The fourth record is obviously a relation, and it turns out that Basia Ziv (or Sive) married Shaya’s second son, Zusman. They emigrated to South Africa. (He died in 1931 and she died in 1933. They are buried at Brixton Cemetery, Johannesburg.)
They left a joint will:
The Revision List (census) taken on 29 May 1858 gives us another clue about Shaya:
The first entry is for Shaya’s oldest son Yankel in 1897, but the second tells us that his father’s name was Hatskel. If you are interested in the process by which names became surnames, there is a really good article here.
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.
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.
Rose’s son Charles was born in 1932, and daughter Barbara in 1938.
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.
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.
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.
I learned so much from Rose. We laughed a lot and talked about many things. I still miss her.
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.
Hinda Hirshfeld was Ari’s 3x great-grandmother from Liepaja (Libau), Latvia. She must have been born in about 1865 (based on her age at death). I don’t know her mother’s name. She is variously called Hinda-Brina and Hinda-Etta. On 25 Dec 1887 she married Khatzkiel Feinstein (one witness was an H Hirshfeld and the dowry was 2000 rubles – see this website), and they had nine children, all born in Liepaja. The first two were twin boys, Osher and Abram, born on 22 Oct 1888. Both babies died before they were three months old, from ‘stomach disease’.
The next baby was a girl, Rokha, born on 5 Oct 1889, who died at the age of three, from scarlatina and diphtheria.
Next was Shlioma (Sam), in 1891, who grew up to own a barber shop in what was then Salisbury, Rhodesia. Sam is the man on the left of this photo, standing with his wife Becky.
After Sam came Bessie (in 1894), another baby who died of meningitis (Rokha, 1895–1896), Mary (born on their wedding anniversary in 1897), Sarah (in 1899) and lastly Ari’s great-great-grandfather Louis in 1900 (standing on the right in this photo, with his wife Rose). Shortly after Louis’ birth, Hinda died of tuberculosis on 6 Dec 1901.
The photo above includes Sarah on the left, Bessie in the dark dress and pearls, and Mary on the right.
This photo of Sarah and Mary was taken in 1918 after they had emigrated to South Africa, and maybe gives us an idea of what Hinda looked like.
Hinda had a sister called Devorah who married Azriel Fishel Idelsohn. One of their sons was the musicologist and composer Abraham Zvi Idelsohn.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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:
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/.)