Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Fine British(?) Connection

My grandmother had told me that she had an uncle Mordechai "Motke" Fine who had come to America, but that because he was diabetic, he was sent back to Russia where he was drafted into the Russian Army to serve in World War One, and then he died soon after.
My great-great uncle, Mordechai Fine (picture taken around 1919)

I'd searched sporadically for a ship manifest to document this, but I'd never found it (Fine is a relatively common name), even using M followed by a combination of wildcards.  When transcribing my grandmother's story, I decided to give it another try.  I didn't know when Motke was born or when he came to the US, but I bounded the search for all Fines, Feins, and Fajns from Russia within what would make sense given his sister Sheva's birthdate (she was my great grandmother) and the fact that he was back in Russia to be able to serve in World War One.
After looking through pages of results, I found him.  He had been misindexed as "Wordche Fein," which explains why I'd not found him looking for a first name starting with an "M"!
Mordche Fein Boat Record, 1914; Mordche is on line 14
"Mordche Fein" had arrived at the port of Baltimore in February 1914.  He was a 26-year-old locksmith who had left his wife Sime in "Skile," which would be the town of Shklyn near Horochow, where the Fine family lived, and where Mordechai's father Moshe Dovid lived until he was sent to the Senkevychivka Ghetto nearly 30 years later.

But the second page was intriguing.
Mordche Fein Boat Record-Page 2, 1914; Mordche is on line 14
Mordche was going to join his uncle Mayer Fein in Toledo, Ohio.  My grandmother had told me that he had an uncle Tanchan who lived in Toledo (and there are his Fine descendents there to this day).  But who was Mayer?
Meyer Fine Death Certificate; Toledo, OH; 1951

I quickly found Meyer and his wife Rachel in the US census.  I also found Meyer's death certificate, which named his father as "Charles Fine" (not quite the first name you'd expect from a Russian Jew).  But as the informant for the certificate was his son Charles, I'd assume that the son Charles' Hebrew name would be the same as his grandfather's Hebrew name.  If Meyer is Moshe Dovid Fine's brother (so actually Mordechai's uncle), the father would be Yechiel Mechel; Yechiel is often Americanized to Charles (as it was for my great-great grandfather, Yechiel Suttleman).  I put up requests on FindAGrave for tombstone pictures for both Meyer Fine and his son Charles.  A volunteer took a picture of Charles' tombstone, but unfortunately his Hebrew name wasn't on it.  I'm still hoping for someone in the Toledo area will volunteer to take a picture of Meyer's grave.

Something that I found extremely interesting on the census records, is that the oldest 3 children of Meyer and Rachel were listed as having been born in England.  I've not had the experience of dealing with English records before--but I was excited since they would be in English (instead of my typical Russian)!  With the help of FreeBMD, I found the indexed record for Meyer and Rachel Kaufman Fine's 1896 marriage in Prestwich, near Manchester.  I've ordered the original record from England and am waiting in hopes of finding Meyer's mother's name (yet unknown to me) and to verify that his father was Yechiel Mechel.
Habel and Mayer Fine, 1891 English Census.  Could this be my ggg grandfather and his son?  In England?

Another intriguing fact is that a 16-year-old Meyer Fine (which I'm not sure is the same one as my potential great-great-great uncle) Fine was recorded in England's 1891 census, living with his 65-year-old father "Hebel."  The ages are about right--and could Hebel be an Anglicization of Yechiel?  Or Mechel?  Or is this just another Meyer Fine?  Is this is the same Mayer Fine, this would mean that my great-great-great grandfather had moved to England.  Finding a death record could help me go back another generation on the Fine side, as I do not know the name of either of his parents.  I wasn't able to find any death record in FreeBMD that looked like it could belong to Hebel, though.

Hopefully once Mayer & Rachel's marriage certificate arrives, I'll be able to figure out all of these family connections.  If anyone with experience with British research has any ideas, I'd appreciate any advice!

The saga has continued here....

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