Thursday, August 21, 2014

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

In an earlier post, I traced the life of my great-great grandfather, Hillel Tolchinsky, from his birth around 1865 in what is now north-central Ukraine, through the 1910 census, when he was living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Hillel Tolchinsky (left), my great-great grandfather and his son Isadore Tolchin, my great grandfather
In March 1911, Hillel's wife Pesha Riva and six of their children came to join Hillel and Isadore in Pittsburgh.  Unfortunately soon after their son Naftali Hirsh died.
Two more children were born in Pittsburgh: Bessie (later Bessie Yarchever) in September 1913 and Mary (likely named for her grandmother, Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff) in September 1917.  Unfortunately, Mary died on December 31, 1919 of bronchial pneumonia.
Death Certificate, "Marry Taulchinsky"; Pittsburgh, PA, December 31, 1919
The parents of "Marry Taulchinsky" were listed as Hillel and Marie Taulchinsky; likely the listed mother's name was because of a language issue.  Marry's mother was Pesha Riva, and a Jewish child wouldn't have had her mother's name.

In 1920, Hillel, Bessie (Pesha Riva) and the three youngest surviving children were living together on Colwell Street in Pittsburgh.  Hillel was a "rag man" who sold junk.
1920 United States Census; Hillel Tolshinsky (line 64) & family
 In 1924, Hillel began the process of becoming a United States citizen by filing his Declaration of Intention.
Declaration of Intention, Hillel Tolchensky, 1924
Hillel "Tolchinensky" was a 55-year-old peddler at the time.  By 1927, he filed his Petition for Naturalization.
Petition for Naturalization, Hillel Tolchensky, 1927
By this point, Hillel was a grandfather several times over (including to his oldest grandchild, my grandfather Louis Tolchin who had been born in 1919).
Hillel and Pesha Riva Tolchinsky with their youngest (surviving) daughter, Bessie; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
In the 1930 census, Hillel was listed as Tolchin (the last name that his children all took), and he was living with his wife and (again, as in 1920) his youngest three surviving children; he was a rag dealer, and he states (in agreement with his marriage record from Nezhin) that he was 25 at his first marriage.
1930 United States Census; Hillel Tolchin (line 5) & family
Hillel Tolchin died on January 28, 1938 of chronic lymphatic leukemia.
Death Certificate, Hillel Tolchin, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1938
Hillel's mother is listed as Helen; his daughter Helen's Hebrew name was Chaya, which is why I am guessing that Hillel's mother was Chaya, but I have no other documentation (yet) as to her name.

Hillel was buried at Anshe Labovitz Cemetery in Pittsburgh--as Hillel Tolchinsky.

Hillel Tolchinsky Grave, Anshe Labovitz Cemetery
The Pittsburgh Press carried an obituary (under the name Tolchin) two days after his death:


  1. Great collection of materials - don't you love that has Pennsylvania Death Certificates 1906-1944? I'm looking forward to the next 18-20 years of death certificates that should be coming online before the end of 2014.

    1. Thanks! And yes, the Pennsylvania certificates have been a treasure trove. I wish Maryland would do the same!

  2. I especially like the photos, as well as the documents and the details you learned. What a journey! Thank you for sharing.