- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -I opened this discussion on acquiring every available record two weeks ago with examples from east Galician records in the archives in Warsaw. I continue this week, discussing American records.
There are two main schools of thought on the name Pikholz - one that it means "woodpecker" and one that it means "gatherer of wood" or some other wood-related occupation. On occasion I wondered if people moving from easten Europe to western Europe may have adopted a translation into another European language. In particular, I wondered if anyone going to Vienna or Germany had adopted the name Specht, which means "woodpecker" in German. I even joined a genealogy discussion list for the surname Specht, but everyone there has thusfar been totally Gentile.
So imagine my surprise when this showed up in my inbox in June 2007.
I recently came across your name on a Jewish Geneology website and I thought you might be able to help me. My grandmother's parents immigrated to the U.S. from the shtetl of Skalat in what was then considered Southeastern Poland, presentday Ukraine. I have been trying to locate some information on our family's history, and I was wondering if you could offer some suggestions on resources or tools for conducting the search. From my knowledge, my grandmother's father was Charles Specht from Skalat and he came to the Bronx NY during the 1910s. I was wondering if you had any info or records on his family. I am interested in connecting with my past. I could find out some more info for you if you need any. Thanks a lot and I look forward to hearing from you. David.A Jewish Specht. From Skalat, no less, where our family comes from. I had a look at the Italian Genealogy Group marriage index (using Steve Morse's One-Step search utility) and found six Charles Specht who married in new York after 1910. One of those married a woman named Nettie Degen in 1914. David confirmed that this was the correct couple and added that they were second cousins.
There are Degens in Skalat records. We have a Degen-Pikholz couple from Skalat who had three sons in the 1870s. Maybe more, for all I know. So this whole line of inquiry suddenly looked very promising.
I found the 1891 birth of a Nechy Degen in Skalat, but the only Spechts in the area were in the Lwow/Przemysl area. I began to suspect that the connection to Skalat was only through the Degens and that the Specht-Pikholz-woodpecker axis was non-existent. Nettie's parents were Selig Degen and Chaje Perlmutter, neither of whom I recognized, but in theory Selig could have been an older son of the Degen-Pikholz couple.
David knew that his great-grandfather Charles had four brothers in New York - Louis, Harry, Jacob and Aaron, but he knew almost nothing about them. David's grandmother was not helpful. She wrote:
And a few days later she wrote:Thank you for the information about my mother and father: Nettie Degen and Charles Specht.Unfortunately, we never discussed their life in Skalat. I think it was nothing they wished to remember. My interest is purely curiousity. ... I have no wish to become involved with possible distant relations.I had a brother and sister, many first cousins, all of whom are now deceased. I was the youngest. Their children, my children's generation, are now in their 60's and the grandchildren are not particularly interested.My parents left Skalat to come to America to become Americans. We were Jews without religious connections. After the holocaust it was clear that Jews needed a safe haven, so Israel seemed a logical solution. IT must be a very hard life.I wish you well and all the best.
I have already told you all that I know about my family's connection to Skalat. I know of no other names than the legal names they had here in the USA. There is nothing to be gained by pursueing this matter any further. Goodbye.