I was finally able to actually obtain documents going back to the 1870s and
even to 1852 >from Zhitomir. One of the unusual findings was that my
great-great-grandfather (the rabbi of Mayaki near Odessa) had been married
in Zhitomir a first time at the age of 21 to a divorcee who was 26 in 1873.
I had previously obtained a record for his marriage to my
great-great-grandmother in Odessa in 1881. Of course no one in my family
ever heard about this, and it appeared extremely strange that a young 21
year old would marry an older divorced woman (who must have died or divorced
him by 1880).
Am I correct (ahem) in assuming that the only probably likelihood is as a
young religious Jew in 1873 he fell in love with a married woman who then
divorced her husband in order to marry him?
I realize this happens nowadays and could always happen, but it still seems
unusual, especially since the obvious first choice would have been a *match*
made with a young virgin and not a divorcee who is about 5 years older than
him. They then had a child in Zhitomir in 1876, whose fate is unknown.
In addition, another record shows that his own father died of an "abscess"
or "ulcer" at age 55 in 1890 (meaning his father was 17 when he was born in
1852). What might we call this illness today in 2017?