Celia’s Uncle Max and Family

If you remember from last week (trying to sound like a TV show here), Celia was traveling to the United States to her Uncle Max in Brooklyn. But who was this Uncle Max?

A few years ago, the gardener and I tried to find Uncle Max through Ancestry, but we couldn’t find him, based on the information available at the time. All we had to go by was a copier copy of a photograph that cousin Charlotte had given us. The handwriting is Charlotte’s. We tried to match up the children in the photo with families on the U.S. census reports. Notice that Celia Goodstein is in the back row, second from the left.

This is what it says:

Taken in N.Y. Eileen’s mother [arrow pointing to Celia] her cousins [arrows pointing to the other girls in the back row]

This family were relatives on her side, not my mother’s.

Since Charlotte’s mother was Malka Scheshko (Molly Riskin), and since she was not related to this family, we had to assume that the family was from the Goodstein side of the family. What we didn’t know was what their surname was. This made it very difficult to search.

As luck would have it, Uncle Max was a Goodstein. The surname was Gutstein (Gudstein, Gutshteyn) before it was Goodstein. The man in the photo is Max Goodstein, the brother of Celia’s father. I love how she’s standing just behind his shoulder.

While Max’s immigration records have not yet been located, his wife, Neche Gutstein, and children Reisel, Iankel, Ettel, and Itzchok were on the passenger list from Liverpool to NYC: 11 July 1907. They traveled 3rd class.


On the manifest for SS Celtic, which sailed that day, the listing is:


Nuche Gutstein and children: Reisel, Iankel, Ettel, Itzchock (Neche?), and Golda

Notice that Golda, an infant, was not listed on the first document. What does that mean? It seems likely that Golda was born on the trip from Liverpool to NYC. Can you even imagine what Neche went through? And baby Golda, too. Makes me sad to think of how hard it was for them.

The name of the nearest relative in country whence alien came:

Mother? Gittel Gutstein K..skiy street Tiraspol, Russia

It looks as if it is possible that Max’s wife’s closest relative in Russia was Max’s mother Gittel Gutstein, located in Tiraspol! If this is the case, Celia’s grandmother’s name was Gittel Gutstein, and that would be the gardener’s 2x great-grandmother.

On this second page, it shows that Neche and children are joining her husband Max Gutstein at 349 Stone Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.

The next document is Max Goodstein’s Declaration of Intention to become a naturalized citizen from 1910.

This document gives some interesting information. For one thing, it gives his birthday as 6 March 1874, and states that he was born in Odessa, Russia! Again, Odessa! That means that both the Goodsteins AND the Scheshkos lived in both Odessa and Tiraspol. That seems like such a coincidence to me. Were there events that occurred that caused them to move from one place to other or back and forth? Maybe we will never know. If we can eventually map out a timeline, maybe it would be easier to research events.

Max was a tailor. He was also 5’6, so not a tall man. His 1910 Brooklyn address is listed. And, as of the filing of this document, Max was still a subject of Nicholas II, Emperor of All the Russias.That kind of makes me shudder.

On the 1910 census (so around the same time as the above document), Max Goodstein is listed at the 617 Sackman Street address of the declaration. His wife’s name is now listed as Anna, so Neche changed her name to Anna. The children are now Rose, Jacob, Ethel, Harry, Gertruda. They have all taken American names.

Look at the top of page 2 of the 1910 census. Nineteen-year-old Jennie Goodstein is listed as a daughter of Max and Anna! Celia must have tried out the name Jennie at the very beginning–or else her name was recorded in error.

So we have Celia now in the household of her Uncle Max and Aunt Anna. I wonder how comfortable she felt with them. She must have known them quite well from Tiraspol, so it wouldn’t have been as if she went to someone she barely knew–or didn’t know at all.

How did she get along with her cousins? Did they become like siblings to her? Or did they grow away from each other? Without a diary to read, some of these questions can never be answered. But I am always searching for clues.

To be continued again 🙂

38 thoughts on “Celia’s Uncle Max and Family

  1. I am so delighted you could locate the passenger record for Neche Gutstein, what a wealth of information from this. I can’t even begin to imagine giving birth on board these ships, unimaginable. According to family law my great grandmother gave birth aboard ship (no doc’s to confirm at this time) as well. These woman did what they had to, boarded ships within days of giving birth…I’m thinking maybe not so uncommon, which brings up so many questions, what was the mortality rate? how were births like these documented? Have you found any clues with Golda’s records as to where her birth was listed? Really interesting post that got me thinking Luanne. Happy you started working on this family. Loved it!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love those passenger manifests from the early 20th century—they have so much information squeezed into such a small space. And it’s always a bit sad to see how the families dropped their Yiddish names and adopted American ones, though obviously understandable. My family did the same—my GGM went from Pessl to Bessie, my great-uncle from Chaim to Hyman to Herman, my great-aunt from Tema to Tillie, and so on. Great finds here, Luanne! And what a great photograph—I love how Celia’s hand is resting on Max’s shoulder. I’d like to think it was not just a pose asked for by the photographer, but a sign of affection.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thinking of Chaim to Hyman to Herman, and having known people with all three names, it makes me wonder what made someone decide “this is it, this the right name for me.” Or was it: “is this one American enough or should I take it step further?”
      I did kind of a double take with your comment about the hand on Max’s shoulder. I thought it was Jacob’s name. Don’t you think Jacob’s two hands are what we’re seeing? or not?
      You are so right about the passenger manifests. What packages of info!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep, you’re right—it is Jacob’s hand. Just another example of our eyes seeing what we want to see. Sorry about that!

        I am sure my great-uncle (who was always called Hymie by the family) thought Herman was more American. He seemed to adopt that name as an adult when he went into business. He’d been Hyman as a young boy and teenager after immigrating, Chaim back in Poland (on the manifest at least).

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      • I can see where Hymie could be a nickname for Chaim, and then Hyman come from that. Just went and looked it up: Hyman is considered a related name to Chaim. I never would have made that connection to Herman, but now I can see it.

        Liked by 1 person

      • There didn’t have to be any real connection. People adopted names that had absolutely no connection to their original Hebrew name, or maybe at most the first initial.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not a fan of boats at the best of times, and the idea of giving birth aboard one — particularly in the sort of conditions 3rd class would have offered, is truly mind-boggling. And like you, makes e appreciate the resilience of our ancestors. The Big T is descended from mainly British migrants to New Zealand, most of whom sailed here in the 1860s and 1870s. The voyage could take up to three months, depending on the weather. Boat arrivals were reported in the newspapers, and there is usually a line or two about the births and deaths on board — so often the same names. 😦

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    • Three months! Think of that!!! After awhile you would wonder if you were ever going to get there alive! The same names as in the babies were born and then they died on board? Oh, that is horrific! What people went through!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes; the mortality rate for babies born on the ships was high 😦
        It all makes me realise that conditions in the home countries must have been bad for people to contemplate such voyages — or they really had no idea what they entailed. T’s ancestors then arrived in NZ to find very little infrastructure and had to build their own houses.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can’t even imagine what they went through, even upon arriving! Three months on board ship, too. No wonder so many babies died. I imagine the mortality of the women was too high as well (thinking of those giving birth).

        Liked by 1 person

  4. How interesting, Luanne! It reminds me of stories about the Puritans and Pilgrims sailing to America and their challenges with infants and children on the ships. My own Finnish relatives also took Americanized names, and I have always wondered what made them select them, since they did not really resemble their Finn names in any way. Great photo!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed! My grandfather’s name was “Wahamaa” (don’t know the exact spelling), but he took the name “Peterson.” One of my aunt’s speculated that he had known someone named Peterson, but we are not sure why he chose that one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wow, Wahamaa is such a unique name by American standards! And Peterson. I am so ignorant of Finland I would have assumed it was a “Scandinavian” name. Do you ever wish he had kept his original name?


      • Yes, I do. Interestingly enough, in Finland for many years, individuals took as their last names the name of the farm or property on which they lived. You can imagine how difficult it became to trace one’s ancestry! I think my grandfather changed his Finnish name at least twice before he had that one.


  5. When I got to this section, “That means that both the Goodsteins AND the Scheshkos lived in both Odessa and Tiraspol. That seems like such a coincidence to me. Were there events that occurred that caused them to move from one place to other or back and forth?” I was nodding a lot because I am wondering the exact same thing. Hopefully, your timeline will help you identify something to help explain this. Great work, as always, Luanne.

    Liked by 1 person

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