More on Celia’s Uncle Max and Family

Two weeks ago when I wrote about Uncle Max and Aunt Anna (Neche), I didn’t have anything on Max’s own immigration. This week I’m sharing the info.

The manifest is dated 2 June 1906, and Max is on line 3. He is called Mordche Gudstein from Tiraspol. Age 32, a tailor, headed to a brother-in-law in Brooklyn. The BIL’s name is Max something-or-other. It really looks to me like Bharshus, but of course I’ve never heard of such a surname. And find no record of one online either. He lives at 529 Stone Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Stone Avenue is now Mother Gaston Boulevard. According to Google Maps, the old buildings in that area are long gone.


What brother-in-law could Max be going to? If it was someone from his side of the family, it seems that Celia’s family would have known about them. Instead, the story has been that her uncle’s family was the only one. So if it was Anna’s brother, his name would be Leibowitz. What seems left is that perhaps Anna had a sister in the United States.

I wondered where Max and Anna were buried. Then I thought about how Max and Anna were from Tiraspol and that their niece Celia and her husband Isidore were buried by the Tiraspol(er) Young Men’s Benevolent Association. What if they were buried by them also?

I decided to search the records at Montefiore since that is the cemetery where Celia and Isidore are buried. No such luck. Then I mentioned to Inna about my theory about the Tiraspol(er) Young Men’s Benevolent Association. A few minutes later she had the info. The reason I couldn’t find them is that in both cases Goodstein had been misspelled–but misspelled differently.

Anna’s name was spelled GOODSKIN. Good grief. That meant that her name was spelled that way on Findagrave as well.

And Max was listed under GOLDSTEIN. Again, spelled wrong on Findagrave, as well.

I’ve ordered photos of their headstones, but no luck yet. I got the names changed on Findagrave and will try to do so on the cemetery records as well.

By looking at the locations of the graves on paper, it seems that Max and Anna are buried quite close to Isidore and Celia.

Anna’s death was caused by Asthenia, which seems to mean weakness. The contributing cause was Carcinoma of the lung.

Notice that her parents, Aaron Leibowitz and Gertruda Yaglovsky (correct spelling here) came from “Russia.” Not too helpful.

Max died on 18 August 1934. I want to point out something about this date. My father-in-law, Murray Scheshko, was bar mitzvah that year (born 5 June 1921). I found a newspaper article with information dated 18 May 1934 about Murray’s confirmation. This is not to be confused with his bar mitzvah, but is related to Shavuot. It reminded me, though, that Max would have still been alive when Celia’s son was bar mitzvah. I’m sure this made him very happy for his sister.


Seventeen young men and women will be confirmed by Rabbi Isadore A. Aaron at the Congregation Mount Sinai, 305 State street, Brooklyn.

The group includes:

Bernard Bernstein, Mildred Dauber, Yetta Finkelstein, Irving Fogelman, Muriel Gans, Natalie Greenberg, Robert Harris, Ruth Katzman, Dorothy Liskin, Mildred Mehlman, Rebecca Pfefferkorn, Maxwell Philips, Helen Sadowsky, Murray Scheshko, Ruth Shapiro, Murray Steinberg and Elsie Strizhak


It appears that Max died of Carcinoma of the Head of the Pancreas. Contributing factor was cardiac failure.

Now look at the names of Max’s parents (therefore, they are Celia’s grandparents):

Aaron Gutstein and Goldi Suskin. From Poland! Now, I am not sure what Poland means. Does it mean Poland? or Belarus? Or somewhere else?

If you think that all these areas are “the same” in terms of Jewish culture, you might be wrong. I’ve heard that there is great variation in the food alone. The common denominator besides religion would be that they spoke Yiddish. In the case of many, including Celia and Isidore, they spoke many languages in addition to Yiddish.


Celia’s Best Friend

Previously on Entering the Pale (thanks, Merril!) Celia was living with Uncle Max and Aunt Anna Goodstein.

Before we move forward and look at Celia’s life in the United States in those early years, I want to mention Celia’s best friend.

She and Bertha Coleman met on board on their way to the United States. They were both young women in their late teens traveling alone, without benefit of family or friends. So it makes perfect sense that they would bond as they entered a new country and a new life for themselves.

According to the ship manifest, Bertha was a 19-year-old tailoress who hailed from Warsaw, Poland. She is on line 27 on pages 1 and 2.

This friendship seems important to me for many reasons. I imagine that it was much safer for two young women to travel together rather than to be completely alone. And I would think that they took a lot of comfort from each other. The manifest shows that Bertha was traveling to a friend, not to family, so I would think that Celia’s friendship meant a great deal to her. At least, Celia found a family for herself when she arrived. Celia, though, was 17, two years younger than Bertha, so it’s likely that Bertha being older was a help to Celia.

Do you think they remained friends after they got settled in the U.S.?

They not only stayed friends, but when Celia was elderly and in a nursing home in the Bronx, she lived with Bertha! Now that is a long friendship.

I tried to find records at Daughters of Jacob, but it has been changed to Triboro Center For Rehabilitation And Nursing and they claim to have no records of the “old days.” Celia passed away in 1982.

There are two possible buildings her room could have been in. One is the classic Daughters of Jacob building on Teller Avenue in the Bronx. It’s gorgeous, and the gardener remembers a rather grand entrance.

Here is a pic from Google Maps showing the overall layout of the unique building.

Or she could have been in the high rise that is next to it.

I wish our memories could be trusted to know for sure. But the gardener remembers red brick and not a building as tall as the tan one.

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 🙂

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 . . . .

Malka Becomes Molly

Isidore Scheshko’s sister Malka arrived in the United States before anyone else in her family. Or did she? According to the ship manifest, she was coming to her uncle, Berl Silberberg.

Malka was listed on 9 November 1907 on the ship S.S. Patricia out of Hamburg. See Berl’s name on page 2.

The gardener and his cousin have not heard of Berl Silverberg. Was he the husband of the sister of Malka and Isidore’s father, Shimen? Or was he Khaya’s sister’s husband? The family story has always been that Malka and Isidore were the only family members to immigrate to the United States. I can’t help but wonder if Berl really was an uncle or perhaps a friend or ex-neighbor. What was the likelihood of that happenstance?

There were Berl Silberbergs in the United States in those days, but the correct one has not tapped me on the shoulder yet.

Malka was listed as a seamstress, which is very likely, although nobody has a recollection of a story about that.

On the departure record, Malke listed her surname as Schiskin. I read a fascinating article about name changes, and how, contrary to mythic lore, surnames were not changed at Ellis Island. However, a surname might be changed by the individual on the ship manifest when they left Europe. The only record Ellis Island officials used to check someone’s identity was the ship manifest!!! And once someone was “on the ground” in the U.S., he could change his own name without any legal requirement for recording or permission!

So, the question is: did Malke change her surname purposefully? or was her name misheard by the person writing in the ship manifest?

Here is the Ancestry transcription of Malke’s manifest documents. The birth year here is 1887, rather than the actual 1885.

One oddity about the name Schiskin is that, while it is an easy error from Scheshko, it is also a portmanteau name for Scheshko + Riskin. And look who she married!

On 2 May 1915, Malka married Isaac Riskin. She is listed on this marriage record for the State of New York as 24 years old. That means that when she arrived she was only 16, whereas the manifest lists her as 20. But her birth record in Odessa shows her born in 1885, which would mean she was 22 when she immigrated and 30 when she married. On some of the census records, she shows her birth date as 1888 and 1889. None of those ages is out of the realm of possibility, and since we know the birth record I would say that the other documents are in error, either accidentally or purposefully.


In the right hand column above, second entry from the bottom, you will find Malka and Isaac’s marriage record. Isaac was 29, a merchant living in Portchester, New York. Malka was now going by the name Molly which she would use for the rest of her life. She has no occupation listed, which I find odd since she would have had to support herself. She was also living in Portchester. What brought her to Portchester?

Parents are listed for both parties. Israel Riskin and Carmina (no surname listed) for Isaac. Samuel Scheshko and Ida (no surname listed) for Molly/Malka. Samuel and Ida for Shimen/Shimel and Khaya. The witnesses were Harry Kasper and Meyer Johnick.

I so wish we had a photograph of the couple. Alas, we don’t have any of Molly/Malka and Isaac. But we do have photographs of their one child, Charlotte, who eventually married the love of her life, Danny Vendola. They lived in Stamford, Connecticut, until they passed away in 1995 (Danny) and 2007 (Charlotte). There were no children from their marriage.

Here is a photo from when Charlotte was on her own after Danny passed, and we visited her with our children, perhaps in 1995 or 96.


The Mysteries of Genealogy

Whenever you research genealogy and family history, there are mysteries. Sometimes solving mysteries means discovering new mysteries. But I think researching Jewish history means encountering more difficulties and, hence, mysteries than most other Western culture genealogy. The documents are difficult to locate–if they exist today at all. And there are obstacles all over the path toward success.

A mystery we have right now is where Celia Goodstein Scheshko was born and grew up before immigrating to the United States as a teen. The gardener was told by both his father and his father’s cousin Charlotte that she was from Odessa. There was no mention that she and Isidore might have come from the same city/town.

At first, Inna thought that Isidore probably was from Odessa and then his family moved to Tiraspol, moving back eventually to Odessa. This is based on addresses given on various documents. But finding Shimel Sheshko in Tiraspol during the famine in 1922 makes me think the family had stayed in or gone back to Tiraspol. The timeline is a mystery.

Still, if Celia was from Odessa, it would be clear that she and Isidore came from the same place. And if she were from Tiraspol, it would be the same situation.

There is a death record for Khaim, son of Borokh Gutstein, among Tiraspol cemetery records. Khaim was born in 1897, so if he were Celia’s brother it would make sense because she was born in or around 1892. According to Celia’s headstone, her father’s name was Baruch Goodstein.

The gardener took a DNA test with Ancestry, and I added it to FTDNA also. He has five matches for Goodsteins on Ancestry and four on FTDNA, but that doesn’t mean much of anything. The closest match is a match through his mother, not his father, so Goodstein is likely a coincidence. He has no Sheshko matches on either site.

Now here’s a DNA puzzle. I found a woman who has Sheshko lineage from Vasilishki. Later, Inna found the same woman. But there are no DNA matches between the gardener and this woman, a situation that is virtually impossible, given that Vasilishki was not more than a shtetl. Any Sheshkos would be related to each other.

It’s important to remember that with Jewish Ashkenazy DNA, there are many many matches, but they are very distant relations. Jews in the Pale of Settlement tended to marry within their own villages, even their own families, out of necessity. Inna explained that most of the gardener’s matches could only be found by tracing ancestry for both people back to the 1600s or earlier. This would be impossible. I know this sounds strange, but doesn’t that mean that it’s even more odd that he doesn’t have a DNA match with this woman? I am NOT good with the DNA science. It makes my head fuzz up inside.

I thought I’d leave you with images from Wikipedia of the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theatre building that was built in 1887, which is the same year that Isidore was born (also in Odessa). The gorgeous architecture shows you what a cosmopolitan city Odessa was.


The Places Behind the Faces, Part II: Tiraspol

Last week I wrote about Vasilishki where Isidore’s father Shimel was born. Today it is Tiraspol, which is in modern Moldova, because that is where Isidore claimed to be from. Yes, his birth record shows his birth and those of his siblings in Odessa, but the family apparently lived in both Tiraspol and Odessa. We don’t yet have the timeline or why all the children would be born in Odessa, but the family had strong ties to Tiraspol.

At first I was very confused because Odessa is in Ukraine and Tiraspol is in Moldova–two completely different countries. They are only 65 miles apart and when Isidore and his family lived in that region, it was all part of the Russian Empire.

When we discovered the Odessa birth index with the Scheshkos listed, I wondered if Tiraspol had been a mistake, but the cemetery where Isidore and Celia are buried recorded that they were buried by the TIRASPOL YOUNG MEN BENEVOLENT society.

Tiraspol can be spelled Tyraspol or Tirashpol, but should not be confused with Terespol, a town in Poland, near Belarus.

This painting was completed around 1900 by painter Mikhail Larionov. It’s called “A Small Jewish Shop in Tiraspol.”

You can find an old and a new photo of the city here.

Tiraspol is part of the International Jewish Cemetery Project. There are graves there that need protecting or, at least, recording. In 2004, over 70 headstones were vandalized, and the city would not clean up the anti-Semitic graffiti. Here are a couple of photos of the cemetery.

The city is the second largest in Moldova (population about 134,000-200,000, depending on the source). The two state languages in the territory of the Transnistria Republic are Russian and Moldavian, but in Tiraspol, the Moldavian language isn’t used much. You can often hear Ukrainian since a large portion of the population has Ukrainian ancestry, but Russian is the main language.

In the middle ages, Tiraspol was a “buffer zone” (Wikipedia) between the Tatars and the Moldavians, and both ethnic groups lived in the city. The modern city really began, though, with the Russians who conquered the area at the end of the 18th century.

I thought this tidbit from Wikipedia is interesting:

In 1828 the Russian government established a customs house in Tiraspol to try to suppress smuggling. The customs house was subordinated to the chief of the Odessa customs region.

From this and other information I’ve picked up over the past few weeks, I think Tiraspol was part of the greater Odessa area during the Russian Empire years. I do think it’s important to remember that Tiraspol is a city, not a village like Vasilishki.

According to JewishGen, the Jewish population in 1897 was 8,659 and in 1926 it was 6,398. The decline could be from emigration, but there is another story about Tiraspol that needs to be told.

Here is an excellent history from the International Jewish Cemetery Project:

Tiraspol [was] founded in 1795 .  .  . . On the eastern bank of the Dniester River, Tiraspol is one of the few cities largely unchanged from Soviet Union rule. (Two statues of Lenin still stand.) As result of the political and economic situation that followed the proclamation of the independent (not recognized) Republic of Transnistria, the population of the city in 2004 was 158,069. Tiraspol had a Jewish population since the 17th century. Tiraspol was founded by the Russian general Alexander Suvorov in 1792. In the mid-19th century, Jews from Russia, Dubossari, and Grigoriopol settled in Tiraspol. By 1897, the Jewish community was 27% of  8,668 residents. Nearly the entire Jewish community perished in Nazi concentration camps.

So there it is. What I hadn’t wanted to read. Most of the Jewish community died in the camps. Were the Scheshkos there at the time of WWII? I think it’s possible to come closer to knowing with the following information.

Our researcher Inna’s own family comes from Tiraspol, so she has collected some documents pertaining to the situation right after the Russian Revolution in 1917.

These documents relate to a terrible famine that plagued the area during the 1920s. The majority of people were hungry, but the Jewish population was worse off than the others.

American Jews with ties to Tiraspol tried to help those left behind. The Tiraspoler Landsmanschaft collected donations and sent money for food, such as cocoa, sugar, milk, flour, barley, and fish. But much of it was diverted elsewhere along the way. I read a ONE INCH THICK collection of documents about the dire situation.

Dr. Bacilieri wrote a report in German of his trip to check on the conditions in Tiraspol. He said the chldren were “the worst sufferers and in terrible condition.”

I saw a child about 8-10 years old searching in a dust heap looking for something to eat. I saw another child about 10-12 years old frying the skin of a dog for food. Many children do not return at night but sleep under a fence or on the streets so that they may be in a position to get something to eat.

The doctor says the entire population was filthy and covered with lice. People were sick (often from typhus) and dying, yet their relatives could not afford burials for them.

The Jewish residents of Tiraspol organized a system of men to receive the goods and distribute them. This is how I know that the Scheshkos lived in Tiraspol at this time.

On a Tiraspoler Landsmanschaft memo, Shimen (Shimel) Scheshko is listed as an alternate to the list of men receiving the goods. He and his family were in need.

So the Russian Revolution had not brought about a relief to old sufferings for the inhabitants of Tiraspol. Instead, they had new suffering and many died during this period.

So that decline in population by 1926 could be from emigration, but it could be from starvation and disease.

I was very upset after reading this thick stack of papers documenting the plight of the residents of Tiraspol during this period. And now to discover through the IJCP history that none of the Tiraspol Jews survived the Holocaust, it’s mind-boggling to me. One trauma after another after another.

Here is a little more info from the IJCP about what happened a generation and beyond after the war:

By the 1960s, nearly 1,500 Jews lived in Tiraspol. Police arrested several skinheads suspected of pipe bombing a Tiraspol synagogue in April and June 2002 on 14-15 April 2001. The building was damaged, but the guard was not hurt. 4 May 2004, vandals threw a Molotov cocktail in an attempt to set fire to a Synagogue in Tiraspol. The attack failed when passers-by extinguished the fire. Since 2001, the Welfare Cultural Center combines welfare and cultural programs for the Jewish community. Current Jewish population: 2,300 people in Tiraspol and 130 people in nine surrounding localities. [March 2009] REFERENCE: Jewish Tombstones in Ukraine and Moldova, 551, bibl. 1153, 7/14/1993, GOBERMAN D., title: Image Publishing House, 1993, English/Russian.Source: Daniel Dratwa;. Jewish Museum of Belgium


I hope that through the IJCP we will eventually find that there are Scheshko headstones in the Tiraspol cemetery. Very few Jewish records exist for Tiraspol, so we were lucky that the Scheshko children and the marriage was recorded in Odessa instead.

There is a site online that I have to mention:

This is a place where all current and former Tiraspol residents interested in their Jewish roots can meet and exchange information about their families.

Click here to go to the site for photos, notable residents, and other information.