Sunday, May 23, 2021

Berel Tolchinsky's Fate

My great-great grandfather had a half-brother Berel/Berko.  I have his birth record, marriage record, and birth records for four of his children (and the death of one in 1915), plusa few census records (with the latest of those from 1909) all in Nezhin or nearby Losinovka in Chernigov Guberniya, Russian Empire (now Ukraine).  But after that 1915 death record, there was no sign of what happened to Berel.

Birth Record of Ber Tolchinsky, 1873

With the Russian Revolution coming a few years after my last mention of Berel and his immediate family, perhaps they'd gotten swept up in the purges and chaos that happened soon after.  I had no idea where they had gone.  Except now I do.

I was giving a talk a few weeks back on j-roots and when I was tweaking the presentation, I realized that I hadn't given any examples of the graves indexed on the site.  I did a quick search to get some examples for the talk and saw one grave that looked intriguing.

Grave of Boris & Feiga Tolchinsky, Courtesy of J-Roots

There was a grave for Boris son of Simon Tolchinsky.  Boris was born in 1873 (same as on Berel's birth record) and his father's name was Shimon.  His apparent wife buried with him was Feiga son of David, born 1883--identical to the information I have on Berel's wife.  It seems like Berel/Boris lived until 1939--and was buried in Moscow!  And his grave implies that he and Feiga had children and grandchildren.

I found this Boris/Feiga grave also listed on, which guided me towards another couple buried in the same plot.

Lyuba Frovlova Grave, Courtesy of

Lyuba and Yakov Frolov were buried in the same grave.  Lyuba's father is given as Boris, which means she might be Berel's daughter.  Her birthdate is given as September 30, 1909.  Well, Berel had twins on September 29, 1909, one of which was Bluma.  This is almost surely Bluma's grave, in Moscow.

So it seems that at least as of Bluma/Lyuba's 1978 death, there were Tolchinsky cousins in Moscow!  Time to hunt for them.

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  1. Her husband isn't buried there, it's a cenotaph, like so many Moscow grave markers. He was killed in action in June 1941, and Lyuba's correspondence about it is preserved in the military archive