Thank you all so much for notes on my "romantic relationships" post. Also
for the reference to Amos Oz's book, a book called Marriage Customs in
Imperial Russia, and to the Jewish Gen archives. I will look at them all.
Just to explain my slang, however, by "issues" I meant they eventually had
problems in their relationship. And yes, I did mean would they have had sex
when the girl was 12 or 13. (Especially, as in this case, the girl was a
The "issue" later on is that my great-grandfather came to America and I
think she stayed behind in Odessa. None of their names are on any ship
manifests and the dates on census material don't seem right. Anyway, I think
she wasn't here for four years while he was.
Then, in 1898 my great-grandfather allegedly had sex with a girl who was 12.
There were Jewish prostitutes all over the lower east side in New York,
where he lived, but this girl was his boss's daughter. He was charged with four
different counts of rape but, according to the prosecutor's records, only was
convicted of statutory rape, meaning the girl wasn't of age. There are no
records >from his side of the case but he must have had a strong case or he would
have been charged with the other three counts, including assault and battery,
forced "entry" so to speak, etc.
Her only complaint was that he didn't pay her, as she said he had promised.
He said he was innocent, and I don't know what he meant he was innocent
of--rape (which in his mind likely seemed like pogrom-style rape) or having
had sex with her or of promising to pay and then not paying.
I'm trying to figure out what in the world he might have been thinking....to
sleep with the boss's daughter, to say he was innocent, not to have paid,
and then to have actually married in the old country -- whether or not he had
sex--when that girl was also 12 or 13. And the rabbi's daughter, to boot.
Anyway, he was sent to Sing Sing. And then when he got out his wife came
over. I don't think they spoke much after that. Thanks so much for all the
responses. If anyone has any more insights please let me know.