Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tracking Mira's Children: Nechama/Emma

This is the seventh in a series tracking the children of Mira Halperin Lefand Marienhoff.  You can see everything in this series to this point here.

I have no birth record for her (and none seems to have been recorded in the Nezhin records); as you will see below, her birth year based on information in records was somewhere between 1888 and 1895.

The first record I have for Nechama Marienhoff is her immigration to the United States in 1906.
Ship Manifest, Nechama Liffond (line 2), 1906
As mentioned earlier, Nechama's mother Mira switched between her two husbands' last names even after both had died.  Here, Nechama is listed as an 18-year-old (implying her birth around 1888) servant heading to her brother L. Liffond (which would have been her half-brother Louis Leiffand).  As Mira's first husband Yehoshua Zev Lefand died in 1881, Nechama would have been a daughter of Yitzchak Marienhoff.

By 1910, Nechama was going by Emma (recorded here with the last name Levant), and she was living with her mother Mira, sister Elizabeth, and brothers Harry and David in Pittsburgh.  Boarders living with them were her brother-in-law Hillel Tolchinsky (my great-great grandfather) and her nephew (and my great grandfather) Isadore Tolchinsky.  She was 20 years old (implying a birth around 1890), spoke English, and was working in a factory as a toby maker (toby is a kind of cigar).
1910 US Census; Pittsburgh, PA; Emma Levant (line 80)
By 1920, Emma had married Jay Nemser, and they were living with their children Myra (named for Emma's mother Mira) and Morris in McKees Rocks, Pennsylvania, where Jay worked in a jewelery store.  In 1922 they also had a daughter Phyllis.
1920 US Census; McKees Rocks, PA; Emma Nemser (line 28)
Emma and Joseph Nemser; thanks to their granddaughter Sue Katz for this photo!

Emma died only a few years later, in 1925 of heart disease.  Her age there was given as "about 32," implying a birth year of 1893.  Her death certificate is the only record I have of her that actually ties her to the Marienhoff name.  Interestingly, her mother's name is written as "not known," even though her mother had died only 12 years earlier in Pittsburgh.  However, the informant was her brother-in-law who likely hadn't known the mother.
Death Certificate; Emma Nemser; 1925; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Emma was buried in Bauerstown, Pennsylvania in the Workmens Circle Branch #45 Cemetery.  Her gravestone says she was 30 which implies a birth year of 1895.  And it does give her father's name as Yitzchok.
Emma Marienhoff Nemser's Grave; Bauerstown, Pennsylvania


  1. As an odd postscript, when Phyllis (youngest daughter of Emma) married Saul Katz and they went for the first time together to visit their parents' graves, they discovered that his mother (who also died very young) and Emma are buried side-by-side. Strange but true. Saul was from the opposite side of Pittsburgh (the Northside), but the Jewish community was united in the Workman's Circle Cemetery (where Phyllis and Saul are themselves now buried as well.)

  2. I am one on Morris Nemser's grandsons. My father Neil has that same picture of Joseph and Emma in his living room.

    1. I'd love to be in touch!

      (Sorry for the delayed response; Blogger stopped notifying me when I had comments!)

  3. I am one of Morris Nemser's grandsons. My father, Neil Nemser, has that same picture of Joseph and Emma in his living room.