Friday, August 12, 2022

The Bauers of Kunszentmiklos - Part Two

Continuing the story of our visit to the cemetery in Kunszentmiklos. 

As I said previously, I had four goals in mind for this visit.

1. Visiting and photographing the graves of my known relatives.

2. Clarifying the source for my father's name.

3. Clarifying the name of my second-great-grandfather's mother.

4. Gathering whatever information I could about the many members of my great -grandmother's Bauer family.

I addressed goal number 1 here


My Father's Name

My father's name is Eliezer Yitzhak. My grandmother said many times over the years that he was named for her mother's brother Lajos Bauer, who was a government official under Emporer Franz Josef. Being a trusting sort, I took her at her word and assumed that Lajos was Eliezer Yitzhak.

But over the years, I began to wonder. Lajos' paternal grandfather was Lazar Bauer. Perhaps my father's first name was for him and the Yitzhak was for someone else. But who? And my grandmother was no longer here to ask.

There are two obvious possibilities. One is her own other grandfather Isaak Leib whom I wrote about a few days ago, at the start of this series. He - like Lajos - had died in 1917, six years before my father was born. But then why did my grandmother never say that he was named for her maternal uncle and her paternal grandfather?

The other possibility was an older brother of my grandfather. Isak Fischel Pikholz died at nineteen months in 1885. The name Isak Fischel came from my grandfather's grandfather and as such was an important family name. I thought this was less likely for naming, but more likely because she never told me since it was from my grandfather's side.

And of course there was the possibility that both names came from Lajos.

So now I have visited Lajos' grave and he is only Eliezer, plus Simon's grave says his father is just plain Eliezer. So although I will still probably never solve the Yitzhak identity, at least I have eliminated one possibility.


Simon Bauer's mother's name

Simon Bauer, Regina's father was the son of Lazar (Eliezer) Bauer. We know that from his tombstone. I have a large number of Bauer records from Kunszentmiklos and have seen only one other reference to a Lazar. That would be a Lazar Bauer who died in Kunszentmiklos in 1867, age 76. He had been born in Apostag where many of the Bauers were born before Jews were permitted to live in Kunszentmiklos. (Apostag is about 25 km from Kunszentmiklos.)

This Lazar was married to a Rosa Lowinger (~1796-1879) and they had a daughter Katalin. Katalin was married to Jakob Speizer and died in 1921 in Kunszentmiklos. I did not see a grave for her there, not for Lazar and Roza. There are conflicting documents for Katalin's birth year, but she could be a sister of our Simon.

So on one hand, I have been listing Lowinger as one of my ancestral names. But on the other hand, I have not recorded Lazar and Roza as Simon's parents. There could, after all be two Lazars.

What I was hoping was that Simon's grave would name his mother. That happened a lot in Hungary. In fact, Simon's epitaph ends with "His mother's name is Rachel." Not the Hebrew name Rachel, but spelled as non-Hebrew name - resh-yod-yod-tzadi-yod-lamed. Could that be Roza? Very possibly. Would I call that additional evidence to enable me to assign Simon to Lazar and Roza. No way.

I was hoping to find a grave for Simon's father Lazar/Eliezer in Kunszentmiklos. But if he died in 1867, his grave (and his wife's?) would be closer to the front of the cemetery where there are no stones. It is also possible that since he was born in Apostag, he might have wanted to be buried there. We had a brief look at the cemetery there - it has some 400 stones and many are in good condition. We'll spend one day there next week.

Now one other thing. My grandmother told me a family of cousins that her mother Regina had, two of whom lived in Pittsburgh. Those cousins were born in Szécsény in northern Hungarian to Josef Heidenfeld and Lina Lowy (or Lowi or similar). There are instances of Lowinger becoming Lowy. So there's that.


The Other Bauers

Some years ago, I made an outline chart of Bauers from Kunszentmiklos, based mostly on birth and death records. Just as in Galicia, the birth records do not include the parents of the father, which makes it hard to identify family members. I had hoped that the cemetery would help by adding the fathers' names. That outline chart is here. Note that ten people were born in Apostag, maybe a few more.

As far as the cemetery goes, I can only beg excuses. Photography is not one of my talents. The sun did not help. The black stones gave very poor contrast. Hungarian on one side and Hebrew on the other. The sun was more of a problem on the Hebrew sides. This will take a lot of work and I am not sure what its value is.

The situation was not conducive for note-taking, nor was my patience. My clipboard was in the missing suitcase. There was no place to sit and write. Or to sit and rest.

I saw some graves which I recognized from the records with information that I knew to be useful. I may do something with this... eventually.

Here are some of the better examples.

Slovakia - Rona's Perspective

 Trip Blog-Day 1 and 2 all mixed up

Around 4:40 am Yisroel wakes me up. My first thought is to take the dogs out, but
they are at a vacation of their own. But as I am making my coffee it dawns on me I
never gave the taxi driver my address. I see on Whatsapp he did send a 3 second
voice message which said “Mah Ketovet”? Of course I immediately go into high
stress mode, with my stomach dropping to my toes, and my heart sinking.
I give him till about 5:20 to respond, then I try calling. No answer. Maybe he is in
the shower, I try again at 5:30 and 5:35. At this point I confess to Yisroel. I try a few
more times, then at 5:50 Yisroel says, lets take the car. I say, I’ll put it on my
personal card since I messed up, okay I used a more colorful word, but here I have

I send him a message that we are driving ourselves. I never did hear back. Though
shortly after that I see that he did finally see the messages.
We get to the airport a little before 7 for a 10:55 flight, we find parking in long term
near the pick up stop. Get to the terminal, tell them where we are going, and which
airline. They direct us to Israeli passport line. About an hour later we are through,
and when we ask where WIZZ air check in is at, they say Terminal 1!. Which means
we have to go out of Terminal 3 and wait for the bus which goes to Terminal 1.
Once we finally get there, a little before 9, I explain we already did security at
Terminal 3, thankfully we don’t need to do it again, and go into the old main hall,
which is packed with passengers for WIZZ and IsraAir.

Even with 10+ counters just for WIZZ, apparently there are also 10 different flights
within a 2 hour window. I find someone who says get in line, and listen and watch
for them to c all people, they announce for people to come to the front about an hour
before the scheduled time. So I periodically check, and excitedly come to tell Yisroel
we can go to the front, they are calling Bucharest. Apparently that is also one of the
worst mistakes one can make in Hungary, confusing Budapest and Bucharest.
Yisroel had a good needed laugh, and I know myself well enough that I confuse
things like this, so we go back to waiting in line. Little bits of schmoozing with other
people, I inform a lot of people to watch and listen, that about an hour before their
flight they too will get to jump the line! In the meantime I realize the snacks I
prepared to eat while we waited, because we would be getting there early leaked all
over the bag I was carrying them in, it was a mess, so I threw it out. Boy was that a
dumb move!!!!! I check back a few more times, till finally when it’s an hour before the
guy asks me what flight, and he says excitedly You need to get in line!”

I go back to Yisroel, and we start heading over. On the way I say out loud any one
for Budapest can go to the front now. A group of Chassidim start also pushing to the
front, but I tell them they have to be behind us. When one of them questions me, I
tell him. I did the work to get this information, I being nice to tell them so they don’t
miss their flight, therefore please do not try to go ahead of us. I didn’t see them on
our flight, I don’t know what happened to them. When one of the workers heard me
telling other people for Budapest on WIZZ to come forward, he yelled at me, I don’t
know if it’s easier for people to miss flights maybe???

That went well. I really thought our bags were over weight with all the food. The
regular suitcases were only 14KG, allowed 20, and our carry ons were only 8kg,
allowed 10. Plus, they offered to check through our carryon’s! Two less things to
worry about.

We get upstairs, and wait, and wait, and wait. Okay, time to go to the BR, airplane
toilets are super small. Then around 12:20 we get an email from the airline that our
flight is delayed and will take off at 11:30 am. Gee, that was 50 minutes ago, and we
are still in the waiting area.

I take a moment to finish davening, and while doing so notice 2 boys facing me, also
davening. OK, one of us is facing the wrong direction, but that is where the idea that
really it all goes UP to G-d comes in. I double check my compass, and it says I was
facing East, which Yisroel confirms, he has a pretty good sense of direction.

Then as I finish davening there are some kids playing with a plastic kick-ball. All of a
sudden it rolls away, and as one of the kids tries to chase it they set off a security
alarm for going into the area for the steps going to the tarmac-Remember I said “old
terminal”. One of the older kids crawls under the gate and retrieves the ball from the
step landing. As I am watching this I mouth to the older one in Hebrew “Glad it’s not
my kid this time!” He looks puzzled, so I explain, That is something my kids would
have done, so this time it’s not my kid, and gave him a thumbs up for having fun
while waiting.

Finally get on the plane, and it’s starting to dawn on me, it’s only a 3 ½ hour flight, on
a low budget airline, of course there won’t be a meal! And all the food is in the
luggage. Okay only a few more hours. I find some dried banana chips, and a few
pieces of licorice (I love licorice), and we eat that.

When we travelled to the states we kept ending up at the end of the line, till we got
off, and got places, so I told Yisroel I would go ahead, and he would join me, so we
are further up in line. Passport control actually was going fairly quickly, so I didn’t
want to use that one for “pushing ahead”, besides when I got out the luggage had
not even started to come out yet.

At least 30 minutes later it starts, and our 2 carry on bags come around fairly quickly,
but then we wait, and wait, and wait, and there are fewer and fewer people, then the
carousel stops, and the feed gate closes. We ask, and they check, then tell us to
report to the lost and found.

That’s done, I ask do they have any idea where they might be, everything is scanned
these days. Apparently they never left Israel!

So off to the rental car, we don’t see a counter, I ask at a few of the counters for
other companies, if anyone knows where it might be. I show them the reservation
papers, and finally find someone who tells us it’s not at the airport, we need to call.
One person points to the number, but it doesn’t seem to work. I ask at the exchange
counter, he reads through, and on PAGE 3 finds the number. I call, and thankfully
super nice, and comes to get us. As we are waiting for him outside to pick us up I
realize I don’t have my passport-Did I tell you my passport story from when we were
in the states!

Yisroel informs me I won’t be able to get back in from the exit, but someone doing
construction apparently left a door open, and I got in through there, and sitting on a
counter is my passport!!!

Grab that, run outside, but in the meantime the guy arrived, and left, saying to call
back. I quickly call back, and he arrives 5 minutes later. We get to the rental office,
NOT one attempt to sell us extra insurance, or waivers, or deductibles, nope-ALL

And we are off, with less than ¼ tank of gas, I go to plug the kosher grocery store
into WAZE, and thankfully look to see what time they are open till, because it is
already 5:15 pm. Well they closed at 5!

So then we settle to just get to Slovakia. WAZE says 5 ½ hours, but Google Maps
says 4 ½. Well it’s getting late already, so we go for the 4 ½ hour route. Well
apparently you can take the long boring route via the highway, or take a short cut-
through the woods/forests/over the mountains!

When I tell you, no towns or civilizations, 2 lane winding roads, and when you look
on Google map you just see a page of green, with a path cutting through. The last
picture is a birds eye view of the route.

We finally get to Slovakia, and it is the cutest house/building, great inn keeper, cute
room, no windows except a sky light, but we’ll only be there for the night. Apparently
the area is known for cyclists, plus a lot of hiking the mountains and stuff. The inn
used to be a school house, built in 1926, it was equidistant from several of the
surrounding villages, I didn’t think to ask him how he acquired it, or who owns it, but
the view was breath-taking, and the first time I have seen stars in a long time.

Time to go to sleep, it’s past midnight, I’m tired, Yisroel has been driving the whole

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Bauers of Kunszentmiklos

Regina Bauer Rosenzweig

Five years ago, my cousin Linda and I visited the cemetery in Kunszentmiklos Hungary. Our great-grandmother, Regina (Rivka) Bauer was born there. Her father too.

I remember my great-grandmother, who died when I was nearly three. She lived with our grandparents and used to give me M&Ms. She and her husband are buried at the Poale Zedeck cemetery in the Sheraden neighborhood of Pittsburgh. My grandparents and other family members are buried there as well.

There are dozens of Bauers buried in Kunszentmiklos including the parents of my great-grandmother and her brother, who is my father's namesake. But when Linda and I were there five years ago, it was badly overgrown and we could not see anything of use, although many of the stones themselves were in very good condition. I wrote about that visit as part of an eight blog series describing that trip.

So here we were, Wednesday morning headed from our Airbnb in Dunaujvaros to Kunszentmiklos thirty-six km away, to meet Imre, the keeper of the key to the cemetery. They truly did an excellent job cleaning up the cemetery and making the existing 189 tombstones accessible to visitors, though it is not easy walking around. 

By the way, all the Bauers are written בויער in Hebrew, pronounced Boyer.

The state of the cemetery - five years ago (above) and now (below).

The whole foreground area and to both sides has signs of graves, but there are no tombstones.


I had come with four goals in mind for this visit.

1. Visiting and photographing the graves of my known relatives.

2. Clarifying the source for my father's name.

3. Clarifying the name of my second-great-grandfather's mother.

4. Gathering whatever information I could about the many members of my great -grandmother's Bauer family.


My known relatives

I knew from cemetery records that my great-grandmother's parents and brother were buried in Kunszentmiklos. This would be Simon (Shemaya) Bauer (died 1902), Fani (Feige) Stern Bauer (died 1911) and Lajos (Eliezer) Bauer (died 1917).

I expected that my great-grandmother's older sister Ilona (Dobrisch) Bauer Wiesel (died 1893 at age 30) was also there because I have seen her death record. This even though I have not seen her in cemetery records.

Simon and Fanny are side-by-side, with Hungarian on one side and Hebrew on the other. The Hebrew sides did not photograph well, because of both the quality of the work and the direction of the sun. But I bring it all here.


I find it interesting that Simon is called Shemayahu on his stone and his wife's, but the simpler Shemaya everywhere else, including my father's cousin Simon who is named for him. 

And Fani is called Feigele rather than the more formal Feige on all the stones.
Their son Lajos is right behind them in the next row. (You can see his stone between theirs.) He is called a young man (bachur) at age 42 because he never married. My grandmother always said that my father was named for him. Lajos' epitaph is all on one side, with both Hebrew and Hungarian.

A bit later, as we were looking at some of the older, more difficult stones, I saw this, which Rona enhanced with a bit of water.

Wiesel Lipotne (Mrs. Lipot Wiesel)

Bauer Ilona

Age 30

Died 20 August 1893

The other side is in Hebrew. Here is a partial photograph.

The educated woman, crown of her husband

Pride of her family and beloved of her acquaintances

Plucked away in her youth, age 30

Mrs. Dobrisch 

Dear to her husband Lipman Wiesel

From the Bauer family

Died 5 Elul 5653

Her mother's name is Feigele.

This is the eldest of Simon and Fani's children and Regina named her daughter Helen after her in 1896.

I shall address more of my Kunszentmiklos goals probably tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Rosenzweigs

My paternal grandmother's paternal grandfather is Isaak Leib (Ignacz) Rosenzweig, Yitzhak Yehudah in Hebrew. He was born in Pucho in Trencin County Slovakia, about 1821 and according to my grandmother lived to age ninety-six. His wife, Mali (Miriam) Zelinka, died in 1905 at age eighty, in Vag Besztercze which is known today as Povazska Bystrica. Her death record notes that she was buried there.

I do not have a date or document for Isaak Leib, but I have certainly assumed that he too was buried in Vag Besztercze, possibly next to his wife.

Five years ago, I visited Povazska Bystrica with my cousin Linda and our fifth cousin on the Zelinka side, Cyndi Norwitz, and described that visit in a blog post, one of eight from that trip. The conditions on the ground were difficult and many of the tombstones were broken, scattered or illegible.

But we found the stone for Nathan (Nahum) Zelinka, Mali's brother. Broken off but completely legible. He was an important member of the community in Zilina. Next to Nathan were two stones that had fallen face down in the mud. There was enough of a pedestal left for one, to tell us that it is for a ninety-two year old man.

I got it into my head that these two must be my second-great-grandparents, with Mali buried between her brother and her husband, despite the small discrepancy in the man's age.

For the last few years, I have been trying to get the local Jewish community to turn those stones over so we can see if they are ours. I am not so much interested in setting the stones back in place - I do not expect that anyone in the family will ever come to visit again. I just wanted to confirm that these are my second-great-grandparents and to see exactly what is written on the stones.

A few months ago, things began to fall into place both for his couple and for several cemeteries I wanted to visit on my great-grandmother's family, in Hungary.

My wife and I bought tickets for Budapest for last Monday intending  to go to Povaszka Bystrica the first day, then to Hungary for the subsequent days. Sunday, the folks in Slovakia told me that they had turned over one of the tombstones.

Joachim Grun. Not my Rosenzweig. But the name Grun is familiar from my Rosenzweig research. My Isaak Leib's father Simon was married twice - once to Isaak Leib's mother whose name is unknown. Then to a woman named Sali Grun, whose father is Jakob. Ancestry's ThruLines keeps telling my that Isaak Leib's mother is Sali Grun when we know he isn't and the several people doing Grun research insist on leaving that as is. I have no idea who Joachim is.

So they wrote me as follows. "We turn around first grave stone, second one is bigger is larger so I want to ask if it important for you."

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Annual Skalat Memorial - Back On Track

The annual memorial meeting in memory of the Jews of Skalat was held Monday, the seventh of Sivan, seventy-nine years after the murder of the last Jews in town. Because of the pandemic regime, we missed last year and most of us truly missed it.

Skalat is about forty minutes by car SE of the provincial capital of Tarnopol, near the old Russian border

We met, as usual, at the monument along the eastern fence of the Holon Cemetery. There were close to thirty of us, mostly second and third generation survivors. There were two women who actually had lived through the war in and around Skalat. Last time there were three but we lost Yocheved Sarid last month. All four of Yocheved's children were there and her son Zvika ran the service as he has done for the last dozen years.

The first person I spoke to was Tova "Giza" Zehavi, one of the two survivors. She gave me a small book she had recently published about her three years as a refugee between Skalat and Israel.

Over twenty years ago, we (I was not yet part of the group) sponsored two memorials in Skalat itself, one at the edge of the old cemetery (now a soccer field) and one outside town where much of the killing occurred. There is an older man in Skalat who looks after them and he had asked for more money, so that took a few minutes of our time.

 Zvika spoke about his mother then asked the other survivor, Bronia, to speak about her personal experience.

David Braunstein spoke about his father Chaim, who had been the driving force behind the annual meetings, the memorials and the two trips that some of the group had taken. He also wrote the Hebrew-language memorial book about Skalat.

Zvika led us in Psalm 130 and kaddish and said a memorial prayer.

He asked me to prepare something to say about my family research for next year.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

The Nurse Was Killed By A Shell Thirteen Days After Independence

We had to do a couple of things in Jerusalem yesterday, so we stopped by two family graves.


The Mount of Olives

My cousin Bruce in Beer Sheva has wanted to visit his uncle's grave since he arrived here from New Jersey a few years ago. Bruce's grandfather was the younger brother of my great-grandmother, so he is my father's second cousin, though he is a bit younger than I. Avraham Kwoczka is the only first cousin of any of my grandparents buried here in Israel and I visited his grave some years ago.

We met Bruce and his wife Yehudit in Jerusalem and went up together.

It's easy to find and only a short walk from one of the parking areas. This image is from the Mt. of Olives website. He doesn't show up at all on the popular newish Graves app.

Click on the image to see the full grave page on our family website.

He had no children.


Mt. Herzl

She was twenty-eight.
Last year I wrote about my father's half second cousin Egon Riss who was a doctor in the Old City during the War of Independence seventy-four years ago, which I had only learned about the time of that blog, 

His wife was a nurse at nearby Hadassah Hospital and was killed thirteen days after independence by an enemy shell. Today is her yahrzeit and it was quite unintentional that I visited her grave yesterday.

Here is my translation of her entry in the IDF memorial site.

Hava Zhezmer Riss, the daughter of Fruma and Yaakov, was born on the twentieth of Tammuz 5679 (18 July 1919) in Tel-Aviv. She studied at the "Talpiyot" school and the "Balfour" high school in Tel-Aviv. Afterwards she was accepted to "Hadassah" Nursing School in Jerusalem and was accredited as a nurse and a midwife. She worked at Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus and with great love attended to the sick and the new mothers, particularly from the poorer neighborhoods of Jerusalem, taking great pride in her work. All her patients would forever remember her kindness and patience. She was a modest woman, a characteristic she inherited from her parents, at home, at school , at work and as a member of the Haganah resistance movement. After she married, she continued to work and to support her husband's medical studies. Twice they miraculously avoided injury on their way to work during the siege of Jerusalem - she in the hospital and he as doctor of the Old City itself.

On 18 Iyyar 5708 (27 May 1948), the day before the fall of the Old City, while on her way to the hospital, she was hit by a shell and died on the spot. She was buried in [the temporary cemetery] known as Sheikh Bader [near the Knesset]. On 28 Elul 5710 (10 September 1950), her remains were transferred to the permanent site at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The "New" Cousin and The lesson Learned Yet Again

Most of those who did DNA testing for my family project did so with Family Tree DNA. I have also tested with Ancestry and 23 & Me and have my kit on MyHeritage. Last week, I found a match on Ancestry with 183 cM of shared DNA over ten segments. 


This size match - if it is all from one ancestor - is on the edge of second cousin territory. But of course, we could be more distantly related, in multiple ways.

I wrote to the match (his name is Chris) and it turns out his father in unknown. He uploaded to GEDmatch, where I could see how he lines up with the rest of my families and perhaps get a handle on who might be his father.

Our one-to-one match looked good, but it still didn't tell me if this is all from one ancestor, or more properly, one ancestral couple. 

Once I could see his results on GEDmatch, it became crystal clear. He matches one of my father's paternal first cousins with 1764 cM, with a longest segment of nearly 150 cM. A grandson of this cousin and with no X, he belongs to one of his sons.

This first cousin of my father is deceased as are his two sons. One of those has two sons and the other was never married and had no children.

I made some introductions and they are now talking to each other. I have also given Chris some of the general Pikholz-Kwoczka family background. It remains to be seen if one of my second cousin's sons will test and confirm that Chris is their half brother, or if they will leave it to be determined.

I have three or four Non-Paternal Events in my family genealogy, but never anything quite like this. For some genealogists, this kind of discovery is fairly routine, but not with us.

But I am writing this for another reason. A drum I have beaten here multiple times over the years.

My parents' six unique children all tested. My brother and I match Chris with 179 cM and 155 cM. My sisters match Chris with 260 cM, 214 cM, 169 cM and 116 cM. That is quite a spread for six full siblings.

Two of my first cousins match Chris with 145 cM and 81 cM. All eight of us are related to Chris in exactly the same way, through our grandfather. If my match had been 81 cM, rather than 179 cM, I would have been less interested.

The other second cousins of Chris' father - the same relationship as our own - from one great-uncle 106 cM, from one great-aunt 81 cM. From another great-uncle, brothers whose matches with Chris are 114 cM and 75 cM. From another great-aunt 182 cM, 147 cM and 102 cM.

There is a lot of randomness in DNA matches. Cousins match differently The more cousins you test, the better your chances of finding good matches.

Monday, February 7, 2022

The Race of My Grandfather

Last  week, Whoopi Goldberg - a celebrity whose birth name is Caryn Johnson - created a fuss by saying on television that the Holocaust was not about race. This is a remarkably ignorant claim, considering that the person behind the Holocaust said himself that he wanted to destroy the Jewish race.

Surely everyone reading this in real time will have heard this story. Perhaps it is sufficiently scandalous that it will be familiar to readers decades from now.

But I am writing this not because a celebrity - whose main claim to fame may be the absurd name she chose for herself, complete with a typically Jewish surname - was (perhaps still is) so obviously ignorant. I am writing this to make one small observation about the Jewish condition, having married amongst ourselves for hundreds of years. 

Meet my maternal grandfather, Rachmiel ("Raymond" in the US) Gordon. He was born in 1886 in Dolginov (aka Dahlinav) Lithuania. His male-line ancestors had lived in the area since at least 1700. (I cannot speak for his maternal ancestors, most of whom we know only by their given names.)

That is what he looked like.

This is how the US government saw him when he registered for the Old Men's Draft in 1942.


Race Negro, Complexion Black

Although he owned a successful business, he really didn't read or write English. I do not assume he actually read the description.

Jewish race, yes. We earned that.

White? Not then, not now.