This is Sarah Frankenstein's headstone again, discussed in the previous post Two stones: son of Leib. This time we're looking at the first line of the inscription:
Top line: Sarah, daughter of Yonah
Sarah was married to Israel Jacob Frankenstein, and we don't know her maiden name, so it's nice to at least have her father's given name. But there's more to it than that.
Sarah Frankenstein's family
We first see her in the 1891 UK Census, living at 1 Tewkesbury Buildings, Whitechapel in the East End of London:
She's shown as 40 years old here, which suggests she was born around 1850. With her are 2 daughters Rachel 17 and Dolly 20, and a son Barnett aged 21. She is a widow; all 4 of them are born in Poland. I suspect they were recent arrivals, since Barnett is shown with no occupation, which is unusual for an adult male in this Census.
There are 3 families living in this house. The third is another Frankenstein:
This is the family of Jacob Frankenstein aged 33, with his wife Leah, and 5 children: Moses 11, Harry 7, Rebecca 6, Aaron 4 and Joseph 2. Jacob, Leah and the first child Moses are shown as born in Poland, the other four children are born in Shoreditch, which is near Whitechapel.
The two Frankenstein families are listed as separate households, and there is no indication that they are connected. However, there are only a handful of other Frankenstein families from Poland in London at that point, so it is a bit suspicious to find two of them living in the same building.
Jacob and Leah also appear 10 years earlier, in the 1881 Census, with Moses aged 1½. Here Moses is shown as born in Spitalfields, not Poland; and indeed he seems to be a Londoner - we have his birth certificate, b 4 October 1879 in Spitalfields, registered 1 November. So Jacob and Leah are in London at least from 1879, whilst Sarah and family appear to have come some 10 years later, around 1890. They moved on to the USA in 1904.
Various documents later on indicate that Jacob and Barnett are indeed brothers - they both name their father as Israel Jacob, and when Barnett's son Jack emigrated to the USA in 1914, his passenger manifest shows him going to Jacob Frank. Another son, Woolf, followed in 1920. They were going to their uncle.
However, there were two things that worried me, which you may already have noticed.
First, Sarah's age. In her own 1891 Census entry, she is shown as 40 years old, so born 1851, which is OK for the children living with her, aged 21, 20 and 17. However, Jacob appears as 33, or possibly 38 (the second digit is overwritten) - so born 1853-58. If both their ages are correct, she couldn't be his mother. Jacob's year of birth is pretty consistent through later documents. However Sarah is probably considerably older than appears from the 1891 Census. Her year of birth shows as 1831 in the 1901 Census, and 1842 on her death certificate. These dates would put her in the same age range as the siblings of her husband Israel Jacob (we don't know when he was born himself), and anything up to the late 1830s would make her a feasible age to be the mother of Jacob.
Second, Jacob's father would be Israel Jacob. This seems to contravene a long-standing and widely-followed East European Jewish naming tradition, according to which sons are never named after their fathers, or daughters after their mothers. The custom, followed almost 100% in Poland in this period, was for children to be named for a recently deceased close family member. For older sons, this usually resulted in names being given for direct ancestors such as a grandfather, or a great-grandfather if the grandfather was still alive.
Exception that proves the rule
I have one case in my own Frankenstein family which at first seemed to be an anomaly. My great-grandfather was Jankel Josek, and his youngest son, born 2 June 1904, appears in the Gombin Book of Residents with the same two given names. How could this be? It was a puzzle, until I noticed a comment against the father's name: died 2 November 1903. My g-g'f Jankel Josek's son was born 7 months later, and was named in his memory. I take this as an exception that proves the rule.
So what about Jacob and his father Israel Jacob? This cannot be the same case as my Jankel Joseks. Jacob cannot have been named after his father, as Israel Jacob was still around 10 years and more later, when his other children, Barnett, Dolly and Rachel, were born. Which leaves the puzzle unresolved.
Then two documents came to light. First, Barnett's marriage authorisation from the United Synagogue in 1893, on which he has to name any brothers:
In an entry in Hebrew, he names one brother: Yonah. Not Jacob.
[You may also have noticed that on this certificate Barnett is using the surname 'Finkelstein', not 'Frankenstein'. This is not the only time he did this, and not the only time it happened in our family. There will be another post on this ... ]
So is Yonah the same person as Jacob, or could he perhaps be another brother?
Jacob died in 1940. He's buried in Stone Road Cemetery, Rochester, New York, and here's his headstone, courtesy of the FindaGrave website:
He is named in Hebrew as Yonah, son of Israel Jacob.
So he is Yonah in Hebrew, anglicised to Jacob in England and the USA. There is no conflict of names, and the tradition is not broken.
The question remains, when did Yonah start calling himself Jacob, and why? It could not have been before his father's death. He was Jacob on the birth certificate of his first son, Moses, in London in 1879, so I presume his father must have died before then. Israel Jacob's youngest daughter Rachel - Yonah/Jacob's sister - was born in Poland around 1874, so that narrows the dates down further. As I've mentioned before, we have no documents whatsoever from Poland on this family. As to why he chose to call himself Jacob, and not Jonah - we have no idea.
And who was Yonah named after? Our Frankenstein family were using a fairly restricted palette of names throughout the 19C, the same names are repeated across several family groups, and we can identify the naming ancestor for most of their births. But Yonah does not appear at all, and this has been puzzling me for a couple of years.
Then the other day I received the photo of the headstone of Yonah's mother, Sarah (see above). It tells us her father was Yonah. So Yonah was named after his mother's father, not his father's father. Which makes sense, because his paternal grandfather, Lewek (my 3rd great-grandfather), was still alive - he died in 1876. And his father in turn was Jakub, son of Wolf. So no ancestral Yonahs on that side.
It's all beginning to fit together .....