Friday, April 18, 2014

The Mystery of Naftali Hirsh Tolchinsky, Solved

Naftali Hirsh Tolchinsky was a younger brother of my great grandfather Yitzchok Tolchinsky (later Isadore Tolchin).  He was born in 1905 in what is now Nizhyn, Ukraine to Hillel and Pesha Riva Lefand Tolchinsky.
Birth Record for Naftuli Hirsh Tolchinsky, Nizhyn, Ukraine
He immigrated to the United States in March 1911 with his mother and some of his siblings, arriving in Baltimore but traveling on to Pittsburgh to join his father and other siblings already in the US.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Lou & Minnie Tolchin - 1989 Interview

Thanks to my father, we have a short (16:34) interview with my maternal grandparents (Lou & Minnie Joshowitz Tolchin) from 1989.  In it, they talk about their families and growing up in Western Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh and McKeesport, respectively) in the 1920s and 1930s.  I've converted it from VHS format, and here it is.  It even includes my grandfather's rendition of the famous (at least within our family) Schenley High School cheer.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Diamonds Are Coming to America!

Today I spent a couple of hours at the Jewish Museum of Maryland.  I'm still going through everything I found there, but the last thing I went through was my grandparents' HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society) folder.  There were dozens of pages of correspondence tracking the Baltimore-based family (particularly Clara & Nathan Zuriff and Henry & Jessie Turk) working on helping my grandparents and great grandmother get out of their DP camp outside Munich and get them to America.

This series of telegrams and letters traces their path out of Europe, including them receiving their visas:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Great Grandfather's Signature!!

My great grandfather, Avrohom Tzvi Diamond/Dimant, was killed in the Holocaust in 1942.  Other than his name and some stories about him, nothing of his survived--no pictures, no documents, no posessions.

Nearly a year ago, I asked a researcher who lived near the former Dimant family village to see if he could find anything on the family.  I tried following up with him multiple times and never heard back.  I had basically given up.  And then yesterday, he sent some documents, including one that, while it probably had political implications when signed, was personally very exciting:
1925 School Declaration by Abram Diment; Source: State archive of Volyn oblast. Fond 454, opys 2, file 450, page 103

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Tracking Mira's Children: Chava/Eva

This is the fifth in a series tracking the children of Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff.  You can see everything in this series to this point here.

Chava Marienhoff (and her twin Yaakov) were born on July 1, 1887 in what is now Nezhin, Ukraine, to Mira and Yitzchok Marienhoff.
Birth Record for Chava & Yaakov Marienhoff; Nezhin, Ukraine; 1887
By the time the Russian Empire's 1888 Poll Tax Census was taken in 1888, Yaakov had died, but Chava is there as a one-year old living with her parents and some of her older siblings and half siblings.
Russian Empire 1888 Poll Tax Census; Chava Marienhoff is the 1-year-old

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ancestor Deep Dive: Avrohom Beitch

My great grandfather was Avraham Beitch (also spelled Bajcz in Polish).  He was born around 1885 in the small village of Huben, near what is how Horochiv, Volhynia, Ukraine (then Horochow, Poland) to Tzvi Hirsch and Ronia (nee Lazovnik) Beitch but grew up in Horochow (when it was the Russian Empire).  He had one sister Etia, who died of typhus during the First World War.
Avraham Beitch, About 1932

He married Batsheva Fine in September 1918 in Lutsk, Volhynia, Ukraine (then Luck, Poland).  By 1922 they were living in Horochow, where my grandmother Sonia/Sara was born.  She was followed by Malia (accent on the first syllable) and Hershel, who lived for only one year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How Genealogy Saved (or Significantly Changed) My Life

I've been quiet on my blog recently.  I've been a bit preoccupied with some other things that I'll explain below--all of which started with my genealogy addiction.

I wrote earlier how I found another whole branch of my family via DNA testing.  This was so exciting that I decided to test with the other large companies in case other lost cousins had tested with those.  One of those companies, 23AndMe, offered health information in addition to identifying potential cousins.  I viewed the health benefits as a side feature, but I checked my account daily to see if my results were back and if there would be more clues to help with my genealogy search.

And then the results came.  And my life changed forever.