Saturday, November 1, 2014

Ancestor Deep Dive: Isadore Tolchin (Tolchinsky)

My great grandfather, Isadore Tolchin, was born Yitzchak Tolchinsky on December 26, 1889, to in Losinovka (just south of Nezhin, Ukraine) to Hillel and Pesha Riva Tolchinsky.
Yitzchok Tolchinsky Birth Record; Nezhin Metrical Records
Yitzchok was the oldest of the at least 11 children.  In 1902, Yitzchak appeared in the Russian Empire's Poll Tax Census as a 13-year-old living with his parents and siblings.  His uncle Hirsch lived next door with his family as well as with Hirsch's mother (and Hillel's stepmother), Risha Frayda.

1902 Russian Empire Poll Tax Census; Nezhin
Yitzchok immigrated to the United States in 1906.  The story of finding those records is told here and here.

By 1910, Yitzchak is known as Isadore Tolchinsky and is boarding in his grandmother's home along with his father, 2 half-aunts and 2 half-uncles.
1910 US Census; Pittsburgh, PA; Isadore Tolchinsky (line 82)
Isadore is listed as a 20-year-old pipe fitter in a steel mill who can speak English.
Isadore (R) and his father Hillel

In November 1915, Isadore married Malka "Mollie" Supkoff in Pittsburgh.
Isadore & Mollie Tolchin Ketubah (Marriage Contract), 1915
Their daughter Ruthie was born in 1917, and their son Lou (my grandfather) was born in 1919.

I believe the family wasn't enumerated in the 1920 census (major bonus points if you can find them).  However, in 1924 Isadore declared his intention to become a US citizen, and in 1927 he both petitioned and was awarded citizenship.
Isadore "Talchin" Declaration of Intention; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 1924

Isadore "Talchin" Petition for Naturalization; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 1927
Isadore "Talchin" Certificate of Naturalization; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; 1927

By 1930, Isadore peddled "barrells," (same as the "cooperage" job mentioned in his Declaration of Intention & Petition for Naturalization") and the family owned their house on Webster Avenue--which was worth a whopping $6000!
1930 US Census; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Isadore Tolchin (line 70)
I have a photo of Isadore, with one (I'm not sure which) of his brothers:
Isadore Tolchin (L) and one of his brothers; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
According to my uncle, my grandfather said that his father Isadore was very involved in Pittsburgh politics and was a precinct captain, the equivalent of a local party boss.

He was very involved in both the Pittsburgh Shpikov society (despite the fact that his wife was the one from Shpikov.  (More about that here.)
He and Mollie were also very active in Pittsburgh's Keser Torah Synagogue.  They are featured several times in its 1935 Silver Anniversary Journal, and Isadore was on the Silver Anniversary Committee.
1935 Keser Torah Congregation Silver Anniversary Committee; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Isadore Tolchin is back row, 2nd from left
The Tolchins also sponsored an ad in the journal.  Thanks to my father for translating the Yiddish for me.
1935 Keser Torah Congregation Journal; Ad from Isadore Tolchin & family.  Translation:  Sir.  Yitzchak Tolchin and his wife, Malka from 3372 Webster Avenue with their children are privileged to wish you luck and thanks (gratitude) regarding which you have given life and (???) to our beloved Shul - Keser Torah for the 25th year anniversary and wish everyone should live to the 50th year anniversary.  And we should all have the luck and the ability to further do complete good for our Shul.    Mr. and Mrs. I. Tolchin & Family
Only 2 years after this banquet, Isadore suffered a blood clot, and he died at the age of 47 (two years off of the "about 45" on his death certificate), leaving behind his wife, daughter Ruth and son Louis (who never returned to high school for his senior year as he had to go to work).
Pennsylvania Death Certificate; Isadore Tolchin; July 30, 1937
Isadore was buried in Beth Abraham Cemetery in Pittsburgh.
Gravestone; Beth Abraham Cemetery; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Isadore Tolchin


  1. Great ancestral summary!
    With Pittsburgh ancestors, are you loving the Pennsylvania Death Certificates at I have Pittsburgh ancestors and my husband has Philadelphia extended family and I have enjoyed finding all kinds of tidbits in these death certificates.

    1. Thanks!
      Yes, I am thrilled that there are finally PA death certificates online. I've found a lot of new information. Now if only some other states would do the same (I'm looking at you, Maryland!).

  2. For the 1920 census, have you tried !) enlarging the search area 2) searching by first names 3) ignoring ages 4) searching by address?

    1. Yes, I tried all of those things. I found their next-door neighbors, but it looked like they were just missed. (I looked through that whole ED.)