Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tracing Hirsch Tolchinsky--With Beautiful Enumerator Handwriting (Russian Empire)

Hirsch Tolchinsky was the half brother of my great-great grandfather Hillel.  He was born about 1869 to Shimon and Risha-Frayda (nee Melanitsky or Mechansky) Tolchinsky in what is now Nizhyn, Ukraine (and was then Nezhin, Russian Empire).

The earliest mention I have of Hirsch is in an 1882 Russian Empire Households list.
1882 Households List; Nezhin, Russian Empire; Tolchinsky Family

In 1882, Hirsch is a 14-year-old living with his parents and brothers Meir-Yuda (age 18), Hillel (age 16, my great-great grandfather), Berka (age 9) and sister Yocheved (age 12).

The next mention I have of Hirsch is in an 1899 lawsuit brought by the Tolchinsky family against some Cossaks who had stolen silver samovars.  It turns out that Hirsch owed these Cossaks money, but it was entered into evidence that Hirsch had sold his inheritance to his mother and siblings.

Hirsch may have had money issues, and perhaps he left town for a bit since he's absent from Nezhin-area metrical (vital) records for his marriage and the birth of his oldest child.  But he soon returned to the village of Losinovka just outside Nezhin where the other Tolchinskys lived.
1902 Nezhin Census; Tolchinsky Family
In 1902, Hirsch 36 years old and was living with his mother Risha-Frayda (age 57) and his brother Berko (28) as well as his wife Rochel (28) and their children Shimon (8),  Gela (7), Zalman (6), Itsik-Leyb (4), Izrail (2) and Tema-Gitla (1).  He owned a house and was registered in Luben (Lubny, Poltava Province).  His brother Hillel lived in the very next household.

In 1909, Hirsch was again enumerated in a census, by which time some more children had been born.  (And I must say that I love the enumerator's handwriting.)
1909 Nezhin Census; Tolchinsky Family
In 1909, Hirsch was listed as being 46 (aged 10 years in 7) and living with his wife Rivka (incorrect or a second name, since all of the children's birth records--before and after 1909--have her name as Rochel) and children Shimon (15), Zalman (11), Izak (9), Izrael (8), Abram (5), Moisey (6 days), Gena (13), Temya (6) and Chana (2).  He was registered in Luben (today's Lubny)  but had resided in Nezhin for 40 years.  He ran a business a warehouse on rented land by contract.
Temya-Gittel Tolchinsky Birth Record; 1903

Through a combination of census records and birth records, I know that Hirsch and Rochel had at least 13 children (birthdates according to the Julian calendar), with at least the youngest 12 born in Losinovka:
  1. Shimon (b. ~1896)
  2. Henya (b. January 20, 1898)
  3. Shneur Zalman (b. October 17, 1899, died before February 1918)
  4. Isak-Lev (b. October 23, 1900)
  5. Yisrael-Isser (b. September 21, 1901)
  6. Temya-Gittel (b. March 22, 1903)
  7. Avraham (b. February 23, 1905)
  8. Chana (b. ~1907)
  9. Moshe (b. February 15, 1909)
  10. Ranya-Fayga (b. February 9, 1910)
  11. Yaakov (b. October 25, 1912)
  12. Yosef-Chaim (b. December 16, 1914; d. January 31, 1917)
  13. Zalman (b. ~February 1918; August 2, 1918)
Shneur Zalman Tolchinsky Birth Record; 1899
Hirsch's oldest son Shimon had at least one son, Avraham, born December 27, 1915 in Nezhin to Shimon and his wife Chana daughter of Chaim.
Avraham Tolchinsky Birth Record; 1915
I don't know what happened to any of Hirsch's family after this point; hopefully at least some got out before the Germans entered Nezhin.  Maybe Google will direct some of their descendants to this post in the future?

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  1. I would like to know how you researched family from Nizhyn. My grandmother came to England with her family in 1905 and the place of birth for her parents and 4 sisters is listed as Nizhyn. Their family name was Slutsky. Any recommendations for how to move forward?

    1. Metrical (vital) records for Nizhyn from 1852-1917 as well as some census records (1882, 1888 and early 1900s) were microfilmed by the Mormons. You can view them at your local family history library on their computers. Some have been indexed and are available on JewishGen's Ukraine database (and then makes it easier to find records at the family history library, particularly if you don't read the languages).

  2. My grandmother with her parents and 4 sisters arrived in England in 1905 from Nizhyn. Their family name was Slutsky. How do you recommend researching them?