Finding Grandma’s birth family

Ari’s great-great grandmother Winifred (Nigel’s Grandma) was adopted as a baby, and this has always been the most solid brick wall in our family tree.

winifred

Yesterday, I was thinking about putting her story on the blog in case anyone could help solve the mystery. I started by looking at her birth certificate, which shows that she was born Edith Winifred Morris on 22 Jul 1903, to Annie Morris, a milliner, residing at The Fleet, Belper (no house number given).

I had read recently that it is a good idea to check the birth address in case it was a nursing home or institution that might have some adoption records, but with no house number this wasn’t so easy. While I was looking at the certificate and thinking about this, it occurred to me that it might be possible to see if another child had been born at the same address, i.e. a sibling of Winifred’s.

Now that we can use the GRO website to check for births without having to order the birth certificate, it is a bit easier. I started by looking for a male or female baby with the surname Morris and mother’s maiden name blank in 1901, but nothing came up as a match. Then I tried 1905 and found a Frederick Hargreaves Morris born in 1904 and an Ida Morris born in 1905.

So the next step was to check these two children in the 1911 census. I could rule out Frederick as I found a baptism with a mother Agnes. But I got very excited as I looked for Ida! It didn’t come up on Ancestry immediately as it had been transcribed as Jda, but this is what I saw:

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 07.32.05

As I clicked on the link to the census page, I was thinking “Please be a milliner!”

And look what I found:

Screen Shot 2017-08-13 at 07.33.52

The family are living at 100 Dale Rd in Derby, but Annie’s parents were both born in Belper. So it seems likely that this is Winifred’s mother Annie, with another child Ida, living at home with her parents, William and Caroline.

Of course, this raises almost as many questions as it answers. Why did she keep Ida but give Winifred up for adoption? Did the two girls have the same father? Did Winifred know that she had a sister? Did Annie and Ida ever go and see her or keep in touch? Who was the friend or relation in The Fleet, Belper, with whom Annie stayed to have the baby? There is much still to discover. There was a story that Annie had gone off to America, but I had never managed to trace her (especially as I had guessed her age to be younger and hadn’t thought to extend the search to Derby).

Winifred worked as a hosiery mender at Brettles Factory, and married Harry Spencer on 7 Apr 1928 at the Salem Chapel in Belper. She had six children, three of whom are still living in Belper.

I have now ordered the birth certificate for Annie and the marriage certificate for her parents William Morris and Caroline Dawson. I am hoping that having Annie’s exact birth date will allow me to find out what happened to her and to Ida, but in the meantime there are plenty of cousins to find, and maybe Nigel’s DNA matches will provide evidence for this new connection.

Henry Winifred

 

 

Family stories: Louis Feinstein from Libau

Louisfeinsteinarmyphoto

Ari’s great-great grandfather Louis (pronounced in the French way rather than the English) was born Ludwig Feinshtein on 28 Oct 1900 in Libau (Liepaja) in Latvia, and died on 15 Sep 1972 in Johannesburg, South Africa. His birth is recorded in the Latvia Births Database on JewishGen:

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 08.26.53

The story told by his wife Rose was that Louis’ mother Hinda died in 1901 and the children (Louis and three older sisters – Bessie, Mary and Sara) were sent to stay with relatives (I don’t know who these relatives would have been). His father Charles (see Family stories: murdered for a wedding suit) and older brother Sam went to South Africa to join his brother (probably this was Charles’s brother Aron who had emigrated in 1889). In 1907 the uncle sent money for the children to  come to South Africa.

So in 1908 Bessie, who was twelve, boarded a ship to London with Sarah, Mary and Louis. The journey took several days, and the passengers were told that the ship might capsize or take extra days to reach London. Bessie panicked and hid a couple of loaves of bread. She was caught and reprimanded, and asked where her parents were. She told them that she was in charge of the children and was forgiven. They then went by another ship from London to Cape Town (looking at a map, it is possible that they went by sea from Libau to Hamburg rather than overland, and then from Hamburg to Hull). It is very hard to imagine how they managed this journey on their own but presumably people helped them. The Jewish Heritage Trail in Hull includes this stop:

13. Anlaby Road – Emigrants’ Waiting Room

In 1871 the North Eastern Railway Company built a waiting room for transmigrants on Anlaby Road, close to Hull Paragon Station. This helped to reduce a possible threat to the health of local inhabitants and offered a shelter where passengers could make contact with reputable ticket agents. The building was enlarged in 1881 to provide separate rooms and washing facilities for men and women. Trains with as many as seventeen carriages set off from a long platform at the back of the waiting room, many of them on their way to Liverpool via Leeds. The number of migrants using the waiting room began to fall in 1907 when a dockside rail terminus was built, and the decline continued after the First World War as immigration quotas were imposed by the United States. It closed in 1999 but was reopened in 2003 as a club for Hull City supporters.

A plaque in Paragon Station commemorates the 2.2 million people who passed through the Emigration Platform, Hull on their way to America, Canada or South Africa. Among them were about half a million European Jews, hoping to find a better life elsewhere.

We went to look at it a couple of years ago but it was full of football supporters and I was too scared to go in 😦

The children stayed for a week at the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter in London, which records that they had come to Hull on the ship Omsk. I haven’t found these passenger lists.

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 07.30.48

Screen Shot 2017-08-12 at 07.18.21
The passenger list for the journey to South Africa on the Avondale Castle.

I think that Louis attended the Jewish Government School in Doornfontein (see some lovely photos here) and then Jeppe High School. I have emailed them to ask if they have any records. (Update 16 Aug: A very prompt reply: “I have checked the admission registers and the school magazines which list the new pupils every year but could not find your grandfather, Louis Feinstein. I even checked the Jeppe Prep admission register to see if I could find him but no luck.”)

The next family story about Louis was that in 1917, at the age of 17, he tried to join the army. His father had him recalled and brought home. In 1918 he again joined up, hiding in a compartment on a train for Potchefstroom. There he had his military training and left by boat for Salisbury, England, with the South African Jewish forces. Armistice was declared in November of that year and Louis volunteered for service in Vladivostock, Russia. He fought for the British against White Russia. Eventually he was repatriated and returned to South Africa.

He looks so young in the photo above. Here are the military records I have for Louis.

Louis army0001

Louis army0002

Louis discharge

Louis discharge2

These are quite hard to read, but they do show that he lied about his age! One gives his year of birth as 1899 and the other as 1897. They show that he served in the 2nd South African Infantry for 305 days, enlisting at Potchefstroom on 15 April 1918, then being discharged on 17 May 1919 after re-enlisting in the Machine Gun Corps, North Russian Relief Force at Whitehall on 19 May 1919.

Louis embarkation

Louis embarkation(back)

To be continued …

Mary James of Leigh Sinton, Worcestershire

Leigh Sinton is a parish in the Malvern Hills, Worcestershire where “the inhabitants are wholly engaged in agricultural pursuits” (The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland, 1868).

geograph-1429173-by-Philip-Halling
Sixteenth century memorial in St Edburga’s church, Leigh.

One of Ari’s 3x great-grandmothers, Mary James, was born there on 5 Mar 1857 and baptised on 5 Apr 1857. (It helps to know that the parish was called Leigh with Bransford, and the civil registration district was Martley.) Knowing her parents’ names (John and Ann) from the baptism, I then found Ann’s maiden name (Amphlett) from the GRO records, which led me to their marriage in 1849.

In the 1861 census the family are living in Leigh, and the address suggests they are next door to a chapel, Lady Huntingdon’s Connexion. Mary is 5 and at school, as are two brothers (John and Charles) and a sister (Matilda), while her brother Thomas (10) is a waggoner’s boy, and there is also two-year-old William.

The chapel is mentioned in this account of smallpox in the village, from the Worcester Journal of 16 Nov 1872 (on Findmypast):

Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 21.04.58

Mary married George Thomas Waters on 20 Apr 1879 at Grafton Flyford. In 1881 they are living in Himbleton village, with baby daughter Martha James Waters.

geograph-846682-by-Philip-Halling
Ancient wooden south door to Himbleton church.

In 1891 they are in Neight Hill, Himbleton, with six children, and the 1911 census shows that they have had nine altogether. (The youngest, Florence May Waters, married Alfred John Sheppard and will have her own page as Ari’s  great-great grandmother.) Their house had three bedrooms and two living rooms.

The final record for Mary before her death in 1940 is the 1939 Register, where she is still in Himbleton and living with her daughter Dorothy Winifred.

Maurice Katz from Ekaterinoslav

One of Ari’s 3x great-grandfathers was Maurice Katz, originally Moses and known as Morrie.

morris

He was born in 1883 in Ekaterinoslav in the Russian Empire, which is now called Dnipropetrovs’k or Dnipro, Ukraine. (Jews had first settled there in 1773 and it was part of the Pale of Jewish Settlement. Pogroms took place there in the 1880s, and 50,000 Jews in the Dnipropetrovs’k region were killed by the Nazis.)

Maurice left in 1898. The earliest record we have for him is this passenger record showing that he travelled from Hamburg to London on the Ophelia with his mother Hinde and sister Rosalie. (This is how I learned his original name.)

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 21.05.45

(Source: Staatsarchiv Hamburg. Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850–1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008.)

More details about the emigration of European Jews via Hamburg can be read on this page.

In the 1901 census he is living at 14 Old Montague St in Whitechapel with his older brother Nathan.

His naturalization document from 1909 can be seen in the National Archives at Kew (Ref. HO 144/907/176855).

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 21.11.02

Maurice married Rachel Cohen on 28 Dec 1909 in London’s Great Synagogue. His occupation is given as ‘manager of shirt manufacturer’. (Apparently he made up his date of birth of 1 Feb to match hers, but her birth certificate states 5 Feb anyway!)

In the 1911 census they are living at 6 Gore Rd, Victoria Park, Hackney with their six-month-old daughter Judith, and Ellen Cooper, a fourteen-year-old general servant. Maurice is listed as a shirt cutter in an underclothing factory. In 1914 a second daughter, Rosalind, was born.

I don’t remember him as he died the year before I was born, but his grandson David Loshak sent me his memories:

“He settled in London, and did well in the shirt manufacturing business, even though he could hardly write English. He made enough money to finance what were known as Grand Tours of Europe for my mother and grandmother when my mother was about 18: they stayed in all the grandest hotels in Paris, Nice, Florence, Rome and so on, and even (I don’t know why or how) attended an audience with the Pope (my mother recalled that his shoes squeaked).

When war broke out in 1939, my grandfather sold his factory to the government so that the machinery could be used to make parachutes. He was a rotund, genial fellow, who loved to amuse his grandchildren with funny little tricks. He smoked Woodbines – horribly strong gasper cigarettes, which he would balance across his shoe and kick up to his mouth. He was, I think, the only member of my family who liked to go to boxing matches. On Sundays, my grandfather read the News of the World, a paper then devoted to salacious accounts of dirty court cases: otherwise, he read nothing, and spent his days riding around London on buses. He was a jolly man, full of fun, as his photograph indicates.”

In 1915 Maurice was advertising for shirt-cutters in the Manchester Evening News:

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 07.53.22

Maurice appears in Kelly’s Post Office Directory for 1916:

Screen Shot 2017-08-06 at 07.39.12

and this address enabled me to find him in the Middlesex Poplar Military Tribunals 1916–1918 Collection on Findmypast, where he is being granted temporary exemptions throughout these years “on the ground that serious hardship would ensue if the man were called up for Army service, owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic position” and “on the ground that it is expedient in the national interests that the man should, instead of being employed in military service, be engaged in other work in which he is habitually engaged”.

Passenger records show that he travelled to Cape Town in 1926 and 1929.

The 1939 Register shows Maurice staying at Regent Palace Hotel.

Maurice died at the General Hospital in Brighton on 3 Mar 1959, and was buried at Bushey Cemetery.

maurice katz2

maurice katz death jc
Jewish Chronicle announcement

 

 

William Cobley (pronounced Coverley?)

William Cobley was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather, born in 1814 in Barrowden, a parish on the river Welland in Rutland, and also on the Jurassic Way.

geograph-4899879-by-Alan-Murray-Rust

As I started looking at what I knew about him this morning, things got a bit confusing. I thought I’d found his marriage to Mary Davis in 1841 but then couldn’t find it again. What I found instead were the banns and marriage record for:

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 12.29.55

That definitely says Coverley! Now I wasn’t sure. Is this the same person? Would Cobley and Coverley be pronounced the same if you had a Rutland accent?

Puzzling over this, I did a search for the new name, and came upon a second marriage for William on 29 Dec 1863, after Mary’s death. He is marrying a widow, Amy Townsend, and just look at the signature:

sig

So maybe he used both names, or maybe the curate wasn’t sure. But at least that provides enough evidence that it is the right person.

So, on with his story. The banns (from the Rutland Banns Collection on Findmypast) say that he is living in Oakham, so we can assume that the 1841 census is correct. Here he is a servant on a farm called Oakham Grange. He appears in the Lincolnshire Chronicle twice. Firstly on 5 Sep 1845 where he has been convicted of using wire snares to kill game:

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 13.18.36

And secondly on 3 March 1848, where he is being sent to gaol:

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 13.20.59

(Always worth checking the local papers!)

In 1851 he and Mary are living in Barrowden with three of their four children and a nephew. William is an agricultural labourer. Mary died in 1863 and William married Amy later that year, as we have seen. In 1871 the two of them are still in Barrowden, with an eight-year-old grandson, John Newman.

William died in 1876 and was buried on 2 Feb.

Screen Shot 2017-08-05 at 13.30.27

(Source: Rutland Burials on Findmypast.)

To end his story, here is a photo of Barrowden’s tranquil pond and village green.

geograph-230808-by-Kate-Jewell

 

Judith Brooks of Middleton-by-Wirksworth

Judith Brooks was Ari’s 4x great-grandmother. She was born in Middleton-by-Wirksworth in Derbyshire on 23 Jan 1828 and baptised at St Mary’s Church in Wirksworth on the 2nd of March.

In the 1841 census she is thirteen, living in Town Street, Middleton, with her parents Thomas and Mary, older brother Charles, and younger sister Martha. On 30 Oct 1848 she married William Spencer at Holy Trinity Church, an event captured in several local newspapers. This is from the Derby Mercury of 1 Nov 1848, on Findmypast:

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 13.48.14

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 14.42.47.pngBy 1851, Judith has given birth to three boys: William (possibly born before the marriage), Daniel (who was baptised in March 1850 and buried in April) and Isaac.

The 1861 census shows Judith living in Hillside, Middleton-by-Wirksworth with her husband (a lead-miner), three sons and two daughters. The oldest son, William, is a lead-miner at the age of 13.

In 1871 they are at Rise End. Judith is now 43, with a five-month-old baby, Samuel. Daughters Martha (17) and Mary (14) are factory girls, son Thomas (11) is working in the stone quarry, and the two youngest boys, Francis (7) and David (3), are at school. (Samuel was probably Judith’s ninth and last child.)

In 1881 Judith gets an occupation: ‘wife’. Now they are living in Water Lane with six of their children and two grandchildren.

Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 14.43.19

Judith died on 18 Jan 1890, at the age of 62. Her death certificate shows that she had been suffering from liver cancer for one year. She was buried on 21 Jan 1890 in Middleton. We have found hundreds of other Spencers (I think it must be the most popular name in Wirksworth) but we haven’t found her grave yet.

 

Family stories: the inn-keeper in Memel

Moses Mendelsohn was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather, born in 1856 in Memel. Memel is on the Baltic coast and was part of Prussia until 1923, which is why the family spoke German. It is now called Klaipeda and is in Lithuania. A history of Memel tells us that:

“In 1815 there were 35 Jews in Memel among a population of about 10,000 people. Russian Jews, who came to Memel for their businesses, could not settle there because of lack of prayer houses and other religious institutions which were only allowed for Jews who held Prussian citizenship. As time passed, more and more Russian timber merchants would come to Memel before the High Holidays, staying there until January. They would arrive in the city by carts and even by carriages harnessed to horses, bringing with them cooks and slaughterers, but only for poultry, whereas meat, sheep and cattle would be smuggled in from nearby Lithuanian towns.” (For more information and photos, see the wonderful KehilaLinks page compiled by Eli Rabinowitz.)

The family story told by Moses’ granddaughter Rose was that he had an inn on the border, where people could exchange Russian currency for German. She said that Charles Feinstein (see Murdered for a wedding suit) travelled from Libau in Latvia and stopped at the inn to exchange money. Mrs Mendelsohn (the subject of my post Missing Minna) offered him food, which he refused because he thought it might not be kosher.

That may not be true, but the story we think is true is that LK Hurwitz (see LK Hurwitz and the Raleigh Cycle Co. Ltd) was travelling from Svencionys and stayed at the inn in Memel. He met the daughter of the inn-keeper, Rahle, and they married in 1899.

In 1903, Moses and Minna travelled to Cape Town via Southampton on the ship Doune Castle, travelling steerage with three of their daughters. Before boarding the ship, they stayed for a week at the beginning of January at the Poor Jews’ Temporary Shelter in London (this database can be searched at http://www.jewishroots.uct.ac.za/Shelter.aspx), and see more at this London Metropolitan Archives page).

Screen Shot 2017-08-03 at 21.07.14

Moses was only in South Africa for a few months before he died, but we know from estate documents in the South African Archives that he owned Stand No. 77 in Ferreira’s Township, in the mining district of Witwatersrand, valued at £1600. (Gold had been discovered there in 1886.)

He died of emphysema at the age of only 48 on 21 March 1904 in Johannesburg, without leaving a will, and is buried at Braamfontein Cemetery, grave 501. His death notices helpfully list his parents and children:

MOSES_MENDELSOHN_dc2

MOSES_MENDELSOHN_dc

Records from Memel are held in the Lithuanian State Historical Archives (LVIA), and are still being translated and transcribed by volunteers. Very excitingly, Moses and Minna appeared in a new list released this week. This was a listing of deaths in Memel between 1874 and 1915, which included the death on 23 Dec 1886 of Behr Mendelsohn, aged seven months, son of Moses Mendelsohn and Minna Chatzkelsohn. Moses is listed as a merchant. Another death, in 1889, lists him as the informant and he is recorded as a barkeeper, so maybe the unfortunate person died at the inn. A third record, from 9 Oct 1891, lists the death of another baby son, Benjamin Mendelsohn, aged six months. (For more information about these records, see https://www.litvaksig.org/.)

 

 

 

William Orchard of Langton Matravers

William Orchard was Ari’s 5x great-grandfather. He was born in the Dorset village of Langton Matravers on 8 Sep 1813, and baptised on 10 Oct.

geograph-1408164-by-Ian-Taylor

We first see him in the 1841 census, after his marriage to Sarah Welch. The couple are living in West Street, Corfe Castle, with Sarah’s mother. They have an eight-month-old daughter living with them, as well as a three-year-old child called Edna Toop. William’s occupation is ‘labourer’, and in the 1851 census he is a general labourer. By 1861, he is still in West Street but now working as a clay digger. By this time they have seven children: Susan Ann, Emma, Henry, Elizabeth Sarah, Lucy Mary, William and Edna.

According to the Purbeck and Mineral Mining Museum website, “The clay industry was a major employer in Corfe Castle and the surrounding villages from the end of the 18th Century. At times half of the population of some villages were supported by clay work.”

This photo shows West Street with Corfe Castle behind it (shame about the car!).

geograph-886614-by-Nicholas-Mutton

William died in 1891 and was buried on 28 Sep in the old cemetery at Corfe Castle.

IMG_20170806_143119.jpg
William and Sarah’s gravestone which we found today (5 Aug 2017), lying flat in the cemetery.

Eleazer Loshak

Eleazer (or Lazarus) Loshak was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather. We know he was born in about 1845, somewhere near Gritsev, Ukraine. The date of birth comes from this amazing papercut, handed down in the family and now in my possession, which gives the date of his bar mitzvah in Hebrew.

Zoharistic Scroll

I found this information by uploading the image to a wonderful resource called ViewMate on the website JewishGen, where you can ask for translations. Rivka Chaya Baddiel kindly sent me this very helpful explanation:

This is a standard decoration showing the direction of ‘East’ – towards which Jews pray.
The words around the edge of the semicircle are a verse in Psalms 113:3. “From the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof, the Lord’s name is to be praised” – the word used here for ‘rising’ also means ‘East’ (Mizrach). The word in the center of the semicircle says ‘Mizrach’ – ‘East’.

Below that, the center box says ‘to the year of my splendor’ which is the numerical value of the Jewish year 5619 (1858–1859). The boxes to the right and left read ‘From this side comes the spirit of Life’ – (Ab hac parte spiritus vitae – source: Compendia vocum hebraico-rabbinicarum) often put on ‘Mizrach’ signs, as these four Hebrew words begin with the letters m-z-r-ch, which spell Mizrach in Hebrew.

We know from the marriage certificate of one of his sons that Eleazer was a dealer of some kind, and we know that he and his wife Devorah (Dvossie) had eleven children.

One of his grandsons, Harry Loshak, left an autobiography that tells us a bit more:

[Eleazer] was an ultra-strict Chassid who, for religious reasons, never had his photograph taken, and underwent an operation for cataract without any anaesthetic.

I don’t know when he died, or the names of his parents or any siblings.

Frederick Sims of Holbrook

One of Ari’s 3x great-grandfathers was Frederick Sims, born 25 Jan 1875 in Idridgehay, Belper, Derbyshire. I like to imagine him getting dressed in his Sunday best to have this photograph taken.

frederick sims

After his birth certificate, the next record we have of him is starting school at the age of three. This is his entry in the school admission register for Hognaston School, along with his brother John and sister Harriet:

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 18.37.42.png

(Source: National School Admission Registers & Log-Books 1870–1914, D2695_2_1, Findmypast)

Fred worked as a bricklayer’s labourer and as a stoker in a blast furnace for an iron company. He married Elizabeth Phipps in 1899, and the couple had ten children. The last child, Leslie, was born in June 1918. Sadly, Fred died of Spanish flu on 8 Dec 1918, only three weeks after his own father, and one of the 50–100 million people around the world killed in the pandemic. According to the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal of 21 Dec 1918, 28 people had died of influenza in Derby that week, compared to 49 the previous week and 74 in the week ending 30 Nov when the epidemic was at its height.

He was buried at St Michael’s Church in Holbrook.

CIMG1489

Screen Shot 2017-07-30 at 19.30.06