Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tracking Mira's Children: Nechemia

After discovering that my great-great-great grandmother Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff had at least eleven children, I wanted to track down what happened to each of them.  And a bit selfishly, perhaps one of their descendents would have information about Mira's family that I didn't have.

You can see everything in this series to this point here.

This is the first in a series that tracks each of Mira's children.  Her oldest, Pesha Riva, was my great-great grandmother, so I obviously knew what happened to her.  Mira's second child was her son Nechemia.
Birth Record for Nechemia Lefand, Nezhin, Ukraine, 1875
Nechemia Lefand was born to Yehoshua (son of Ber) and Mira (daughter of Yitzchok) Lefand on May 28, 1875 in what is now Nezhin, Ukraine.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday's Tip - Google Maps in Genealogy

A free but often overlooked research for genealogy is Google Maps (GM).  GM tends to be able to locate even very small villages in obscure parts of Eastern Europe--including villages that JewishGen doesn't have in its ShtetlSeeker database. As an example, I discovered that the Tolchinskys had lived in Nezhin before emigrating; however, Hillel Tolchinsky's boat record had him last living in "Losinowka," which had realistic hits on JewishGen. Panning around the Nezhin area, I discovered that Losinovka is a small village just south of Nezhin.

GM allows you to view your family towns from above, using the satellite view. You can scope out the size of the town today, how isolated it is, and how closely packed the homes are.  If you're lucky, Google StreetView has been to the town, and you can virtually drive around to see what the town looks like today.

My personal Google Map--places my family has lived.  View this map in a larger map

Sunday, July 28, 2013

IAJGS2013 conference next week

I'll be at the IAJGS Jewish genealogy conference in Boston next week (and no, my home will not be empty).  Will anyone else be there?  Please stop by and say hi--I'm volunteering at the NextGen Jewish Genealogists table at the SHARE Fair on Sunday from 3-4.  I'll also blog from the conference next week.

Census Sunday - Zutelman Family in 1850 Russian Empire Census

Zutelman Family, 1850 Russian Empire Revision List; Source: State Archive of Zhytomyr Oblast; Fond 118, opys 14, file 3, pages 684-685
This is the 1850 Revision List (Russian Empire version of a census) for the Zutelman family in the town of Boremel, in what is now Rivnens'ka Oblast, Ukraine, located here.  The left page are the males in the family; the right side lists the females.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Kreina Diamond Mazurik

Kreina Diamant Mazurik was my grandfather's older sister.
Kreina Diamant Mazurik
She was born around 1916 in what's now Biscupice, Ukraine, in the Volhynia area, to Avrohom Tzvi and Tzivia (nee Suttleman) Diamant.  She was named after Tzivia's mother Kreina.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tuesday's Tip - Pittsburgh Jewish Newspapers Online & Searchable

The last 100+ years of Pittsburgh Jewish Newspapers are available online and are searchable here.  This collection has been invaluable in finding information about my family in Pittsburgh and McKeesport. 
Jewish Criterion, December 1944, obituary for my great-great grandmother, Pearl Tolchin (aka Pesha Riva Lefand Tolchinsky)

I learned that my grandfather's (Lou Tolchin's) nickname was "Toll Bridge Tolchin" because he "was the fastest man down the Ohio Line."  Apparently I have inherited his driving abilities.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are - Tomorrow Night on TLC

One of my favorite shows, Who Do You Think You Are, premieres tomorrow night on TLC, tracing Kelly Clarkson's family.  You can currently download the episode for free on iTunes!
Who Do You Think You Are?, Season 4

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Moshe Dovid Fine: Ancestor Deep Dive

Moshe Dovid Fine was my great-great grandfather.
Moshe Dovid Fine; this picture was saved from a pile of garbage in the destroyed ghetto by his granddaughter, Sonia Beitch
He was born around 1862 to Yechiel Mechel Fine; I haven't (yet) discovered his mother's name.  He had at least two brothers, Tanchan & Mechel; the fact that Mechel has the same name as his father implies that Yechiel Mechel died before that son was born (or that my grandmother misremembered a name).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff - Ancestor Deep Dive

As mentioned earlier, Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff was my great-great-great grandmother.  She was born about 1848 to Yitzchok Halperin and had at least one sister, Risha (later Risha Rubenstein).  Her parents were registered in Krasne in the Vilna District--what is modern-day Krasnoye, Belarus, northwest of Minsk.  She first married Yehoshua-Zev Lefand and had at least 5 children:
  • Pesha Riva (my great-great grandmother), born 1874
  • Nechemia, born 1875
  • Sara-Margolia, born 1876
  • Mayer, born 1879
  • Leib, born 1882
Leib Lefand Birth Record, Nezhin, 1882
As Yehoshua-Zev died in 1881, Leib would have been born after his father's death; Mira would have been a young widow with 5 children.

In 1883, Mira married a widower, Yitzchok Marienhoff.  Yitzchok was 14 years older than Mira.  He had at least two sons from a previous marriage:
  • Michel Marienhoff's children's births are documented in the Nezhin records
  • Binyamin/Benoit/Benedict Marienhoff, who later immigrated to Belgium
Marriage Record for Mira Halperin Lefand and Yitzchok Marienhoff, Nezhin, 1883
Yitzchok had moved a lot.  He was registered and was born in Goldingen, which is currently Kuldiga, Latvia.  Binyamin had been born in what is now Mokra Kalyhirka, Cherkasy, Ukraine.  And he married Mira in Nezhin, Chernigov, Ukraine.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Shlomo Diamant, 1928-1942

Shlomo Diamant was my grandfather's younger brother.  He was born about 1928 in Biscupice, Ukraine to Avraham Tzvi and Tzivia (nee Suttleman) Diamant.  A week after his Bar Mitzvah, the entire family was moved into the ghetto.  Shlomo was killed by the Nazis in October 1942, aged 14.

Short post for a short life, but it seemed important to document what I know of him.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Joseph Joshowitz's American Journey - Ancestor Deep Dive (Part 2:1922-1947)

The first part of this deep dive had Joseph Joshowitz's wife Esther and son Isadore coming to join him in America.  The following year, daughter Minnie (my grandmother) was born in McKeesport, PA.  An account of her growing up can be seen here.
Joseph & Esther Joshowitz with children Izzy & Minnie, McKeesport, Pennsylvania, 1922
That same year, Joseph was listed in the McKeesport Directory as Joseph Josavitch, a peddler who lived on Market Street.
McKeesport, PA, 1922 Directory with Joseph Josavitch listed
In 1923, daugher Malka "Mollie" Joshowitz was born.  She and Minnie were very close in age and looked nearly identical, and they often switched places.  (I remember once she came to visit from California when I was little, and I thought she was my grandmother; it was very upsetting when I realized she wasn't!)

Shimon Tolchinsky - Ancestor Deep Dive

Shimon Tolchinsky was my great-great-great grandfather; I'm descended from his son Hillel.  Shimon Tolchinsky was born about 1842 to Naftali-Hirsh Tolchinsky, probably in Lubny, Ukraine.  I do not (yet) know his mother's name.  Shimon was registered in Luben (modern-day Lubny, Poltava, Ukraine), and the first record I have found of him was in 1867 as a 25-year-old widower getting remarried in Nezhin, Chernigov, Ukraine; his new wife was a divorcee, 22-year-old Risia-Frayda Mechansky.  As my great-great grandfather Hillel was born in 1866 (according to early records; in the US he gave his year of birth as 1869), Hillel's mother would have been Shimon's first wife; however the Nezhin records do not record her death.  As Hillel was consistent in naming his birthplace as "Luben," probably his mother died there.  Hillel's death certificate listed his mother as "Helen," and Hillel's sister Helen's hebrew name was Chaya, so likely Shimon's first wife was Chaya.
Marriage record for Hillel Tolchinsky and Risia-Frayda Mechansky, 1867

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Memorial for Holocaust Victims

This is the back of my grandfather Paul Diamond's tombstone in Beth Tfiloh Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.  It gives a place to remember those who didn't have the "luxury" of a grave; all were killed when the ghetto in Senkevychivka, Ukraine was liquidated in 1942.  The names are:
  • Avraham Tzvi son of Hillel (my grandfather's father, Avraham Tzvi Diamond)
  • Tzivia daughter of Yechiel (my grandfather's mother, Tzivia Suttleman Diamond)
  • Kreina daughter of Avraham Tzvi (my grandfather's sister, Kreina Diamond Mazurik)
  • Shlomo son of Avraham Tzvi (my grandfather's brother, Shlomo Diamond)
  • Avraham Bar Tzvi (my grandmother's father, Avraham Beitch)
  • Malia daughter of Avraham (my grandmother's sister, Malia Beitch)
  • Moshe Dovid (my grandmother's grandfather, Moshe Dovid Fine)
  • Beila daughter of Moshe Dovid (my grandmother's aunt, Beila Fine)
  • Sara daughter of Moshe Dovid and her family (my grandmother's aunt Sara Fine Wollich, husband Yosef, children Moshe Wollich and Cheike Wollich Chechman and Cheike's daughter Devorah

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Reading Russian Documents for non-Russian Readers

I've often been asked how I manage to go through Russian documents--and actually find records on my family--when I do not read Russian.  I vividly remember the first time I excitedly started perusing a roll of microfilm that I'd been waiting for--and then felt a sinking feeling as I realized everything was in Russian.  I've come up with a solution that allows me to find what I need in Russian census and vital record documents--I use basic matching skills.

I try to find an existing handwritten example (or better multiple examples) of a family name that I'm researching.  I extract just the family name from those records and then put them into a Word document.  I then email that document to my (free) Kindle address so that I have all of the examples on my iPad; you can also just print out the page for a more low-tech solution.  If you don't have examples, you can use Google Translate to guess how the name would be spelled.  Make sure you are translating from Russian to English.  In the bottom of the area where you can type Russian, there is a button that looks like "Py."  Click the arrow just to the right of that, and choose "privet -> привет."  Then type your family name (followed by a space), and what you just typed should turn into the Russian version of the name.  (This may not be exactly how your family spelled the name, but it should give you an idea.)

My iPad with family names to try to match

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Final Sugarman/Rubenstein Connection

Based on all of this research, it looked like the Rubenstein family, all of them, changed their name to Sugarman. Why would they have done that?  And how exactly is Sigmund (or Susman, as written on one boat record) actually connected to the Sugarmans?

I'd actually connected to two living Sugarman descendents. One is descended from Chatzkel and one from Sigmund. Neither had heard of a Rubenstein connection and didn't seem too confident in our families' connection.  So a bit more research was in order.

Back to the Nezhin microfilm. Was there a Sugarman family in Nezhin?  At this point I still am not finished going through the 1850s, but at this point there are records pointing to multiple children born to Avraham and Henya Tzuckerman.  Avraham's father is given as Chatzkel and Henya's father was Chaim.  Chatzkel Rubenstein's father is also Avraham.

The vital records also revealed that the Tzukerman family was registered in Lebodova in Vilna Gubernia. I searched Jewishgen for records from that town--and half the town was Tsukermans!  In addition, there were Rubensteins in the town.  Interestingly, Lebodova is only 16 miles from Krasnoye, the town where the Halperins were registered; both were far from their registration towns in Nezhin, but possibly they knew one another before.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Rubenstein -> Sugarman?

In the last post, I'd tracked the Rubenstein family to Syracuse, NY.  But then they disappeared completely--no matches in the 1920, 1930, or 1940 US Census.  So I began to search for some of the other Rubenstein children who I knew existed based on their birth records.

Since Rubenstein is a common name, I decided to start with Bunya, who had married Azriel Lempert.  I found a possible match:
Lempert Family Boat Record, 1906
I found a 1906 boat record for Asriel, Bune, and infant Mine Lefanti; Asriel is listed as being a butcher.  But it says that they lived in Kowno, which is modern-day Kaunas, Lithuania.  This is quite a distance from Nezhin, so could this be the right family?  My first thought was that I would need to keep searching, but I noticed that this family was going to Syracuse, just like the Rubensteins.  They were going to join their uncle Susmen Zuckerman who lived at 212 Montgomery Street in Syracuse.  This is the same address that Chatzkel and family were going to in order to join Chatzkel's son Isidor Rubenstein!  So it looks like this is Bunya Rubenstein Lempert!  It looks like they had moved to Kaunas for the year after marriage for some reason.

I was unable to find a record for Liba Devora, but if she had married in Europe, I wouldn't know her last name.  She also may never have left Europe.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Tracking the Rubensteins....

When my great-great grandmother Pesha Riva Tolchinsky came to America in 1911 with her six youngest (as of then) children, she was asked who her closest relative was who remained in Europe.  She stated that it was her uncle, Chatzkel Rubenstein who still lived in Nierzyn (Nezhin).

Pesha Riva Tolchinsky (and 6 of the kids') boat record naming her uncle as Chatzkel Rubenstein
Who was Chatzkel, how was he Pesha Riva's uncle, and if I found him, could I find more about the family?  Back to the Nezhin microfilm!

There was a Chatzkel Rubenstein who married Risha Halperin in 1874.  Risha's father was named as Yitzchok Halperin.  Well, I'd discovered earlier that Yitzchok Halperin was the father of my ggg grandmother Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff--Pesha Riva's mother.  So this Chatzkel was indeed the uncle named on Pesha Riva's boat record, and his wife Risha was my ggg grandmother's sister.
Marriage Record of Chatzkel & Risha (nee Halperin) Rubenstein, 1874
Were there cousins out there (maybe who'd know more about the Halperins....)?  I continued searching.  The records showed that they had multiple children:
  • Liba Devora Rubenstein, born 1879
  • Yehoshua Wolf Rubenstein, born 1884
  • Rivka Rubenstein, born 1886
  • Bunia Rubenstein, born 1884
  • Yuda Rubenstein, born 1888
  • Idel Rubenstein, born abt 1890 (based on info in death record), died 1908
  • Avraham Yitzchak Rubenstein, born 1894

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Joseph Joshowitz's American Journey - Ancestor Deep Dive (Part 1: 1885-1921)

Joseph Joshowitz, 1922, McKeesport, PA
My great grandfather Joseph Joshowitz was born about October 15, 1885 in what is now Subcarpathian Ukraine, in the Tiachev District (possibly in Tiachev itself; possibly in Kolodne) to Chaim and Mindel (nee Eizikovits) Joshowitz/Yosovitz.  When he was born, though, it was part of Austria-Hungary, and later Slovakia.

Joseph came to America twice.  The first time he came in 1906 as a single 20-year-old man "Josef Jasowics" with his 30-year-old brother Isak.  They were going to join their uncle Josef Eisikovitz in Brooklyn.  They were last from Darva, which was the Hungarian name for Kolodne.
Isak and Joseph Joshowitz's boat record, 1906 (lines 1-2)
Joseph didn't stay too long.  He went back to Kolodne in 1908, by way of England.  On that manifest, he is a 22-year-old laborer, "Josef Josavitz."

Joseph Joshowitz's boat record, New York to Southampton, 1908 (line 11)