THE PIKHOLZ-BERNSTEIN FAMILY
OF SKALAT, ODESSA AND PHILADELPHIA
It starts out looking pretty straightforward. Bernard (Berl) Pickholtz
and his wife Bluma (Bernstein) lived in Philadelphia, as did their children
Olga Mandelkern, Harry Pickholtz, Anna Tersuhow and Fanny Pickholtz (who
returned to her maiden name after divorce). They were born in the
1870's-early 1880's, according to various later testimonies. In the
1900 census, we have Bernard and Bluma with children Harry, Annie and Fanny.
Olga was married by then.
We have Pennsylvania death certificates for all six of them. Here
is a synopsis. (dk=don't know)
Note: We know of at least two "other" Bernstein families in Skalat
who are kohanim. I assume they are all connected.
At this point, it appears a) that the family moved around a bit in Europe
and b) Bluma was also known as Sarah.
||Father on gravestone
|All four show father as Bernard Pickholtz
This is from Bernard's death certificate.
I think it gives his mother's name as
"don't Austria" instead of "don't know."
Then things got seriously complicated. Here is an excerpt from
the 1890 passenger list.
||Well look at this!
|Berisch is married to Sara and Bluma
is a different person. What happened to Sara?
|Bluma - who has children - is going
by Bernstein, which we thought was her maiden name. Who
is their father.
|Hersch (Harry) is Bernstein (not Pickholtz?).
|Who is David? He is not with
Bernard and Bluma in the 1900 census.
|Also: a) They are all listed as a group as
coming from Skalat and b) Sara and Blume are both listed under "occupation
or calling" as "wife," implying a husband (or not?).
Based on Fanny's death certificate which said she was born in Odessa,
Steve (Harry's grandson) had a search done of Odessa birth records and
found two. Fanny was born in 1881 (not 1884) and her mother was Sara.
A son Vodolya (often equivalent to Vladimir, William, Zeev, Wolf etc) was
born 1883. His mother is Sara as well and in neither case is their
any further identifying information about Sara. Since Vodolya was
not on the boat to the US, we assume he died prior to the voyage but
if so, it was not in Skalat. The Odessa researcher looked for the
other children but didn't find them, so we can assume they were not born
So what do we do with this? My theory (and the logic
behind it) ...
Finally, here is a summary of the names of Bernard and Bluma's grandchildren
and some remarks about whom they may be named for - according to my theory
Fanny - who had no children - died long before the others and the informant
for her death certificate was her sister Anna. I am therefore going
to assume that the information there is correct. (In all the other
cases, the informant was a child of the deceased, who may have not known
certain aspects of the family history.) The key information contained
only in Fanny's death certificate is that Sara's maiden name was Bernstein.
I cannot believe that Anna erred on this.
Sara and Bluma are sisters. Berisch and Sara decided to go to America
and came back to Skalat to take Sara's recently widowed younger sister.
Soon after arriving in the US, Sara died and Berisch married Bluma - a
frequent solution in those days.
Remember that Berisch and Sara had only daughters, after Volodya died.
In marrying Bluma, Berisch also took his nephew Harry as a son - someone
to say kaddish after him. I don't know if Harry's children had a
clue that this was the case, but I doubt it, since Berisch's name appears
as Harry's father both on his grave and on his death certificate.
Somewhere in the Philadelphia area are the graves of Sara and the child
David (perhaps listed as Bernstein, perhaps as Pickholtz), who died between
1890 and 1900, probably earlier than later. We have not been able
to find them so far. If David died first - before the families were
"merged" - it would be interesting to see the space "father's name" on
the death certificate.
According to this theory, Harry's father's name is wrong on his grave and
his death certificate, but I have already explained that. But Anna
Tersuhow's mother's name should be Sara on her death certificate, as it
is on Fanny's. But when Anna died, who was left who knew that?
Her husband precdeceased her by many years. The only living sibling
was Olga, who was in her eighties and not well. (Perhaps not lucid.)
Anna's mother is listed on her death certificate as Bluma because no one
Who was Harry's father? More theory. There are two births listed
for Bluhme Bernstein in Skalat. One is Moses Hersch in 1878.
No father is listed in the index, but there may be one on the record itself.
This could be Harry. The other birth to Bluhme Bernstein is Zalman
Hillel in 1876 and the father is Judel Mendil Werfel. This child
died eight months later, where he is listed as Salamon Hillel and the father
as Juda Mendel. I suggest that Juda Mendel Werfel is Harry's father.
(We find no record of either Juda Mendel's death nor of David's birth,
but they may have lived elsewhere during that time.) Interesting
that if this is the case, Harry is actually Moses Hersch, which is the
same as the father of Bernard, Harry's uncle/step-father. I don't
assume that this is significant for these names are common, but who knows!
We have now seen the two birth records. The one for Zalman Hillel
identifies the mother as Bluhme, daughter of Markus Bernstein, which fits
the theory. The one for Moses Hersch has the mother as Bluhme, daughter
of Markus and Rachel Bernstein - with no mention of the newborn's father.
This is also OK, but it doesn't give us positive confirmation.
||Perhaps named for
|Olga - daughter of Bernard and Sara
- and Max Mandelkern
||Abram (died young)
||Max Mandelkern's father
||Bernard's father Moses Hersch
|Clarence (we don't know his Jewish name)
|Harry Pickholtz - son of Bluma Bernstein
- and Clara
||Bluma Bernstein's father
||Bluma's sister Sara
|Cecelia (Shasha Malka)
|Anna - daughter of Bernard and Sara
- and Nathan Tersuhow
||Sadie (we don't know her Jewish name)
||Maybe her grandmother Sara
|Cecelia (we don't know her Jewish name)
|Dorothy (we don't know her Jewish name)
|Child who died in fire - name unknown
|Irving (we don't know his Jewish name)
THERE IS NO WAY I AM GOING TO
PUT ANY OF THIS INTO OUR DATABASE, WITHOUT MORE EVIDENCE.
(Perhaps the Skalat birth record of one of Bluma's sons will list Uncle
Berisch Pikholz as a witness.)