Over the last months of the pandemic, as I stay at home, surrounded by family and friends through social media and phone calls, I started working through my tree to tackle those brick walls that have been just sitting around and taunting me for ages.
When I first embarked on my genealogical quest about 40 years ago, it was all paper. In 1989 I got my first copy of Family Tree Maker and my dad and I started using it, each on our own computers and periodically merging information. Later on, we each uploaded our trees to Ancestry® – errors and duplications included.
This year, I’ve been making progress in two areas – I’ve been randomly picking people and families and looking at the information, deleting multiple copies of censuses that resulted from all the merging we did, and getting rid of alternate facts where documentation had been identified to prove which of the possibilities was true. So far, I’ve only gotten to clean this up for a fraction of the 18,000+ people on the tree so far, BECAUSE as I do this, I get distracted and want to answer questions I have about these people or because I want/need to develop a new branch to add ancestors of newly weds that joined the family.
In this way, I very slowly touch on many different branches. My father’s maternal family came from an area now in Ukraine – Ivano-Frankivsk. This was part of Galicia in the Austrian Empire when my grandmother left in 1920.
Some names while not completely unique are rare enough and every once in a while I indulge myself by focusing on a branch with one of these rare names. In Stanislau, Stanisławów, Galicia there are a number of names I don’t find occurring frequently elsewhere: Zwirn, Zweifler, Pistreich among others. By one of those “small Jewish world” coincidences, I finally made a connection between two otherwise unrelated branches.
I knew that Yossl Zwirn (1881-1937) married Rika Feil (1886-1967) probably before 1900 in Europe and that their oldest son was born prior to their emigration, and their other children were born in 1904 and 1905 in New York. Yossell was related to me in a convoluted way – grandnephew of husband of 2nd great aunt – hardly a relative at all. The Zwirn family, though, married into my direct family several times over many generations.
Rifka Feil was a daughter of Szepsel Grunschlag whose father was a Grunschlag and whose mother was a Feil. Szepsel’s parents probably didn’t register their marriage witt the civil authorities – children of such unions weren’t legally permitted to use their father’s name. Szepsel’s wife was Pessie Pistreich. One of Szepsel’s daughters, Sabina had a child, Regina Feil. This probably meant that Sabina also didn’t have her marriage registered. Sabina and her daughter, Regina came to the U.S. with one of Sabina’s sisters, also named Regina, about 10 years older than Sabina’s daughter. when the younger Sabina married, she gave the name Shapsel Feil as her father’s name – she possibly thought the question was asking for the name of her mother’s father. I thought from that record, without realizing that it was Sabina’s father who was Szepsel, that Sabina had been married twice and Feil was her married name.
Sabina married Morris Pistreich in 1914. Morris’ first wife, Fulia Mund died about 6 weeks before he married Sabina. Morris has a brother, Wolf, who in 1900 lived with Morris and his first wife. Wolf’s wife joined him a year or so after he arrived. Wolf and Morris had a sister, Freda Pestreich. She married a man named Abraham Reisberg. The Reisberg family was from one of two towns in the Ternopil province – that was between 50-80 miles away from Stanisławów. The Reisbergs were probably from Kozova or Skalat. My mother’s youngest sister, Iris, married Abraham Reisberg’s grandson, Mel.
This morning I found the connection between Freida Pestreich and the Feil family. Tonight is my uncle Mel’s 2nd yahrzeit – he died 14 January 2018. The connections of Jewish families is always striking to me. The coincidences of research to personal history is always emotional.