The Dach (Дайч) family

Duvid Daych was 35 when he died in the 1905 Odessa pogrom. Daych is not a common name but three families made the trip from Odessa to New York between 1906 and 1910. Two young couples in their early 20s, without children, travelled in 1907, a few weeks apart, to an uncle in Washington DC. They were Frank and Isaac Dach and their wives Gittel and Chana Gitel. I had no luck finding them in the records after they arrived. In January 1910, 30-year-old Ruchel Dacz travelled from Rotterdam with her three children, Basse 10, Ber 8, and Esther 4, to her husband in Brooklyn. She had a brother in Moscow which was not common for Jews at that time. Ruchel and her children were detained at Ellis Island for three days possibly because the authorities were checking that her husband could support them.

Ruchel Dacz SS Sicilian Prince January 1910
Ruchel (Rose) Dach, Basse (Bertha), Ber (Bernard) and Esther in Odessa (supplied by Jenny Noa, granddaughter of Bernard or Barney)

Ruchel next appears in the records as Rosa, 40, in the 1920 census. She is living with her husband Sam, a plumber, and children, Bertha 21, working in an embroidery factory, Bernard 19, a plumber, and Esther 14, in the Bronx. So far, so good, an immigrant family doing well. Sam is 45 so would have been 30 in 1905, five years younger than Duvid who died in the pogrom. They might have been brothers. According to this census, Sam left for America in 1907, not too long after the pogrom, though his family did not leave until three years later in 1910. The youngest child, Esther, was born in the spring of 1905 so was only a baby at the time of the pogrom.

On the 1925 census, Bertha was designing and Esther is selling art goods. Was Bertha designing embroidery patterns for a factory or workshop, or was she working freelance? Did she have a health problem which necessitated her working from home or did she have ideas about doing something more creative and possibly working with her sister to make and sell things through a shop? I had a great-aunt who was in New York in the early 1920s without much money and tried to make a business from embroidering blouses for well-off women in the Westchester suburbs. She was a very sociable woman who managed to befriend people who could help advertise her work, but this was possibly not something Bertha had a chance to do.

Dach family 1925 census

In 1930, Samuel and Rose are still living with their two daughters, Bertie 30, doing hand embroidery, and Esther 22, a saleslady of novelties. Esther has lowered her age from 25 and may have been worried about not being married. I could not find Bernard in the census. The next record I found was the death of Bertha in 1936, age 37. I then began to look back in time to see what else I could find about this family who had started so well but were possibly unravelling. The next record I found showed Esther and Bertha on a ship’s list to Bermuda in 1928. Bertha was 28 and Esther 22. Esther was the first name of the two of them suggesting she might have bought the tickets or arranged the trip. Had she had to persuade a more reluctant Bertha to have a holiday with her? Why was Bertha still living at home and working from home?

1928 trip to Bermuda

The next record I found was for Bertha in the Bronx County divorce and civil case records. Her case deals with a mortgage in July 1935. Had Bertha been working for herself over the past few years and having money problems? This must have been in the midst of the 1930s depression. Six months later, in January 1936, Bertha was dead. The death occurred in Manhattan, where she may have been in hospital or she might have been involved in an accident. Had she had a chronic illness for years or had she suddenly become ill or depressed? If she had financial problems one presumes she would not have moved from home. Whatever happened, I think it had a large effect on her parents and sister who do not appear again in the census records.

Bernard had married Lillian Leibowitz in 1926 and they had a son, Robert, in 1928. In 1930, Lillian had returned to her parents in Brooklyn with Robert. Lillian’s father died in 1933 and I assume that either she or her mother got a job and the other looked after Robert. There are no records for Bernard until 1940 when Robert was 11 and living with him and his new wife Anne. At first this record was very confusing as Anne was too young to be the mother of Robert and I did not realise she was his second wife. I discovered Bernard’s first marriage through a New York City marriage index and his first wife’s name, Lillian. His story was finally brought together through his 1943 naturalisation form, where he says he married his wife Anne in 1939 and had one child from his first marriage and a second child, Bertha, born in 1941.

His name on the form is Frank Bernard Dach although his name on entering the US was Ber Dacz. I do not know the Jewish name that Frank may derive from, possibly Fischel, but it was the name of one of the other Daches who came from Odessa to the US in 1907. So they may have been from the same family. Although records generally only give the stark facts, there is often a lot of emotion hidden in what they represent, the missing child or parent, the change of job or address, often have many meanings. That Bernard named his daughter Bertha after his sister says a great deal about this family. Her brother who was two years younger and would have remembered coming from Odessa with her on the ship, wanted her to live on.

There is a blank about Bernard’s life from his first marriage to his second. He is missing from the 1930 census so may have been alone between 1930 and his second marriage in 1939. He may have had Robert from the time he married again or possibly sooner. I presume he had kept up contact with his son and hopefully the arrangement was amicable and Robert carried on seeing his mother. Lillian’s mother applied for naturalisation and received it in 1942, close to the time Bernard got his. She was living in the Bronx at this time and also came from Kovno in Lithuania, where Sam Dach was from before he moved to Odessa. She says on her form that her daughter Lillian was living in New York City. Possibly she was living in the Bronx to be nearer Robert while her daughter worked in the city.

There were no more records for Sam and Rose, and Esther only appears in other types of records. While Barnard was moving on with his life with his son and a new marriage and child, the rest of the family do not seem to have wanted to be in the census without Bertha. Esther probably did not marry. There is a form for her naturalisation in 1946, age 40, using the name Dach, and she travelled alone by ship to Europe in 1958, again using the name Dach.

I have found that families who went through the pogrom together and then immigrated tended to be very close, helping and protecting each other throughout life. They all may have had their own different anxieties from their experiences and worked out their own ways to find a life for themselves in the US. Esther had been six months old at the time of the pogrom and may have been brought up by parents who were preoccupied with their own grief, separation and a new life in America. Bertha was about five at the time of the pogrom, an impressionable age when she may have realised some of what was going on without really understanding. Or she may have simply absorbed the emotions that were surrounding her without realising what was happening. Possibly the two sisters made a self-contained unit which protected them from strangers.

2 thoughts on “The Dach (Дайч) family

  1. I just came across your site and I was instantly obsessed. My grandmother’s maiden name was Dach (changed to Dash in the 1940s, it seems). Her father Solomon Dach was born 1877 in Keidanen (now Lithuania) but his brother Benjamin Dach was born in Odessa in 1879, so I assume the whole family moved there. Solomon married Leah “Elizabeth” Naides/Nidas, who was born abt 1880 in Perasliv (now Pereyaslav-Khmel’nyts’kyy, Ukraine). Lore has it that Elizabeth’s father was a banker in Odessa. Benjamin arrived in NYC Aug 1904, Solomon in NYC June 1904, and Elizabeth and son Benjamin (yes, confusing) in 1905. I hadn’t connected the timing of their arrival to the 1905 Odessa pogrom until now. Thank you!

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  2. Hello! This is incredible, thank you so much for your hard work and care throughout this site. Frank Bernard Dach (or Barney, as we knew him) was my grandfather. I can perhaps fill in some of the blanks above, though a lot of it is complicated by the fact that they were virtually silent about their personal histories if not intentionally misleading, and our mother Bertha (though she flipped her first and middle names and went by Florence) was largely estranged from her parents, so we saw them only occasionally and for short visits. Barney was an incredibly difficult man, and it sadly poisoned a lot of his relationships.

    We were told that our great-aunt Bertha died of breast cancer. Esther, who went by Esta, left the family altogether and lived alone in Manhattan until her death. My mother was told that she’d disappeared, but the truth appears to be much more mundane – she’d had enough and moved away. Your timeline helps to suggest a closeness between the sisters that is very nice to see (Bermuda!), and helps make sense of Esta’s so-called disappearance. I don’t think there was anything left for her once Bertha was gone. I like to think Esta was my mother’s inspiration for separating herself and making her own way.

    Our mother, though she died at 47, was a prolific and talented artist, so it’s particularly nice to see the design and art connection to her aunts. I wanted to note that in addition to our mother, Barney and Ann had another daughter, my mother’s younger sister Naomi, who is still living. Their elder half-brother Robert, sadly died young also, at the age of 31.

    Thank you, again, for all your hard work. I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to know this family history and to see how it fits in the larger fabric of Eastern European Jewish immigration and the American story.

    (We have a copy of a beautiful, formal photo of Rose and the children before they left Odessa, which I will try to find, if you’re interested in adding it to this page.)

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