Today we found the grave of William Sheppard, Ari’s 4x great-grandfather, and his wife Angelina. They are both buried at the church of St John the Baptist in Crowle, Worcestershire.
William was born in 1843 at Sale Green in Worcestershire, and christened on 24 Feb. at Huddington church.
William’s father Joseph died when he was just five years old. In the census for 1851 he is living with his mother Mary, a ‘pauper gloveress’, and older brother Joseph.
By 1861 Mary has become a shopkeeper, and 18-year-old William is working as an agricultural labourer. He married Angelina Tyler in 1863 and by the 1871 census they have five children: Esther, William Henry, Joseph, Fanny, and one-month-old Elizabeth. William is still an agricultural labourer.
All the children were christened at the church in Crowle.
By 1881 two more children have been born: James in 1872 and Mary in 1876. The family are living in Sale Green, next door to Angelina’s parents John and Sarah Tyler.
In 1885 William was fined 2s. 6d. for neglecting to send his children to school:
A slight change for William by 1891. He has become a groom and coachman, and all the children have now left home.
The last census for William is in 1901. He is living in Worcester Rd, Droitwich, and working as a domestic coachman.
One of Ari’s 4x great-grandmothers was Mindel or Millie Gross, the mother of Grandma Raye. Her Hebrew name was Mindel Bat [daughter of] Shlomo Zalma Halevy.
I don’t have a photo of her.
Mindel was born in about 1868 in Kalisz, Poland, which had a big Jewish community going back to the twelfth century. The city was famous for its lace and other textiles. In 1827 a Jewish quarter was established. In 1881 the Russian authorities expelled the Jewish residents of Kalisz who lacked Russian citizenship, but I think Millie had already left by then.
“The Jewish neighborhood of Kalisz was in the northwest area of the central city, along the main boulevard – Nowa Street. Nowa and adjacent streets were the site of the Great Synagogue and the House of Study. Along its expanse were the offices of Jewish organizations and clubs, as well as many Jewish shops ranging from large stores to small shops to tiny holes in the wall: bookstores, taverns, shops selling Hebrew and Yiddish newspapers, butchers, fish stores, and boutiques.”
“In 1939, on the eve of the German invasion, the Jewish population of Kalisz numbered over 20,000. There is no Jewish community in Kalisz today.” (Holocaust Encyclopedia)
More information and photos of Kalisz can be seen here.
According to her grandson Michael Arkus, Millie was orphaned in Poland at the age of 4 and was brought to England by an uncle called Peter who settled in England after being captured when fighting against the British in the Crimean War. I have been unable to find out who this uncle is.
My big breakthrough with Millie came when I was able to order her daughter’s birth certificate, giving me her maiden name of Gross. I could then find her marriage certificate. She married Yehudah (or Jacob) Cohen on 13 August 1889 at the Great Synagogue in London.
The marriage certificate gave me the new information that Jacob was a widower, and that Millie’s father was Solomon Gross (deceased), a general dealer.
I now also have the marriage authorisation for the couple. This mentions her uncle, and gives her address before marriage as 12 Hutchison Avenue, Gravel Lane, Houndsditch.
I checked the census to see who else was at this address, and found the family of Jonas Barnett, also from Kalisz. I am hoping that this will lead me to other family members.
In the 1891 census they were living at 24 Green Dragon Yard, in Whitechapel, and her name was given as Amelia. In 1901 her name was given as Minnie. By the time of the 1911 census she was a widow, aged 42, living at 10 Fremont Street in Hackney. In addition to four of her children, there were two boarders: Cyril and Leo Krantz, aged 12 and 11, from Australia.
Millie and Jacob had six children: Rachel (Raye); Morris (Maurice), who became a journalist and film producer and married the glamorous German dancer and actor Lore Sello; Annie Rosa who died as a baby; Jacob (Jack), who was killed in action on 5 August 1916 aged 21 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; Solomon (Sidney), who owned a rag trade factory; and Esther (Hettie), who married an East End tailor whose family were also from Kalisz, Jack Arkus.
Millie died aged 64 on 20 July 1932 at 12 Anson Rd, Cricklewood. The cause of death was “myocarditis, arteriosclerosis, infarction of the lung”.
Job Spencer was Ari’s 6x great-grandfather, baptised on 16 Feb 1770 at St Mary’s Church, Wirksworth, Derbyshire. Job was the second son of Isaac Spencer and Sarah Buxton.
On 24 June 1790, he married Hannah Spencer in Wirksworth, and they went on to have eleven children (Isaac, Reuben, Elizabeth, Hannah, Sarah, Mary, Mabel, Ann, Job, Arthur and Grace).
As Job died in 1840 before the first national census, we really only know about him because of the will that he left. This runs to twelve pages. From the will, proved at Lichfield on 20 May 1840, we know that Job was a miner.
We also know that he owned land which he bequeathed to his wife and sons. For example, he mentions “parcels of land by name Meadow Rood or Meadow Roods numbers in plan 351 and 352 … commonly called Walkers Close” in Middleton-by-Wirksworth, “Spencers Piece”, “Ash Piece containing two roods and thirty two perches”, and “Springers Close or Middle Piece number on plan 13 containing one acre three roods and twenty three perches”.
He also helpfully mentions his daughters “Ann the wife of William Roper” and “Sarah (wife of Edward Mather)” and his “Deceased Daughter Elizabeth’s children (who was the wife of William Marples)”.
He also owned shares in mines, which were left to his sons and sons in law.
Job was buried at St Mary’s in Wirksworth on 26 Feb 1840.
Samuel Sims was Ari’s 5x great-grandfather, born in 1817 at Morley Park, Ripley, in Derbyshire.
Samuel was the oldest son of John Sims and Ann Slater, and Samuel was a farmer like his father.
In 1837 Samuel had a son, Samuel Salt Sims. The child’s mother was Elizabeth Salt. I don’t think they married, or if they did then Samuel didn’t tell the truth when he married Harriet Goodall on 6 June 1838 at St Oswald’s Church, Ashbourne, saying that he was a bachelor:
In the 1841 census Samuel and Harriet are living at Yeldersley, Ashbourne with their two children, George (2) and Anne (1).
In the 1851 census they are at Lady Hole Farm in Yeldersley. Samuel is described as ‘farmer of 260 acres employing one labourer’, and they have four more children; Sarah (9), John (8), Hannah (7) and Samuel James (2) (another Samuel had been born in 1845 and died in 1848).
The last census for Samuel is in 1861. He is still at Ladyhole Farm with Harriet. Eight of their children are living there along with Hannah Goodall, Harriet’s sister, and a servant (ploughboy) called George Deaville (16).
Samuel died on 2 Sept 1868 at the farm, aged 51. The cause of death was “Injury of the hand 5 weeks. Abscess in the Lungs”. He is buried in the beautiful churchyard in Bradley.
Samuel’s will is available at the Derbyshire Record Office.
On 7 March 1877, this notice appeared in the Derby Mercury:
(Although Harriet didn’t die until 25 April, so something strange there!)
The photo above was also taken that year. The couple lived in Vilnius with Rahle’s sister-in-law Chasel (Charlotte), and their first son Charles was born in Memel on 7 May 1901. Rahle was not happy in Vilnius, and persuaded her husband to emigrate to South Africa, where her two brothers, Mende and Sussman, and her uncle Benhard Chaskelson lived.
They came to Woodstock, Cape Town and then moved to Johannesburg and lived above the bicycle shop. The second son, John, was born in Johannesburg in 1903, and then two daughters: Anne in 1905 and Charlotte (Lottie) in 1906. In 1907, they moved to 88 Juta St in Braamfontein. Their daughter Rose (Ari’s great-great grandmother) was born on 10 Nov 1907.
An unfortunate incident occurred in 1915 when LK and Rahle were coming home from celebrating their anniversary. LK jumped off a tram at a stop. Leaning forward to catch him, Rahle fell off, breaking her hip. She was taken to hospital but she never fully recovered. She limped, and it affected her – she never went out. In April 1924 LK took her to Germany for treatment and Anne, Charlotte and Rose went too. He had wanted to go in 1918 while his father was still alive in Vilnius but the war made this impossible. His father died in 1920.
In 1933 LK and Rahle travelled to England on the Kenilworth Castle.
Rahle died aged 63 on 4 Sept 1938, at 220 Jan Smuts Avenue, Johannesburg. The cause of death was uraemia caused by thrombophlebitis of left leg and varicose veins. She was buried the same day at Brixton Cemetery.
An inventory of her movable property lists “her day jewelry (2 Rings, 1 Necklace, 1 Watch and sundry trinkets) and sundry clothing”, valued at approx £30 altogether.
Ari’s 7x great-grandmother Jane Goodfellow was probably born in Fovant, Wiltshire in 1704. Fovant is on the main Salisbury–Shaftesbury A30 road, and was once known for its watercress beds.
(For more information about the Fovant badges, see this story.)
Again, we know very little about this ancestor of Ari’s. I think she was baptised in Fovant on 2 June 1704, and if that is the right person, then her father’s name was John, but her mother’s name is not mentioned. I think she had a brother William, and sisters Mary, Anne and Lucy (twins), but William and Anne died as babies before she was born.
Christchurch was originally called Twyneham, and this story from the National Gazetteer of 1868 explains how it got its new name:
“This circumstance is accounted for by the monkish legend which relates the history of the building of the church. In order to expedite so good a work, Heaven aided the bishop with supernatural assistance, a supernumerary workman being always observed during the hours of labour, though at the times of refreshment and receiving wages only the stated number appeared. By his aid everything prospered till the fabric was nearly finished, when on raising a large beam to a particular situation where it was intended to be fixed, it was found to be too short. No remedy appearing, the embarrassed workmen retired to their dwellings. On returning to the church the ensuing morning, they discovered that the beam had been placed in its right position, and was now extended a foot longer than was requisite. Speechless with surprise, the additional workman recurred to their thoughts, and on recovering their tongues, they agreed that no other than our Saviour could have thus assisted them; and on this account, concludes the story, was the edifice dedicated to Christ.” The miraculous beam is still pointed out by the finger of credulity, though but a small portion of the original structure remains, the greater part of the present edifice having been rebuilt in the 15th century.”
Asher was born in 1785 and baptised on 26 June. His father was also called Asher, but his mother’s name is not known for certain, although there was a marriage in 1778 between Asher Butt and Anne Drodge.
On 20 Oct 1808 Asher married Elizabeth Thomas in Christchurch. Seven children were born and baptised in Christchurch between 1809 and 1825: Charlotte, Hannah, Sarah, William Thomas, Emma, Mary and George. The 1841 census shows Asher staying at the King’s Arms Hotel, Bridge St, aged 50, a Post Boy. (Asher’s wife and two of their children are at an address in Bargates.)
Asher appears on the marriage certificate for his son William on 10 Sept 1844, described as a postman, and also on the marriage record for his daughter Hannah in 1849 (after his death), where he is described as a servant.
He made the newspapers twice, once in 1839 because of an accident:
And then in 1841 when he was sent to Dorchester Gaol for a month:
The Prison Admission and Discharge Registers, 1782-1901 are available to browse on Ancestry.co.uk, and also some prisoner photographs for later years. I wasn’t able to find him in the registers.
His death was registered in the last quarter of 1844.
This photo shows Sarah with her husband David Nisman and son Chaim (Hymie), who was born in 1888.
According to Sarah’s daughter,
My perents acquired a smal part of land, my mother and father worked very hard, and also my brothers were working on the land. After about two years we were ordered out of that vilage as Jewish we could not live in a village and we must not possess any land. So, at this time that small town being rebuld, my father bough a small house and a very big garden. We had grown moust food for aur aun need. We also had chickens and geese, ducks, and I used to take them to a swamp near aur garden, I loved to do it.
Sarah must have been born in about 1855, probably in Belarus, and married in about 1873. I have no records of these events. We don’t know who her parents were.
So what do we know about her?
She had at least six children, with the oldest, Shmuel (Sam), being born on 31 May 1874 in Parichi, Babruysk, Belarus. Sam emigrated to New York in 1904 and worked as a carpenter, owning a furniture repair shop. There were two daughters, Haya, born in about 1879, and Freida.
Another son, Kofman, was born on 9 May 1879. He was also a carpenter and also emigrated to New York in 1904, where he had several children. Confusingly, he sometimes used the name Joseph, which was also the name of his younger brother who stayed in Russia. Joseph’s son Israel told us this, in a letter to my great-uncle Lionel:
My father Joseph/Yossef Nisman who stayed in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine was born in 1882 and died in 1942 during the war. My father had 5 children: Gregory, Anna, Dora, Michael and myself. My sister Dora stayed in touch with your brother Bernard through the letters. And even your mother in 1936 or 1937 wanted to come to us with your brother Bernard in order to make a shidech. My family was in touch with your mother until probably 1937 (when started repression period in Russia) and we tore up all the letters and photos of your family because they were very afraid that somebody will find the letters so the communication stopped. However my sister Dora kept two pictures of your mother and your brother Bernard.
The youngest son, Chaim (Hymie), was a furrier and emigrated to New York in 1922. According to his naturalization petition, he was born in Ekaterinoslav, Ukraine.
Hymie married and had four daughters.
We know from Freida that Sarah came to London some time after her grandson Harry was born:
Harry was a lovely baby. After one year we moved to a larger flat, and then, after a few month I had a still born babe. My mother came to visit me from Rusia and stayed with us for three months. I was so happy to see her, and Meyer loved her he thought she was a lovely lady.
We also know that Sarah had died by October 1935, when Freida made a donation to the Jewish National Fund in her late parents’ memory.