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.

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