When the 1901 UK census became accessible online, we found thirteen year old Jacob S. Pickholtz living at the Hayes Industrial School for Jewish Boys.  The full record identifies him as a Russian subject, which may not tell us anything about his family.  It also indicates that he had epilepsy from birth.  The census shows no other Pickholtz nor any similar spelling for anyone who might be Jacob's family, so we assumed that his family sent him from Europe to UK under circumstances that were not yet clear to us.

In our  Given Name Analysis, we have no Jacob born between 1884 and 1895, so there are no natural candidates to be this boy who was born 1887-88.

Steve took on this project and in the course of his inquiries he made contact with a man in Australia1 who has a February 1901 photograph of the fifteen boys in the school, with an indication which is which. When Steve sent me the photo and told me which one is Jacob, I thought he looked like some childhood photos of my own brother2.  So I conducted an experiment - I numbered the boys and asked the Pikholz Project mailing list if anyone looked familiar.  The response was hardly overwhelming, but the results of that survey, as they appear in this table, are significant.

IF4 (Yitzhak)
Don't recognize
RavJG (Meshullam Zusia)
Don't recognize
RavJG (Langenauer)
Don't recognize
Don't recognize
Don't recognize
Don't recognize
The five people who liked #10 are my mother, two of my sisters, one of my sons and my younger daughter.  I don't know how long it took my mother and sisters to see a resemblance, but my daughter thought it was silly of me to even ask since she immediately saw #10 as the old childhood photos of my brother and me and my son saw it promptly as well.  My one sister thought he looked like old photos of my father, his brother and me. The other says it looks like my young pictures.  In fact, #10 is Jacob S. Pickholtz.

So I am now looking for Jacob in my own reasonably close family.  All the descendants of my great-grandfather Hersch Pickholz and his two sisters are accounted for.  Hersch also had a brother Yehiel who was said to have had three children and this whole family were "lost in Europe."3  We do not know when Yehiel was born or when he died, but we found a death record for his wife Sima Schapira who died in 1894 at age forty-seven.  Sima died in Zalosce, which is where my grandfather was born.  Her parents were Aron and Ester.  We also have a Zalosce death record for Yehiel's son Wolf who died in 1892 at age eighteen, so he would have been born 1873/4.

In mid-2005, using JRI-Poland, we found that Yehiel's daughter Sara married Leib Tunis and they had three children in Loszniow (near Trembowla): Jehiel-Jakob (b.1899, d.1900), Syme-Ester (b.1901, d.1902) and Chaim-Benzion (b. 1902).  If - as seems likely - these were Sara's first children, we can guess that she was born soon after Wolf, in the mid-1870's.

We also know that Uncle Yehiel died no later than 1899, when a grandson - Sara's son - was named for him.

Yehiel's sister Bessie Frankel/Franzos had a son named Jachiel who was born in 1878 in Skalat and died in 1904 in Denver.  This Jachiel was known as Jake.4  We have no idea if this Jachiel was named after Uncle Yehiel (who would therefore have died no later than 1878) or if they were simply named for the same person, thereby "allowing" Uncle Yehiel to have been living long afterwards.  (My own feeling had been that he died after his wife, but that may be all wrong.)

So if we are looking for Jacob - the boy in England - in this family, he would have been either a very young son of Yehiel and Sima, born a dozen years after their other two children, when Sima was forty years old, or Yehiel and Sima's grandson from a child born five or more years before Wolf and Sara.  The fact that Sara has a son with the double name Jehiel-Jakob is interesting, because he and Jacob could have been named for the same person.5

he would be a true orphan.  Moreover, his only living sibling is his sister Sara who is busy raising her young family, some fifty km away from the family's hometown.  This may explain young Jacob's being abroad alone.

In this scenario, it would be interesting to consider how he came to go specifically to London.  Perhaps there were others from Zalosce there, or someone from Sima's family.  I assume it had nothing to do with the fact that several members of my grandfather's family - who went to the US in four groups during the period 1901-1904 - went via UK.

And in the matter of Jacob's birth, JRI-Poland has birth records for Zalosce for 1877-1890 and Jacob is not among them.  Perhaps Yehiel and Sima did not live there at the time.  There are no records for the neighboring town, Podkamen, and we believe that Yehiel and Hersch were born there.  Perhaps Yehiel and Sima lived someplace just across the nearby Russian border, as is suggested by the "Russian subject" in Jacob's UK census record.

And we still don't know what happened to Jacob after 1901.

who are his parents, where are they, why did they send him off alone?  And the "why London" and "where was he born" remain valid questions.

Perhaps Jacob - Yehiel and Sima's grandson - went to London with his parents and he became orphaned there.

Let's say for instance that Jacob's father was a cigarette maker who died in London on 2 June 1898 and that Jacob's mother Annie Bedder died in London on 24 April 1900.  And that Jacob had a sister Mary born 23 December 1896 and a sister Becky who died in London 12 December 1898 at age two (and that Mary and Becky may have been the same person).

And what if I told you that my grandfather's two eldest sisters were named Becky and Mary.  And that Becky was named for her grandmother - mother of Hersch and Yehiel - Rivka Feige.

Would that make you consider that Jacob went to London as part of an intact family?

Yes, I suppose it would.  Up to the point that I tell you that Annie's husband's name was Jacob, so he couldn't have had a son Jacob.  And that Annie's husband was forty when he died in 1898, too old to be the son of Sima.

We can solve the Jacob ben Jacob problem with a bit of convolution.  Jacob, called Yaakov or Yankel, has a son Yehiel named after Jacob's father who died mid-1880's.  The family goes to London where young Yehiel is called Jake, like his cousin in Denver.  The school (and therefore) census makes the same mistake as the Denver cousin who put up the headstone did - assumed that Jake was Jacob.

The age problem can be solved simply enough.  Yehiel is older that we are guessing.  Born maybe 1840 or even earlier.  Then he can have a son born 1858.  Sima - born about 1847 - cannot, but perhaps Sima is a second wife.6

I haven't a clue how to proceed.

Jacob was an epileptic.  There is a famous quote from Chekhov saying something like "A gun hanging from the wall in act one must eventually go off in act three."   I cannot help thinking about Jacob's epilepsy in that context.

He has a genealogy interest in another of the boys.
These family photos are sometimes referred to as "the Northumberland series."
This information came from my father many years ago. I asked my father's sister and brother and all available first cousins and none of them has ever heard of an Uncle Yehiel.
Jake died of tuberculosis and because of his illness, much of that family lives in the Denver area even today.
This name, Jacob, would likely have come from Sima's side because neither Yehiel's brother or sisters had any children of grandchildren with this name.  But that logic only works if Sima is the mother of all Yehiel's children - a problem which will come up presently.
There is a BETTER family in Zalosce, of all places, which just adds support to the theory that young Jacob is the son of Jacob and Annie.