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.

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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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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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Missing Minna

Minna Chaskelson was Ari’s 4x great-grandmother. She was born in 1852 in Silale, Lithuania, and died at the Carlington Nursing Home in Johannesburg on 9 Aug 1930. She had emigrated in 1903 with her husband and children, following her brother Bernard (or Benhard) who had emigrated in 1895 and set up a mattress company. The family had lived in Memel (Klaipeda), where the family kept an inn.

In her will, obtained from the South African archives (thanks to the very helpful service provided by Ancestor.co.za), she leaves everything to two of her daughters, Jennie (Janie) and Hannah.

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We don’t seem to have a photo of Minna. We had thought that she was the person on the left in this wonderful photo of all the great-aunts in their lovely hats taken in 1932, but obviously she was no longer alive then, so that’s another mystery to clear up. Amazing how you notice these things when you present the information in a different way!

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Ari, this shows how you are related to Minna:

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Ari’s Ancestors

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A blog about finding all of the direct ancestors of my grandson Ari, and learning as much about them as I can.  His birth has given me an opportunity to focus on part of the family tree, looking again at all the records I have and searching for new ones.

I know at least a little bit about 370 of his direct ancestors. They lived in places as far afield as: Memel (now Klaipeda); Grafton Flyford in Worcestershire; Middleton by Wirksworth in Derbyshire; Corfe Castle in Dorset; Barrowden in Rutland; Kalisz in Poland; Svencionys in Lithuania; Johannesburg; Gritsev in Ukraine; Parichi in Belarus; Fonthill Bishop in Wiltshire; and Hurstbourne Tarrant in Hampshire.

Alphabetically, their surnames range from ABBOTT to WRIGHT (and some I don’t know yet), and first names range from Abraham to Yosel.