Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ancestor Deep Dive: Esther Rutner Joshowitz

My great grandmother, Esther Rutner Joshowitz, was born on March 25, 1882 in Darva, Maramaros, Austria-Hungary (later Slovakia, now the village of Kolodne in Subcarpthian Ukraine, and always called Kolodne in Yiddish).  Her parents, Shmuel Moshe and Rochel (nee Fuchs) Rutner had been religiously married before her birth but did not civilly marry until she was an adult--so she was only considered legitimized in the eyes of the government after she was already a married woman.  Because of that, she was often referred to as Esther Fuchs (also Fux & Fuksz) in official documents.

On February 8, 1912, Esther married Joszef (later Josef) Joszovics (later Joshowitz) in Darva, and they registered their marriage in nearby Uglya.

Marriage Registration, Joszef Joszovics and Eszter Fuksz
Unlike her parents, Esther had both a civil and Jewish marriage on the same day.
Joszef and Esther Joshowitz Ketubah (Jewish Marriage Contract)
A year later, their son Yitzchok (later Isadore "Izzy" Joshowitz) was born.  Before Yitzchok's first birthday, Josef left to America (where he had lived for several years earlier).  The plan was for Josef to earn money for a couple of years, which he would use to bring his wife and son over to join him.  However, World War I intervened, and the family was separated for much longer than expected.
Yitzchok "Izzy" and Esther Joshowitz; Kolodne; ~1915
The family was finally reunited in October of 1920.
Ester and "Ignac" Jasovice Ship Manifest; Arrived October 30, 1920, New York
Esther and Izzy joined Josef in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.  On February 19, 1922, their daughter Minnie (my grandmother) was born.
Josef and Esther Joshowitz with children Izzy and Minnie; McKeesport, PA, ~1923
Soon after, daughter Molly (later Molly Loden) was born, followed by twins Herbie and Ruthie (later Ruth Lockspeiser).

In 1930, the family was living in McKeesport, and Joseph was a fruit vendor.
1930 United States Census; McKeesport, Pennsylvania; Esther Jasowitz (line 7)
 Minnie's autobiography talks about the family during these years.  She also talks about her family in a videotaped interview taken in 1989.

Esther with twins Ruthie and Herbie
In 1940, Joseph still had his wholesale fruit business, while Esther was a homemaker.

1940 United States Census; McKeesport, Pennsylvania; Esther Josawitz (line 80)
Joseph died in 1947 in a fruit truck/bus accident.
Joseph and Esther Joshowitz, 1946
In 1948, Esther attended her daughter Minnie's wedding to Lou Tolchin (my grandparents).
Esther Joshowitz with Lou & Minnie (Joshowitz) Tolchin; 1948

From early on, the family was very involved with Gemilas Chesed Congregation in McKeesport (and later in White Oak).
Esther "Josofvitz" 1959 High Holidays Ticket; McKeesport, Pennsylvania
Esther moved in with Minnie and Lou Tolchin for several years around the 1960s, her granddaughter Linda (my mother) remembers--she shared my mother's room.  While there, she ruled the television and watched Lawrence Welk while eating ice cream.  So everyone watched Lawrence Welk whether they wanted to or not.  I am not sure if everyone ate ice cream.

She is said to have been a very strong-willed woman.  I'll be having a follow-up posts with more recollections from those who knew her personally.

Esther Joshowitz with her grandson Eddie Tolchin, 1957
She later moved in with her daughter and son-in-law Ruthie and Morris Lockspeiser in White Oak, Pennsylvania; when they bought their house, she had a room built on for herself.

She died on August 30, 1971 at the age of 89 and was buried in the Old Gemilas Chesed Cemetery in Versalles, Pennsylvania.
Esther Joshowitz Grave
Esther Joshowitz Obituary; Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle

1 comment:

  1. Immigrants often had a hard time creating new lives for themselves. My grandmother died when she was 91 and had a brother born in 1917 that she never met because her family stayed in Slovakia and she returned here in 1910. WWII intervened and the Iron Curtain happened. I love all the family photos and docs you have, but my favorite is Esther with Izzy and his hat. Adorable!