Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ancestor Deep Dive/Tracing Mira's Children: Pesha Riva Lefand Tolchinsky

This post fits into both the series of Ancestor Deep Dives as well as tracing the children of my great-great-great grandmother, Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff.

Pesha Riva Lefand was my great-great grandmother.  She was born in what is now Nezhin, Ukraine (and was then in the Russian Empire) on May 24, 1874, to Yehoshua and Mira Lefand.
Birth Record for Pesha Riva/Rivka Lefand, Nezhin, Ukraine, 1874

She was the first of at least 5 children born to Yehoshua and Mira.

By 1888, Yehoshua had died, and Mira had re-married to Yitzchok Marienhoff (who had children of his own), and the family, including Pesha-Rivka appeared in that year's Tax Census:
1888 Russian Empire Tax Poll Census.  Pesha Riva is the 17-year-old
Pesha Riva was listed as being 17 years old, living with her mother, step-father (who is a liquor distiller), siblings, step-siblings, and half-siblings.

The next year, Pesha Riva married Hillel Tolchinsky (my great-great grandfather), on August 29, 1889.
Marriage Record; Nezhin, Russian Empire; Hillel Tolchinsky & Pesha Riva Lefand, 1889
Hillel and Pesha Riva had at least 11 children:
  1. Yitzchok (later Isadore Tolchin, my great grandfather), born 1889, Losinovka (outside Nezhin)
  2. Shimon, born February 1894, died either 1894 or 1895
  3. Chaya (later Helen Tolchin Sobel Ardelean), born September 1894
  4. Shia (later Samuel Tolchin), born August 1895
  5. Hoda (later Dora Tolchin Rosenthal), born April 1897
  6. Shimon, born February 1898, died before 1902
  7. Israel "Buck" Tolchin, born May 1902
  8. Naftali Hirsch Tolchinsky, born January 1906, died May 1911 in Pittsburgh
  9. Berel (later Bennie Tolchin), born 1908
  10. Bessie (later Bessie Yarchever), born 1911 in Pittsburgh
  11. Mary, born September 1917 in Pittsburgh; died December 1919 in Pittsburgh
In 1902, the family was recorded in another poll tax census.  They were living along with Hillel's brother Hirsh's family in Nezhin:
1902 Russian Empire Poll Tax Census, Hillel and Pesha Riva Tolchinsky (household 135) and 4 of their children.  They owned a house, grocery shop and blacksmith shop

Yitzchok immigrated to the United States in 1906, and Hillel followed in 1907.  Pesha Riva came with the rest of the children in 1911.
Tolchinsky Family Ship Manifest, March 1911 (lines 24-30)
Pesche Tolczinski came with children Chaje, Schimen, Hode, Schie, Naftule & Berl.  They came from Nierzyn (Nezhin) and were going to "Pittsburg."  Their closest relative back in Europe was an uncle, Chatzkel Rubenstein--which led me to find the Rubenstein/Sugarman connection.

By 1920, "Bessie" (she likely told the census taker "Pessie" but wasn't understood with her accent--she did have a daughter Bessie whose Hebrew name was Basya) and Hillel were living in Pittsburgh on Colwell Street.  Their children Israel, Ben & Bessie were living with them.
1920 United States Census; "Bessie" Tolshinsky is on line 65

Hillel and Pesha Riva Tolchinsky with daughter Bessie, Pittsburgh, PA
By 1930, the family name was switching back and forth between Tolchinsky and Tolchin.  The 1930 US Census has Hillel and Bessie (yes, "Bessie" again) living with the same 3 children as in 1920:
1930 United States Census; Pittsburgh, PA; Bessie (Pesha Riva) Tolchin is on line 6
By 1940, Pesha Riva (listed as Pearl Tolchin) was a widow (Hillel died in 1938), living with her children Bennie and Bessie.  They were renting a home on Center Street for $20/month.
1940 United States Census; Pittsburgh, PA; Pearl Tolchin line 35

Four years later Pesha Riva Lefand Tolchinsky died of "organic heart disease, hypertensive, due to congestive failure."  Her tombstone has her English name as Pearl Tolchinsky; her death certificate says Pearl Tolchin.
Pearl Tolchin Death Certificate, Pittsburgh, PA, 1944
She is buried in the Labovitzer cemetery near Pittsburgh.


  1. Wow! I am completely jealous of the Russian Empire records you've located!

    1. These were microfilmed by the LDS. It's my one family town where they did any work whatsoever. And it is awesome!

  2. Like Emily, I am completely jealous of your Russian Empire records. If I had access to records from Lutsk, Volhynia, Russia (now Ukraine), I'm sure I could knock down my Lange brick wall. Wonderful post!

  3. just today I found out that I am related to a tolchinsky family but I don;t know if this is the one.

    1. Tolchinsky is a very common name. If your Tolchinskys are from Lubny or the Nezhin area, we're almost surely related. If they're from elsewhere, probably not.

  4. BUT I live in Pittsburgh and saw that some of them lived here. that peaked my interest