Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tracking Mira's Children: David Marienhoff/Alpern

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

David Marienhoff (later David Alpern) was born in Nezhin, Russian Empire to Mira and Yitzchok Marienhoff on May 20, 1885--their first child in what was a second marriage for both Mira and Yitzchok.
David Marienhoff Birth Record; Nezhin, Russian Empire; 1885

A few years later he was enumerated with the rest of his blended family in the 1888 Households List:
1888 Russian Empire Households List; David is listed as being 4 years old
In 1907, David immigrated to America.  He was traveling along with his brother-in-law (and my great-great grandfather) Hillel Tolchinsky, but they were listed on different pages of the manifest.
Ship Manifest for David Marienhoff (here Dawid Mariengoff); Hamberg to New York; 1907 (line 20)
David is listed as a 20-year-old locksmith from "Niezyn," having left his brother (from Yitzchok's first marriage) Michel behind.  He was going to join his "stepbrother" (actually half brother from Mira's first marriage) Leib Leiffand in Pittsburgh.

By 1910, David was living with his mother, brother, 2 sisters, brother-in-law and nephew (my great grandfather Yitzchok Tolchinsky) in Pittsburgh.  The family was enumerated as the Levant family (alluding to Mira's name from her first marriage).
1910 United States Census; Pittsburgh, PA; line 79
David was listed as being a 25-year-old plumber.

In 1910, David submitted his Declaration of Intention to become a citizen.  Along with that, he submitted a form that I haven't seen with anyone else:  A form called "Facts for Petition for Naturalization."
Facts for Petition of Naturalization; David Marienhoff; 1910
Here he states that he was going to join his mother Mary Marienhoff and was accompanied by my great-great grandfather.  He also states he was a plumber (even though on the manifest he was listed as being a locksmith).

In January 1911, David enlisted in the United States Army.

David Marienhoff Enlistment, 1911
David Marienhoff Enlistment, 1911
By December of 1911, David was discharged (at Fort Logan, Colorado) for disability at the rank of Private.  I've requested his military documents from the National Archives; hopefully they'll contain lots of information about David (and hopefully his ancestors going back dozens of generations)!

Then a few years later it gets interesting.  In 1917, David applied to become a citizen--and also requested a name change.  Rather than remaining David Marienhoff, he requested that his name be changed to David Alpern (a version of his mother's maiden name).
David Marienhoff/Alpern; Petition of Naturalization; Page 2--with name change
In May 1918, David registered for the WWI Draft using his Alpern name.  He noted that he was a machinist and listed his sister Emma Nemser as his nearest relative.

David Alpern; WWI Draft Registration; Pittsburgh, PA; 1918
 In 1920, David was still a machinist living in Pittsburgh.  He was a boarder in a home on Vine Street.
1920 United States Census; Pittsburgh, PA; David Alpern (line 8)
But in 1930 things turned odd. When I initially was searching for David, I had a possible hit, but two things looked wrong:  This David was going by the last name "Marienoff" (rather than Alpern)--and he was listed as being patient in the male asylum at the Pittsburgh City Homes and Hospitals in South Fayette Township, Pennsylvania.  Could this be the same David?
1930 United States Census; South Fayette Township, PA; David Marienoff (line 85)

I was stumped until recently gave access to Pennsylvania death records.  And there he was:
Death Certificate; Pittsburgh, PA; David Alpern
David Alpern--with the same date of birth of David (Marienhoff) Alpern, died on April 1, 1962, at the Mayview State Hospital in South Fayette Township.  His cause of death was being pushed down which caused him to break his hip--which led to pneumonia.  There were no parents' names, but once I had his date of death and place of burial, I was able to get a picture of his tombstone:
David Alpern Grave
Sure enough--David's father is named as Yitzchok.  The clues all point to this being the son of Yitzchok and Mira.

Why did he spend 30-some years in a mental institution?  I have no clue.  I'm trying to get the records and hopefully will clear up some of the mystery of my half great-great-great uncle David.

1 comment:

  1. Good job on this article! I really like how you presented your facts and how you made it interesting and easy to understand. Thank you.