Tag Archives: Tracing the Tribe

Mysteries, Mysteries, Mysteries: The Continuing Saga of My Grandfather’s Family

17 Jan

It has been a crazy investigation that started when I found a birth notice for a daughter named Rossie Rosenberg for my great grandparents.  I could not find any other information about her.  Just that one document.  So, I posted on my favorite Facebook group for help.  Once again, another Tracing the Tribe member came through…in a GIGANTIC way. 

First of all, a MAJOR thank you to Sherrie V. who connected the dots and solved the mystery of Rossie Rosenberg.  She was born on May 3, 1904.  But her name did not show up in other records.  However, another child, Minnie/Marion/Muriel does appear.  She was born on May 5, 1904.   Close enough.  I have to assume they could not think of a name when their last of eight living children was born, so just called her Rossie.  Once she got home, a final name, Minnie, was selected.  The mystery of Rossie/Minnie is now solved.

I do know that Muriel got married in 1934 to a man named Harry Moskowitz and they had four children.  But what makes it very evident that this is the right Muriel Rosenberg Moskowitz, is that she named her first son Stanley RITT Moskowitz (He has passed away so I mention his name.).  Ritt was my great-grandmother, and Muriel’s mother’s maiden name, which really helped in following the trail.

But Sherri did not stop with Muriel. Something caught her eye about my grandfather’s oldest brother, Samuel.

First some back story.  My grandfather’s oldest brother disappeared.  I could not find him anywhere except on census documents up until 1915.  However, now I know that I did find him, I just did not realize what I was finding.

My grandfather never mentioned his family.  When I spoke to my grandmother about her family, she filled me in a bit about his family, but she was not very forthcoming.  She told me that they were all crazy.  Her information was basic and not totally correct.  In her rendition, he was the oldest of six children.  He supported them because his father ran off and abandoned the family.  He helped put his younger brother through law school, he helped his sisters go to school.  And then they left him.  (See blogs below for information on them.)

Her most important message to my sister and me, was “Be careful who you marry.  Check out the family.  You have to be sure that they are not crazy.  Look what happened to me.”  My sister remembers this being told to us over a long weekend when my grandmother stayed with us.   But that is not the only time she told this story.  She repeated over and over again to me when I was dating my husband and finally engaged. 

My grandfather, just so you understand, was not the oldest of six children.  He was really the third of eight children who survived childhood.  My great-grandmother Sarah, had 12 births and 8 living children.  I found Grandpa’s older sister, Celia, who died at age 24.  (See blog below.)

But I never could find Samuel…till now.

Sherri sent me New York and Federal census lists starting in 1900 through 1925. Many of them I had seen before and had acknowledged as my family. Others I had looked at and thought no, it can’t be them. But with Sherri, I could see how my great grandfather could be listed as Aaron and not Abraham, especially when all the other names and dates matched up. But she had a bit of knowledge that I did not know about the Kings Park State Hospital. A place which I never heard of before, but I have learned much more. Now my grandmother’s rants and stories all make sense.

In the 1915 New York census, it showed Samuel living at home, but listed his occupation as a farmer.  Before that, in 1910 he was the foreman at a tailor shop. When I saw this, I thought, hmmm this is why he disappeared. He left the tailor business and tried his hand at farming. Perhaps he farmed in New Jersey or Long Island and came home to sleep at night.  Okay, I was naïve.  But I honestly could not understand why he was a farmer.

Sherri posted the following note: Is there any anecdote about one of the ‘kids’ being hospitalized? The occupation of “farmer” in the 1915 census makes me wonder whether Samuel was institutionalized at the Kings Park State Hospital which used farming as therapy for mental illness. There is a WW1draft registration and census records there through 1940 for a patient named Samuel Rosenberg, b. 1888. It appears he died in 1944 but I don’t see a burial online.”

Wow! That put a shock through my system. I had seen the WW1 draft form, which I found when I found my grandfather’s and other great uncle’s registration. But I assumed it was not him. And since my grandparents never spoke about him, and I think my Dad never knew about him either. But then my brain started working and connecting and thinking: Grandma! She probably knew all about the crazy brother, hence her tirade on checking out families before you got married. If he died in 1944, I wonder if my grandfather was contacted. Since his mother had died in the 1930s. Perhaps that is when grandma found out about the crazy brother who she knew nothing about.

I had found the military registration for a Samuel Rosenberg in Kings Park, but I just blew it off. I had no idea that a farmer could mean a patient/inmate in the hospital. But now I had to know more. And Wikipedia had the information. Kings Park Psychiatric Center opened in 1885. It was unique in its efforts to actually help people. The idea was to be a farm community where patients worked or helped on the farm as part of their treatments. My great uncle being listed as a farmer was the information Sherri needed to understand what happened. Why was he still listed on their census form? I am not sure. But perhaps because they did not want to say he was mentally ill.

In 1895 the hospital was over-crowded and the state of New York took it over, renaming it Kings Park State Hospital. The residential area around the hospital was also called Kings Park.  The hospital became self-sufficient and grew its own food.  It finally closed 100 years later in 1996.

Over the years there are a few records of Samuel.  And I will say it is a bit difficult to see the words inmate after his name, as well as the words insanity!  What would he be today, bi-polar, psychotic, schizophrenia?  I have no idea, but I cannot help but wonder!

It also made me think about my great grandparents getting divorced by the 1920 census. In those days people did not divorce that easily.  It was considered a Shanda, a shameful event.  But Sarah is divorced and head of the household in 1920.  Celia is dead by the time of the census and Samuel is no longer listed as part of the family, while the six other children are living with her. Abraham is gone.

I think about being a parent.  With one child, who is  in hospital for mental illness by 1915, the age of 27, and another child that dies in February of 1920 at the age of 24, perhaps the stress was just too much.  Or perhaps one of them was also a bit crazy! We will never know why they divorced.

In any case, I am not quite done with my research.  I am trying to get a copy of Samuel’s death certificate, information on his burial and finally perhaps his records from the hospital.  Actually, when I say I am trying, I am hoping my sister takes care of the paper work for the family.  She has a talent for details!

I will admit, while it is nice finally knowing what happened in my grandfather’s brother, I would liked to have found out that he had a family and did something special. Finding him as the inmate in a mental health institution is just sad.

I am left with just one mystery. I just need to find out what happened to my great grandfather!  Where did Abraham go!

(I want to thank Evan W. for all his help in the past in originally finding some of the documentation.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kings_Park_Psychiatric_Center

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/1918-pandemic-history.htm

What Happened to Grandpa’s Twin Sisters?

16 Apr
My great aunt Tova, my great Grandparents Gimple and Chava. The man driving is an Uncle. And the horses and cart they bought with the money my grandparents sent. They all perished.

Would it be horrible to say that I am disappointed to find that my grandfather’s two sisters were not the victims of Josef Mengele?  It sounds horrible even to me.  But I have been searching to find out what happened to them for over a decade.  And I thought I finally found a glimmer of hope.  I remembered that they were twins.  Perhaps they made it to the right concentration camp and were separated out. I could at least have some closure.

But no.  Another dead end, I write without a pun.  I had already searched through Yad V Shem, where I found my grandfather’s parents and one brother.  I have found my great grandparents, Gimple/Mordechai who died in Auschwitz and Chava who died in the town.  My great uncle, Shimon died in Belzec.   All three testimonies were put in Yad VShem by a cousin, Shalom Hollander.  Although he entered many other testimonies, there are none for the other three siblings.

I have searched through the Jewish Gen files.  I have found many, many, well hundreds of family members who perished in the Shoah.  But I cannot find my grandfather’s two sisters and their families and his other brother.  It is what I have been searching for since I started my genealogy searches. 

I tried the place that usually helps, Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group.  From one member, I found out about the the Arolsen Archives, International Center on Nazi Persecution, in Bad Arolsen in Germany.  And I had great hope.  I filled out three forms with all the information I had on my great aunts, Tova and Tzelia, and great uncle Nachum.  I admit it was not much.  Just their names and town of birth, parents and approximate date of birth. 

I was sure to add that Tova and Tzelia were twins.  I have a photo of Tova.  I knew she was married.  She probably had children. But by the time I spoke to my grandfather about her and his other siblings in the 1970s, he had forgotten the names of her husband and children.  So my search was based on somewhat limited information.

Unfortunately, the Arolsen Archives could not help.  For each of my requests, I received the same message. “We can inform you today that we – based on the data you provided – have made an extensive check of the documentation available to us.
To our regret, it has not proved possible for us to ascertain any information.”

Another dead end.  But I was not totally surprised.  I know that Mielec and Grandpa’s home town of Trzciana, were among the first cities that the Nazis chose to kill all the Jews.  Only 100 Jewish residents from the area survived the war.  Some were killed at the Denbica/Dembitz Murder site.  Others went to the Lodz Ghetto and then Belzec  Some died in Auschwitz.  But some died in their community, like my great grandmother.  Some were burned in the synagogue.  Some were burned in the mikve.  Some were shot. 

I have discovered many people with similar names, but not these three.

I assume they died nameless, not a number in the Nazi machine.

So perhaps not finding them is a good thing.  Perhaps they died quickly.  They did not have to suffer the indignity of being a victim of Mengele.  They did not make it to the Concentration Camps.  But what is so sad is that no family member was able to write their testimonies.  No one could enter their names in to Yad VShem data base.  And I cannot either, because I do not know what happened.

Perhaps my quest to find out the names of their children will never be achieved.  I will never find out what happened.   Each time I have found out what happened to a family member. I have had another little stab in my heart.  Perhaps it is time to let this search end.

A Ketubah Mystery

7 Dec

My maternal grandparent’s ketubah has presented a mystery!

I know for a fact that my great grandfather’s name was Gimple.  That name is what was used in the Yad V’shem testimony that describes his death in the Shoah.  That is the name my grandfather always used when discussing his father.  That is the Hebrew name that was given to my cousin when he was born in 1949 in memory of him.

So why does it say my grandfather’s Hebrew name is Nisan ben Mordechai haCohen, Nisan the son of Mordechai the Cohan?

I was stunned.  I immediately put the Ketubah up on Tracing the Tribe Facebook page for help.  And yes, the name is Mordechai.  Was my grandfather hiding something from us all these years?  I don’t think so. His parents were his parents. But this seemed odd!

Then I thought could this possible be one of the many paired names, but one I had not heard of before?  For example, my paternal grandfather’s Hebrew name was Hirsch Zvi. This is a common paired name as one is Yiddish and other Hebrew for deer. But I had never heard that Gimple was a pairing for Mordechai. 

Thanks to the Tracing the Tribe group, I have since learned that it is. But a bit different.  It does not mean the same thing, but rather they were paired together. It seems Gimple started first as a surname and then eventually became a first name.  I started searching.  And I found response to someone else asking the same question.  It seems in Poland, where my grandfather was from (when it was Poland, sometimes it was Austria), there was a double name for Mordechai Gumpel, Mordechai Gumplein, Mordechai Gumplin and Mordechai Gumprecht, accorded to a Professor G. L. Esterson in Israel.  He supposes that since Gimple is so close to Gumple, that Gimple is also a double name with Mordechai!!!

Then another member of Tracing the Tribe sent me the link below to the Jewish People’s Museum in Israel.  It had an entire page dedicated to the name Gimple and its relationship to Mordechai! The names were paired together, as stated by above by Esterson! Confirmation!

To be honest, this makes so much sense, in my family because my great grandfather was the only man I have found named Gimple.  However, there are many men named Mordechai over the generations before the Shoah.  I wonder if his mother was trying to help end confusion by calling him Gimple, but giving him the Hebrew name Mordechai?  I will never know!

However, I now have to come to my son’s generation.  My son is named for my grandfather, Nisan.   He is also named for my husband’s uncle, Mordechai.   Thus, by happenstance, my son is also named for two generations at the same time, both his great and great, great grandfathers!  Is that not a weird coincidence!!

Sometimes looking back at old documents can improve our knowledge of our family.  I knew I had the ketubah. I had looked at it before. But because it was in such a bad shape, I just kept it put away and did not really examine it.  Today I decided to take a photo to keep its information safe as it continues to deteriorate.  Then I enlarged it on my phone, and there was the information that I had not noticed! 

Another Mystery solved thanks to Tracing the Tribe.

(In an addendum, I asked for help from Tracing the Tribe in deciphering the names of the witnesses, even though I knew they were not relatives. So just so my family knows. Their names were Benjamin son of either Yehoshua or Yehuda, the Levi. And Shlomo the son of Mendel.)

https://dbs.anumuseum.org.il/skn/en/c6/e241754/Family_Name/GOMPERTZ?fbclid=IwAR2UmU_uU4aKv-jbqxoVD6K16LRsd-dnbTHfZlkn4CegeS5xCbv8LPt5iDE

Survival of Shalom (Szulim) Hollander

25 Nov

Over my years of researching my family, especially my family who remained behind in Europe, I have found relatives who perished in both Belzec and Auschwitz Death Camps.  Those who died in the Lodz Ghetto.  Those who were probably burned to death in their community synagogue or mikveh. Those who were murdered after the war ended. They died in so many places, that I no longer am shocked, even though after each discovery, I feel a pain in my soul.  A pain that makes me stop searching for a month or so as I recover from the finality of my search.

I have a great grandmother who survived the war years hidden by a righteous Christian friend, but who could not save her from the final indignity:  murdered when she returned to her family property by the people who had squatted on their land.  I am named for her.  I keep her photo near my computer so she is watching my search.

There is at times a happier outcome.  I have also found those who survived.  My grandmother’s first cousin who survived the Shoah and the Kielce Pogram, and even wrote a testimony about her experience.   I have two distant cousins, the children of another of my grandmother’s first cousin, who survived the war after being put on the KinderTransport. Their parents did not survive. I have relatives who made their way to France, the United States, Australia, England and Israel.  Where once my families were in a small area of Poland, Austria and Russia before the war, now they are on four continents.

Now I add another story of survival through an extraordinary circumstance.  A relative, perhaps two, who survived the Shoah thanks to being one of almost 1100 names who were on Schindler’s List.

To be honest, I am a bit stunned.   I wrote about Shalom Hollander several times, in most detail in a blog that I published in June 2018.  This week Shalom’s story changed.

I was contacted by a distant cousin who read my blog.   She just recently has been researching her family and by goggling family names found my blog, “The Sorrow of Shalom Hollanders” (see below.). She sent me a message: “I must be an extended family member of yours. I am related to Tova Hollander, Mordechai/Marcus Amsterdam, Szulim (Shalom) Hollander, and all the people on this story. I found this while googling names and have been looking into ancestry.com. I would love to connect if you are willing.”

Of course, I was willing to connect.  I emailed her immediately.  I was delighted to find out that her great grandfather was Shalom’s brother.  He had come to the United States before the war, and so survived much like my grandparents.

The words that caught at my heart were these: My great grandpa’s brother was Shalom Hollander who you wrote about in your blog (not sure if you are aware but he is listed on Schindler’s List under the name Szulim Hollander). 

I had to look, and there he was:

Holocaust Survivors and Victims Database:   Schindler’s Lists: Electronic data regarding Oscar Schindler’s inmates, complied from two separate lists.

Szulim Hollander : Date of birth: 8 Feb 1906                                                             Persecution Category: Ju. [Jew] ;   Occupation:  ang. Tischler  (carpenter)         Nationality:  Po. [Polish] ; Prisoner Number:  69073

He survived because he was on Schindler’s List, but was it a good survival?  This knowledge hurt my heart.  While he was surviving, he lost his wife, his children, his parents, his sister.  So many relatives murdered.  I wish when I met him in 1976, I would have listened and learned more. But then, no one knew about Schindler or his list.  I am not even sure he spoke to my grandmother about how he survived.  Wait, I take that back.  Everyone we met with that trip told my grandmother their Holocaust story.   (see blog below.)

In the same email, she mentioned her Aunt Susan also told her about me.  I remember Susan, I connected with her through Tracing the Tribe.  We met about five years ago and exchanged information.  We knew that her husband must be related to my family.  But I did not know of the connection with Shalom.

Now that I know Shalom had a brother in New Jersey, where my grandparents had a kosher bakery, many little pieces came into place. I had an ‘aha’ moment.  My grandparents definitely knew this family.   We knew many Amsterdam families in New Jersey.  I never connected them because Shalom’s brother in New Jersey used the last name Amsterdam, which is their father’s last name, while Shalom used Hollander, which was their mother’s last name.

My grandparents and parents could not have known Shalom and not his brother in New Jersey. They were probably some of the many relatives I met as a child, who just blurred together in my grandparent’s European connections.

One other bit of good news about Shalom.  He did remarry after the war and started another family.  What strength!  He truly was a survivor.  My grandmother and I only met with him that day in Israel.  I rejoice in knowing this news.  I wish I could meet his family.

I must add that there is another Hollander on Schindler’s List: Rachela Hollander was born on March 23, 1917.  She was just a young woman when the war began. She is listed as a metal worker.  I will assume that some way she is related to us as well.

KinderTransport, Schindler’s List, Kielce, Belzec, Auschwitz, Lodz Ghetto: My family went through the worst of the Shoah.  But it comforting to know that some connected with people who had a bit of goodness left in their souls and somehow they survived.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2018/08/12/discovering-karolas-kielce-pogrom-testimony/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/11/05/how-the-kindertransport-touched-my-family/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/06/07/the-sorrow-of-shalom-hollander/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/06/05/murdered-in-belzec/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/09/06/one-more-family-destroyed/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/09/13/my-familys-holocaust-history-impacts-my-observance-of-rosh-hashannah/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/04/28/speaking-yiddish-always-brings-me-holocaust-memories/

 

Amazing Connections Once Again Thanks To Tracing The Tribe

18 Nov

Amazing! That is the word my cousin in Israel and all her first cousins from her father’s side keep posting.  This has been an amazing week for them. I am glad that I played a part making a connection possible.

Last week while browsing through the Tracing the Tribe Facebook group I saw a post that caught my eye.  Many times people post passports, photos and letters to get them translated.  I have done that and have had wonderful help from the members of this group, as we all search for our family and our roots.

But this post was a bit different.  Someone was posting the photos of a passport her husband had purchased on EBay.  (It is also amazing what is for sale on EBay.)  The passport of a young man from Poland who made Aliyah to Israel in 1937.  This time my eyes stopped moving and my heart stopped, because I knew that name.  I knew that face.  I also recognized the town he was from in Poland.  I knew who she was searching for, as my cousin had married one of this man’s four sons over 45 years ago.

Hillel Kalmarski/Kalmarsky!  I knew him!  I met him when I was 19 years old and spending my sophomore year of college in Israel.  My cousin, Sara, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, had married his son when she was 18.  We were the same age.  On many of my weekends and holidays from school, I would spend time with Sara and her husband, Moshe.  And sometimes we would go to see her in-laws.

Hillel was a scribe, a sofer.  He usually made the kosher scrolls that go into mezzuzot.  But for me, he made something special.  He made my ketubah.  He thought I was crazy to have him write out my ketubah in his perfect Hebrew print.  But in the USA it was the style to have a special ketubah made.  I did not want one from an artist.  I wanted one made by Hillel.

img_6959

My ketubah written by Hillel.

It still hangs in my dining room for all to see. Which is a good place to remember Hillel.

I had dinner in his house.  I ate at the dining table belonging to him and his wife. I went to the wedding of his youngest son, Avram, to the lovely Leah.  I was always welcomed.

But the Hillel I knew was an older man, in his 60s.  The photo of the young man did not look like the Hillel I knew. But it did look like was my cousin’s husband and his brother.

I commented on the post that I thought this was the father-in-law of my cousin.  Someone had already found Hillel’s grave in Israel and had reached out to the son.  But I knew that my connection would get results.

Since I knew that they would not see the post on Tracing the Tribe, I shared the post on my Facebook and tagged Hillel’s two granddaughters who were also related to me.  I also wrote to them on our family What’s Ap.  It started an avalanche of comments.  Yes, it was their grandfather.  Their first cousins from their Dad’s side started commenting.  My post was filled with comments from their cousins.  They were stunned, amazed and in disbelief.  Comments focused on how crazy and amazing this was to them!

One of the granddaughters, my cousin, joined Tracing the Tribe, so she could comment directly onto the original post.  She posted additional pictures of her grandparents and her parents.

I am glad that I was able to facilitate some of the contact.  I am glad that the passport will be returned to Avram, the only surviving son.

I was so shocked and amazed that someone I knew was the object of a quest in Tracing the Tribe.  But amazing things have occurred before. Through this group I have met distant cousins who have helped me in my genealogy search.  I have had so many people help translate Polish, Yiddish, German for me.   I connected with Schelly, whose grandparents were best friends with my grandparents, and so we share stories as well.

For the past two days I have been rereading the post and the comments people have made.  I thank Esther for reaching out to find Hillel’s family.  And I thank all the members of Tracing the Tribe who have helped so many people connect, understand, discover and learn.

 

 

(I know that someone is wanting to write an article about this, so I am not posting any photos other than my ketubah.  I just wanted to write about how I felt throughout this experience and how I appreciate Tracing the Tribe.)

Another Photo, Another Trip to the Yad V’Shem Database

26 Sep

Since I recently returned from a trip to the Baltics, and actually used my school-girl German,  I decided I needed to open my Grandma’s album and continue my search.  I chose a photo with German writing, since I could translate that.

The note was written to my grandma, from her cousin.  “For my cousin, Tauba.  I send my ‘Bilck” (I think that means image).    Dated August 22, 1931, from Wieruszow, a city I have written about before, you can read about it in the blog below.

I had a difficult time figuring out his name.  I knew the Anshel/Anssel.   But the last name stymied me.  So once again thank you to the Tracing The Tribe group, who gave me the last name Eisner.   It opened the door on the Yad VShem Database.

Anshel Eisner, who was born in 1906, was murdered in the Shoah.  The year 1906 hurt my heart, as that is the same year that my grandmother was born. 

His parents, Moses Aron Eisner and Rivka Manes, were married in 1898. His mother and my great grandmother were sisters. I image they were happy to be pregnant at the same time. (Thank you Elzbieta from Tracing the Tribe).

He is probably one of the many cousins that she told me about…that she played with at her grandmother’s house.

img_3908

He looks a bit like her own brothers.  So much so that I will now look at group photos to see if I can find him.  And I think I found him standing on the far right of this photo that includes my great uncle, who is seated on the left. (See blog below.)

Anshel was married to Liba/Libka.  I could not find her on the data base.   But it said that Anshel was a merchant and died when he was 32 years old.  1942. That was a big year for murdering my family.

His testimony was prepared by his uncle Yitzchak/Isaac Ajzner/Eisner.  I did an advanced search and found that Yizchak prepared testimonies for 54 people who were murdered in the Shoah, including his parents, his siblings, his nieces and nephews and cousins.  He also included friends who perished. These people came from Wieruszow, Lodz, other cities in Poland and Czechoslovakia.

I assume that not all 54 are related to me.  But I take them to my heart.  I add them to the hundreds I already mourn for who perished.  I think of the many cousins I should have in my family who are gone and forgotten and who names have disappeared into the whispers of the past.

Each photo I find that leads to the database breaks my heart a bit. But then, in my heart, I thank my Grandma for saving all these photos.  For keeping their memories alive in a book hidden in the attic for me to find and rediscover and remember.

Baruck Dayan HaEmet.  May their memories be a blessing.  I hope I help them live though my blog.

 

https://zicharonot.com/2018/07/20/viroshov-wieruszow-a-jewish-community-destroyed/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2019/06/17/my-obsession-with-grandmas-album-leads-to-the-shoah/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2014/08/19/old-photographs-bring-memories-to-life/

 

Some of My Paternal Family Mysteries Solved, But Not All

18 Jul

For more years than I care to share, I have been searching for answers to my paternal grandfather’s many family mysteries.  My grandfather did not want to talk about his family.  My grandmother, his wife, was the one who told me the little bit she knew, with a caveat,
“when you marry, check out the family, because you marry them as well.”   ( See links to blogs below.)

Before I go into details, I have to thank Evan Wolfson, my, I think, fourth cousin on my father’s side, for his help!! He had sent me a copy of my great grandparent’s marriage license and said he was doing research at the Family History Center run by the Mormon Church.  On a serious whim, I asked if he could help with my mystery. Over two days he sent me record after record.  I am forever grateful for his help in working on my mystery!!!

What we all thought we knew and what I know now:

Grandpa Harry was born in 1888 or 1889.  No he was not.  He was actually born in April 20, 1890, in New York.   I know this from his registration papers for the military in 1914, where he claimed he was, (and I wrote from what he wrote) “the mostly supporter of my father and mother.”  He was an operator and cutter in his own business, as a pants maker, at 90 Attorney Street in New York.

By the way, his brother Jacob also filled out his registration card for military service then.  But since he was employed as a stenographer at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, he did not go, as he was working in ‘home support.’

Grandpa was the oldest of six children.   No he was not.  He had an older brother, Samuel, who was born in Russia and came to the USA as an toddler.   He also had an older sister, Celia, who was born in the USA, but died when she was about 24 years old of pneumonia and pulmonary edema.  She worked making shirt waists and was single when she died.  She is buried in Montiefiore Cemetery in New York.  We will have to find her one day.

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Standing: Great Uncle Lenny, Great Aunt Hady, Grandpa Harry, Grandma Esther. Seating are my great grandmother and great aunt from my Grandma’s side.

He was the oldest of the other children.  Grandpa Harry, born 1890; Jacob, born about two years later; Bertha, five years younger, and never married; Edith (Yetta), born 1898 and also never married; Hatti/Hady who was born in 1901 and married to Lenny Greenberg; and finally, Minnie/Miriam/Muriel, who married and had two children.

The other item I now know is that his mother gave birth to 12 children, of which 8 survived.  There is a child who was born in 1904 named Rosie.  But no other listings of her.

The story we all heard was that when Grandpa was in his early teens, his father abandoned the family and went to Seattle. And Grandpa then became the provider for the family, and also traveled to Seattle to find his father.   Probably, maybe for a while, then went back?  Not quite sure.  Here’s what I know.  Grandpa did go to Seattle, we have the photos and the story.  But it was not that early.   Did he find his father?  I am not sure.  Did his father come back for a bit?  Well he was in New York at least till 1915, so who knows what was happening. Perhaps he became ill as he was no longer working then.

I did go to Seattle and did research at the library.  I did find a Abraham Rosenberg there in 1906 who was a tailor, but I could not find the same man again.   I also now know that my great grandparents were still having children in 1901 and 1903.  Hattie was born in 1901 and Minnie/Muriel was born about 1903. And the child born in 1904.

I also know that when my grandfather registered for the military in 1914, he listed the sole support of his mother and father and siblings as the reason he could not serve.  I had heard for years that my grandfather supported all his siblings, many of whom went to college on his dime, while he was just a tailor.

I know they were living together at least until 1915 because they are on a census together.  But by 1920 Sarah is the head of her household, and Abraham is gone.   I wonder if he had gone to Seattle in 1905 after his last child was born, but then came back after my grandfather found him.  Grandpa would have been 16 in 1906. So that is possible.  Then after they got divorced, he left again?  I am only thinking this, I have no proof.  The only fact I know for sure, is that my father always said the only time he met his grandfather we when he showed up the day of his bar mitzvah in September 1941.   He had vague memories of his grandmother. But then she died when he was 8.

The only photo I have of my great grandma. Thanks to my cousin.

My other mystery was knowing nothing about my great grandmother Sarah.  Well I now know her maiden name was Ritt/Writt.  I first saw this last name on my grandparents’ marriage license.  They married on February 25, 1922. Grandpa was 30 and Grandma was 23.

But her certificate of death gave much more.  Her parents were Hirsh Ritt, who was born in Poland and Flora, also from Poland.  Hirsh makes sense as that is my grandfather’s Yiddish name.   Flora is unusual. It also states that Sarah was born in France, which was the first time for that announcement.  In other places she is listed as was born in Russia or Germany.  Still the woman of mystery.

When she died at age 68, on January 28, 1936, she was divorced and suffered from carcinoma of the pancreas.  She was only sick for one month and seven days and died at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn on 555 Prospect Place.

My Grandfather was the one who provided the information about his mother.

Thus some mysteries are solved.  And others now stand out.  What do the divorce papers say?  I still cannot find those.  What happened to Samuel?  And Muriel?    And where and when did Abraham go to Seattle or did him?  And where did he live after he and Sarah got divorced?  I had heard he was with another woman?

I knew Hady/Hattie and her husband, Lenny (see blog below.). Edith and Bertha, I never met, but I knew of them as the two maiden sisters. They went to college, but never married. However they gave my uncle the middle name, Prim; and my aunt the middle name, Gwendolyn.

As for Jacob. That will be another blog. Previously, I had found some information about him, and my cousin Evan was able to find a bit more during his research.

Once again, thank you Evan for helping me with my mystery! And a thanksto Tracing the Tribe Group, where I first encountered my cousin.

 

 

 

https://zicharonot.com/2015/06/14/the-sad-scandal-that-forever-scarred-my-grandpa-harry/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2017/10/25/the-missing-link-in-my-family-history-or-my-biggest-genealogy-block/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2018/11/16/epiphany-excitement-discovery-disappointment-hope/

 

 

https://zicharonot.com/2015/02/18/the-littlest-gambler-learning-about-horse-races-in-the-catskills/

 

My Great Uncle Discovered In A Wonderful Photo

14 Jun

Once again, I browsed through my grandmother’s mystery photo album trying to identify more of the many photos from Europe.  This time I had success.

img_3908

I noticed a familiar face among a photo of six men playing cards and smoking.  All were young, well dressed, and looked posed to me.  But seated on the left side, I noticed someone who looked like my great uncle Isaac.  When I studied in Israel during 1974-75, I spent much time at my great uncle and great aunts’ home in Kiryat Haim, near Haifa.  I also brought my grandmother to Israel in 1976, when she saw her brother in the first time in over 40 years.  (See blog below.)

img_3909

The back of the photo had a stamp from Boleslawiec, and I knew that was my grandmother’s home town.  So it would make sense that Uncle Isaac would be in a photo taken there.  And also, a short message was written in Yiddish, right over the spot where Uncle Issac was sitting on the front side of the photo.  I thought I could make out the name Izhak.

Thank you to Esther, another member of The Tracing the Tribe Facebook group.   She translated the back for me. “This is brother, Itzek.”  Itzek was what my grandmother called her brother.  I was right.  I correctly identified another photo.   Or at least one person in the photo!

I wish I knew the identities of the other young men. I am thinking they were friends, or perhaps cousins.  He had a brother, but I would assume, David would have been identified in the photo also.

By the time this photo was taken, my grandmother was living in the United States.  She left Poland in 1922, when she was 16, the oldest of the children.  I would assume this photo was taken sometime in late 1920s early 1930s, before the world changed.

Each time I identify another of these photos, I feel a moment of pure joy.  I have written a number of blogs about these photos.  Several of them are listed below.

 

PS. Uncle Issac is the one who made a jacket for my Mom,  which I wrote about here: https://zicharonot.com/2019/05/20/this-jacket-is-a-survivor/

 

https://zicharonot.com/2014/04/28/speaking-yiddish-always-brings-me-holocaust-memories/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/12/06/identifying-a-photo-is-hanukkah-miracle/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/07/15/boleslawiec-pottery-pieces-create-a-feeling-of-despondency/

https://zicharonot.com/2016/10/01/the-rosh-hashannah-card-has-a-story/

 

Amazing What Information Two Photos Can Provide

26 Jun

It is a wonder how two photos that I did not know were related could help find a branch of the family that I had no information about.

I have a family album that we found hidden in the bottom of a closet in the attic of what had been my grandparent’s and then my parent’s home in Kauneonga Lake, NY.  We found it when we cleaned the house out about four years ago.  Most of the photos are from the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.  Many of the photos are unidentified.  But some have comments on the back written in one of many languages including, English, Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish and German. (See blog below.)

Every few months I open the book and focus on a few of the photos.  It is an emotional task, as I find that many of these photos lead me back to the Shoah.  And often the people in the photos perished in concentration camps or were murdered near their homes.  I find it a bit terrifying.

About a year ago I posted a photo of two young girls on the Tracing the Tribe website.  No one translated that one for me.  I am not sure why.  It probably got posted on a busy day. As usually these short messages are translated in a few hours.

Then about a month ago I posted two identical photos of a young man, but each had a slightly different note on the back, written in German.  I wondered why German, although I knew that my grandmother could read and write German along with three other languages.

I knew that one of the photos of the young man and the photo of the two girls were sent to my grandmother, Tova/Thelma.  And I that the other one of the young man was sent to her aunt, my great aunt Gussie.  This lead me to write about the young man Abraham Prentki/Prantki.  (See blog post below.)

I assumed he had to be the son of one my great grandfather’s three sisters , Esther, Sura or Leba, who we really had no information about.

By some serendipitous decision, I was looking for another post on the Tracing the Tribe Group when I stumbled upon this photo of the young girls who had never been identified.  So I reposted it on Tracing the Tribe and Jewish Ancestoy in Poland.   With in a few hours, I had a translation.  It was to my grandmother, their cousin.  There were names including the last name Granek. This postcard was also written in German.

My Tracing the Tribe friend, Amy, decided to search some more.  Thank you, Amy.  She found a Yad V’Shem testimony written by a Martha Granek Wynn, who wrote a page of testimony for her mother Cella Prentki Granek.   Cella’s parents were Esther Schenk and Pinkus Prentki and they lived in Breslau, Germany.  But originally came from Boleslaviec, Poland, where my grandmother grew up. Cella was murdered in Mauthausen.  The testimony is chilling.  In Place of death: it is written Mauthausen.  In circumstance of death, it is written: Oven.

The pieces were now coming together.  And although I cannot be one hundred percent certain.  This is what I know.  My great grandfather Shlomo Abraham had several sisters.  Gussie moved to the United States, where she married and had four children.  My grandmother moved in with Gussie and her family when she moved to the USA. (See two blogs below.). The postcards from the young man, Abraham Prentki were to his cousin Tova and his Aunt Gussie.  I assumed he had to be the son of Esther, Sura or Leba, my great grandfather’s sisters who we had no information on.  This leads me to believe that Abraham was the brother of Cella Prentki Granek who died at Mauthausen.  And that he was also the son of Esther Schenk Prentki.

Grandma Thelam, Carlsbad

My grandmother is sitting on the right.  Who are the other two women?

More information, we (my sister helps me with my research) know that my grandmother went back to Europe in 1931 with my mother and uncle. (see blog below.). We also know that she left the children behind with her father and then her in laws and went to Breslau to visit her family, her aunt, and go to the waters of Carlsbard/Karlsbard to heal.  The Prentki family lived in Breslau.

My sister says she agrees that this looks right. But we are not totally sure. On the page of testimony there is an address in Melbourne, Australia.  I found this address on line, in Australia.  I sent a letter to the woman who submitted the testimony about her mother, but not sure the family still lives there.  It was written in 1999, and Martha would be in her 90s now. She is probably one of the young girls in the photo.  I am hoping that some family members live there.

However, another connection.  After the war, my grandmother’s two brothers and their wives moved to Australia.  They were waiting for visas to get out of Europe and went when the first visa to Australia arrived.  They lived in Melbourne.  Coincidence?  Or did they move to be with other family who had escaped.  My mother’s first cousin is still alive. She was born in Melbourne in 1955 and now lives in Israel.  I have asked her if she knew this family. But she was a child when she left Australia.

We might never know the truth.  My sister is right,  we cannot be 100 percent sure.  But in my heart, I think these were the Grandchildren children of my great aunt Esther.  In my heart I believe that this was the family my grandmother visited in Breslau.  In my heart I think the mystery of these two photos is solved.  Still not sure about the photo from Karlsbard.

It is amazing what information two photos can lead to.  And that is why I keep going back to this album and searching.

Update:  I did get a message from a woman who knew my grandmother’s cousins.  In fact one of the girls lived with her family in England.  The girls were separated, which made me a bit sad.

https://zicharonot.com/2014/08/19/old-photographs-bring-memories-to-life/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/06/04/the-mystery-of-abraham-prantki/

https://zicharonot.com/2015/06/13/finding-katie/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/05/29/grandma-thelma-knows-what-she-knows/

https://zicharonot.com/2016/06/06/the-mysterious-kalsbad-photos-who-are-they/

Murdered In Belzec

5 Jun

I have not gone to the Yad Veshem website in years.  I already had all the information about my great grandparents.  But in writing about a mystery cousin, several people suggested I go see if he was listed at Yad VeShem.  He is not.  So I will assume he survived, (optimistic I know) and look elsewhere. (See blog below.)

However, the website looked so different, I decided to look at my great grandparents again. I knew that there was an entry for both of them. But when I first saw it, I could not read much of it.  Now it is all translated into English. More important, it was put up by a survivor, a cousin, someone I met in Israel in 1976 with my grandmother: Shalom Hollander.

I had not seen his name in 42 years.  When we met, in Haifa or Tel Aviv, Grandma and Shalom only spoke in Yiddish.  And at the time, although I did understand some of what they said, I did not really pay attention.  I heard so many holocaust stories when I was with grandma that month, and I was just 20.  (See link blog below.)

It has been many years since I last looked at the listing in Yad VeShem.   Besides their updated website, I have been on a mission to record what has happened to my family.

Recently I listened to an audio tape made by my grandfather in 1981.  I had it made into a cd earlier this year. (See link below.) In it he talks about the village where he grew up.  We always thought it was in Mielec.  Which it was to a degree, but it was actually in a small village near Mielec called Trzciana.

We knew that my great grandmother, Chava, was killed near her home. That she had been hidden and did not go to the concentration camps.  The Yad VeShem records confirm that she was murdered in Mielec/Trzciana.

I did not know which concentration camp my family had perished. I only knew that they had all died.   However the testimony provided by Shalom Hollander is clear.  They were murdered in Belzec.  I am not so sure I am happy about that. But I now know that is where Gimple Feuer, my great grandfather died.

In Belzec approximately 500,000 Jews were murdered. Nazis were killing people at Belzec for nine and a half months.  Thus, I now also know that my family was murdered between March 17 to December 1942.  But at Belzec the Nazis not only murdered and buried my family, when the war was near the end, the Nazis secretly dug up their bodies and burned them.   Most depressing is that of all the Jews who were sent to Belzec only seven survived according to Wikipedia.

In the past I have also tried to find any reference to my grandfather’s siblings.  My biggest problem is that I do not know his sisters’ married names.  However, the most amazing aspect of going to the Yad Veshem datebase this time is that I found one of my Grandpa’s siblings: Shimon. Born in 1910.  Single.  A merchant.  Murdered in Belzec.  I knew all my grandfather’s siblings died. But I never saw it in writing before: Murdered in Belzec.

Shalom also did the records for his own parents.  Mordechai Amsterdam, a cousin of my great grandma; and Tova (Tauba) Holander Amsterdam.  His parents were probably cousins as well, as we were all related: Amsterdam, Feuer, Hollander, Brenner.

But there it is.  Murdered in Belzec.  No one is named for Shimon.   I do not think Shalom Hollander had a family.  Or at least I did not meet them in Israel.  I guess my next job is to search for any of Shalom’s descendants.

I am still stuck on those three words.  Murdered in Belzec.

Thanks to Tracing the Tribe members for their suggestions, especially Amy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Be%C5%82%C5%BCec_extermination_camp

https://zicharonot.com/2018/06/04/the-mystery-of-abraham-prantki/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/05/15/my-grandpas-voice-can-still-be-heard/

https://zicharonot.com/2018/05/01/zysel-ziesel-feuer-survivor/

https://zicharonot.com/2014/04/28/speaking-yiddish-always-brings-me-holocaust-memories/