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HOW I FOUND MY LEVENSOHN IMMIGRATION RECORDS, Part 2 – Annie Levensohn Rubin not yet found

Frustration with records still unfound and confusing names

There are several Levensohn (Kigels?) whose arrival records still elude me. And, still to discuss, are records with names that confuse me – Frume Kigel, who arrived with Sara in 1903; and Sprina Kigel, who arrived with her father, the patriarch of the family Joseph Levensohn. When he arrived with “Sprina” (I think this is Jennie) in 1906, his given name, as written on the manifest, is indecipherable (more about this in a later post).

Annie’s missing manifest

After the arrivals of Max and Morris and Clara, the next I expect to find is Annie (Hannah) Levensohn or Kigel (or variation). I expect her arrival next for several reasons. As far as I can tell, she is the next oldest of the siblings. (I cannot be sure of her birth date, nor actually of the birth dates of her siblings, but records I have show her as being born between 1878 and 1884.) She married in 1903, had her first child in 1904, and gave her U.S. arrival date to the census as 1901.

Hannah Levensohn married Morris Rubin in 1903

In late November, 1903, in Cincinnati, Rabbi Lifschitz officiated at the wedding of Hannah, daughter of Joseph, and Morris Rubin. The license put her age at 25, implying a birth year of 1878. Most other sources put her birth date several years later.

Here is their marriage license.

Marriage of Hannah Levensohn and Morris Rubin, 1903

 The Rubin’s first son, Paul, was born in 1904

In October, 1904, almost a year after they wed, Annie and Morris had their first child, Paul Rubin.

The 1910 Census showed the growing family still in Cincinnati and housing Annie’s sister Jennie

Below is an excerpt from the census sheet showing the Rubin family. Aside from from the common mangling of spelled names, it appears clear and straightforward. The implied birth date for Annie is 1881 or 1882, and it indicates she arrived in the U.S. in 1901.

1910 Rubin family in Cincinnati, with Jennie Levensohn

My fruitless search for Annie’s arrival

I’ve cast a wide net, using every name spelling variations I can conceive of, in my search for an arrival record for Annie. Knowing that the cursive capital K sometimes resembles and H, I tried all the Kigel variations using an initial H, too. I also tried leaving out any name, just looking for a single Jewish woman from Russia in the approximate age range, arriving in Baltimore or New York between 1900 and 1903. I tried searching with Cincinnati as a key word; also with Ruzin, Dzinkow, and other nearby places, trying various spellings and wildcard searches. Hours and hours and hours I have spent, to no avail!

 

Name Changes: Was GRINKER originally GRUNFELD?

Review of John Grinker Mysteries

I have written a couple posts already about my father’s paternal grandfather:  my great-grandfather, John Grinker. (See posts:  http://wp.me/p35vsQ-y and http://wp.me/p35vsQ-5c). I know he was married to Jennie Kaminsky, of Odessa; that his first two daughters – my grandma Bessie and her sister Fannie – were born in Odessa; and that this small family were settlers in the Mauricio Colony of Argentina, prior to coming to the U.S. I know they arrived in Baltimore in 1893, sailing from Mauricio via Hamburg. I know also that their first son, Joe, was born in Argentina.

But there is more that I don’t know. Particularly germane to this post is the fact that I don’t know the names of his parents (other than names provided by his second wife on a marriage license; these are questionable) nor where he was originally from. I can find no record of him in Odessa. The name “GRINKER” is not common. A number of Grinkers seem to have come from Lithuania. On a couple of documents his daughters wrote that he was from “Germany.” This was well after he had left the family in the early 1900s. Other documents list his birthplace as “Russia,” referring to the Russian Empire of the late nineteenth century.

Name Variations and Changes

Those of us doing Ashkenazi family history know how fluid were names – surnames and given names. Our ancestors changed their names frequently and were free with their spelling variations. Because their surnames in the old country were written – at the rare times they were written – in Cyrillic and/or Hebrew characters, not with our Latin alphabet, there was no “correct” English spelling when they came to the U.S.

Their names written on ship manifests did not necessarily accurately reflect the names they had before emigrating from the Russian Empire. I have some relatives, through marriage, whose name in the old country, was pronounced roughly as “Belinky.” It was a variation of the Russian word for “white.” On their ship manifest as they moved to the U.S. their name was listed as “White,” and that is the name the family used in the U.S.

Many of these immigrants were illiterate in any language or, perhaps, were literate in Yiddish and Hebrew; maybe literate in Russian. But when they traveled to the U.S., they may often traveled on a German or Dutch steamship. In that case, their name on the manifest might be written as the ticket issuer or ship purser heard the name spoken. Language differences and accents, as well as the different ways sounds were written in other languages also affected the way a name might be written. For instance, in German “w” has the same sound as “v” in English.

Not only surnames show variations and changes. A Jew coming from Odessa in the late 1800s might have had a double name in Hebrew, a double name in Yiddish, perhaps a nickname, too.

I write about this, in a very cursory way, as background to what seems to be a possible name change. It may be that, before coming to the U.S., GRINKER was not the family name. It may have been GRÜNFELD, or something similar.

Immigration to Mauricio

Although I have the record of their arrival in Baltimore from Argentina, via Hamburg, I never have found record of the earlier journey – the travel from the old country to the agricultural colony, Mauricio.

Years ago I had hit a dead end on this. My correspondence with a Jewish genealogy society in Argentina led me to believe such records didn’t exist. Yesterday I decided to revisit this search.

Looking for information about the Jewish agricultural colonies in Argentina, it’s not surprising that the internet revealed articles I had not seen before. First, I found the full text of an article from the 1906 edition of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/905-agricultural-colonies-in-the-argentine-republic-argentina), an article that told me “locusts, which were very numerous, destroyed the growing crops, and water was scarce. Although the colonies received constant accessions, it was necessary to deport so many discontented colonists to the United States.”

My Aunt Dorothy, when I was a kid, had alluded to unlivable, primitive conditions that the Grinkers endured in Argentina. Perhaps the Grinkers were among the “deported.”

My Google search yesterday brought me more and more recent information about this in an academic publication from April 2013:  “Colonia Mauricio: Two Complementary Visions,” by Edgardo Zablotsky (http://www.ucema.edu.ar/u/eez/Publicaciones/Serie_Documentos_de_Trabajo/doc485.pdf).

It turns out that conditions for the early settlers were even worse than depicted by the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, and discontent among the colonists ran high.

Perhaps more apropos to my search, it became clear to me that 1891 was the year of initial mass settlement of Mauricio. Also, the one departure port mentioned in Zablotsky’s article was Hamburg. That led me to a re-examination of the Hamburg Passenger Lists (in German) online.

Searching the Hamburg Passenger Lists

Ancestry.com has the indexed Hamburg Passenger lists. I tried – as I’m sure I have before – to search GRINKER on that list, and also variations of how it might have been indexed, to no avail. I also tried “Mauricio” and “Maurico” (the way it had been listed on the Grinkers’ passenger list to Baltimore), but could only find at Baltimore manifest.  I also tried using the word “Odessa,” but again couldn’t find another record.

When I left off names but limited the arrival date to “1891 +/- one year” and put in the word “Buenos” (as in Buenos Aires in the “anything” box, I got a huge list (>1,000 records) of Jewish names too many to easily go through. The arrival port for many of these was listed as “La Plata.”

Then I had a brainstorm. I knew that the initial journey would have involved four family members: John, Jennie, Bessie, and Fannie. I had a pretty good idea about the birth years of the two daughters. But I also knew that the given names of these individuals were quite various among the early records. In particular, on the Baltimore manifest they were listed as “Chune,” “Eugenia,” “Paula,” and “Feige,” respectively. Of all of these, “Feige” the one I figured was most likely to be used by a Yiddish-speaking family upon leaving Eastern Europe. “Feige” would also be heard and spelled easily by a German-speaking ticket seller or purser.

I searched within the 1,000+ results I had received by putting in the first name “Feige” and specifying “exact” for that name; I also specified that the result should be a person born in 1890 +/- two years.  Of the 254 results I got, the first five were infant Feiges sailing between 1891 and 1893 and arriving at La Plata. Three of them arrived in 1891:  Feige Goldschmeid, Feige Grünfeld, and Feige Gutrad. No Grinker.

But looking more closely at the records of each of these, I found that Feige Grünfeld’s was suspiciously familiar.

Maybe Fannie and her family; maybe not

Here was the transcribed record for Feige Grünfeld:

Name: Feige Grünfeld
Departure Date: 12 Aug 1891
Destination: Buenos Aires
Birth Date: abt 1890
Age: 1
Gender: weiblich (Female)
Residence: Libau (Liepaja)
Ship Name: Petropolis
Captain: Albert, Th.
Shipping Clerk: Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft
Shipping line: Hamburg-Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrt-Gesellschaft
Ship Type: Dampfschiff
Accommodation: Zwischendeck
Ship Flag: Deutschland
Port of Departure: Hamburg
Port of Arrival: La Plata
Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 075 A
Household Members:
Name Age
Chaim Grünfeld 38
Schone Grünfeld 20
Pesse Grünfeld 3
Feige Grünfeld 1

A number of things on this record make me think of my Grinker family.

The number of people, their relative ages and genders, fit very closely. (Ages of the parents varied quite a bit on records I have found, but this seems pretty close.)

Feige is the right name and age for Fannie. And “Pesse” seems very similar to “Bessie,” the name my grandma always used in the U.S. Grandma Bessie’s birth date, on most records, is 5 August 1888. so the age of three on 12 August 1891 would be exactly right for her.

But the last residence is shown as “Libau.” The names “Chaim” and “Schone” are ones I never saw recorded for John and Jennie. And, at least at first glance, “Grünfeld” is pretty far from “Grinker.”

 Back to the Issue of Names

Grünfeld, with the umlaut over the “u,” would be pronounced in German something similar to “GRINfeld” in English. So, although the name is still quite different from GRINKER, the sound of the first four letters is about the same.

What about “Chaim” for “John/Chune”? I really can’t explain this. Based on the Hebrew on the headstones of some of his offspring, I think his Hebrew name was Elchanen, for which “Chone” might have been a kinnui. But “Chaim,” as far as I know, is not connected with any of these names. I suppose, in a stretch, I might argue it has a similar sound.

What about “Schone” for Jennie/Eugenia? According to her headstone, her Hebrew name was “Scheindel (Shayndl),” meaning “beautiful.” “Jennie” was apparently a common English cognate for this. The Argentinian name for it might be “Sonia.” (My source for this information is the “Jewish Given Names Database” on JewishGen.org.).  There certainly are possibilities here.

But the names that most make me think this could be the GRINKER family are the names of the girls, combined with their ages.  My grandma Bessie was so secular that she did not have her Hebrew name inscribed on her gravestone. According to the Jewish Given Names Database, Basya / Bisya / Pesha / Peshka would be a Hebrew name that would translate to Base / Basha / Bashe / Basi / Basye / Pesa / Pese / Peshe in the Yiddish of Ukraine and a Yiddish nickname of Peshl / Pesi / Pesil / Pesl / Pesle / Pesye. These sound to me as if they could easily be sounded as “Pesse.” And the US name, according to the Database, would be Bessie, Beverly, or Pauline.

What blows me away here is the “Pauline.” I’ve always been so puzzled by the name “Paula” for my grandmother on the passenger list showing her arrival in the U.S. in 1893. This ties it all together.

The Evidence is Circumstantial and Not Strong

I cannot say with any certainty that the family listed as “Grünfeld” on the 1891 La Plata arrival manifest is my Grinker family. It is way far from reaching any genealogical proof standard. It’s, at best, a guess.

But, to me, it is a guess worth pursuing, and I will be searching for evidence of the Grünfelds in the old country as another avenue to trace my lineage. Also, when I look at my autosomal DNA results (and those of my brother and my paternal first cousin), I will be on the lookout for ancestral names such as “Greenfield,” names I never would have noticed before.

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Do I Have Cousins Named Shaffer and Finkelstein?

Uncle Schmerl Arrives at Ellis Island

“Uncle Schmerl” is not a name known to most of my generation. My mom’s first cousin, Ida – born in 1920 and recently deceased – told me about him.  He was a carpenter, she said.  She didn’t really know how he was related, but thought he was a brother to Uncle Avrum and Uncle Luvach.  We don’t know these people now, either, but their family histories are entwined with mine.  They are from my HERTZMAN and GERTZMAN side in Cincinnati.

Here is Uncle Schmerl’s manifest from his arrival at Ellis Island in October 1902. His name is listed as Schmerl HERZMANN, 24 years old, a married joiner from Mogilev (“Mohilew” on the manifest). His destination is New York, specifically “cousin Benjamin SHAFFER, Stanton St 105.”

HERTZMAN, Schmerl Oct 1902 arrival

But Uncle Schmerl was detained.  He was apparently fed a supper and then a breakfast, awaiting his relative.  But the relationship and the address of that US relative changed during this detention.  Now he was Uncle Benjamin Shaffer of 191 Allen Street.  Here is the record of detention:

HERTZMAN, Schmerl 1902 detained

[ Parenthetically, a couple things to note here:  the Stanton Street and the Allen Street addresses were tenements typically rented by Jewish immigrants in the early 20th century. The other thing – the switch in the relationship between cousin and uncle – is illustrative of the fluidity in the way our ancestors used to label relationships. An older cousin could be called “uncle” as a mark of respect.  Or relatives could just be generally referred to as “cousins” regardless of the exact relationship.  A third possibility – that the person was just a family friend – confuses genealogy research further.]

So, who was Benjamin Shaffer?  No one I have spoken with in the family has heard of him, and I’ve had trouble researching him.

Uncle Avrum Arrives One Year Later

“Abram HERZMANN,” 28 years old, a married tailor from “Russia” arrived on the ship SS Eturia in late December 1903.  He was listed as going to his “Uncle Mr Shaffer, 213 E 10th St, New York.”  Uncle Avrum’s name wasn’t listed on the page of “Passengers Held for Special Inquiry,” but the words “det. pd.” are pencilled in above his name on the manifest.  I assume this means that he was detained and that any meals he was served were paid for.

So, was Uncle Mr Shaffer the same person Schmerl had gone to, at yet a third tenement address?

Uncle Einhorn and Sonia Gertzman Einhorn Arrive

“Uncle Einhorn” – that’s what Ida and her sister, Ann, called him – was their uncle because he was married to Sarah (Sonia) Gertzman.  Nachum Einhorn was, in fact, their uncle by marriage. He actually arrived a month before Uncle Schmerl.  “Nochem Einhorn,” a 32-year-old married tailor, from Ekaterinoslav, arrived at Ellis Island on October 1, 1902.  He was accompanied by a child, Frume Einhorn, his sister, I believe.  They were going to “cousin Benjamin Shaffer” at what might read “Stanton St 105, New York.”  It is difficult to read on the manifest.

My great-aunt, Sonia Einhorn, joined her husband in June 1903.  Her manifest (below) names her “Sonie Einhor,” age 30, from Jekaterinoslaw.  She was listed as going to “Husb. N. Einhor, c/o A Finkelstein, 105 Stanton St, New York.”

GERTZMAN (EINHORN) Sonia arrival 1903

But immigrant women were routinely detained at Ellis Island. Sonia was, long enough to be served lunch.  She was released, so to speak, to her “Husb. Nachum” from “194 Allen St. New York.”

So, a new relative, A. FINKELSTEIN, at the same tenement address as “cousin” Ben Shaffer?  Then another Allen Street address, 194 versus 191.

Leaving NYC and Ben Shaffer and A Finkelstein; Moving to Cincinnati

These Uncles, and Aunt Sonia, didn’t stay in New York for long.  Why Cincinnati?  That still is a mystery to me.

On March 14, 1904, Nachum and Sonia Einhorn, ages 34 and 32 respectively, of 231 E 10th Street, NYC, were “removed” to Cincinnati by the IRO – the Industrial Removal Office, a Jewish agency that relocated Jews from New York City.  Nachum and Sonia were supplied with tickets and a few dollars.  [Note that 231 E 10th St is similar to 213 E 10th St 1903 address of “Uncle Mr. Shaffer,” to whom Uncle Avrum had gone.]

EINHORN, Nathan, Sonia IRO 1904

This relocation was just three months after a man named “Sal Herzman,” a 23-year-old carpenter, was “removed” to Cincinnati.  According to his Record of Removal, he had been in the U.S. for 2-1/2 years, suggesting arrival in June or July of 1900.  I think he was Schmerl, even though Uncle Schmerl had been in the US only a little more than one year at this time.

In the Cincinnati City Directory, published June, 1904, three men – Abram, Samuel, and Solomon GERTZMAN were listed at 1432 Cutter in Cincinnati.  Abram and Solomon were tailors and Samuel (Schmerl) was a carpenter (i.e., a joiner).  This is the first listing of any Gertzmans, Hertzmans, or Einhorns in Cincinnati.  When I showed the listing to cousin Ida, she identified them as Uncles Avrum and Schmerl, though she did not recognize the name “Solomon.”   I have found Solomon’s arruvak record from January, 1904.  He was going directly to his brother Samuel (Schmerl) on Cutter Street in Cincinnati.

So the immigration pipeline began to flow directly into Cincinnati, rather than stopping in New York.  Other relatives trickled into Cincinnati over the next decade.

The Shaffers and Finkelsteins didn’t move to Cincinnati.  They are another story, aboutI have found a bit of spotty information, but very little.  Are they cousins?  I am still searching.

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