Bicycles, pickles, and matzos

I recently discovered a South African newspaper online. The Zionist Record is available as part of the University of Florida Digital Collection. Since there are not many South African newspapers online, I took the opportunity to browse the pages, looking for any of Ari’s ancestors.

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In 1958 the paper was celebrating the 50th anniversary of the South African Zionist Federation, and Ari’s 3x great-grandfather, cycle merchant L.K. Hurwitz, took out an advertisement in a special supplement.

lkh p 90 zionist record 1958

(According to Google Translate this says “Drive on a Raleigh pedal bike”.)

Another side of the family was also represented in 1948:

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The Rand Steam Matzo Factory and Cohen’s Bakery were founded by Wolf (Wulf) Cohen, great-grandfather of Ari’s great-great-uncle Manley. The 1945 book The Jew in South Africa: A record of what individual Jews are doing in various spheres of the country’s life, edited by Rabbi Maurice Konvisser and Dora Sowden, lists him as:

“COHEN, Wolf. One of the early pioneers on the Rand and one of the leading figures in the ranks of traditional Judaism in the country. Founder of the Rand Steam Matzo Factory Ltd., and of Cohen’s Bakery. Born in 1848 in Pumpiani [Pumpenai], Lithuania, came to South Africa in 1895 when he immediately concentrated on the manufacture of Matzoth. Imported Matzoth were retailed in Johannesburg at that time at the almost prohibited figure of 2/6 per lb., and the Rand Steam Matzo Factory attained within a very short time an annual production, which at that time was sufficient for the needs of the whole of Transvaal Jewry.

During the Boer War, when the British were advancing in the Free State, and great difficulties were experienced in carrying on the industry, Mr. Cohen was granted a special permit by the Boer Government which enabled him to travel to Bloemfontein for the purpose of obtaining supplies of Kosher flour. While this flour was being ground in Bloemfontein the British Army was approaching the city and the noise of battle could be distinctly heard in the mill. When the occupation of Johannesburg was becoming imminent, the Boer troops attempted to commandeer Mr. Cohen’s supply of flour, but the plan was frustrated by Dr. (now Mr. Justice) F.E.T. Krause, who at that time was commandant of the town.

In 1903 the factory was transferred to Ophirton where it is still situated today.

Mr. Cohen died at the ripe old age of 90 years on the 1st May, 1938, and left in his will considerable sums of money for all Jewish institutions in Johannesburg, and for a number of Talmud Torahs in Eastern Europe. His estate which is not to be wound up for 50 years makes ample provision for his grand, great-grand children, should any of them desire to study Rabbinics in any of the Yeshivas of Europe and Palestine.”

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Part of Wolf Cohen’s will
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SA Jewish Chronicle, 8 March 1946

The South African Sunday Times is also available online, but only for some dates in 1945 (on Findmypast and newspaperarchive.com).

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Ari’s great-great-grandfather Louis Feinstein co-owned a pickle factory before he became a stockbroker, and there were a couple of advertisements in the Sunday Times:

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30 Sept 1945
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19 August 1945

I will continue to search for South African newspapers online, but this is a nice reminder of what can be found in the papers!

A marriage mystery

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I have told the story of my paternal grandparents’ marriage already (in this post). When the FamilySearch website added the collection called “South Africa, Transvaal, Civil Marriages, 1870-1930” earlier this month, I hoped I’d find the record.

And I did:

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This says that, on 28 October 1930, Ludwig Feinstein and Rose Hurwitz were married. He was 30, born in Latvia and a manufacturer living at 6 Olivia Rd, Johannesburg. She was 22, born in the Transvaal, no occupation, living at 20 O’Reilly Street. In the column for “banns or licence”, it says banns. In the column for “with or without antenuptial contract”, it says with. The witnesses included a J. Hurwitz (presumably Rose’s brother John).

But there was another record:

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This one says that the marriage took place on 28 January 1929. His name is given as Louis Feinstein, 28, born in Russia, and a commercial traveller living at 33 Joel Rd, Berea, Johannesburg. Rose is 21 and a bookkeeper, with the same birthplace and address as above. In the column for banns or licence, it says “special licence no. 22220, 28/1/29”, and it was without an antenuptial contract. The witnesses included a P. G. Nande and a name that could be Middleton.

Another difference is that the earlier document doesn’t say that they were Jewish, and is signed by a magistrate, whereas the later one does, and is signed by a minister. So maybe this means that the first was a civil marriage and the second was the religious one? I am not sure, but hoping that someone will tell me.

This clip of a 1929 Johannesburg map shows the streets mentioned in Berea:

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(See this blog for the whole map.)

I’d like to see if I can get a copy of the antenuptial contract from the archives.

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Itka

One of Ari’s 6x great-grandmothers was called Itka. She was born in 1804 in Lithuania, probably in Svencionys (also known as Švenčionys, Sventzion, Święciany, Shventsian, Śvianciany, Schwintzen, Švenčoņi, Svencionyz, Shvintzion, Shvyentsiani, Shvyetsiani, Sventsian, Sventsiany, Swenziany, and Svintzian!).

I don’t have any photos of Itka, but here are some of her descendants and their families in South Africa.

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Itka is a derivative of the name Judith, according to Alexander Beider’s Handbook of Ashkenazic Given Names, mentioned before.

We know that her father’s name was Leiba, and that she was 30 in 1834. Thanks to the Svencionys District Research Group of LitvakSIG (a group of people who have contributed to making data about Svencionys available), we have a list of people who lived in Svencionys in 1834 when there was a Revision List, which was a census used to collect poll taxes. Itka is listed as the wife of Movsha Gurvich (Hurwitz), and her father’s first name is also provided.

Also in the household on 30 April 1834 were her son Leib (aged 11) and daughter Sheina (aged 5).

To find out her surname, I checked the 1811 Revision List for a man called Leiba (or Leyba or Leib) with a daughter aged 7 called Itka. The closest was a Leyba Muchan, with a daughter Ita, aged 12, so I’m not convinced.

The 1850 Revision List shows our family again in October of that year, with Itka now aged 46. Also in the household is her son Kopel Leib (27), his wife Tema, and their daughter Buska, aged 8.

I have found no other records for Itka, and she does not appear in the 1858 Revision List.

Contributions to LitvakSIG are very much welcomed, to enable further records to be transcribed and made available. See https://www.litvaksig.org/research/

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Ari, this is how you are related to Itka:

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It’s not all about long-ago ancestors: writing about Rose

Ari’s great-great-grandmother Rose Hurwitz was a very special person in my life.

Rose was the daughter of Louis Koppel (LK) Hurwitz and Rahle Mendelsohn, and she was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on 10 November 1907.

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Rose (centre) with her sisters Anne and Lottie

Rose was the youngest of the family. Her brother Charles had been born in Memel (Klaipeda), Lithuania, before the family emigrated. John, Anne, Lottie and Rose were all born in Johannesburg. Rose attended the Convent of Mercy in Braamfontein, the German School (Hospital Hill) in Twist St, and Commercial High School. She worked as a book-keeper for her father between 1925 and 1930.

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Wedding photo

Rose told me that she met Louis Feinstein at a party in 1926, and used to watch him walking past her house in O’Reilly Road, in Berea, Johannesburg. He had a room at No. 11 and his sister Mary lived at No. 32. The Hurwitzes lived at No. 20. They decided to get married in 1927, but her parents objected, saying that she must wait for her older brothers and sisters to get married first. In the end, they married on Louis’s birthday, 28 October 1930, and spent their honeymoon in Muizenberg.

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rlinv Rose’s son Charles was born in 1932, and daughter Barbara in 1938.

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Rose with Charles and his cousin Myrna, 1932

In 1939 Rose helped to found a branch of the Jewish Benevolent Fund, of which she was the treasurer and then chair. In 1949 she was approached to start a play centre in Soweto, which led to the creation of four schools with over 800 children. Rose ran the committee for 20 years.

Rose 1

As children, we used to stay with Rose and Louis in Johannesburg for our Christmas holidays, and I remember going to one of these schools to give out prizes. We also learned Afrikaans songs, put on plays and concerts for visitors, ate toasted cheese sandwiches at the OK Bazaar, had freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast (and learned to eat cereal without making any noise), did lots of sums, read banned Enid Blyton books, tasted delicious peppery green pasta and tinned lychees (I wasn’t a fan) for the first time, learned to swim, and generally got very spoilt.

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I have lots of these letters!

Rose spent a lot of time travelling to see her children and grandchildren in various places, and when we were together she helped me with my first family trees. Although I have plenty of her photos, there are not very many that she is actually in.

After Louis died, Rose went to live in Long Beach, next to Barbara and her family.

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Long Beach, 1993

I learned so much from Rose. We laughed a lot and talked about many things. I still miss her.

Ari, this is how you are related to Rose:

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Moses Gurvich of Svencionys

One of Ari’s Lithuanian ancestors was Moses Gurvich, the father of LK Hurwitz. Moses was known as Movsha or Moshe, and his middle name was Nison. He was Ari’s 4x great-grandfather.

Moses was born in about 1847 in Svencionys, Lithuania and died aged 73 in 1920, also in Lithuania. He worked as a timber merchant.

The middle name proved to be the clue that enabled me to discover relatives in Wisconsin a couple of years ago (before that I had no idea about his parents or brothers and sisters).

This was discovered from the birth record of LK’s son Khatzkel (Charles) in the  Lithuania Database on the JewishGen website:

Charles

The second column gives the names of his father, grandfather (top row) and mother, grandfather (second row).

Other records show him aged 11 with his family in the 1858 Revision List in Svencionys.

He must have married in about 1868, and five children were born between 1870 and 1881. They were Leah, Gittel (Gertrude), LK, Sorel (Sara), and Chasel (Charlotte).

A small diversion

Leah married Moshe Michelson and owned a flour mill. She was killed in 1943 in Lithuania with three of their children (a grandson, Khaim Mikhelson, has submitted testimony to Yad Vashem). One of her sons, Jacob (Yankel) married Jehudith Kuritsky. She has written an account of what happened to the family in Svencionys when the Germans arrived in 1941. This is just the first page.

Svintzian story1

Back to the story

From the records giving me his father’s name, I was able to match someone in America who had been contacting me wondering whether our Hurwitz familes were related. At that time I had no way of telling. She turned out to be descended from Moses’s brother Vulf, who emigrated to the US in 1921, providing us with many new relations in Milwaukee.

Here is the record of Moses’ second marriage at the age of 64 on 30 July 1909 (I knew that after his first wife Annie had died he had married her sister). What I don’t know from this is whether Tzimerman is their maiden name or whether she was a widow.

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As far as I can see, all of his grandchildren were born before he died in 1920, so nobody in that generation is named after him.

Ari, this shows how you are related to Moses:

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Rahle Mendelsohn

Ari’s 3x great-grandmother Rahle (Rachel) Mendelsohn was born on 16 Aug 1875 in Memel (Klaipeda), now in Lithuania. She was the second daughter of Moses Mendelsohn and Minna Chaskelson.

On 13 Oct 1899, she married Louis Koppel Hurwitz. This is the wedding invitation:

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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.

Louis Koppel and Rahle

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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.

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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.

Rahle and LK had a joint will.

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Ari, this shows how you are related to Rahle:

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LK Hurwitz and the Raleigh Cycle Co. Ltd

One of Ari’s 3x great-grandfathers was Louis Koppel (known as LK) Hurwitz. He was born on 19 Nov 1873 in Svencionys, Lithuania and emigrated to Woodstock, Cape Town in 1901, where his wife Rahle’s brothers had a cycle business. In 1903 he moved to Johannesburg and set up in business on his own.

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I love this photo of LK and Rahle with their three oldest children, Charles (b 1901), John (b 1903) and Anne (b 1905).

LK and family

LK had an agreement with Raleigh to sell their bikes in South Africa, and I came across some correspondence relating to this which is held in the Nottinghamshire Archives. I wrote to them to ask for a copy of the letters.

DD.RN.10.4.76.1.55 m

Ari, this shows how you are related to Louis:

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