Finding Names for the Photograph

In a very short period of time, Inna was able to get her hands on documents that would have taken me months to obtain.

First let me introduce you to Isidore’s Eastern European family.

When this photograph was given to us years ago by Charlotte, the daughter of Isidore’s sister Malka (Malka had only one child and no grandchildren), all we knew was that Malka is not in the photograph because when it was taken she was already in the United States–and that Isidore is the one in the center in back. We, of course, assumed that the older couple were his parents.

Now, remember last week the birth list from Odessa? 

We saw Isidore (Itskhok-Meer) and Malka both on the list. We also saw a Scheshko whose name began with T, a Sura, a Mendel, and a Feyga Sosya. Sura and Mendel are listed as twins, and this seems to fit with the young man on our left and the seated young lady on our right. The T could be the standing woman.

So what did Inna find?

1885 Births, Odessa Rabbinate

Record #1420

Date: December 31, Hebrew date Shvat 6

Daughter: Malka

Father: Lida meschanin[1] Shimel son of Mendel SHESHKO

Mother: Khaya Brana


1887 Registry book of births, Odessa

Record #147

Date: January 26, 1887 Hebrew date: Shvat 13

Son: Itskhok-Meer

Father: Vasilishskiy Meschanin, Shimel son of Mendel SHESHKO

Mother: Khaya


Book of Odessa Jews born in 1889

Record # 631

Date: May 14, 1889 (Hebrew calendar:  Iyar 25)

Daughter: Tema was born on May 13

Father: Vasilishskiy Meschanin, Shimen son of Mendel SHESHKO

Mother: Khaya


Metrical records book for Jews born in Odessa in 1891

Man Record #: 1379

Woman Record #: 1269


Son – Mendel was born on September 3d, registered on September 5th, Circumcision was done on September 10th

Daughter – Sura was born on September 3d, registered on September 5th,

Father: Vasilisheskiy meschanin* Shimel, son of Mendel SHESHKO

Mother: Khaya

Metrical book for Jews born in Odessa in 1896

Record # 1741

Date: December 2, 1896 (Hebrew calendar:  Tevet 9)

Daughter: Feyga-Sosya

Father: Vasilishskiy Meschanin, Shimel son of Mendel SHESHKO

Mother: Khaya

* Meschane in Russian Empire represented poor town residents who did not qualify as merchants or civil servants.


Standing: Mendel, Isidore, Tema

Seated: Khaya (listed as Ida on Malka’s marriage license), Shimel (listed as Samuel on Malka’s marriage license), Sura, and an unidentified boy

Is it just me or does the boy look photoshopped in?

Regarding Feyga Sosya, why is she not in the family photo? She was younger than the twins, so she would certainly be in the family photo if she was still alive and not away with other family. Maybe we will discover one day what happened to Feyga Sosya.

In the Odessa archives, Inna was able to find the marriage record of Shimel and Khaya.

Book of marriage records of Odessa Jews, 1884

Record #147

Groom: Vasilkovski meschanin Shimel SHESHKA, bachelor, 23 y. o.

Bride: daughter of Kupilskiy[1] meschanin Itsek Meer PECHNIK, Khaya, maiden, 24 y. o.

Marriage took place on February 20, 1884

[1] Kupil – Jewish settlement in Khmelnitsk province of Western Ukraine

So Khaya did come from Ukraine, and her maiden name was Pechnik, which is a wonderful addition to our accumulation of information and clues for further research.

Since the story was that Isidore didn’t know his birthday, it’s wonderful to see that there really was a record of his birth and those of his siblings. January 26 will always be the gardener’s grandfather’s birthday to me from now on.

37 thoughts on “Finding Names for the Photograph

  1. Wow, Luanne, just wow! First, it’s amazing that you have that photograph. But it’s even more amazing that Inna was able to find all those records!! I am just blown away (and a bit envious!). It gives me hope that someday when I start researching my arbitrator’s family from Ukraine, there will in fact be records to be found.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree–this photo is not only a window into their world, but it actually helped to have it when we first found the list of Odessa births. That is how we could see that the names pretty much lined up with the people in the photo. The only thing off was that the youngest daughter is not in the photo, but a young boy is!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow! First of all that you have that photo, and second that you now have so much more information. I’m pretty sure the boy on the end is actually in the shot. I have some family photos where “absent” people were edited in from other photos and you can always tell. Usually they are just heads in the back of the shot because of the impossibility of finding another photo that fits. The size is always a bit wrong and the lighting never quite works. I’m wondering if the boy is wearing a school uniform? The body language of all the family is interesting, especially the young woman in the front hugging her body.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know–that photo is so cool to begin with, but now with the information about the people to go with the photo, it’s so wonderful as it makes them more “real” to us and gives me motivation to continue. I agree about a school uniform, especially given that Russian looking nature of it. I don’t know if there were boys’ organizations like the Boy Scouts, but I would think that it’s most likely that a Jewish boy wearing a Russian style uniform would be attending a school. Thanks for that tip to spend more time on Sura (I believe that is Sura) hugging herself. Was she cold? Was she extremely shy? Was it emotional?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The Places Behind the Faces, Part I: Vasilishki | Entering the Pale

  4. I love this, Luanne! The photo is beautiful and how wonderful to be able to add names. I had to chuckle about your photoshop comment. There is a crispness around his head that is slightly darker – similar to the look you get when you photoshop someone in. But there is that same crispness and slight darkening around the head of the standing woman too. I wonder who the boy is…? I’m glad Inna was such a help to you. The records are fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

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