Tag Archives: Mogilev

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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