27th IAJGS International Conference on Jewish Genealogy
8 August 2007
24 Av 5767

Before proceeding to Salt Lake City, I spent a couple of days on personal family matters in New York and on the way I visited Pikholz graves in three cemeteries.  At the time of this writing, I have not yet put those graves online.

        Meyer and Herman Weinreb - RavJG family
        Clara and Samuel Figur - RITA family
        Bernice Barr - RavJG famliy
        Beatrice and Isidor Mordecai - IRENE family
        David and Rose Siegel - BREZDOWICZ family
        Rose and Isaac Perlstein and daughter Anne - LAOR family
        Sadie and Benjamin Chaitt - STEVE family

  I arrived in SLC Thursday before the Conference, intending to use Friday to learn a bit about the genealogy library that the Mormons have and do some of the easier research.  I found SLC to be a very pleasant place, even in the heat.  Everyone there wants to know how I am today - hotel staff, people in stores and in the street etc.  No one in New York (where last year's conference was held) had any interest in how I am today.  And no one made any blatant attempts to steal my soul.
I spent Shabbat with Chabad.  It is a small community and after services in the morning, each out of town guest was asked to get up and say something.
The library itself is wonderful.  Long hours from eight in the morning, easy access to most films, many many microfilm readers and computers, lots of helpful volunteers, nice air conditioning and even a few microfilm scanners which allowed us to make our own digital images of the microfilms..  On several days, they added an extra hour (until ten) for our benefit and had material readily available based on what they expected Jewish researchers to need.  Except paper copies, everything we needed was free.
Three sisters from Grymaylow
You may recall that in my previous summary, I mentioned finding indexed NYC marriage records of three young Pikholz sisters from Grymaylow and that I had made contact with descendants of one of them.  In SLC I found the marriage records and all three showed the father as Jachiel Pikholz (assorted spellings, of course) of Grymaylow.  As all three had daughters named Gertrude, I expected to find that their mother was named Gittel and here was a small challenge.  One lists the mother as Gittel Hirschorn.  Another calls her Gittel Stucklay.  I assume that Stucklay should be Steckel, a family name we know from the area, with several other Pikholz connections - and that Gittel's parents were Hirschorn and Steckel, but I cannot guess which is Gittel's mother and which her father.  The marriage certificate of the third sister was quite illegible, but it definitely does not say Gittel.
I have not heard further from the living descendants, but I know that one of their cousins has family information, which I hope he will share with us.
Specht family
I also wrote last time about being contacted by the great-grandson of Charles Specht from Skalat, a fact which got my attention since Specht is the German equivalent of Pikholz.  We had found Charles Specht's wife's family (Degen) in Skalat, but we knew there were no Spechts anywhere in the area.  So here too, I used the SLC films to find the marriage certificates of Charles and his four brothers, all of whom lived in the NYC area.  Unfortunately, only one gave a birth place, and that was Jaroslaw - which is west of Lwow and nowhere near Skalat.  (Nor do any of them list their mother's name, only the father Yoel.)  So at this point, I am assuming that the only Skalat connection is Charles' wife.  If the great-grandson continues to pursue his family ties, I will follow his research from the sidelines, but for now do not think this is a Pikholz family.  (We also located Charles and one brother buried in one of the Skalat sections at Mt Zion cemetry in NY, which muddies the picture just a bit.)
Passenger lists - Ellis Island
Ellis Island passenger lists are fully online until 1924, but the later ones which are available on fee-based - show only the left side of the manifest.  So for the half-dozen such Pikholz manifests, I found the right sides and they are now on the website.
This subject has been in the news lately as eight of the eleven governments involved have agreed to make these valuable and extensive files available to researchers and the public.  The keynote speaker at the conference was Paul Shapiro of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.  Gary Mokotoff of the genealogy magazine Avotaynu summarized as follows:
While his description of the events was polite, it was clear that there were many obstacles placed in the path of public access by a variety of interest groups.
Some of his comments were:
        * It has yet to be determined when the records will be useable at USHMM (or other facilities) because the Museum has not seen the data and does not know how well it is organized for information retrieval. Shapiro noted that ITS has never had a trained archivist or historian to organize the records according to archival standards.
        * Although the wheels are grinding to make the records available to the member countries, they cannot be made available to the public until the remaining three countries that make up the commission—France, Greece, and Italy —approve the release.
         * Once available to the public, USHMM plans to give highest priority to inquiries by Holocaust survivors and their families. He noted that survivors are a dying generation and time is of the essence for them.
        * There will be public access at the Museum once the system is set up.
In other words, don't hold your breath.  I do not expect to see full, easy access in my working lifetime, but I hope there will be earlier stages of accessibility which might allow us to learn more about out family members and their fates.
There were several lectures about new Internet resources, but looks really interesting.  This company has signed contracts with the US National Archives and the Allen County Public Library (the largest public genealogy library in North America) to scan millions of documents of genealogical and historical interest and to make them available online.  It was also named PC Magazine Site of the Week.  The information will be available free, but the actual documents will require a subscription or a per view fee.  We had full free access at the conference.  They are just getting started, but even their first few million documents gave me my grandfather's brother's naturalization papers.
Especially interesting was a file on Sam Pickholtz of Erie PA (MATI family).  It seems that in 1918, a Captain C.F. Rodgers of the American Protective League in Ashtabula Ohio reported that Sam had not registered for the draft and as a result the Bureau of Investigations (the precursor of the FBI) opened a file.  During the course of the investigation by Special Agent Edward Murphy, Sam was arrested twice, both times at the specific instigation of Captain Rodgers.  The whole thing is online and Sam provided the investigators much information, with explanations about why his age appears differently on different documents and assorted other family information, including regarding his parents. 
In the end, Sam was not prosecuted.  But the agent investigating the case recommended that Captain Rodgers' commission be revoked.  The file contains three separate letters in which Rodgers writes that "the influence of rich Jews was brought to bear" in Sam's favor (or similar language) and that did not sit well with Special Agent Murphy.  The US Attorney in Pittsburgh seemed to think this was a hot potato and in the end disposition of the case was in the Northern District of Ohio, with a recommendation that Sam be prosecuted.
As a PS, I can add that based on documents we have now that were not available to the investigator, it is clear that not a word Sam told them was true.
There is a lot of potential with, but for now their search options are not well developed..
Gesher Galicia meetings
Gesher Galicia had a general meeting, an informal Steering Committee meeting and a luncheon.  We were treated to a speaker from the NY newspaper who wrote a book about her involvement with the Polish family who saved her mother, a film about a trip to Grymaylow where the filmmaker was born and other speakers.  We also moved along the paperwork for the incorporation of Gesher Galicia as a non-profit organization and I was confirmed as Secretary.
The main attraction was Brian Lenius, a Canadian who is doing research in Galicia and who took on a project involving cadastral maps on behalf of Gesher Galicia.  The town we are using for a pilot is Rozdol and I now have a copy of most of that map showing the property lines, numbers etc.  In conjunction with other data which Brian acquired - but which I personally have not yet seen - we hope to be able to reconstruct much of the Rozdol population, or at least heads of households.
After the luncheon, one of the members whom I didn't know before, told me that his Unger family includes Berl Pickholz and his wife Anna Unger who were killed in the Holocaust.  I know this family, because Anna's brother Avraham Unger filled out Pages of Testimony for them for Yad Vashem.  Avraham did not know Berl's parents' names or birthplace, but he said they lived in Jaroslaw, which is west of Lwow, so I put them in the unconnected section of the Rozdol families.  But I now know from the man I met in SLC, that the whole Unger family came from Zborow, so it is much more likely that Berl is from the Skalat families and I have adjusted his listing accordingly.  Avraham Unger died some years ago, but yesterday I spoke with his son, a retired architect here in Israel.. Unfortunately, the son does not know anything further, but would like to remain in contact. 
Naturalization records from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services - your tax dollars at work
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security and has replaced the old Immigration and Naturalization Services, has received Congressional approval to begin charging for immigration and naturalization documents that were previously available for free under the Freedom of Information Act.  This is supposed to make us happy because now we will receive this information faster, though they cannot promise how fast or what their fees will be.  The developer and director of this program, Ms Ave Sloane, was given one of the special evening slots for her presentation and had a question and answer session the next morning.  I attended the evening presentation, but overall participation was disappointing.
They will charge for searching for documents.  They will charge again to send you a copy. They don't know how long searches will take, but since copying will be from documents they already have in hand after the search, they will be able to do that in most cases within only four (working?) weeks.
Ms Sloane kept telling us what documents would really really interest us, such as one showing that "Grampa worked at the Ford Motor Company.  Imagine showing that letterhead to your children!"  She kept referring to us as "customers."  She might just as well have said "marks."
I expect that like many government programs, it will get fewer takers than expected, mostly because of the high costs, and then they will make up for the lost revenues by raising prices.  Sort of like mass transit.
Her boss then took the floor to tell us how hard she had worked to bring this program to life, such as attending ninety minute meetings every week and getting three banks to agree to take our credit card payments.  No one applauded.
I did not attend the Q&A the next morning. 
Other lecture topics
My own lecture went very well and was well received, thank you.
There were several lectures on scanning, photography, document preservation.  All very interesting, but I don't know that I will get around to actually learning how to do what I need..
Several people presented new genealogy programs.  Of particular interest was one called PhpGedView, which is free and looks very good.  But when it comes down to it, I don't know if I want to take the trouble to make a change.
Lots else - methodology, resources, migrations, communities, Holocaust, etc etc.
Most of the lectures were recorded (audio only) and the recordings are available for purchase, both individually and for the conference as a whole.
Next year is scheduled for Chicago.
The main reason for holding this conference in Salt Lake City is the Mormon library, so I had to be able to find time during the conference to walk the few blocks and review films.  Most of the time there were four-five lectures at a time, so there was a good choice, but there were some times when nothing seemed particularly attractive.  Plus there were some evening activities I skipped in favor of the library.  On balance, there was enough time to do what I wanted at the library, though if I had another week, I could have found more to do.
Some time ago, the Mormons reached an agreement with the Ukranians to film Jewish records in the Lwow archives.  Originally, the idea was to index these films as part of JRI-Poland (where we have all those Warsaw records I mention from time to time), but the Ukranians made it clear that they would rather we didn't publish this online.  So to keep relations in order, JRI-Poland decided not to index these records, but anyone who chooses to do so privately certainly may.
Some of the newly available films are for towns with no other records and others are for record types or time periods that do not appear in the Warsaw records we already have.
Due to time restraints, I scanned some of the films described below and just looked at others.  I would like to think that I can get the scanned films indexed, but for now, that is unrealistic.  Besides, reading names from these old records is harder than identifying names you are looking for.
There are two sets of Skalat records in the Lwow archives and I have scanned both.  One is the Skalat births for 1897, which for some reason are in Lwow rather than Warsaw.  We had previously had a researcher look at these for Pikholz but when I looked myself I found a few more that are Pikholz descendants with other surnames.  Even several of those we already know, because we have death records for them.
The other set is deaths for 1826-45.  Here too, we have Pikholz records from research Jacob Laor did before we met up.  The whole set didn't show much new of interest, but I did notice a mysterious family named Gabel who had members living in two houses which we previously identified with Pikholz families.  I sent Jacob a print copy and he is having a look as well.
SZAMA PIKHOLZ - Budanow films
Szama Pikholz and his wife Minna Fried had ten children in Budanow in the period 1879-96.  Minna and three of those children ended up in the US.  The only clue we have to Szama's parentage is that he has a daughter named Sara Kreisel, which was the name of the wife of Aryeh Leib Pikholz, at the top of the MATI family.
I looked at - but did not scan - the Budanow film and found the marriage record for Szama and Minna.  This identifies Szama as the son of Aryeh Leib and Sara Kreisel Pikholz of Skalat.  So I have added Szama and his descendants to the MATI family.
In the 1950s, a set of three Pages of Testimony were submitted anonymously to Yad Vashem in memory of Moshe and Tema Pickholz of Budanow, and their son Munio.  The submitter apparently knew Tema's family because he named her parents but did not know Moshe's parents. He did say that Moshe came from Buczacz, but the only Buczacz Pikholz family does not know him.
Then in going through the Budanow film, I found the 1911 marriage of Moshe Pikholz and Tema Baltuch.  Moshe's parents are identified as Juda Mendel Pikholz of Buczacz and Henie Schutzman of Budanow.  Tema's parents are Jona Schutzman and Marjem Baltuch.  We know no Juda Mendel Pikholz or similar, but we do have a Juda Mendel Werfel of Skalat in the STEVE family.  This would not be noteworthy but for the fact that there is a Juda Mendel Werfel who died in Buczacz in 1915.  I haven't a clue if this is significant.
So grasping at straws, I looked at Pages of Testimony submitted for Schutzmans and Baltuchs from Budanow and I found that Pages were submitted for both by a Nathan Rosenberg of Haifa in the 1950s.  Now those 1950s Pages of Testimony were facilitated by people from Yad Vashem (often students or new immigrants) who went the homes of the submitters to help them fill out the Pages.  The Yad Vashem representative for all the Nathan Rosenberg Pages was someone named Weidenfeld - who is also signed on the anonymous Pages for Moshe and Tema Pickholz and Yad Vashem considers this Weidenfeld to be the submitter of those Pages.  There is an Avraham Weidenfeld who lived in Kiryat Motzkin (outside Haifa)  who was a son-in-law of the Buczacz family and I have inquired of Yad Vashem and the Weidenfeld family if perhaps this Avraham Weidenfeld ever did this kind of work for Yad Vashem.  No answer yet and I am not sure what to do with an answer when I get it.
If it were easy, it wouldn't be so much fun.
GABRYEL PIKHOLZ - Husiatyn films
While waiting my turn for the film scanner during my last hours in SLC, I decided to have a look at the Husiatyn death records for 1816-76.  We have a couple from Husiatyn named Gabriel and Sara Pikholz who had a son Moshe (1851) and a daughter Chancie.  I have some speculation on who this family might be here.  In any case, I don't know if the Pikholz in this couple is Gabriel or Sara.  So I thought I'd have a look at the Husiatyn death records to see what might turn up.
We have a Gabriel in the TONKA family, born 1884, and another in the RISS family, born about 1860 so those are the two most logical families for a Gabriel ancestor.
The new Husiatyn film has a death for four year old Schaje Pikholz in 1844, with no other identifying information.  And we have a death in 1852 for Gabryel Pikholz, age thirty, with the note "aus Skalat."  So it may be that Gabryel was visiting Husiatyn from Skalat when he died.  With that in mind, I looked at the house where Gabryel died in 1852 - house number 70.  According to other death records, house number 70 belongs to the Zellermayer family, a family with a significant presence in Husiatyn. 
We have a Pikholz-Zellermayer marriage, in the ELIEZER family, which has nothing to do with either TONKA or RISS, so far as we can tell.  I have no idea what to do with this new information and at this moment have yet to record it in my database or on the website.
Grymaylow is one of the towns with no Warsaw records on one hand and several Pikholz families on the other.  (Grymaylow is maybe ten or fifteen miles from Skalat.)  So I was very pleased to see films from Lwow with marriages for 1890-1940.  I scanned all this material.  I found two Pikholz marriages, both in the 1930s.  The two women are sisters - Scheindel and Ester Reisie.  Scheindel married Wigdor Waldhuter, a name we don't know at all.  Ester Reisie married Ojzer Schwarz, another unknown.
Scheindel and Ester Reisie are the daughters of Basie Pikholz and Schaje Wolf Jorysz, Basie being the daughter of Josef and Fradel Taube Pikholz - clearly part of the RITA family, but I have a problem defining the relationship.
A bonus in the film are the birth records for Scheindel and Wigdor - perhaps because neither was actually from Grymaylow.
Stryj films
The new films include birth, death and marriage films for Stryj for 1827-76, but I did not find anything there that we didn't have already.  We know of only one Pikholz couple who lived in Stryj that early.
Brody films
There are four entire reels and parts of two others with births, deaths and marriages for Brody for 1815-60.  I loked at a section of the last film and did not see anything of interest to us.  I think that there is a researcher in Australia who is organizing an indexing project for the Brody films.
Lwow surprise
After I got home, someone who was looking at the Lwow films (eight full reels and several partials) found an 1885 death record for a child named Sure Beile Pikholz, daughter of Simon Pikholz and Breine Goldstein (RITA family).  This surprised me - we know this couple and they had three sons born 1876, 1878 and 1881 in Kozowka, near Skalat.  Then Breine died and Simon married again and had three more children also in Kozowka.  But for some reason or other, they lived for a time in Lwow.
Now we have a Simon Pickholz in the Lwow area during the Holocaust and I am now wondering if this is the same Simon.  We have no Simon Pickholz who is known to be from the Rozdol families.
That's it for now.