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.

Mira and Yitzchok had at least 6 children together:
  • David, born 1885
  • Twins Yankel & Chava, born 1887 (Yankel died as an infant)
  • Nechama, born 1890
  • Liba, born 1892
  • Herschel, born 1893
In 1888, the family appears in the Poll Tax Census, living in Doroginka just outside Nezhin.
1888 Nezhin area Poll Tax Census, Marienhoff Family, Left Side
Family members listed included:
  • Itzko son of Volf Marienhoff, 54 (Yitzchok)
  • Wife Mira, 38
  • Son Michel, 24
  • Son Solomon, 18 (could be either Yitzchok or Mira's son)
  • Son Beniamin, 15 (Binyamin Marienhoff)
  • Son Yonno, 12 (could be either Yitzchok or Mira's son)
  • Son Yogel, 13 (could be either Yitzchok or Mira's son)
  • Son Leyba, 7 (Leib Lefand)
  • Son David, 4 (Son of both Yitzchok & Mira)
  • Daughter Pesya-Riva (my great-great grandmother Pesha-Riva Lefand)
  • Daughter Eva, 1 (This is Chava; her twin Yankel had died)

1888 Nezhin area Poll Tax Census, Marienhoff Family, Right Side
The family was registered at Goldichenskiy society of Middle Class, Kurlyand Gubernia (county).
They had a passport issued by the Goldichenskiy society of Middle Class in 1884 for one year, last renewed in 1887.

The family did not own property, but Yitzchok was a distiller in a rented household.

Mira's older boys from her first marriage are not listed on this census.  This is likely to try to hide them from the Russian Army draft; it is also possible that they were living with relatives, but I did not see them listed as living with any other family in the Nezhin area.

Herschel was born in 1893.  When Mira immigrated to the United States in 1906, she was listed as a widow, so Yitzchok must have died in that time frame.
Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff's Boat Record, 1906 (Line 1)

From the point of immigration, Mira seems to switch last names (and their spellings) on a whim.  On her boat record, she was a Liffond.  On the first record I have been able to find after her immigration, she was a Levant.  I searched for her in the 1912 Pittsburgh City Directory under variations of both her married names with no success.  I then searched by the address at which she had lived in the 1910 census, 1609 Colwell Street.  There was a Mollie Marcenkoff living there.  It looks like she may have been going to Marienhoff at that time, but with a thick Yiddish/Russian accent, if someone asked her name, "Mary Marienhoff" may well have sounded like "Mollie Marcenkoff"!
1912 Pittsburgh City Directory listing "Mollie Marcenkoff"

In the 1910 census, Mira said she was a teacher in a private school.  (She also claimed to be 40, when she was in fact 62, so who knows if her occupation was false as well.)

Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff died on April 21, 1913 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the age of 65 from stomach cancer; on her death certificate her last name was "Marrenhoff."
Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff's Death Certificate, Pittsburgh, 1913
Her death certificate says that she was buried in White Hall Cemetery.  I searched but was unable to find her grave; the older sections are very overgrown, and some of the older stones are illegible.

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