Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Lefand by any other name....

I'd mentioned earlier how I discovered a potential Liffond connection to my family, the fact that the family lived in Nezhin, and that there were Nezhin documents available on microfilm.  I ordered many of these microfilms to be sent to my local Family History Library (FHL) and started going through the records.  The FHL has most of the metrical documents (birth/marriage/divorce/death records) for Nezhin's Jewish community from the 1850s through the early 1900s.  The documents are written in Hebrew and Russian, with identical information in both languages.  At this point, the Russian looked like pretty scribbles to me, but I could read the Hebrew easily.

My great grandfather was Yitzchok Tolchinsky (later Isadore Tolchin).  I knew that his parents were Hillel and Pesha Riva.  My grandfather had always told me that Pesha Riva's maiden name was Marinoff.  I found Yitzchok's birth record from December 1889.  It had his father as being registered in Lubny and being Hillel the son of Shimon.  The mother was listed as Rivka the daughter of Yehoshua Wolf.
Yitzchok Tolchinsky's birth record, 1889
Shimon and Yehoshua Wolf were new names--my great-great-great grandfathers!  But was Rivka also Pesha Riva?  I tracked down Hillel's marriage record--and sure enough, he married a Pesha Riva early in 1889.

Hillel and Pesha Riva (Lefand) Tolchinsky's marriage record, 1889
Wait--Pesha Riva's last name is listed as Lefand.  Not Marinoff?  Hmm.....

I also found birth records for Hillel & Pesha Riva's other kids.  Her name was sometimes recorded as Pesha Riva and sometimes as Pesha Rivka.  Some of the records mentioned that the family lived in Losinovka, which meshed with Hillel's boat record's place of last residence.

So then onto finding Pesha Riva's birth record.  She was born in 1874 to Yehoshua son of Ber (my great-great-great-great grandfather!) Lefand and Mira daughter of Yitzchak (another great-great-great grandfather).  (It looks like the "Mary Liffand" who was on the boat with Yitzchak Tolchinsky in 1906 was his grandmother!)  Interestingly, the baby's name was recorded as Pesia Rivka.
Birth record of Pesha Riva Lefand, 1874
But who were the Marinoffs?  Perhaps the Lefands' marriage record would give a clue?
Marriage record, Yehoshua & Mira (Halperin) Lefand, 1871
This shows the marriage of Yehoshua son of Ber Lefand to Miriam daughter of Yitzchak Halperin (a new family name!).  It also states that Yitzchak Halperin was registered in the town of Krasne in Vilna uzeyd (district).  Leads to follow later.  But still no Marinoff.  I found several other children born to Mira between 1874 & 1882 (besides Pesha Riva, there were Nechemia, Sara-Margolya, Meyer, and Leib).  What happened then?

Yehoshua Lefand Death Record, 1881
Yehoshua Lefand died in 1881 at the age of 30, leaving Mira with 5 children to raise.  Two years later, in 1883, Mira got married again.
Mira Halperin Lefand's second marriage to Yitzchak Marienhoff, 1883
Mira's new husband was Yitzchak (son of Wolf) Marienhoff who was a widower himself.  He was registered in Courland, which is in modern-day Latvia!  This is hundreds of miles from Nezhin.  He was 55 years to Mira's 35 at the time.  Here was the "Marinoff" connection!

Yitzchak and Mira had at least 6 children together between 1885 and 1893:  David, twins Yankel and Chava, Nechama, Liba, and Hershel.  Yitzchak had died by the time Mira came to America in 1906 (she was listed as a widow on the ship manifest), although his death wasn't recorded in the metrical records.

I then tried to track Mira down in the 1910 Pittsburgh census.  I couldn't find any Lefands or Marienhoffs.  Her son Louis (formerly Leib, the person she said she was joining in the US on the ship manifest) was there as Louis Lyffand (that part of the family later changed the spelling to Leiffand).  But where was Mira?  Later, I was looking at Hillel and Isadore Tolchinsky in the 1910 census.  I'd found this census record back in the early 1990s looking through microfilm at the National Archives.  they were listed as boarders, as their wife/mother didn't come to the US until the next year.  And who were they living with?  Mary, Elizabeth, Emma, and Harry Levant.  Here were Mira and the three children she brought to the US and her son David (more on him and the other kids in a future post).  I'd had my great-great-great grandmother's 1910 census record for years before I knew her name--I just hadn't known who it was!
1910 United States census for Mary "Levant" and her children Elizabeth, Harry, David & Emma, along with Hillel & Isadore Tolchinsky (lines 76-82)

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