Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ancestor Deep Dive: Hillel Tolchinsky (Part 1/2)

My great-great grandfather, Hillel Tolchinsky, was born in 1865 or 1866 (although he later used the birthdate of January 10, 1869) in what is now Lubny, Poltava, Ukraine.  His father was Shimon Tolchinsky, and his mother was probably named Chaya.  His mother died soon after his birth, and by 1867 Shimon had moved with Hillel to Nezhin, Chernigov, Ukraine and married Risha Frayda Mechansky.

In 1882, Hillel was 16 (backing up the 1866 birthdate) and living with his father, stepmother, and siblings in Losinovka, a village just south of Nezhin.
Tolchinsky Family, 1882 Poll Tax Census, Nezhin, Ukraine; Hillel is the 16-year-old son

On August 29, 1889, Hillel was 24 (backing up the 1885 birthdate) when he married 20-year-old Pesha Riva Lefand in Nezhin.
Marriage Record for Hillel & Pesha Riva Tolchinsky, 1889
Hillel and Pesha Riva had at least 9 children while living in Losinovka.  (They also had 2 children later in Pittsburgh).  The children were:
  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
As discussed in Pesha Riva's deepdive, Hillel and his family were recorded in the 1902 Nezhin Poll Tax Census.

Near the end of 1907 (soon after a pogrom devastated the Jewish Community of Nezhin), Hillel traveled first to Hamburg, Germany and then sailed onto New York.
Hilel Tulczinski (page 1, line 5), Hamburg Outgoing Manifest.
Both upon leaving Hamburg and entering the United States, Hillel was listed as a 50-year-old smith living in Losinovka (the village south of Nezhin).
Hillel Tolchinsky, Ship Manifest, December 1907 (Line 23).
Hillel left his wife Pesche back in Nezhin and was going to join his son "Itzig" in Pittsburgh.  His place of birth was "Luben."

By 1910, Hillel was living at 1609 Colwell Street in Pittsburgh with that son Itzig (now Isadore), and he was employed as a blacksmith.  The home in which they boarded was that of Hillel's mother-in-law, "Mary Levant" (aka Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff).
Hillel Tolchinsky, 1910 United States Census, Line 81
The next March, Hillel's wife and remaining children joined him in Pittsburgh.  Part 2 is here.


  1. I am sure you have this record, but ... Hillel Simonov Tolchinsky, Lubensky tradesman., Pesya-Rivka, daughter Yevsei-Wolf, son of Itzko. septemb.10 1891

    1. Yes. I have gone through all these record sets multiple times. I’ve had that one for several years.