Category Archives: Kegel Kigel Kugel

Levensohn Kigel Immigration: Sara and Frume (Fannie?) – Pt. 3 in Levensohn Immigration Series

Kigel Sisters Arrive in 1903

Two young women, Sara and Frume KIGEL, arrived July 23, 1903 in Baltimore on the SS Frankfurt, sailing from Bremen. These two young women clearly are my great-aunts, as they were going to my great-uncle,  their brother, Max Levensohn, in Cincinnati. Here is the excerpt from their arrival record indicating where they were going:

LEVENSOHN KIGEL Sara and Frume detail arr 1903

Who were Sara and Frume?

The ages of these two women, 19 and 18, imply that Sara was born in 1884 and Frume was born in 1885. So, which of my great-aunts were these?


Six-and-a-half years later, when “Sarah Levenson” was listed on the 1910 U.S. Census, her age was shown as 19. So she had aged by zero years? That census also said that she arrived in 1905, not 1903. Does this mean this is not Sarah Levenson (Levensohn), the one who married Sam Meyers?

To add to the confusion, here is a summary of information from all the subsequent censuses:

July 1903: Sara Kigel arrives at age 19—->born 1884
Apr. 1910: Sarah Levenson age 19———>born 1891, arrived 1905
Jan. 1920: Sarah Meyers age 35———–>born 1884, arrived 1906
Apr. 1930: Sarah Meyers age 44———–>born 1885 or 1886, arrived 1906
Apr. 1930: Sarah Meyers age 56———–>born 1884 or 1885, no arrival date listed

So is this or is this not Sarah? It really must be – who else could it be? But there must be some doubt. First of all, people immigrating did lie about their age, but it would be more likely a single woman would say she was older than she was (in Sarah’s case, implying a birth date before 1884), so that she would be viewed as an adult.

Census data are a different story. The person answering the census taker might be someone else in the household who did not have accurate information. In the 1910 Census, Sarah was a lodger in the flat of Mollie Freedman, in San Francisco. The landlady might not have known Sarah’s actual age. Even a neighbor can be an informant on a census.

What about the consistent date discrepancy between the arrival of Sara Kigel in 1903 and Sarah’s listings in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 censuses? This, to me, throws the most doubt on saying that the two Sara(h)s are the same person. I’ve often encountered discrepancies between dates of arrival on a census and the date of actual immigration. People just forget exactly what year it was.

Frume – Fannie? Or not?

I believe that the person listed as Frume Kigel was there person who later was known as Fannie Levenso(h)n, and then married Nathan Bogner. I have been told by a relative that Fannie’s Hebrew (Yiddish) name was Feige, which is different. Names are funny things, especially when people changed them as freely as Jews did when moving from Eastern Europe to the U.S. around the turn of the twentieth century.

The website has an authoritative database of given names and how they changed. Here is Frume:

However, there is  another reasons to doubt that this is Fannie. The 1910 Census says the she arrived in 1898. However, it gives that same date for her husband, Nathan Bogner. Perhaps someone assumed that both arrived the same year. Furthermore, Fannie does not seem to appear in the 1900 Census.

Then, in the 1920 Census, it is unclear which date is given for her arrival. Here are Nathan’s and Fannie’s dates of arrival excerpted from the 1920 Census:

So it appears to be a date in the early 1900s, but I cannot read it.

The implied birth dates also do not work for Fannie. Frume Kigel was born, according to her arrival record, in 1885, give or take a year. However, in July 1908, when she married Nathan, Fannie was listed as 20 years old, implying an 1888 birth. Then, in the 1910 Census Fannie Bogner was 21, having barely aged since her marriage, and implying 1889 birth. In the 1930 Census she was 31, consistent with 1899 birth year.

But who else might Frume be? I’m pondering.

A New Hometown:  Dzinnkow, now Dzyun’kov, Ukraine

The earlier Levensohn/Kigel siblings arriving in the U.S. (see also) listed a last residence or birthplace as Ruhzin, the name of a place within the Kiev area that I had previously thought to be connected with the family. But here is the last residence of Sara and Frume on the passenger list:

Last residence of Sara and Frume Kigel

According to, Dzinnkow is now known as Dzyun’kov Ukraine, 83 miles south of Kiev. Ruhzin is 21 miles away from Dzyun’kov. Both are now within the Kiev region.


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!



The Long Story Short

Several years ago I wrote about my total lack of success in finding any immigration records for my Levensohn family (Why Can’t I Find My Levensohn Immigration Records?). I summarized my long, complicated, thorough search and hypothesized various reasons for my failure. All of my hypotheses were wrong.

The real reason I couldn’t find them is that they did not travel using the name “LEVENSOHN,” not any spelling variation, nor any other family name I tried. Instead, they arrived under some variation of the name “KEGEL.” I began to find this out – and started telling the story – in another, more recent post (Levensohn Hecht Kigel Kegal).

The Immigration Records I’ve Found So Far

Max was first, arriving in 1893, as Marcus KIGEL

In the post I’ve just cited, I summarized Max’s arrival on the  and his eventual naturalization as Max Levensohn. He arrived at Ellis Island, with New York listed as his ultimate destination.  Where and when he lived in New York is something I have not been able to find (yet?).

In the Cincinnati City Directory, published June 1895, Max Levensohn, cigar maker, was listed as boarding at “504 9th Street, near Freeman Ave.” That is the first record I have found for him after his arrival in New York.

Why he came to Cincinnati is still a mystery to me. (A mystery to solve!)

Three Levensohn Siblings Lived in Cincinnati in 1900: Max, Morris, and Clara

The Census lists the three siblings in Cincinnati at 1916 Western Avenue in January, 1900. My working assumption is that these three were the only ones who arrived in the 1890s.

Max, Morris, and Clara Levensohn, Cincinnati, 1900

Here is a detailed excerpt:

Detail of the 1900 Census Entry

As often happened, the census taker wrote the name wrong, Anglicized to  “Livingston.” (And the indexer for this census entry read it as “Sivingston.”  They were living at 1716 Western Avenue in Cincinnati. The letter that looks like a cursive “m” is a “W,” indicating white. The dates are dates of birth. Max and Morris are shown as Single. Clara is shown with both an “S” and an “M” written in the marital status column, and I cannot tell which was meant to be the actual status.

All of these details fit with what I know, including the confusion about Clara’s marital status (and that’s another story).

And here are more details, including the dates of arrival:

After the dates are the number of years in the U.S. “Al” stands for “alien.” Women did not get designations like that. The 0 refers to number of years unemployed in the past year. The three columns of Yes and No are whether the person reads English, writes English, and speaks English.

Given the details here, plus the KIGEL name listed on Max’s arrival record, I was – after more than a decade of searching – able to find the arrival records for Morris and Clara.

Morris arrived as Mosche KEIGEL in 1895 and Clara arrived as Chaja KIGEL in 1897

The arrival years for all three of the siblings were one year later than the years listed on the census.

Morris arrived at the Port of Baltimore in May, 1895 on the SS Oldenburg, sailing from Bremen, Germany. Here is the record, excerpted from the arrival manifest:

KEIGEL (?) Mosche (Morris Levensohn) arrival record

It looks like he was 16 years old, implying a birth year in about 1879. His list residence is listed as “Ruzin,” consistent with what I have suspected. He is going to his brother, in Cincinnati, with $5.

Clara arrived two years later, in June, 1897 also landing in Baltimore. She sailed on the SS Willefidd from Bremen

Clara Kigel (Levensohn) arrival in 1897

Her name was right under another person who was going to Cincinnati, so I included both on the excerpt. It sits her as Chaja Kigel, a 21 year old female, no occupation, able to read and write, from Ruzin in Russia, going to her brother in Cincinnati, Ohio.


Levensohn Hecht Kigel Kegal

  • Max Levensohn came to the U.S. as “Marcus Kigel”

I’ve already written about the possibility that “the Levensohns were Hechts (Dodging the Czar’s Draft and Confusing My Levensohn Research.”). Now I’ve discovered a new name. Here is an excerpt from Max Levensohn’s arrival record (ship manifest) on September 26, 1893.

KIGEL manifest excerpt

“Marcus Kigel” manifest excerpt 1893

How do I know that Max arrived as Marcus? Because his naturalization papers say so. If you note that number  – “22×6313-12/2/35” – it is an addition made to the original manifest as part of Max’s naturalization process in 1935. As an older man, in his early 60s, Max became a citizen.

Here is his Petition for Naturalization:

LEVENSOHN Max Petition Naturalization

The Petition refers back to his arrival at Ellis Island on the S.S. Elbe, excerpted above. There are some typographical errors on the Petition:  listing him as “Marcus KEGEL” vs. “Marcus KIGEL” on the manifest (or is it HIGEL?). It also says he was married in “Corkington, Kentucky” rather than “Covington,” where he was actually married.

Max Levensohn, briefly

Max was the oldest of three sons in the family, and he had six sisters. Leah, the only one who did not come to the U.S., was possibly older than Max.

According to the Petition, Max was born in 1873 in “Ruzin” – now Ruzhin, Ukraine. His wife, Clara Belilovsky (later, Bell), also from Ukraine, arrived in the U.S. in 1901, when Max was established in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was a cigar maker and owned a small cigar manufacturing company.

In the early 1930s Max and Clara moved to San Francisco, presumably to be closer to more of the Levensohn family. Note that the witnesses on the Petition, above, were Martha Craft and Max Newstat. Both of these were offspring of Clara Levensohn, one of Max Levensohn’s sisters.

Max Levensohn died in 1955 in San Francisco. His wife preceded him in death in 1949.

Max Levensohn and his wife, Clara (gets confusing, doesn’t it? Max Levensohn, Max Newstat; Clara Levensohn, his wife and Clara Levensohn, his sister) left no children. I haven’t found a record of a stillbirth or a birth to indicate that there ever was a child.

I’m always saddened when I research these “forgotten” relatives. I have heard no one living ever refer to them. When I was growing up, I never heard my father ever mention his “Uncle Max,” nor did I hear my grandfather, Morris, mention a brother (even though Morris had worked for Max from time to time, in the cigar making business). I don’t even recall my Aunt Dorothy – the only relative who ever told me about my “California cousins” – ever mentioning Max and Clara.

These records of Max, left behind and dug up in my research, seem to revive his memory, at least a bit. And the mystery of the name, “Marcus Kigel,” adds another clue in my search for the family history.

Here is a photo of Max, from naturalization papers (specifically, from his “Declaration of Intention”).

LEVENSOHN Max pic from declaration







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