.

The only other Pikholz we knew who were old enough to be Izak Fischel's father are Berl (~1789-1877) and Leib (~1780-1844). The family all lived in Skalat, not far from Tarnopol in east Galicia.

I had done extensive work on the large family of one Mordecai Pikholz (~1805-1864) and using DNA, I had come to the conclusion - unproven - that he and Izak Fischel were brothers. I knew that Mordecai had daughters named Chana Chaje, Enie and Devorah and sons Chaim Yaakov, Shimon, Szulim and Aryeh Leib and I am in contact with some descendants of all of them but Enie.

Part of the evidence here was the perfectly matching Y-DNA of Dalia Kaplan's nephew and me, Dalia being a great-granddaughter of Mordecai's son Chaim Yaakov. The rest of the evidence is laid out in a two-part blog post here and here.

There was also a Mechel Pikholz (b. ~1833), son of Mordecai, who lived in Podolia, and really looked like he fit as a son of our Mordecai. Mechel is usually a nickname for Jachiel and that name showed up enough in the families to make Jachiel a candidate for the name of Mordecai and Izak Fischel's father.

Due to my conservative practices, I considered all this to be speculation and did not record it in my database, except in the comments.

This week began with an email from the inimitable Lara Diamond who had found a Pigholtz record that was not in the Ukraine database at JewishGen. This database includes Podolia and I had turned my attention to it recently.  Lara's find is the second record on this page.

This is a marriage record for the fifteenth of Tammuz 5602, 23 June 1842. (The record says 11 June and I assume that's the Julian date.) The groom is Rachmiel ben Hillel Doptir, eighteen years old. The bride, also age eighteen, is Sara, the daughter of Mordecai, who is in turn the son of Zvi Pigholtz.
Sara would therefore have been born in 1824. Our Mordecai was born in 1805 and the only birth years we have for his seven children are about 1823, 1829, 1830 and 1837, based on the ages in their death records. So Sara would fit in as perhaps Mordecai's second child.
Of course the exciting thing in this record is Zvi as the name of Mordecai's father. Though it is certainly not dispositive, my great-grandfather (born about 1853) is Zvi, as is Dalia's father who was born much later. The available death records for Skalat begin in 1826 and Mordecai's father Zvi could have died earlier. Or he could be missing from the records for some other reason.

I will take a deep dive into some of the newly available records - I am behind on that! - and well see if anything else comes up. For real proof that Zvi is my third great-grandfather, I am relying more on luck than on planning.

Thursday, January 4, 2024

The Heidenfelds

Years ago, when I was collecting names but not really doing genealogy, my paternal grandmother mentioned that her mother, Regina Bauer, had some cousins. First cousins, second cousins, it wasn't clear. Nana knew four names - Johanna Imber, Ethel Orkin, Stephanie Juhasz and Markus Pogany. She thought the four may have been siblings but wasn't really sure.

She knew that Mrs. Imber and Mrs. Orkin had lived in Pittsburgh (where we lived) and that Stephanie Juhasz and her daughters Vilma, Anna and Olga had lived in Paris. She wasn't sure about Markus Pogany, but perhaps he had remained in Hungary.

Eventually I began to work on the genealogy of the Bauers and one of my first steps was finding the Imber and Orkin death notices in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. Ethel Orkin, who died in 1963, was survived by her husband Harry and her sister Johanna Imber - so we know they are sisters. No children. The Orkins are buried in the same Poale Zedeck cemetery where Regina Bauer, and indeed my grandparents, is.

Johanna Imber died in 1980 and is described as "aunt of Olga and Edward Szabo, Rego Park, NY." I assumed that Olga is the daughter of Stephanie Juhasz, so Stephanie and Johanna are sisters, making three. No children mentioned for Johanna and no place of burial either.

Later when Ancestry made Pennsylvania death certificates available into the 1960s, I was able to see from Ethel's that her parents are Joseph Hydenfeld and Lina Leavy. That should be correct since her sister Johanna was the informant.

By this time, I had the names of Regina Bauer's four grandparents and I saw that neither Hydenfeld not Leavy was among them, so I began to suspect that she may have been further than a second cousin to these other women.

What I knew was that Regina's maternal grandparents were Salomon (Yehoshua Zelig) Stern from Paks and Bluma Grunwald from Perkata. They lived in Kalocsa. Regina's paternal grandfather was Lasar (Eliezer) Bauer, who lived in Kunszentmiklos.

I had a record showing a Lasar Bauer about the right age, married to Rosa Lowinger, but I had nothing to prove that this was the same Lasar. This Lasar lived in Kunszentmiklos but had been born in Apostag, about halfway from Kunszentmiklos and Kalocsa. (Many of the Bauers in Kunszentmiklos had been born in Apostag.) In the meantime, I was comfortable with Lowinger as a probable surname for Regina's grandmother.

I revisited all of this about eighteen months ago as part of my preparation for a cemetery trip to Hungary, where I founds ancestors and siblings of Regina in Kunszentmiklos, Kalocsa and Paks. I knew I would need some assistance and received it from my friend and colleague Beth Long, who is quite the expert in Hungarian Jewish genealogy, records and geography. Our joint efforts gave us the following.

1. Jozsef Heidenfeld of Osweicim Poland and his wife Magdolna (Lina) Lowy of Szecseny Hungary had six children. Stephania (1883), Eszter (1886), Johanna (1887), Markus (1888), Samuel (1890) and Hermina (1893). All the children were born in Budapest.

2. Magdolna/Lina's parents were Herman Lowi and Zilli Steinberg. But her 1912 death record calls her "Karolina" and her parents Armin Lowi and Czeczilia Brodi (I think).

3. Eszter became Ethel (Orkin), Markus changed his surname to Pogany, Samuel changed his name to Harmat.

4. Hermina married Iszak Rosenfeld of Munkacz. Samuel married Celia Braun of Arad (Rumania). Markus married Sara Sebok of Kalocsa. They certainly did not seem to be restricted to the Budapest area!

5. Markus died in 1969. We found neither death information nor children for Samuel and Hermina, which my be why my grandmother had never heard of them.

None of this helps me identify a connection with my great-grandmother. Unless perhaps Lowi is a variation of Lowinger. Lina Lowi was from Szecseny, which is north of Budapest and about 160 km on today's roads from Kunszentmiklos where Rosa Lowinger lived.

I recently joined the Facebook group Hungarian Jewish Genealogy and perhaps someone there will know something about this family.

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Morris Pickholtz - born 1893, or 1892, or maybe both

Morris Pickholtz in London

Morris Pickholtz, Moshe ben Shemuel, married Miss Dora Deitch in London, 10 January 1928. The civil marriage record, from 16 December 1927, tells us that Morris was thirty-five years old and Dora thirty-seven. Both records say that it was the first marriage for each of them. The rabbinical record says he has no brothers.

I had a brief correspondence with some of Dora's family nearly twenty years ago and learned their death and burial information. They had no children.

Morris died in 1933 at age forty and Dora in 1948 at age seventy-three, so her age at marriage (37 in 1927) appears to be wildly false. Morris is buried in East Ham with a simple grave with no information. Dora is in Rainham with a normal tombstone that mentions her many family and friends. 

I was left to ponder who this Morris Pickholtz might be. I had his name Moshe ben Shemuel and a birth year 1892-3, which may be correct. Or not. 

Over the years I have accumulated a few references to people named Morris Pickholtz in UK whom I cannot connect to anyone else.


Morris the Woodcarver in Canada

We have a passenger list showing arrivals in Halifax 14 April 1911 which includes Morris Pickholtz, age 18. It says he is a woodcarver but there is a stamp over that saying "farm laborer." He is a Hebrew, born in England. We also see him at St. Albans which is a crossing point into the United States though I cannot tell which way he is going.

He also appears in the 1911 Canadian census, where it says he was born September 1892.

In 1914, he appears on a passenger list returning to England. He is listed as a farmer.

This could be the man who later married Dora Deitch.


Morris the Soldier

We have three documents indicating that he was awarded a medal for his service with the King's Royal Rifle Corps in France during WWI. No further information.