The Ellis Island Legend

When I was young I was caught up in the Ellis Island legend, probably because of the books I read and the movies I saw.* I thought all immigrants came to the United States through Ellis Island until it closed in 1954. When I got a little older, I realized that people–a large portion of Chinese immigrants–also came through San Francisco.

At some point, the gardener and I found out that Ellis Island records were online through The Statue of Liberty – Ellis Island Foundation, and we tried to find his paternal grandparents, Isidore and Celia. Alas, we could not find them.

Now I know that there are several places immigrants arrived when they came to this country, and that Ellis Island didn’t open until 1892. Still, what did that mean for the gardener’s relatives?

 

Let’s start with Celia Goodstein. Although we weren’t able to find her on the Ellis Island records years ago, now that I know she came into this country with the surname Gutstein, it was very helpful. Also, that her name was listed as “Civie.” I can find her now as Cisvie Gutstein, arrival date 20 November 1909 on the ship, the Caronia. An image of the ship is available, but I am expected to purchase the image if I want it.

A little trip over to Wikipedia solves that.

Here are the stats:

Name: RMS Caronia
Namesake: Caro Brown
Owner: Cunard Line
Builder: John Brown & CompanyClydebankScotland
Yard number: 362
Launched: 13 July 1904
Maiden voyage: 25 February 1905
Homeport: Liverpool
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 1932
General characteristics
Tonnage: 19,524 GRT
Length: 678 ft (207 m) p/p
Beam: 72 ft (22 m)
Propulsion: Steam quadruple-expansion engines, twin propellers
Speed: 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)
Capacity:
  • 1,550 passengers
  • (300 first class, 350 second class, 900 third class)

Then I read something very cool. About 2.5 years after Celia arrived on board the Caronia, the Caronia was the first ocean liner (wow, I didn’t realize a steamship was also an ocean liner) to send the Titanic a warning about the ice ahead. I imagine that the ship has been depicted in some way in one or more movies about the Titanic.

So, Celia did arrive through the portals of Ellis Island. She is part of the Ellis Island legend.

Max Goodstein, Celia’s uncle, arrived 10 June 1906 on the Umbria. He can be found on the Ellis Island Records under the name Mordche Gudstein.

Max’s wife Neche/Anna and the children came in through Ellis Island on 20 July 1907 (a few months before Malke) on the Celtic. On the Ellis Island records search I find Neche listed as Nuche Gutstein.

Isidore’s sister, Malke, is listed on the Ellis Island records under the surname Schiskin, rather than Scheshko. She arrived on the ship Patricia 23 November 1907.

What about Isidore himself? He arrived in 1913. UPDATE: I have the ship manifest records for his arrival, thanks to Inna. See line 16 on both pages.

Ellis Island, 1902, from Wikipedia

I do think that we were right to begin with, that all the gardener’s paternal relatives came to the United States through Ellis Island.

There is a legend that someone in the gardener’s father’s family had been in the United States since Civil War Days. That would be a real stretch if it were true since they all came from the Russian Empire. So far what we have found is that Malke came before Isidore and Max came before Celia. But who came before Malke and Max? Berl Silberberg and Max XXXXX. If you recall, Max XXXXX has a last name that we have not been able to decipher. And no luck so far with Berl Silberberg. It would be fun to find them and see who was here before they were!

###

* Think about this a minute: Above I mentioned books and movies. Most of what we read and see has been “reconstructed” history–that is, we experience history through stories written by our contemporaries or at least not by individuals who lived through the period. These are secondary sources.

Primary sources can be fascinating. I’d like to “argue” that fiction that was written as contemporary fiction, but is now in a historical period, is a great primary or first-hand source.

Have you ever heard of the writer Abraham Cahan? He wrote books about the Jewish immigrant experience while it was happening well over 100 years ago. Cahan was born in Belarus in 1860, and as a young man and teacher he immigrated to the United States. In the 1890s and into the early 1900s, Cahan published novels and short stories. Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto and The Rise of David Levinsky are two of his most famous. I also recommend the story “The Imported Bridegroom.” I haven’t read it in years, but I think I need to re-read it!

Where Did their Surnames Come From?

Long before the gardener and I ever thought of researching his family history, we would mention the possible etymology or origins of the surname Scheshko (Sheshko). When we were still dating he explained that he had been told it meant sword-maker or metal worker.

Did that turn out to be true or not? And now that we have more surnames, what are their origins?

The expert on Jewish surname etymology is Alexander Beider who was born in Moscow in 1963. According to Wikipedia, “in 1986 he graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and in 1989 he received a PhD in Applied Mathematics from the same institution. Since 1990, he lives with his family in Paris, France.”

He is a scholar of Yiddish given names and of the history of Yiddish itself, as well as of Jewish surnames. He co-authored the Beider–Morse Phonetic Name Matching Algorithm with Stephen P. Morse.

Wikipedia lists his main works this way:

  • Beider, A. 2017. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Maghreb, Gibraltar, and Malta. New Haven, CN: Avotaynu.
  • Beider, A. 2015. Origins of Yiddish Dialects. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Beider, A. 2009. Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names and Their Variants. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu.
  • Beider, A. & Morse, S. P. 2008. Beider–Morse Phonetic Matching: An Alternative to Soundex with Fewer False Hits. Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy 24/2: 12-18.
  • Beider, A. 2005. Scientific Approach to Etymology of Surnames. Names: A Journal of Onomastics 53: 79-126.
  • Beider, A. 2004. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Galicia. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu.
  • Beider, A. 2001. A Dictionary of Ashkenazic Given Names: Their Origins, Structure, Pronunciation, and Migrations. Bergenfield, NJ: Avotaynu.
  • Beider, A. 1996. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Kingdom of Poland. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu.[“Best Judaica Reference Book” award for 1996]
  • Beider, A. 1995. Jewish Surnames from Prague (15th-18th centuries). Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu.
  • Beider, A. 1993, 2008. A Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from the Russian Empire. Teaneck, NJ: Avotaynu.

We are most interested in this last text because it lists Jewish surnames from the Russian Empire.

Shimel (Shimen) Scheshko is seated in the center of the photograph. His children are all Scheshkos, of course, and Isidore is standing behind his father.

The mother was born Khaya Brana Pechnik. We learned this from their marriage record.She came from Kupil, which was in the Khmelnitsk province of Western Ukraine. The records in that area that are needed to research Khaya’s family have not survived, but there might be something in the Zhitomir records. Since this is getting closer to the area that the gardener’s mother’s family came from, we will wait and do the search for Khaya’s family at that time as it seems more time-efficient.

We know that Isidore married Celia Goodstein, so we can add that surname to the mix. And now we have information that Celia’s mother’s surname was Suskin. At least that is what Max Goodstein’s death certificate lists as his mother’s maiden name.

This is what Inna reported that Beider wrote about the name Scheshko/Sheshko:

Jews with the Sheshko surname lived in Ukmerge (old name Vilkomir) town that is located in Lithuania, Lida, Belarus, Village Sheshki in Panevėžys district of Lithuania and village Sheshki in Ashmyani district of Belarus. Here are spelling variations of this surname: Shesko, Shesik, Sheshkin(Sheskin, Seskin, Shestkin), Sheshkovich, Sheskovich.

Of course, this means that the name does not mean sword maker or metal worker at all, but is a name derived from a place. On the other hand (because I love to quote Tevye), I asked a Russian friend about it, and she mentioned that there is a type of sword that sounds like Scheshko. It’s called Shashka or Shasqua, and it’s the Cossack sword! When I think of Ukraine, I tend to think Cossacks. What a coincidence . . . . Or not.

Here’s an image from Wikipedia:

Now on to Pechnik. Inna says that according to Beider:

Jews with Pechnik surname lived in Brest, Slonim, and Mogilev. Pechnik in Russian means stove setter. Here are the spelling variations of this surname: Pechnyuk, Pechikov, Pichkar’, Pichkar.

Stoves are metal, so I have to wonder if the idea of the origins of Scheshko came from the name Pechnik. Impossible to know for sure, of course. And it’s still possible, I suppose, that Scheshko has a different meaning.

According to Inna:

According to A. Beider’s Dictionary of Jewish Surnames from Russian Empire, Jews with Gutshtejn surname lived in Belostok, Kobrin, Kamenets. The following are spelling variations of the surname: Gutenshtejn; Gitenshhtejn (Gitinshtejn), Gitshtejn  (Gidshtejn). The surname means good stone or hat + stone (Utshtejn)

The Americanized form is Goodstein.

Now take a look at the name Suskin. Wow, isn’t that similar to Seskin, which is one of the versions of Scheshko. This is getting pretty confusing, but there could be an explanation for the name beyond Scheshko.

Beider dictionary has no record of Suskin surname. The closest one would be Sushkin. It was found in Polotsk and Mogilev. This toponymic surname traces back to the village of Sushki. Spelling variations are as follows: Asushkin, Sushkovich (Suskovich, Shushkovich), Sushkevich, Ashushkevich.

The spelling variations are maddening, of course. It’s impossible to know for sure, and the point at which these surnames became “affixed” to a particular family would probably be before records for eastern European/Russian Jews would be available so the place of origin for toponymic names would not be helpful except as a point of interest.

For that reason, the only way to track down where these branches came from is through actual records, such as the Odessa birth records that show where Shimel and Khaya came from before winding up in Odessa and Tiraspol.

On another note, I recently discovered that artist Marc Chagall (one of my favorites) was born Moishe Segal in what is now Belarus, from the same region as some of the gardener’s branches. He was born in Liozna in 1887, the same year Isidore was born.

Chagall’s parents

Frustrations in Genealogy (What’s New?)

This post is just to mention that I’m at a frustrating point. Now that we have the names of the Goodstein cousins of Celia, it should be easy to track the families down to the present.

Inna made headway finding the descendants of Rose and Isidore, but they have not responded to our attempts to contact them. Rose’s son Stanley is about 92, and he could possibly have information to share since he is the oldest family member that we know about.

It was also quite a bonus to find that Max traveled to the United States to meet his brother-in-law Max, but the other Max’s surname continues to elude us. Here is a cropped version–Max’s name is on the third actual dotted line. I want to know what the surname says AND what the street name and number are.

Here is the complete document that the cropped portion comes from.

Anna’s relatives in the United States (if that is what is meant by brother-in-law of Max) will continue to be a brick wall until these two words can be deciphered. Any ideas? The street is not Stone, after all.

Yet another frustration is that the DNA match attempts with Scheshkos from Vasilishki has been inconclusive. One of them was compared on Gedmatch, and there is a DNA match, but so small it could be “noise.” The other person has been “unavailable” since I asked for a Gedmatch comparison.

Further Tiraspol and Odessa records continue to elude Inna at this point.

But we know there was family alive in the sixties because Celia was writing to them. The only clue we have is this headstone for Khaim Gutstein, 1897 to 1974. It’s in Tiraspol.

Inna translated the inscription:

To dear father from grieving children, grandchildren, daughter-in-law, and nieces.

That would mean a large family alive in 1974, possibly in Tiraspol. Will we ever discover if there is a connection to Celia?

All that trouble Celia and her relatives took to write to each other, although the censors cut out huge portions of their letters. I like to think Celia would like it if we can find the descendants of her relatives.

Celia’s Cousin Rose

That is Celia, standing in the back row, second from left. To her left (our right) is her cousin Rose (born Reisel).

Let’s take a look at the 1910 census (originally posted in “Celia’s Uncle Max and Family”). Seventeen-year-old Rose is an “operator” in a “waist shop.” There is a second page, where Celia is listed as “Jennie” and 19-years-old. She is also listed as an operator in a waist shop.

So what was a waist shop? Think of it as a blouse shop. They sold shirtwaists.

What was an operator then? Did the girls work together in this shop? If so, did they make the shirtwaists or did they sell them? I’m guessing that since this was right after Celia arrived, and the family trade seems to have been seamstress/tailor, that the girls sewed the blouses.

Because of something that Amy Cohen mentioned below, I am adding a link here to information about the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. History: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. It is possible that the place where Celia and Rose worked is similar to this place or a smaller version perhaps. The fire that killed 146 people (mainly young women) occurred in 1911, just one year after the 1910 census. Just one or two years after Celia arrived. I hadn’t put it together until Amy mentioned Triangle, but family lore is that Celia became a bit of an Emma Goldman, standing on a crate and lecturing to people about the need to form unions.

In order not to be complicated here, I am going to skip to the 1925 New York State census to show you something very interesting and gives an idea of how close Celia and Rose became.

This first one is Max’s census report. It shows Max and Anna living with their children Harry, Grace, and Silvia. Presumably, the others have grown up and moved out.

In this second one, we have Celia living with her husband Isidore and their 4-year-old son, Murray. Daughter Eileen has not yet been born, although Celia would have been pregnant with her when the census was taken.

There is a duplication of names on this document, so be careful. Glance at about halfway down on the left side. Look who is living as boarders with Celia and Isidore! Rose and her husband Isidore Cohen and their 5-year-old daughter Grace!

So the two couples lived together with their first children. Imagine! This information was not passed down in the family at all. In fact, none of us had even heard about Rose or this other Isidore!

One note: notice that Rose has a sister and a daughter named Grace. How can that be, given that Jews name their children after deceased relatives? Anna’s mother was Gertruda Yaglovsky, so we believe that Rose’s sister was named after her, her maternal grandmother. It’s possible that Rose named her daughter after Goldi/Gittel Suskin Goodstein, her paternal grandmother.

Another note: Rose’s age at 28 is a little screwed up on that 1925 census, but we have confirmed that this is “our Rose.”

 

 

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.

BROOKLYN EXERCISES

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 . . . .

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.

 

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

Twins:

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.

SO IN THE PHOTO ABOVE, WE HAVE:

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.