Yiddish as a First Language

Rather than doling out information in little bits and pieces without a real pattern, I am putting this blog into a holding pattern for now. When I come back, I’ll have some good information and lots of posts!

I’ll leave you with a photo of Murray with his first child, his son, the gardener (my husband).

One generation before this photo, when Murray himself was a young child, he spoke the language of his household, Yiddish. When he started school in New York at age five, he did not speak English. The method in those days was complete immersion with no outside help. Let me tell you, he learned English really fast.

By the time I met him when the gardener and I were in high school in Michigan, he spoke (to my Midwestern ear) English with a strong New York accent.

P.S. Yes, I know the photo has the wrong watermark, but at least it’s one of my watermarks!

Goodstein Cousins

In order to learn more about Uncle Max and his children, Inna and I tried to track down family. She had more luck than I did. We ended up with two branches, stemming from two of Max and Anna’s children.

The first branch is represented by finding Stanley Cohen,who is the son of Rose and Isidore Cohen. Stanley is the oldest generation we have found so far. What is remarkable is that although the families did not remain close as time moved on, Stanley remembers the exact Hebrew name of Celia and Isidore Scheshko’s daughter, Eileen, Stanley’s 2nd cousin (right? the children of 2 first cousins?).

I want to take us back to the image of Celia with her uncle, aunt, and cousins in Brooklyn. She was recently arrived from Russia, and she was living with Uncle Max and Aunt Anna. Rose, Stanley’s mother, is the tall girl standing next to Celia.The second branch brought us to the gardener’s and my generation. We discovered this branch in California. See the boy in the back row, on our left? That is Jacob Goodstein, also called Jack. Jack was born around 1897-1899 in Russia (most likely Tiraspol). Jack’s grandson believes it was 1898, and his granddaughter thinks he was born 21 March 1898. That is the date I am going to go with for my tree, although since he was born in the Russian Empire, it is impossible to know for sure unless his birth record was discovered. Rose was older than Jack and Ethel, a bit younger, was born in 1900.

On 23 October 1922, in Kings County, New York, Jack married Etta Rose Bieler (1903-1971). Her birthday was January 22. (Note: the family remembers the anniversary of Jack and Etta as October 28, but the record I’ve found clearly states October 23. The only way to know for sure is to order the certificate record).

Their son Edwin was born on 25 September 1924, and their daughter, Gilda Ruth, was born 22 March 1926 in Brooklyn.

By the 1940 census both Jack’s parents were gone and he was still living in New York, but by 1954, he was in Los Angeles, specifically Burbank.

In the 1930 census his occupation was a “manager” in a garage. In 1940 he was listed on the census as an “agent” in the laundry business.

Jack’s grandson explained that Gilda’s family moved from Brooklyn in 1948. In the early 50s, Jack and his wife Etta moved to the area to be near his family, as did their son Edwin Bieler (he went by his mother’s maiden name, perhaps starting when he joined the navy). Edwin started a trucking business. In the 1954 Los Angeles city directory Jack was an “expeditor” for Lockheed in Burbank. An expeditor facilitates any kind of process.

Edwin gave Jack 4 grandchildren–3 girls and then adopted a boy.

Gilda gave Jack 3 grandchildren–2 boys and a girl.

Here is a portrait of the family of Jack and Etta with their children and their first four grandchildren, taken March 1961, on the occasion of their grandson David’s bar mitzvah. Daughter Gilda is second from our left and Ed is on the far right. Jack and Etta are on either side of David.

 

Etta passed away in 1971.

Jack passed away at age 78 in 1976.

They are both buried at Sholom Memorial Park in Los Angeles.

Jack’s grandchildren seem like lovely people. I can’t help but wonder if Gilda was named for Anna’s mother or Max’s mother–it could be either one of them.

Meeting the cousins has not produced any remarkable information about Max or Celia or their immigrations or life in the Russian Empire. But it is really nice to see that the descendants have fared well in the United States.

Findagrave for Dummies

In the world of family history, there are a nearly unlimited amount of toys to play with–from family tree creators to DNA painters to “search engines” to aid in research. Of course, the problem is finding the time to adequately learn and use each toy.

One of my favorite toys is Findagrave, but I have barely used it (time constraints, you know). Since I don’t know much about it, I had to title this post Findagrave for Dummies because if you are ignorant of the site as I am, the little I’ve recently learned might be useful. If you know more about Findagrave, please chime in with a comment!

Every dead person is entitled to a memorial page on Findagrave. Even if somebody has no actual grave, there is a solution. This is what their FAQs page says about cremation.

 What if someone was cremated or does not have a traditional ‘grave’?

Find A Grave supports common alternative dispositions to traditional burial. This includes cremation, burial at sea, and donated to medical science. In these cases, select the ‘Not buried in a cemetery’ option on the ‘Add a Memorial’ page. If there is an existing cenotaph within a cemetery for someone who had a alternative disposition, do NOT add another memorial under the alternative disposition.

What’s more, not only is every dead person entitled to a memorial page, but so is every pet buried in a pet cemetery (I kid you not).

A memorial page can be created with very little information. It might only be the knowledge that there is a grave in a specific location with the name of the deceased. But as soon as possible, it’s nice to include the birth and death dates, all correct name information, as well as a photo or two of the individual and a photo of the headstone. You can also add a transcription of the headstone, a short bio, and links to family member’s Findagrave memorials.

The first service I began using almost from the beginning was that of requesting photos of headstones. When a memorial had been started, but the headstone photo was not loaded, I would request a volunteer to take a picture. This is invaluable if you are looking for specific dates, for instance, that might be engraved on the stone.

For a few years I’ve added info to memorials in a hit or miss fashion. I had to submit additions and corrections to what I thought was an unseen administrator for approval. It took time to hear back.

I’ve also sponsored memorials for many family members, even ones that weren’t particularly close relations. This is a one time $5 fee that removes all ads from a memorial. I couldn’t bear seeing ads cluttering up memorials of the deceased.

But it was only this weekend, through spending a bit of time with the updated Findagrave website, that I discovered that although I had sponsored a lot of memorials, I only managed six. What did manage mean?

The answer wasn’t readily available, but what I figured out is that the person who adds the person is an automatic manager of that memorial. It can be a complete stranger who, as a volunteer, adds in some cases many graves to the site. This is understandable. It’s what made it easy for me to find people on the site to begin with.

But that is why I had to get permission when I was asking to edit dates and names and other information. I was asking permission of  the manager–most often, a complete stranger with no knowledge of the family. When I first gave birth info on Isidore, the manager accepted it. When I edited it with corrected information once his birth record was found, the manager wanted documentation of the correction. Hmm.

So then I read up on taking over management of family memorials so that I could make sure to put up correct information and that I wouldn’t need to get permission from someone who, hypothetically, might not give it to me.

This weekend, I put in a request to take over management of a whole lot of memorials.

In the meantime, here are the links to the memorial pages of Celia, Isidore, their son Murray, and daughter-in-law Diana.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/148995707/celia-scheshko

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/148995160/isidore-scheshko

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60566469/murray-harry-castle

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/60566468/diana-dale-castle

Isidore in the Czar’s Army

Recently, I was able to find Isidore Scheshko’s WWI draft registration. This, of course, complements the photo of Isidore in his U.S. Army uniform that was recently colorized.

The family story from the gardener’s father was that Isidore served in the “Czar’s army” before immigrating to the United States–and that he then signed up four years after arriving in the U.S. to fight on behalf of his new country in WWI.

This document does confirm that story.

If you notice, it says that he was a private in the Marine corps in Russia for 3 1/2 years.

Now, I will say that it’s unlikely that he, being Jewish, was in the actual Marines in Russia.While the Russians were very thorough about making sure young Jewish men were forced to serve, they generally would be in the army and serve under very awful conditions.

I found this information from The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe:

Between 1874 and 1914, there were more Jews in the Russian army than non-Jews in proportion to the general population. For example, in 1907, Jewish soldiers constituted almost 5 percent of the entire military but only 4 percent of the population of the empire.

Isidore was born in 1887, although January 26, not December 28 as listed here, making him almost a year older than he may have thought. I say that because it’s likely that he didn’t actually know the date of his birth. So let’s say he was conscripted at age 16 (the age at which Jews were conscripted ranged from age 12!!! to 25 and the term could last for 25 years or more! To give you a sense of the whole picture, non-Jews could not be conscripted until age 18!) and served for 3.5 years. He would have been done by age 20. If he was conscripted at 18 he would have been 22 when he was discharged. (I use discharged loosely because we have no way of knowing how he left the Russian army).

During the period that Isidore would have served, the far right in Russia was arguing that Jews should be banished from the military; however, it did not happen. I suspect it could have made things even more difficult for Isidore, though, because it could have fueled anti-Semitism toward Jewish soldiers.

If you have information to share on this subject of Jewish soldiers in the army of the Russian Empire, I would love to know more.

 

Why Port Chester?

Celia (Goodstein) Scheshko gave birth to the first of her two children, Murray (the gardener’s father), on 5 June 1921 in Port Chester, Westchester, New York.

If the family lived in Brooklyn, why was he born in Port Chester?

I wish the gardener knew the answer to this mystery.

Celia’s sister-in-law Malka (Molly) and her husband lived in Port Chester, but did Isidore and Celia briefly live there? It would have been about this time that Isidore was working as a house painter (according to the census)

Let’s look at the documentation. On the 1920 census, it seems that Isidore and Celia still lived in Brooklyn, as boarders with the Steinharts.

Then Murray was born in 1921.

On the 1925 NY census the three of them lived at 739 Essex Street in Brooklyn with their own boarders, cousin Rose Goodstein Cohen, her husband, and their child.

I have yet to find the family on the 1930 census. By the 1940 census they were living in the Bronx.

So what did Malka’s husband, Isidor Riskin, do for a living? First I have to say that some of the documents for Isidor are listed under the name Waldimer Riskin. We have no idea why this name is connected with him. The name Vladimir was not a name traditionally given to Jewish sons. Isidor Riskin’s documents say he was born in Moscow, which of course was not in the Pale of Settlement. Maybe that explains the name. So was he Isidor or Waldimer? Isidore was his Yiddish name. Perhaps Waldimer was his Russian name.

In the 1910 census Malka’s husband is listed as a Black Smith in the Horseshoes industry. They lived at 65 Travers Avenue, Port Chester.

In the 1920 census he (called Isiaac here) was a Packer in the Nuts and Bolts industry. They lived at 58 Townsend Street, Port Chester. Their only child, Charlotte, was born in 1919, the year before. This is only a year before Murray was born.

In the 1930 census they lived at 43 Townsend Street, close to where they lived during the previous census time. But now Isidor was a Wrapper in the Hardware industry.

I can’t find them on the 1940 census. But, on his WWII draft registration, I discovered that Isidor Riskin worked for Ruby Golding at 141 Wilkins Avenue, Port Chester.

Amy Cohen so kindly found an obituary for Ruby Golding’s sister Rose here.

What kind of business did Ruby run and what did Isidor do for him?

Another kind Facebook group member provided this information and told me that Ruby Golding’s business was Awnings and Shades:

Ruby Golding n Port Chester in the city directories, and in the 1940 Census that owned an awning and shade business. (below)

FamilySearch Indexing

Ruby Golding
United States Census, 1940
Name: Ruby Golding
Event Type: Census
Event Date: 1940
Event Place: Port Chester, Rye Town, Westchester, New York, United States
Sex: Male
Age: 31
Marital Status: Single
Race (Original): White
Race: White
Relationship to Head of Household (Original): Son
Relationship to Head of Household: Son
Birthplace: New York
Birth Year (Estimated): 1909
Last Place of Residence: Same Place
Household Role Sex Age Birthplace
Yetta Golding Head Female 58 Russia
Ruby Golding Son Male 31 New York

I searched stevemorse.org by address for the Riskins on the 1940 census, but 43 Townsend, the address listed for them on the 1930 census AND his WWII draft registration, is not listed as an address on the census. And I couldn’t find the family anywhere on Townsend Street.

This is not the first time that I have searched for a specific address only to see the address not listed on the census. These are apartment buildings, so there are many families at the same addresses. I think this makes it even stranger because it’s not as if a one-family house was missed.

I even tried searching on the 1940 census for a “Charlotte” in Port Chester, and there is no trace of Charlotte in Port Chester. She would have been 21. I don’t yet have Charlotte’s marriage record, so I don’t know what year she and Danny Vendola married.

Back to the original mystery: why was Murray born in Port Chester? Could they have been visiting the relatives when it was time to give birth? Could they have chosen Port Chester for Murray’s birth for medical or familial reasons? Any ideas on how to find out more information?