Topics

Fairy Tales my Father Told Me #belarus

bduchan@...
 

Was it common to tell lies about how one's ancestors got out of Russia?  For instance, my father told me that his father was a good swimmer and saved several lives when a ferry sank, so the Tsar let him leave Russia (between 1904-1907).  I've also heard of stories used to justify escaping from the draft and leaving the country.
Brian S. Duchan. Fairfield, CT

Diane Jacobs
 

Personally, I have found while stokes past down ate not totally true, there is usually some truth that can lead to facts and documentation. Diane jacobs



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: bduchan@...
Date: 6/6/20 11:07 AM (GMT-05:00)
To: main@...
Subject: [JewishGen.org] Fairy Tales my Father Told Me #belarus

Was it common to tell lies about how one's ancestors got out of Russia?  For instance, my father told me that his father was a good swimmer and saved several lives when a ferry sank, so the Tsar let him leave Russia (between 1904-1907).  I've also heard of stories used to justify escaping from the draft and leaving the country.
Brian S. Duchan. Fairfield, CT
--
Diane Jacobs, Somerset, New Jersey

lsmintz@...
 

My grandfather, Morris WEINSTEIN, lived in Riga, Latvia (Russia) with his family. 
In November, 1905, he received a draft notice from the Russian army and 
was told to report by November 30, 1905. He was 19. He landed in New York,
aboard the "Bluecher", a ship he boarded in Hamburg, on Feb. 5, 1906. So
glad he dodged the draft!

Linda Mintz  <lsmintz@...>

Sally Bruckheimer
 

Some tales are right and others fanciful. My 3nd g uncle, the first to come to the US, supposedly because he killed a Cossack who was raping his sister. I rather think this might be right, because they still had them on the books in Augustow 30 years after he left, so I think they were still looking for him (they should have looked in Pittsburgh). They weren't looking for any of the other brothers and sisters.
 
But most of the tales of 'working for the Czar' and such are exaggerated terribly; very, very few Jews did things in the government..
 
Sally Bruckheimer
Princeton, NJ

Judite Orensztajn
 

My mother z”l used to tell that her grandfather was very rich, was a farm owner – but actually he was the administrator of the farm. Most of Jews were very poor, so maybe his financial situation was better.
His name was Mordechai Heizeriger, from Novaselitsa. He was known as Der Toiger (the one who can). Four of his children (including my grandmother, my mother’s mother) emigrated to Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, and now his descendants form a huge family, most of them in Rio de Janeiro, with branches in Israel, USA, Australia… So, he was truly rich!

Judite Orensztajn, Jerusalem, Israel

 

 

From: main@... <main@...> On Behalf Of Sally Bruckheimer via groups.jewishgen.org
Sent: Saturday, June 6, 2020 9:59 PM
To: main@...
Subject: Re: [JewishGen.org] Fairy Tales my Father Told Me #general

 

Some tales are right and others fanciful. My 3nd g uncle, the first to come to the US, supposedly because he killed a Cossack who was raping his sister. I rather think this might be right, because they still had them on the books in Augustow 30 years after he left, so I think they were still looking for him (they should have looked in Pittsburgh). They weren't looking for any of the other brothers and sisters.

 

But most of the tales of 'working for the Czar' and such are exaggerated terribly; very, very few Jews did things in the government..

 

Sally Bruckheimer

Princeton, NJ

 

Kenneth Ryesky
 

Not unusual for emigres to have a paranoia, which they tried to cover up with false stories.  This could be as simple as misstating names or ages.
 
When I was downsizing my mom's house, I found some correspondence from 20-something years earlier regarding her aunt's placement in a Philadelphia nursing home.  The psychologist there wrote, amongst his notes, that my great-aunt was afraid that the Russians would come and kidnap her and take her back to Odessa.  That fully explained the discrepancies in her story (and those of her parents, my g-grandparents) regarding the family's true surname (and subsequent mutations) and birth .

Ken Ryesky,  Petach Tikva, Israel     kenneth.ryesky@...

erikagottfried53@...
 

I think a kinder (and actually more accurate) way of describing these stories is "family legends" or "family stories".  My sense is that a good many of these stories aren't made up from a whole cloth and will often contain a kernel of truth.  Here's my family legend:  The first Gottfried that came to Hungary (where my father’s family is from) was from Germany—a Catholic priest who got mixed up with the Reformation and then had to run for his life.  Somewhere between Germany and Hungary he fell in love with a Jewish woman and converted to Judaism. (That’s a lot of religions in one lifetime.)  And since that time all Gottfrieds in Central and Eastern Europe are Jewish.  My grandfather told my father this story. I asked my father if he thought it was true and he said, “I don’t know; but I do  know that your grandfather didn't have enough imagination to make it up." Of course, that hardly rules out earlier ancestors making up the story and passing it down to my grandfather.  And I've also heard that apocryphal stories of a gentile connection are quite common (not sure why).  Still ... while I know that there are gentile Gottfrieds from Central and Eastern Europe, nearly all Gottfrieds that I’ve encountered (via records and documents and in person) from that part of the world are in fact Jewish.  Even those who aren’t Jewish often turn out to be converts to Christianity.  So perhaps there’s a kernel of truth in this story there somewhere. It's been a goal of mine ever since I heard the story, at age 8 or 9, to see if I can track down the kernel--kind of my "white whale" you might say.  In my imagination I refer to this supposed ancestor as "The Priest."                                                                                                                                                                                            Erika Gottfried -  Teaneck, New Jersey

Lee Hover
 

I was told that my GF, Jacob Messing, was a nihilist and left Warsaw after a Cossack cat o' nine tails blinded him in one eye.  About a year after arriving here, his wife, Zipporah (Sophie) arrived w/ my infant father, Herman.  About 6 weeks later, he took them on a picnic to Central Park.  He excused himself to get a drink of water and shot himself to death.  As to the nihilist story, I have no idea as to any truth in it.  The suicide itself is documented on his death certificate and I have newspaper articles about it.  Also in the mix: "he married beneath himself (!)", they never married.  I found his tombstone, which said brother, but no mention of wife.  Since everyone is long gone, I'll never know.

Lee MESSING Hover
Lacey, WA

 LAP(P)IN Lithuania; KLEIN Hungary; MESSING Warsaw, Ger, Poland; ALTSCHULER ALTSZULER Warsaw

Stephen Weinstein
 

Yes.

I had one great-grandfather who was supposedly brought over by HIAS, even though HIAS insists that they didn't bring over anyone in those days, and that they helped immigrants only after (or when) their ship reached the U.S.

I had another great-grandfather who supposedly entered using the name of the person ahead of him on line, after hearing that person be admitted.  The story is that he didn't think he'd be allowed in if he used his real name, so once he repeated the name of the person ahead of him, because he knew that name worked for that person, so it would work for him too.  This is impossible for several reasons.  First, you gave the name you were using (whether it was yours or not) before you knew whether the person ahead of you in line would be admitted or not.  Second, there would be a record of two individuals who arrived on the same day and ship who both used the name that he supposedly used, and I haven't found one.  Third, the decision about who to admit or reject weren't based on their names,; the inspectors didn't have access to records of their previous times in the U.S. (the supposed reason he feared rejection under his real name).  Finally, the inspector would have been suspicious about hearing the same name twice in a row and checked the manifest to see how many passengers had that name, seen that only one did, and caught him in a lie.

Stephen Weinstein,
Camarillo, CA, USA

rchernia@...
 

My grandfather told my mother (before she emigrated to Canada, 1956) that we had family in Boston and that one member was even a rabbi. Once we arrived in Canada, she tried to find him but had no luck. She died in 1988. Fast forward to 2014. I emailed a distant cousin whether he knew anything about the family in Boston. Sure enough, the cousin knew about them and even had their email addresses. We went to Boston, visited with the family (grandchildren of the rabbi) and I copied photos of him and his sons. Rabbi Rafael Landau (1877-1955) was my grandfather's first cousin. By the time my mother searched for him, he was long dead.
--
Ruth Chernia
Toronto, Canada
searching for
TSCHERNIA of Copenhagen, Denmark, & Genichesk, Kherson Oblast, Ukraine
SHLAMOWITZ/SZLAMOWICZ/BIRENCWEIG of London, England; Lodz & Jezow, Poland
SEIDLER/ZAJDLER/LANDAU of Lodz & Sulejow, Poland
ROSENFELD of Raków, Kielce, Poland
SHKOLNIK/TICK[ER] of Ladyzhyn & Bershad, Vinnytsia, Ukraine

a.eatroff@...
 

I think every family has a few legends. I've been told that my grandfather's aunts were anarchists in the late 19th century, putting us on the tsar's bad side, but there's no way to prove or disprove that. It makes an interesting story, so we like to believe it. Did Tsar Alexander III even have a good side?

On the other side of the family, I was told my grandmother had two sisters who died as babies. I've only found documentation for one of those sisters, but infant mortality was high, so it's not an unlikely story. Other stories about witnessing shootings in prohibition era Brooklyn are probably exaggerations (though living near Al Capone's family was confirmed by census records).

It wasn't uncommon to not know exact birth dates, so my great-grandfather picked Lincoln's birthday and put it on all his documentation. My great-aunt emigrated at age 20, and stayed 20 years old through the next two censuses. Miraculously.

Jeanette Hurwitz
 

Husbands grandfather told a tale of not wanting to go into the army in Poland so he ate a whole bunch of bananas and it distended his stomach so much he looked deformed and they wouldn't take him. I wonder how a poor jew got a bunch of bananas in the early1900's.

Another tale of the same grandfather, Soloman Rofer, is that he stowed away on a ship to come to America. When he didn't have documents at Ellis Island they were going to send him back but he begged them not to. So they said he could stay in the US and would have to go to Canada or Mexico. He asked what the weather was like and chose Mexico.

What we know for sure was his family was murdered by the Nazis and he wouldn't talk about them. 

YaleZuss@...
 

Jeanette,
 
Stow-aways weren't barred from entry into the United States. Section 3 of the 
Immigration Act of 1917 establishes the conditions for their admission: they could be admitted as long as they didn't fall into any of the excludable categories.  Before 1917, their fate was determined by Boards of Inquiry established by the Immigration Act of 1903.
 
Can you attach a date to when Solomon Rofer arrived in the US?  If so, you may be able to make a direct judgment about the story.
 
Yale Zussman
 
 

Susan&David
 

This is a record for a stowaway, arriving in Boston in 1915.  He was aided by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in a Special Inquiry case, as Yale Zussman decribes.

HEBREW SHELTERING and IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY of AMERICA, RECORD of SPECIAL INQUIRY CASE
Jacob Batkowsky  age 26,  dated May 10, 1915.
SS: U.S. Colier Porthemous, arrived 10/5/15.  Nativity: Lodz, Russ-Poland.  Social State: G.
Occupation:  Carpenter   $16		Stowed away
Dest. to:  Cousin D. Glasser, 477 Thompkins Ave. Brooklyn, NY
We held of the hearing, pending word from relatives, communicated with New York Soc'y and
received affidavits and money order for $75.00.  We then got him a hearing and secured his
admission outright. We took him to our office where we furnished him with two meals, then
secured a ticket to New York, via Providence, bought him food for the night and placed him
on the train, wired his departure to the N.Y. Soc'y to await him.  We then returned the money
order uncashed to the N.Y. Soc'y for which we received acknowledgement.

David Rosen

On 6/20/2020 8:01 PM, YaleZuss via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:
Jeanette,
 
Stow-aways weren't barred from entry into the United States. Section 3 of the 
Immigration Act of 1917 establishes the conditions for their admission: they could be admitted as long as they didn't fall into any of the excludable categories.  Before 1917, their fate was determined by Boards of Inquiry established by the Immigration Act of 1903.
 
Can you attach a date to when Solomon Rofer arrived in the US?  If so, you may be able to make a direct judgment about the story.
 
Yale Zussman
 
 

Diane Jacobs
 

How was this record found?

Diane Jacobs 



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: Susan&David <rosens@...>
Date: 6/20/20 9:23 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: main@..., hurwitz.jeanette@...
Subject: Re: [JewishGen.org] Fairy Tales my Father Told Me #general

This is a record for a stowaway, arriving in Boston in 1915.  He was aided by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in a Special Inquiry case, as Yale Zussman decribes.

HEBREW SHELTERING and IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY of AMERICA, RECORD of SPECIAL INQUIRY CASE
Jacob Batkowsky  age 26,  dated May 10, 1915.
SS: U.S. Colier Porthemous, arrived 10/5/15.  Nativity: Lodz, Russ-Poland.  Social State: G.
Occupation:  Carpenter   $16		Stowed away
Dest. to:  Cousin D. Glasser, 477 Thompkins Ave. Brooklyn, NY
We held of the hearing, pending word from relatives, communicated with New York Soc'y and
received affidavits and money order for $75.00.  We then got him a hearing and secured his
admission outright. We took him to our office where we furnished him with two meals, then
secured a ticket to New York, via Providence, bought him food for the night and placed him
on the train, wired his departure to the N.Y. Soc'y to await him.  We then returned the money
order uncashed to the N.Y. Soc'y for which we received acknowledgement.

David Rosen

On 6/20/2020 8:01 PM, YaleZuss via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:
Jeanette,
 
Stow-aways weren't barred from entry into the United States. Section 3 of the 
Immigration Act of 1917 establishes the conditions for their admission: they could be admitted as long as they didn't fall into any of the excludable categories.  Before 1917, their fate was determined by Boards of Inquiry established by the Immigration Act of 1903.
 
Can you attach a date to when Solomon Rofer arrived in the US?  If so, you may be able to make a direct judgment about the story.
 
Yale Zussman
 
 


--
Diane Jacobs, Somerset, New Jersey

beckyanderson53@...
 

On Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 09:57 PM, Susan&David wrote:
RE:  HIAS?HEBREW SHELTERING and IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY of AMERICA, RECORD of SPECIAL INQUIRY CASE
My maternal grandfather had a three hearings prior to being admitted to the U.S.  I have tried to find records of the hearings, which are documented in the Ellis Island records, without success.  I am interested in how one finds the HIAS records.

Also, a previous reply stated that HIAS did not help people until they arrived in the U.S.   My paternal grandfather who left Odessa and was in in Constantinople for over 6 months in 1923, specifically states in the autobiography he handwrote in in 1960s that HIAS helped my family while they were in Constantinople.  Any thoughts on this? 

Thank you.
Rebecca Fogel Anderson
KIMLAT, MITNIK, FOGEL, TALNOPER, KRAHKMALNIKOV: Odessa, Russia
FINKELSTEIN,SILBERSTEIN: Serock, Poland
JAWETZ, VOGEL, GREENBAUM: Bukovina

ssavionit@...
 

On Sun, Jun 7, 2020 at 11:31 AM, <erikagottfried53@...> wrote:
Reformation
Your story might well be True. It is similar to a story from my father's side. When I started my research of my family roots, my clue was that all of the descendants knew that our family was not originally Jewish. The earliest family member I was able to trace was Pesach Matison (all possible spelling variations are valid) who lived in 1750 in Bausk Latvia. With a name like that he had to be Jewish. It is a well known fact that many Latvian Jews originated in Germany. I found it very puzzling as to why at any time before 1750 a good Goy would want to convert to Judaism. German Reformation in the 16th century could provide a good explanation. It is  also interesting that in every generation there is one son who was given the name Abraham which is the name given to every convert to Judaism. 
It is amazing how long a family story can pass down.

Susan&David
 

While indexing the nine reels of LDS microfilms for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Boston Arrival Card Database I came across a number of unusual and interesting examples.  This is the only one for a stowaway among the 24,000 cards.

https://www.jewishgen.org/databases/USA/BostonHIAS.htm

David Rosen


On 6/21/2020 7:33 AM, Diane Jacobs wrote:
How was this record found?

Diane Jacobs 



Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: Susan&David <rosens@...>
Date: 6/20/20 9:23 PM (GMT-05:00)
Subject: Re: [JewishGen.org] Fairy Tales my Father Told Me #general

This is a record for a stowaway, arriving in Boston in 1915.  He was aided by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society in a Special Inquiry case, as Yale Zussman decribes.

HEBREW SHELTERING and IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY of AMERICA, RECORD of SPECIAL INQUIRY CASE
Jacob Batkowsky  age 26,  dated May 10, 1915.
SS: U.S. Colier Porthemous, arrived 10/5/15.  Nativity: Lodz, Russ-Poland.  Social State: G.
Occupation:  Carpenter   $16		Stowed away
Dest. to:  Cousin D. Glasser, 477 Thompkins Ave. Brooklyn, NY
We held of the hearing, pending word from relatives, communicated with New York Soc'y and
received affidavits and money order for $75.00.  We then got him a hearing and secured his
admission outright. We took him to our office where we furnished him with two meals, then
secured a ticket to New York, via Providence, bought him food for the night and placed him
on the train, wired his departure to the N.Y. Soc'y to await him.  We then returned the money
order uncashed to the N.Y. Soc'y for which we received acknowledgement.

David Rosen

On 6/20/2020 8:01 PM, YaleZuss via groups.jewishgen.org wrote:
Jeanette,
 
Stow-aways weren't barred from entry into the United States. Section 3 of the 
Immigration Act of 1917 establishes the conditions for their admission: they could be admitted as long as they didn't fall into any of the excludable categories.  Before 1917, their fate was determined by Boards of Inquiry established by the Immigration Act of 1903.
 
Can you attach a date to when Solomon Rofer arrived in the US?  If so, you may be able to make a direct judgment about the story.
 
Yale Zussman
 
 


--
Diane Jacobs, Somerset, New Jersey

Alyssa Freeman
 

My grandmother and her family escaped Odessa around the same time yours did (1920) and walked across Europe. My mother told me that her mother told her HIAS helped them (BTW, my 2x great aunt who was from Tiraspol married either a SIlberstien or SIlverstein, depending on the records. This was probably around 1880. Her name was Chaya and his name was Melech).
 
Alyssa Freeman
Henrico, VA
FAVILYUKIS (the Odessa family); DIKERMAN, BOTNIK - Tiraspol/Bessarabia; KAPLINSKY, KAHAN - Belarus
KALLNER, FURMAN/FRIEMAN, LEVANISKY, GORDON, KOHN - Lithuania/Latvia; SUSSMAN - Galicia

Susan&David
 

Few Board of Special Inquiry hearing records survived.  There are 18 rolls of microfilm for Philadelphia, 1893- 1909.  You can look through this collection and get an idea of what hearings consisted of.
https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/2892/

HIAS is still in operation: https://ajhs.org/ask-reference-question

I am not familiar with HIAS activities outside of the USA. I do know that HIAS could be notified when a client was to arrive and an agent would know to be there to greet him/her.   There is an interesting  record here:    (Go to image 1260 of 3127) 
FamilySearch Catalog: Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society card file I-96, 1882-1929 — FamilySearch.org
You will see that HIAS has an agent in Minsk, so it was likely that your family story is true.

David Rosen


On 6/21/2020 8:05 AM, beckyanderson53@... wrote:
On Sat, Jun 20, 2020 at 09:57 PM, Susan&David wrote:
RE:  HIAS?HEBREW SHELTERING and IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY of AMERICA, RECORD of SPECIAL INQUIRY CASE
My maternal grandfather had a three hearings prior to being admitted to the U.S.  I have tried to find records of the hearings, which are documented in the Ellis Island records, without success.  I am interested in how one finds the HIAS records.

Also, a previous reply stated that HIAS did not help people until they arrived in the U.S.   My paternal grandfather who left Odessa and was in in Constantinople for over 6 months in 1923, specifically states in the autobiography he handwrote in in 1960s that HIAS helped my family while they were in Constantinople.  Any thoughts on this? 

Thank you.
Rebecca Fogel Anderson
KIMLAT, MITNIK, FOGEL, TALNOPER, KRAHKMALNIKOV: Odessa, Russia
FINKELSTEIN,SILBERSTEIN: Serock, Poland
JAWETZ, VOGEL, GREENBAUM: Bukovina