Friday, 3 July 2020

Moshe Chaim, Czar of Pinsk: #15 The Beila Hypothesis

The mystery of the missing sister 

The last post (#14 Dora and Ockham's Razor) left us wondering whether we should be looking for a sister for Dora Zaturensky. We need to find a mother for Benjamin Gitelman, and she needs to be sufficiently closely related to Dora such that:


a) Benjamin can say on his passenger manifest in 1922 that he was going to his 'half-brother", Dora's son Sam Kawin

and

b) my tentative analysis of my DNA matches with Cousins David (descended from Benjamin) and Paul (descended from Dora) still makes sense


So a sister would fit the bill on both counts. It wouldn't fully account for the 'half-brother' designation on Benjamin's manifest, as if their mothers are sisters, Sam and Benjamin would be first cousins. But I think I've exhausted the possibility of a half-sibling relationship - I just can't see it. So I'm going for sisters, and consequently, cousins.


Beylya Terensky?

Then I recalled this snippet from Cousin Jennifer's Tree on Ancestry, which I referred to in an earlier post, but we weren't looking at Gitelmans at that point.



In this Tree, Benjamin's father is a Gitelman, but his mother is shown as Beylya Terensky. Not Dora. At the moment we have no idea who this Beylya Terensky is. There is no mention of a Lipschitz; nor, by the way, does the name seem to appear anywhere else in relation to this family.


This looks to me very much like one of those half-recalled family stories, passed on to later generations by someone who is pretty certain of some details but a bit woolly on the rest. Which is not surprising, because the whole story is getting *very* complicated, and it's several generations back, pretty much lost in the mists of time. And Beylya's birth date of 1888 must be a typo - Benjamin was born in 1885 or 86, so if she's his mother she must have been born some time in the 1860s.


Beylya Turansky?

And then I remembered seeing that Jennifer has another version of this Tree, which uses the name Turansky.


This version introduces a whole crowd of new people that don't seem to appear anywhere else in either family knowledge or records. The father of the family is Morris (not shown here) - though Jennifer may have taken that name from the discussion she and I had a few weeks ago - and the name of his wife is unknown. They have 9 children, all shown with Yiddish names, all born in Pinsk.


These are the first 3 children:


Is this our Dora? And is this the Beylya that appears as the mother of Benjamin in Jennifer's other Tree? It's certainly looking promising.


No source is given for this family group. The fact that they all have Yiddish names suggests that this family did not emigrate; if they had, Jennifer would probably have known some at least of them by Americanised names. It looks to me very much as though the list has been provided by a Belarussian researcher, transcribed from one of the 'Revision Lists' compiled periodically throughout the 19C by the Russian authorities to keep track of citizens for tax and conscription purposes.

This immediately poses a problem, as we know that our family were using 'Zaturensky' in Russia, at least until they arrived in the USA. All the members of the family whose emigration I have been able to trace use some form of the name Zaturensky on their passenger documents. So how come they're using Turansky here? If it is the same family, of course ...


Notice that Beylya here is born in 1866; Dora's birth date, as we have seen, varies between 1869 and 1872, as suggested here. If this list is indeed from a Russian Revision List, the dates will probably be more reliable than those Dora gave after she got to America - the Russian authorities used to check names and dates against other records, to try to catch conscription-dodgers in particular. So if we lean towards 1872 for Dora, we have to conclude that Beylya looks the more likely of the two to be the mother of a child born in 1886, when Dora would only have been 14 years old.


Are they really ours?

Provided, of course, that this is indeed our family. Notice that there is no indication of the existence of a family for Morris by a previous wife, which is where I would expect my great-grandmother Shprintsa and her brother Shmuel (Simon Morris) to appear. However, Shprintsa had married by around 1880, and Shmuel left for the USA around that time as well. If the list was put together after 1880 there would be no reason for them to appear on it - they were no longer part of this household.


But how come Jennifer has Benjamin down as the son of Beylya, whereas when he emigrates to the USA in 1922, he says he's going to his half-brother Sam Kawin, who we know to be the son of Dora and Jacob Kawin? Surely this implies that Benjamin is also a son of Dora, but by a different father? How can he be the son of a different mother as well? What sort of a half-brother is that?


Tick-tock, tick-tock. Time for that thinking-cap again.

A Tale of Three Beilas?
Let's take a different angle on this. Let's ask, how might this putative Beylya fit in to what we know - or think we know - about this family?

Cousin Jennifer, who is a descendant of Simon Morris (Shmuel Zaturensky), shows his mother as 'Bailie', and Dora's mother as Chana. Cousin Paul, a desendant of Dora, also shows her mother as Chana. I don't know if Jennifer and Paul are in touch, but the differences in their Trees suggest they were developed independently of each other. There doesn't seem to be any documentary evidence for either name, so they may well both be reflecting the versions of the family story handed down within their own families. So the fact they both have Dora's mother as Chana could be significant, as could the fact that Jennifer shows Simon with a different mother; Paul doesn't show Simon at all.

This all seems to back up my earlier assumption that Movsha Zaturensky married twice. And at this point I go out on a limb.

If Movsha's first wife was Beila, as Jennifer suggests, and if Benjamin's mother was also a Beila, as Jennifer also suggests in a different version of the Tree, and given that Benjamin later named his own first child Beila, we can perhaps begin to construct a timeline of Beilas.

A Beila Timeline
We have previously had cause to refer to the Ashkenazi Jewish tradition of naming a child after a recently deceased close relative. Maybe that's what's happening here. Let's look at what we know, and see what we can deduce, in the light of this tradition.

1) Movsha and his second wife Chana have their first child Beila 2 in 1866, so his first wife Beila 1 must have died before then; Movsha would then be naming his new child after his deceased frst wife.

2) Benjamin's own first daughter Beila 3 was born in 1913, so it is likely that his mother - who was Beila 2, Movsha's first daughter with Chana - had died by then.

So our timeline now reads:

i) Beila1, Movsha's first wife: probably died c1865
ii) Beila 2, daughter of Movsha's second wife Chana: born c 1866, named after her father's deceased first wife Beila 1; mother of Benjamin; probably died before 1913
iii) Benjamin, son of Beila 2 and an unidentified Gitelman: born 1886
iv) Beila 3, daughter of Benjamin: born 1913, named after her deceased grandmother Beila 2

Here's how that might look in a Tree:

NB: I haven't shown Benjamin's daughter Beila 3 in this Tree, as the whole thing is just getting too crowded.

Sorted

I thought I had this sorted a month ago. I even posted #14, and thought, that's it, onward and upward. Next! However, on re-reading, there were several things I wasn't happy with. I revised, rephrased,  re-drew the Trees, then revised, rephrased and re-drew again, and eventually split the analysis into two sections. Dora's story now spreads over 7 posts, that have taken 6 weeks to put together. I'm going to stick with this version, until I see reason to change it, of course.


Many thanks to Jennifer and other descendants who have interrogated relatives, trawled through websites, paid for research, and drafted Trees, and also shared their DNA with me, whether they realise it or not. And especial thanks to Genetic Affairs, whose AutoClusters provided the clues and pointed the way.


But this journey is not over yet. There are at least 4 more Zaturenskys to come, wending their way over the water from Pinsk to Peoria. But we can relax a bit, I don't think any of their stories are quite as complicated as Dora's.



Sunday, 17 May 2020

Moshe Chaim, Czar of Pinsk: #14 Dora and Ockham's Razor

The story so far
Dora Zaturensky was the sister - or half-sister, maybe - of my great-grandmother Shprintsa. Their father Movsha may have had 2 wives; Shprintsa was born in 1858, and may have been the daughter of the first wife, and Dora, b 1869, the daughter of the second.

I have identified DNA matches with 2 of Dora's great-grandchildren, Cousin Paul and Cousin David. David is a descendant of Dora's first husband, Gitelman (we don't know his given name), whilst Paul is from her second husband, Jacob Kawin.


The paper trail says I have exactly the same relationship to both Paul and David: half-3rd Cousin. So why is there such a huge difference between the amounts of DNA I share with them? Or, to ask the question another way around: why do I share so much more DNA with a Kawin descendant than I do with a Gitelman one?

I've had a question like this before, in this same family. In that case, it seemed the solution was that there was probably a double relationship somewhere along the line - that Movsha's son Shmuel had married his cousin Rochel Leah, for instance. Is something similar happening here?

For this to be the case, I would have to have a single relationship with David, via Dora, and a double relationship with Paul. This second relationship could occur at any point in the Tree I have researched so far - via Paul's father's family (which I think is most unlikely, having had a quick look at his ancestry), that of his maternal grandmother Alice Cowan (wife of Sam Kawin), which also seems unlikely, or through Jacob Kawin himself. And the implication of this is that Jacob and Dora would have to be be fairly close cousins.

In other words, one of Dora's parents would have to be a sibling to one of Joseph's: either Dora's mother ('2nd wife' in the Tree above) would be a Kawin, ie a sister to Joseph's father Max, or Joseph's mother would be a Zaturensky, a sister to Dora's father Movsha. We don't have any information on Dora's mother, but we do have several references to Joseph's mother as 'Hinda Sandusky'. It is possible that this could be a variant on 'Zaturensky', but the Sandusky name does occur in several places, and in any case it's not a very convincing rendition of Zaturensky. At the moment I'm tending towards Dora's mother being the connection.

A tantalising Tree
Then I came across this tantalising clip from a Tree on the JewishGen 'Family Tree of the Jewish People' (log in required). It was posted nearly 20 years ago, at a time when it was not possible to do much online research, so I'm assuming it's the product of family knowledge, and possibly some archival research in Belarus. I've written to the person who posted it, asking where the information comes from; fingers crossed I'll get a response!


The layout is not 100% clear, but it seems to be saying that Benjamin is the son of a Mosha Lipschitz from Pinsk, who died in 1886, the same year as Benjamin was born. The mother is unknown, but she is not Dora, who seems to be Mosha's second wife. The dates given here suggest Dora must have married at the age of 14, though we have her down elsewhere as born in 1869, which would make her 17 at the time of this marriage.

In addition, if Benjamin is the son not of Dora but of an earlier wife, this first wife would need to be closely related to Dora - preferably a sister - so as to retain my DNA relationship with David (see my draft Tree above).

Fact or fancy?
All this suggests the following scenario:

1 Mosha Lipschitz and first wife have child Benjamin in Nov 1886
2 maybe first wife dies in childbirth or shortly after
3 Mosha remarries immediately, to Dora
4 Mosha himself dies
5 Dora packs her bags and goes off to Peoria to marry Jacob Kawin, leaving her stepson Benjamin behind

- all in a matter of weeks.

Oh dear. There's too much going on here, and it's putting a tremendous weight on Dora's 17-year old shoulders. I'm not happy with it.

Ockham's Razor
At this point I am reminded of the wise words of the medieval philosopher William of Ockham, who is reputed to have argued along the lines of "Don't make an explanation more complicated than it needs to be", or, as expressed by Bertrand Russell, "always opt for an explanation in terms of the fewest possible causes".

So what can we identify as the "fewest possible causes" in this case? Looking at our suggested scenario again, the only things we can take as fact are:

1 Benjamin was born around 1886, probably in Pinsk
and
5 Dora went to the US around 1887, probably from Pinsk

Plus,
6 We have seen that Benjamin brought his own family from Pinsk to Peoria in 1922, and lived for 20 years or so in a house built in Dora's back yard
7 I have the DNA relationship with David and Paul outlined above

Do we really need 2, 3 and 4 to explain 6 and 7? 

A closer shave
What happens if we apply Ockham's Razor to this scenario, and shave off the bits we don't need? How about discarding the marriage between Dora and Mosha Lipshits shown in the Tree above? We have no evidence for it, or reference to it, other than this Tree, and this Tree shows no sources, and could be wrong.

The consequences for Dora's story would be:
2 Mosha's wife does not need to die at this point
3 Mosha does not need to remarry, so he does not marry Dora
4 we no longer need to 'free' Dora from the marriage to Mosha, nor do we need to posit his death at this point

That feels better.

Wanted: a sister for Dora
In fact, it feels much better. Applying the razor leaves both of our outstanding queries untouched.  Point 6 - Benjamin coming to live next door to Dora in Peoria, and point 7 - my DNA matches with Paul and David, are covered by just one assumption: that Benjamin's mother is indeed a sister of Dora.

This implies that when Benjamin emigrates to Peoria, he is going to live close by his Aunt and Cousins. We know he took on their surname, Kawin, shortly after arriving in the US. And it would not affect my DNA relationship with David. Our Common Ancestor would still be my great-great-grandfather Movsha Zaturensky.

The only problem is, we don't have an eligible sister for Dora.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Moshe Chaim, Czar of Pinsk: #13 Schrödinger's Rabbi

A crucial year
1900 has now become a crucial year for Dora Zaturensky, sister of my great-grandmother Shprintsa (see #9: Dora's Story onwards, for her story so far). The US Census, taken on 2 June, finds her living in Peoria, Illinois, in the house at 108 Gallatin Street that she has been in for a couple of years or more, with her two sons Abraham and Samuel. Her husband Joseph had died in 1897.


Samuel is on the next page:


This is the first US Census that Dora and the boys appear on, so we need to pay attention to what she says. Dora is born in July 1870, she's a widow, and has had 4 children, of whom 2 are living. Abe is born Dec 1888, Samuel Dec 1889. She also says she emigrated in 1888, when by her own account she would have been 18.

Who are the 2 other children that she says are no longer living? They could have been born before she immigrated to the US in 1888. That would imply 2 children born before she was 18, that she left behind in order to emigrate to the USA, where she immediately married Joseph Kawin and had 2 more in quick succession. Or they could be 2 children born with Joseph in Peoria, who did not survive; there is no record of any such births, or deaths, but records from Peoria are quite erratic for this period, so it is still a possibility.

Or at least it would be a possibility, if Benjamin Gitelman hadn't arrived from Pinsk in 1922 acting for all the world like her long lost son, and claiming a brother Hirsz back in Pinsk (see previous post). So I'm going with the 4 births story until I come across evidence to the contrary, even if it implies that she had her first child at 15 or 16, if her stated birth date of 1870 is to be believed. And of course the arrival of Benjamin confirms that, although she said in 1900 that the two sons she had left behind in Pinsk had died, they were in fact still very much alive.

What about the Rabbi?
What about her husband-to-be Ephraim Goldberg, who she married 2 months later in Chicago? Where was he in June, when the Census was taken?

Well, he's in Peoria, at 608 Johnson Street, about a quarter of a mile from Dora's house at 108 Gallatin Street. And he's a Rabbi. So maybe they could have met in the street, or at the synagogue. He's a widower, he immigrated in 1880, and has a son Julius aged 10. And he's down as Efrof, which didn't make him any easier to find.


He also appears in the 1900 Peoria Directory, as Rev. Ephraim Goldberg. He's at a different address, 1509 S Adams Street. Maybe he moved house between the time the Directory was compiled, and 2 June, the date of the Census.


Just a minute. Who's this other Goldberg - Frank, the butcher, boarding at 108 Gallatin? Isn't that our Dora's house?

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Is this Ephraim the Rabbi, under a different name, and with a different occupation, by any chance? In two places at the same time? Schrödinger's Rabbi?

Ephraim Goldberg: The back-story
At this point I went off for a week or so, looking for Ephraim Goldberg's back-story.  His forward story turned out to be quite interesting, too. I've had to compile a 2-page timeline to try to pin him down. He has a story of his own, what follows is a brief summary of those bits that concern Dora.

Ephraim Goldberg seems to have been born in Suwalki, Poland around 1851. He first appears in the US in the early 1870s, with his wife Rosa and a number of children. In the 1880 Census they're in Chicago, and he's a Hebrew Teacher. He's still a Teacher in Chicago in 1889 and 1891, but he's clearly having problems with his given name, which appears as 'Abe' on the birth record of his son Julian in 1889.

From 1892 to 1895 he's in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as a Butcher. He has a child there in 1892, Rachel Leah. I may be willing to write up my analysis of her birth registration document, for a reasonable fee.

He does not reappear in Milwaukee, but there is an Ephraim who appears amongst the 200-odd Goldbergs in the Chicago Directories between 1896-99. This Ephraim is a labourer in these listings; there are a few butchers, and one or two teachers, but none of them appear to be our man, and there are no rabbis at all. This one could be him, or he could have spent these years somewhere else entirely, in a place we haven't got the Directories for.

The irregular Schochet
Then this cropped up, thanks to an eagle-eyed member of the Tracing the Tribe Group on Facebook. It's from The Inter Ocean, a Chicago newspaper, dated 8 August 1895:


Halfway down the report, we see this:


Is the schochet - kosher slaughterer - named in this report, 'Mr Goldberg', the same person as the Frank Goldberg, butcher, who 5 years later we find boarding with Dora in Peoria? As I mentioned above, there were a few butchers called Goldberg in Chicago at the time, and the Ephraim listed in the Directories is a 'labourer'. As yet, I have found no other reference to this incident, so for the moment at least I'm agnostic on this one. But it's a lovely story.

Dora with Ephraim
Then in 1900, Ephraim enters Dora's life. His wife Rose dies on 30 April, in Chicago. In the Census, taken on 11 June, he's in Peoria, as above. The 1900 Peoria Directory (above) shows him living in two places at once, with two names and two occupations: Ephraim the Rabbi and Frank the Butcher, boarding with Dora. In the Census he has his son Julius with him; we later find his 7 year-old daughter Rachel Leah (see above), now known as 'Lillie', living with her older sister Emilia, or 'Millie', in Chicago.

He marries Dora in Chicago on 14 August, and within a year their child Sarah is born in the small town of Oskaloosa, in Iowa (see previous post for the delayed birth certificate).

Dora without Ephraim
At this point Ephraim seems to disappear from the records. I can find no further reference to either Ephraim or Dora until the 1910 Census, which brings its own puzzles. As we have seen, Dora and her daughter Sarah are Goldbergs, and her sons Abraham and Sam are Kawins, and they are in Chicago. Dora is 'married', but no husband is listed as living with them.

So what about Ephraim?


He's in Whiting (Indiana), a Rabbi. He has his 17 year-old daughter Lillie living with him. He's been married for 9 years, but there's no wife listed - as we know, Dora is in Chicago at this point. So they are living apart, each with their own children, but both attest to being married, presumably to each other. At the moment I don't know when Dora and the children moved to Chicago, or when or why Ephraim found his way to Whiting.

The Wandering Rabbi
Ephraim then embarks on a series of rabbinical appointments across the mid-West, in places like Fort Wayne (Indiana), where he's a 'Grocer'; Muncie and then Marion (Indiana); and Wausau (Wisconsin). Throughout this period he is with a wife Katie; there is a son Israel aged 9 with them in the 1920 Census. I did start looking into this relationship, but didn't get very far. Life's too short.

Ephraim eventually dies in Chicago in 1926. On his death record, his occupation is shown not as 'Rabbi', but 'Schochet'. So maybe it was him in the Chicago kosher meat scandal of 1895, after all.

I keep asking myself - why am I researching this man? Well, I respond, he's the father of Sarah, one of Dora's children, and Dora is the sister of my great-grandmother. I may one day stumble upon a DNA match with one of Sarah's descendants. And understanding these half-sibling relationships could help us to unravel the story the DNA is trying to tell us. Or it could just tie us up in even more tangled knots, of course.

You never know.








Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Moshe Chaim, Czar of Pinsk: #12 Dora and the Rabbi

Where did Sarah come from?
At this point, we have found that my great-grandmother's sister, Dora Zaturensky b 1870 in Pinsk, Russia, seems to have had 4 or possibly 5 children, by three different husbands:

1 unidentified Gitelman: Benjamin b 1886 (and possibly Hirsz), both born in Pinsk, Russia
2 Joseph Kawin: Abraham b 1888 and Samuel b 1890, both in Peoria, Illinois; Joseph died in 1897
3 unknown: Sarah b 1901/4, Iowa

We have encountered Benjamin, Abraham and Sam in previous posts. The earliest reference I had to Sarah was when she appeared out of the blue in the 1920 Census, living with Dora in Los Angeles as a fully-fledged 18 year-old daughter. Where had she come from? I couldn't find them anywhere in the 1910 Census. I knew that Abraham and Sam were in LA by 1913, but didn't know when they had got there.

Cardinal sin
And then it struck me that I had committed the genealogist's cardinal sin - I had been looking in the 1910 Census for Dora and Sarah Kawin, as I knew them, and couldn't find them. But I had neglected to do a search on the other members of the family, Abraham and Sam. So I did, and they turned up immediately, in Chicago:



There they were, with their mother and sister. Who are now both Goldbergs.

Goldbergs? Where had that come from? Dora is listed as being in her second marriage (M2). She has been in this marriage for 6 years, and has had 3 children, all living; we presume she is referring to the 3 currently living with her. All this doesn't quite tally with what we think we know (see above), but nothing ever does, and it's not crucial here, so we won't lose any sleep over it for the moment.

However, if Dora has been in this Goldberg marriage for 6 years, and Sarah is a Goldberg and is 8 years old, how does that add up? And if she is married, who is her husband, and where is he?

"I had to go for the doctor"
I soon found out who he was. The State of Iowa has a collection of 'Delayed Birth Records', and this is from 1942:


Sam Kawin attests to the birth of Sarah Goldberg in Oskaloosa, Iowa, on 3 June 1901. The affidavit asks for details of the parents:


The mother is Dora Teranski, as Sam was later to identify her on her death certificate (Toranski). The father is Ephraim Goldberg, a "Jewish Rabbi", some 15 years older than Dora.

Sam also had to attest to the "basis of my knowledge for the answers given above":


"I was 11 years of age at the time of her birth. She is my half-sister, and I resided in Oskaloosa at that time, and remember the incident quite well, as I had to go for the doctor."

The birth is "legitimate" (see above), so there should be a marriage, somewhere, between Dora and Ephraim some time between the Census of June 1900, where she was Dora Kawin, and this birth in June 1901.

And it shouldn't be too hard to pin down a rabbi, should it?

Pinning down the Rabbi
Well, let's get this out of the way first:


Married in Chicago, 14 August 1900. The Census on 2 June had her in Peoria, where she had been living for 12 years or so since immigrating to the USA; now, 2 months later, she's marrying in Chicago, 170 miles away. Maybe Ephraim was from Chicago, so they got married there. At least it shows everything was kosher.

There are still a few questions I'd like answering, though. Why was he not with them in 1910? Where was he? Why have Dora and Sarah reverted from Goldberg to Kawin in 1920? And how did he connect with Dora in the first place?

There's still a bit of work to do to pin down this particular Rabbi.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Moshe Chaim, Czar of Pinsk: #11 Dora's four by three

1920 - Dora and her daughter
When we found Dora Kawin (née Zaturensky) in the 1920 Census in Los Angeles, she was living with her son Sam, and her new - to us, at least - 18 year-old daughter Sarah. They were living at 468 West 46th Street, and there is no-one else registered at that address. Looking down the page, it looks like a street of one-family houses, rather than apartment blocks - and a quick check on present-day Real Estate websites confirms this. In fact several of them say the present building dates from 1922, so perhaps Dora was in an earlier building on the same plot in 1920?

Her other son, Abraham, is not there, because he had been called up for military service in 1917, and sadly was killed in action in France in October 1918, just a few weeks from the end of World War 1.

1910 - a mystery
Intrigued by the unexpected appearance of Dora's daughter Sarah in 1920, I looked for them in the previous Census, in 1910, when Sarah would have been around 8 years old. I couldn't find them. Where could they be? Maybe there was a spelling change that the searches were not picking up.

1930 - a surprise
So I looked at the next Census, in 1930, and found them this time, at the same address in LA:


Wow!

Two Kawin households, next door to each other! In the first one, at 468, is Dora, together with Sarah, who appears to have married, had a child, and divorced since the last Census. I'm itching to get on to 470, the the house next door, to see who the other family are, but before we do that, let's have a quick look at the dates suggested in the entries for Dora and Sarah:

Dora: age 61, so born 1869, Russia; first marriage at 17, so married 1886
Sarah: age 26, so born 1904, Iowa; first marriage at 18, so married 1922; looks like she has retained her married surname, Garbus.
Albert: age 7, so born 1923, California

Notice that Dora's date of birth seems to be creeping backwards at every count - I think the first estimate we found was 1872. And as I've suggested before, these details could be crucial.

And next door is ...
So who's this next door in 470? Benjamin Kawin and family? Kawin?? My genealogical antennae are twitching. Whenever I see two families with the same surname living in the same or adjacent dwellings - especially if there's no-one else in town with the same name, who I can't already account for - I immediately start wondering how they're related. And I'm wondering how come I've not spotted them before, either in LA or Peoria.

And then I notice (not shown here), that Benjamin and all his family were born in Russia, and immigrated in 1922. Let's just make a note of his dates:

Benjamin: age 43, so born 1887 Russia; first marriage at 23, so married 1910 Russia; immigrated 1922.

Thinking cap on.

Who is Benjamin Kawin?
We've seen that Dora's husband Joseph Kawin was born in Pinsk in 1863, and came to the USA in 1871, with his mother and all his siblings. His father Max had gone before. So Benjamin, born in Russia in 1887, cannot be a sibling of Joseph. And he's almost certainly not a son, because Joseph has been in the USA since 1871. Maybe he's a Kawin-side cousin, son of a brother of Joseph's father, Max?

So let's see if we can check his Passenger Manifest, maybe we'll see who he was leaving behind in Russia, and who he was going to in America. It shouldn't be too hard to find - as we've seen, Kawin is not that common a name. It turns out that it's so uncommon, that it's not there at all. There's no record of a Benjamin Kawin, any spelling, arriving in the USA in 1922. Or any other year.

Thinking cap on again.

No, really. Who is Benjamin Kawin?
He claims to have naturalised. Let's look for that. You've guessed. There's no record of a Benjamin Kawin, any spelling, naturalising in the USA between 1922 and 1930. Or any other year.

Then we stumble upon his Draft Registration Card from 1942:


Benjamin Kawin Gitelman, with the Gitelman struck through! So he was a Gitelman, and changed his name to Kawin. Why? And how come he's found his way to the house next door to Dora?

And can we now find a Manifest for him, and his Naturalisation documents, under his new, sorry make that his old, name?

Benjamin Gitelman, Manifest thyself!
Of course we can. The whole family sailed from Antwerp to New York on 23 November 1922. He's 36, so born in 1885/6. And who is his nearest relative in Poland (Pinsk was in Poland between the Wars)?


His brother Hirsz Gittelman in Pinsk. And he's heading for Los Angeles. Who is he going to, in LA?

Why, to his brother - sorry, make that his half-brother - Sam Ravin (known to us of course as Sam Kawin), of 468 West 46th Street, Los Angeles.

Wait a minute .... Half-brother? That must mean they share one parent, not two. Which one? Let's check what we have on these two at the moment:

Benjamin: born 1885/6 in Pinsk, father a Gitelman
Sam: born 1890 in Peoria, father Joseph Kawin

It's not the father.

It must be the mother.

Dora's new son
Dora has a new son. Well, she had him 36 years ago, but he's new to us. And he's brought his family all the way from Pinsk to Los Angeles, to live next door.

All this is confirmed in Benjamin's death record:

It's as our thinking cap has suggested - his mother was a Terensky, or as we know her, Zaturensky. He was born in Pinsk in 1886, when Dora was 17 years old; his father was a Gitelman, but we don't as yet have his given name. Dora left for America shortly after Benjamin was born, leaving him in Pinsk. The next thing we know of him is his arrival in New York in 1922.

Dora's Timeline
Let's have another look at Dora's dates, as best we can judge them at this point:

1869: born Dora Zaturensky in Pinsk, daughter of my great-great-grandfather Movsha
1882: brother Shmuel (Simon Morris) emigrates to USA; he naturalises in Peoria in 1886
1886: Dora marries a Gitelman in Pinsk
1885/6: son Benjamin Gitelman born in Pinsk; possibly a second son Hirsz as well, if he's a full brother to Benjamin (if he's a half-brother, he would have a different mother)
1888: 25 Dec, son Abraham Kawin born in Peoria, Illinois
1890: 23 Nov, son Samuel Kawin born in Peoria
1897: husband Joseph Kawin dies
1900: Dora and the boys living in Peoria
1901/04: daughter Sarah Kawin born in Iowa; but she can't be Joseph's daughter, he's been dead too long - so who is her father?
1910: (haven't found them yet)
1913: Dora, Abraham and Sam now living in Los Angeles
1918: Abraham killed in France
1922: Benjamin arrives from Pinsk with his family, and moves in next door

Dora's 4 by 3
And here's Dora's Tree, as we have it so far - it may help to have a different visualisation:

She has 4 children, by three different fathers, born in 3 different places, in two different countries. We have no marriage records at all, no birth records for any of the children, and no passenger manifest for Dora's immigration. We don't know the given name of Benjamin's father, or who brought the baby up in his mother's absence. And we have no idea at all of the identity of Sarah's father.

And most intriguing of all, we have no idea why 18 year-old Dora left her baby Benjamin behind in Pinsk and travelled 5,000 miles across the ocean to marry a friend of her brother's that she had never met.

So plenty of fun ahead!

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Moshe Chaim, Czar of Pinsk: #10 There's more to Dora than meets the eye

No docs for Dora
Key moments of Dora Zaturensky's life appear to be almost totally undocumented, so what follows is an attempt to piece together fragments of disconnected information into what I hope is at least a half-way coherent story.

Some things are certain:
1) I have a strong DNA match with one of her great-grandchildren, Cousin Paul, and a weaker one with another, Cousin David.
2) Her father has the same name as my great-great-grandfather, Movsha Zaturensky, he's from the same town, Pinsk, and was having children at about the same time. I deduce from this and the DNA connection that her father *is* my gg-g'f, that Dora is the sister of my g-g'm Shprintsa, and that Paul and David are 3C to me. There are virtually no documents openly available from Pinsk from this period, and none that mention any members of this family.
3) Dora left Pinsk around 1887 and emigrated to the USA. She came to live in Peoria, Illinois, and married Joseph Kawin either just before or just after emigrating.
4) She had two sons with Joseph, in Peoria: Abraham b 1888 and Samuel b 1890.
5) Joseph died around 1897.

There appear to be no documents available for any of the events described in (3), (4) or (5) - no Passenger Manifests that I can identify as being for either Dora or Joseph, no Naturalisation documents, the 1890 US Census has been destroyed, there's no marriage record, no birth records for the sons, and no identifiable death record for Joseph. All the information presented here is either culled or inferred from later documents.

Dora and the Kawins
The first time I can find Dora on paper is in the Peoria Directory for 1898, as the widow of Joseph, living at 108 Gallatin Street:
As you can see, there is one other Kawin family in town, running a china store. They must be related to Joseph, but I have found no documentation to verify this. They are in Peoria in the 1880 Census, where the head of the family is Max.

Who is Joseph?
A second look at the 1880 Census reveals that one of Max Kawin's sons is a Jacob b 1862.

Now Joseph appears in Peoria Directory listings in 1890 and 1896, and Jacob does not, although several other members of the Kawin family do (see below). Jacob dies in 1897, and as we have seen, Joseph has also died by then - Dora is the "widow of Joseph" in the 1898 Directory.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

Joseph is Jacob? Jacob is Joseph?

Or is he??


Not forgetting George
Thinking on this question, and browsing through the Directory listings for Peoria on MyHeritage, I stumbled across a feature I had not noticed there before. You can do a "who else lived at this address" search. It returns matches for the address across all years, but could be very useful for answering questions for the years between censuses, when you have to be a very lucky researcher indeed to locate that information.

So I checked Joseph's entry for 1890:
And then I did the "who else ... " search on his address, 303 Gallatin. I found this in 1891:
George Kawin? Who is he? He's not in Max Kawin's family. He's a peddler, like Joseph the year before. Come to that, where's Joseph? Hmm.

So I followed up on George. There is only one other entry for him on the whole of the internet (trust me), this one for 1892:
He's moved down the street to number 414. And still no Joseph. Hmm again.

Let's try the "who else .. " search again on MyH, and see who turns up in 414:
Hello, hello! It's our old friend Simon Moses! Or Shmuel Zaturensky, as we prefer to call him. And this entry is also for 1892 - so this time we've got two people in the same house at the same time. And they are two people that we know quite well: Shmuel is of course the brother of Dora, and Dora, as we know, is married to Joseph/Jacob Kawin.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking (again)? Is George just another name for Joseph? And are George, Joseph and Jacob all the same person?

Why Peoria?
Once I had reached that, albeit tentative, conclusion, I decided to follow this Kawin family through. I found that Jacob had arrived in the USA aged 8 with his mother Hinda and 4 siblings in 1871. They came from Volkovisk, in what is now western Belarus, about 100 miles NW of Pinsk, and settled in Peoria. Dora was born around that date, in Pinsk, and seems to have emigrated, on her own, around 1887, aged about 16, although as yet I have not found a Passenger Manifest for her. She must have married Jacob/Joseph/George soon after arriving, as Abraham appears to have been born around 1888-89, in Peoria. Bear with me, these dates are crucial.

All this raises more questions. Why did she come to Peoria, specifically? The most likely explanation is that her brother Shmuel was already there - he had obtained US Naturalisation as Simon Moses in 1886, in Peoria, so must have been in the USA for a number of years prior to that. He would have known the Kawin family, who were well established in the town by then, and was a similar age to Jacob/Joseph/George. Did Shmuel suggest she come over to marry his friend? As we have just seen, Shmuel was living with Dora and Joseph/Jacob/George a few years later.

Dora's daughter
In the 1900 Census, 3 years after the death of Jacob/Joseph/George, Dora and her two sons Abraham and Samuel are in Peoria, at 108 Gallatin Street, the same house as in the 1898 Directory.

I couldn't find Dora at first in the 1910 Census (more on this later), but from 1913 onwards they all start showing up in Los Angeles. In several Directories there, she is listed again as "widow of Joseph".

And then, in the 1920 Census, a strange thing happens:
Suddenly, Dora has a daughter, Sarah, aged 18, born in Iowa. 

Oh dear. This causes us all sorts of problems.

If Sarah is 18 in 1920, she would have been born in 1901 or 1902. But Joseph/Jacob/George had died by 1898. If Sarah is Joseph's daughter, she must have been born by 1899 at the latest - so how come she doesn't appear in the 1900 Census?

We seem to have two options. Either:

a) Sarah is Joseph's daughter, was born in 1898, was left off the 1900 Census by accident, and has been falsifying her date of birth ever since.
or
b) Sarah was indeed born in 1901/2, and so is not Joseph's daughter. In which case, whose daughter is she? And why can't I find them in the 1910 Census?

At this point, I am afraid we shall have to hold this part of the investigation for a moment or two, as other matters are about to arise that will complicate Dora's story still further.

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Moshe Chaim, Czar of Pinsk: #9 Dora's Story

Who is Dora?
A couple of the Trees I was looking at referenced a Dora Turansky, married to a husband with the surname Kawin. 'Turansky' sounds like she could be a Zaturensky, so I am definitely interested. However, these Trees do not link Dora to any of the other 'Terensky' families.

One of the Trees in which Dora appeared was that of someone called Paul, who seemed from the Tree to be her great-grandson (he's the 'Private' above). Paul's DNA match to me is 138 cM, which suggests something in the region of Third Cousin. This implies that our common ancestor could be at the level of great-great-grandparents, ie in the generation prior to Dora.

The finger of suspicion
Just a minute. If Dora's father is to be the common ancestor for Cousin Paul and myself, and if the name Turansky comes to her from him, the finger of suspicion is pointing straight at my own great-great-grandfather, Movsha Zaturensky. In which case Dora would be the sister of my great-grandmother, Shprintsa.

So where can we find the name of Dora's father? Is he my Movsha? He's 'D Turansky' in Paul's Tree, but there doesn't seem to be any documentary evidence for this 'D'. Well, death records sometimes name the deceased's father ....
This appears to be the right person. It carries her father's surname, Toransky, but not his given name. Bear in mind that this record is just an index, and that the original may contain more information. Maybe if we can find the original death certificate ...

And here she is:
Aha! Born in Pinsk - sounds promising. And the informant is her son, Sam. He should know.

But look at her father: Morris Toransky, also born in Pinsk!

This has to be my Movsha Zaturensky!!

Another sibling for Shprintsa
So my great-grandmother Shprintsa has another sibling, Dora, to add to the one we found earlier: Shmuel (Simon Morris). Movsha Zaturensky does indeed have 3 children, as was suggested in Cousin Jennifer's Tree - except, two of them are daughters, Shprintsa and Dora, where Jennifer shows her with 3 sons. [We'll come back to the two sons who she shows at the head of the Terence and Trent lines in a later post.]
More to Dora
But there's more to Dora than meets the eye. You may have noticed that Paul's tree gives her mother as 'Chana', whereas Jennifer and I have the mother of Shprintsa and Shmuel as 'Baila'. I must say that I have not as yet seen any documentary evidence for either of these names, but the dates of birth suggest that the two-mother scenario could be a possibility. The best bets we have at the moment for these three siblings are:

Shprintsa b 1858
Shmuel b 1864
Dora b 1870

So it's certainly possible that Movsha's first wife - Baila? - could have died after having Shprintsa and Shmuel, and that he then married - Chana? - some time after 1864, and Dora was born a few years later.

Back to the DNA
This scenario has DNA implications, of course. It would reduce the amount of DNA I share with cousins descended from Dora, such as Paul. I would only share one gg-g'parent with them (Movsha, but not Chana), as against the two I share with Private Morris, and also Cousins Jennifer and Rebecca (all Movsha and Baila). Always remembering that I strongly suspect that Shmuel married his First Cousin Rochel Leah, so my relationship with this branch is doubled, with further implications for DNA sharing.

At this point I will throw in another member of the original Cluster Club, Cousin David, who is also descended from Dora, and who I believe is a half-2C to Paul (that's another story). You will notice that I share a whole lot less DNA with David than I do with Paul ...

Here are the numbers, with my current estimate of the relationships, and the names of the Most Recent Common Ancestors, assuming the double- and half-cousin scenarios outlined above:
As you can see, my matches with Paul and David are in different territories - and yet the paper trail says they have the same relationship to me, ie Half-Third Cousins. Whilst the cM I share with Half-Cousin Paul suggests he should belong in the same category as the Double-Cousins Jennifer and Rebecca.

Oy veh!