Celia’s Story

Let’s move over to the gardener’s grandmother, the wife of Isidore Scheshko. Her name was Celia Goodstein Scheshko. What is her story?

The first document shows her leaving Hamburg for Liverpool. Her name is listed as Civie Gutstein. Of course, that would be an alternative spelling of Goodstein. Goodstein, if anything, looks to be an Americanized spelling. Where does Civie come from? We know from her headstone that her Hebrew name was Tziviah Sheindel (Tzivia Shaindel), so Civie makes perfect sense as a nickname–either how it was pronounced or how the agent heard her say it.

Notice on the above document where Civie was from. Tiraspol! Can you believe it?! All this time, the gardener had thought she was from Odessa and Isidore was from Tiraspol. But it appears that he was from both places and Celia had to be from Tiraspol. The gardener’s grandparents came from the same place? Nothing had ever been said about that–at least in the gardener’s hearing. (Relatives: if you have heard different about this or anything else, please let us know!)

The Ellis Island manifest gives a little more information about Celia.

The SS Caronia sailed from Liverpool on 13 November 1909 and arrived on 20 November 1909 at Ellis Island.

On page 1, it says: Gutstein, Civie 17 yo, dressmaker?,Hebrew from Tiraspol. The name of the nearest relative in the country whence alien came: Borukh Gutestein, Tiraspol, Russia. Final destination: Brooklyn, NY

On page 2, it says: Joining uncle, Max Gutstein in Brooklyn, NY 617 Sackman street.

Celia was detained until the next day after arrival because she was a woman, and the United States government required assurance that she would be provided for. She was being held to hand over, in effect, to her uncle Max who lived in Brooklyn.

These documents show that Celia’s path was from Tiraspol (in what was the Russian Empire and is now Moldova) to Hamburg and then traveling by ship to Liverpool and then to New York City where she was met by her Uncle Max.

If Celia was 17 years old when she immigrated in 1909, she would have been born in 1892. According to her headstone, she was born around 1893. And according to her social security application, she was born 15 Dec 1892. I would say it looks plausible that she really was born in 1892, and that she was 17 when she immigrated.

Another family story that is kind of scuttled by this info is that Celia was a young teen when she immigrated. She really was 17 years old, which is very young, but not a young teen. Of course, when I think of sending my 17-year old across the ocean to a new life and no way to communicate other than slow letters, it defies imagination.

To be continued . . . .

26 thoughts on “Celia’s Story

  1. My grandfather was sixteen when he came across the ocean alone. I do consider that very young for what they did—so courageous. But I think our whole notion of being a “teenager” is a very modern idea—back then, you were a child, and then you were an adult. Probably by sixteen or even much earlier, “kids” were not seen as kids. Our perspective is just so different. Now kids seem to prolong adolescence until they’re 30!

    Looking forward to learning more—any idea how they met? Did they have connections from back home?

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    • Teenager is definitely a modern idea. In fact, even the idea of childhood is a relatively modern conception. Earlier, there were babies (until 5 or 6 y.o.) and then they were mini adults. No special consideration or services for them being children!
      As far as the 30 goes (ugh), I do see even in my own lifetime that many of the opportunities that were available to the gardener and me when we were young are not there for young people today. One of those opps was being able to start and build a small business (very rare today). Another one is getting “in” at a big successful company and knowing you could stay there for your working lifetime. Now people move from job to job.
      About your second paragraph: working on that!

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  2. My grandparents were about the same age and emigrated the same time frame. I would be terrified to make that passage by myself at the age. Not sure I wouldn’t be terrified now. They were such brave people. My grandmother never saw her parents again after leaving them at around age 17. How hard is that? Your other commenter was right. People grew up faster back then. I am enjoying your stories on the ancestors. You inspire me to work on our tree. We have no pictures so there would only be documents if I can find them.

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    • Kate, do you know where your grandparents came from? It’s becoming increasingly easier to do the research because more and more records are showing up online, but there are still places difficult to research on your own (such as Tiraspol, Vasilishki, Odessa, etc.). That was so often the case that once they came to the U.S. they could never see their families again. I cannot even IMAGINE that. Because it’s almost as if they died. And to willingly go through that, well, you know that the push was stronger than the pull in many cases, meaning it was too dangerous to stay. That many DID stay shows that they couldn’t leave their families at all. And I’m sure everybody had different circumstances. For instance, if you were 17 and knew you should leave and immigrate to the U.S., but your mother was sick and needed your help, why then you couldn’t take the opportunity to leave when it presented itself.

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      • I’m not familiar with research in Austria. If it’s anything like Prussia, there are a lot of tiny towns that all have similar very difficult Germanic names :). Regions are easier to research. But, again, not sure about Austria.

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      • We don’t know the exact town. None of us ever saw it written so it’s remembering the sound from 50 years ago. My slight research showed the areas we think are it are very rural even today.

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      • Oh, how interesting! It’s good to know that you at least have the sound of the town’s name! Sometimes we don’t even have that, so it’s definitely a good start.

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  3. As always, interesting stuff, Luanne!
    My mother’s father came over alone, but his first wife’s family was here. I think. (My mom didn’t know he had had a first wife until she was grown.) He never saw his family in Russia again.

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  4. Waiting for the continuation….always exciting stuff. I can’t imagine traveling alone as a child, teen or adult. Family lore is my great grandmother actually gave birth to one son aboard ship sometime between 1899-1902 but I haven’t been able to find the passenger manifest or any supportive evidence yet. I loved the picture, her shoes were wonderful, so dainty and all those laces, my goodness.

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    • And did you notice they were two-toned? 🙂 I loved that and thought to myself that she must have been proud of those shoes.
      Wow, birth aboard ship–in steerage, too, I imagine. How horrible really. Did she have much family on board with her to help–I don’t mean kids under the age of six either haha. What a story, Sharon!

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  5. Considering the difficulty traveling, it’s no wonder these people never saw their families again. My Nana came to America from Australia with four kids – my dad was the oldest, and he was only about 12 – so first she had to ocean voyage, then traveling from Vancouver to Baltimore by herself. Transatlantic phone calls were beyond imagination, and even sending a letter was a long time coming and going.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Noel! It really is. I remember as a kid hearing about children running away to be in the Civil War and not really understand the ramifications of that! Can you even imagine?! Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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