Tag Archives: Ellis Island

Peresyp and police surveillance – families and detention at Ellis Island

Jewish Chronicle 15 December 1905
The Anti-Jewish Atrocities in Russia. Further Narratives. The Reign of Terror at Odessa (from our correspondent)
Odessa, 30 November
A doctor on military service living in the Peressip suburb requested the aide-de-camp of Baron Kaulbars, with whom he stood on friendly terms, to protect his house. Forty soldiers were immediately placed at the doctor’s disposal and the hooligans were put to flight. The police officer who was leading the hooligans informed Kaulbers that soldiers, led by a Jewish doctor, were firing on ‘patriots’. Having ascertained that the doctor was a Jew, the fact of which the aide-de-camp had been ignorant, orders were given to demolish the house; the doctor and his family had a narrow escape. The walls were literally riddled with bullets.

 
A relatively uncommon name, in the Peresyp letter and in the list of those under police surveillance, was Goikhman (Гойхман). There were the brothers under surveillance, David Iankel Goikhman and Mordko Iankel Goikhman, then there was 50-year-old A. Sch. Goichman in the Peresyp letter, and 45-year-old Shlema Gershov Goikhman who died in the pogrom and may have shared his name, Shlema, with the patronymic of A. Sch. Goichman. Quite a few Goichman or Gochman families left Odessa for America after the pogrom. There were many spellings and misspellings of the name Goichman, and many changes of first names, so it was not easy to tie together families leaving Odessa and living in America. One Goichman/Gochman was a widow of about 50, Leie later Lena, who travelled to New York in 1913 with two of her grandchildren to live with her daughter, Sara Nechetzky. She is about the right age to have been the widow of Shlema. Leie and the children were held for a Board of Special Inquiry at Ellis Island, and it is marked on the manifest that Leie suffered from senility and curvature of the spine, which might affect her ability to work.

Ellis_Island_arrivals 1904

Ellis Island inspection hall 1904

Could this ‘senility’ have been the results of whatever circumstances led to this woman been widowed and the stress of travelling with two small children from Odessa to New York, possibly speaking no language except Yiddish and unable to read or write?

gochman leie 1913 extract

Leie Gochman SS Volturno manifest arrived NY 15 Feb 1913

The Gochmans and Nechetzkys seem to have been quite a large family who lived near each other around East 100th Street in Manhattan. In searching the many Goichman names online I also came upon 2 people in mental asylums, as the word ‘inmate’ tends to stand out on the page. This made me think again about the problems of surviving pogroms and then emigrating, often with young children. One of the inmates in the 1940 census was from Odessa, a teacher of 35 called Anna Goichman, who was at Rockland State Hospital on the Hudson River, which, at its peak, had 9000 inmates. Also in 1940, a 29-year-old Joseph Goichman was in an enormous Long Island hospital, Pilgrim State Hospital, which housed up to 14,000 inmates. Anna appears meticulously in the records with her family up until 1940, but Joseph appears nowhere except possibly as someone who emigrated to Québec, Canada in 1928.

Anna’s records go beyond the censuses. In June 1938 there was an article in the New York Sun about the teachers’ retirement board and a protest about two teachers who were retired without having asked to be. There is then a list of other teachers retiring because of disability including Anna Goichman, who had been teaching at PS 34, a Bronx primary school, close to her family home at 1566 White Plains Road. She had lived with her family until 1931 when she is listed in a Bronx directory as a teacher living at 36 White Plains Road, near where the road reaches the East River.

PS34AmethystAve&Victor

PS 34

1566 white plains rd

1566 White Plains Rd (house with green door)

Had Anna made a bid for independence that went horribly wrong when she moved away from the centre of the Bronx to the quieter waterside, which was not very different from the small lanes near the Odessa coast? Had she moved because of problems at home?

harding park bronx east river

The East River at the end of White Plains Road with Manhattan in the distance

Looking at where Anna may have gone walking along the river, it seems to be an area of contrasts – of messy boat sheds, oil drums, discarded tyres, and general boat rubbish, but also wasteland appropriated for tidy little gardens with their flamboyant plant urns and garden furniture.

white plains rd end

Gardens by the East River

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boats, sheds and integrity on the East River

Anna was only 33 in May 1940 when she was listed under the Bronx civil court records as a plaintiff, probably being committed to the asylum. The next record is from the Social Security death index. She received her Social Security number in 1963, when she must have left the hospital and taken a job. She had been living in Middleton, a town fairly near the hospital, when she died in 1971.

rockland state hospital

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Rockland State Hospital

Anna being committed to an institution led me to wonder what had happened to the rest of the family. As the comprehension of the name Goichman for census-takers was so difficult, it is not easy to find members of the family. In 1910, the name Goichman was spelt Goehmincls. But eventually some records were found for each member of the family. The three sons, Harry, Sam, and Milton all became plumbers like their father and all married. Harry and Sam married before 1930 and Milton, the youngest by 1940. Harry went to live with his wife’s family in Yonkers, but the other two brothers stayed near the family in the Bronx. Sam was only a few streets away. The younger daughter, Sophie, was still a student at home in 1930. Of the brothers, only Milton appears on the 1940 census. He had moved to a different area of the Bronx. Sophie seems to disappear. The parents, Nathan and Esther, also are not easy to find in 1940, although Nathan filled out a 1942 World War II registration with an address in the Bronx, further north than they had been living. The Nechetsky family also moved to the Bronx and all of them stayed in the South Bronx round 163rd Street.

Why was it Anna, the child born in Russia in 1905, shortly before the family emigrated, who was committed to an asylum? Why had Nathan and Esther left Odessa shortly after their first child was born? Like many families, there is a different emigration date on each census, one even before Anna was born (while still saying she was born in Russia). Eventually I found Nathan, as Nathin Goichman, a locksmith, on the SS Statendam sailing from Rotterdam in June 1904, his last residence having been London. Anna’s birthdate on her death record was 7 February 1905. It was possible that Nathan had only stayed briefly in London, as ‘last residence’ does not necessarily mean last permanent residence. I could not find Esther on a ship’s list but their next child, Harry, was born on 5 September 1906, which means that Esther and Anna must have arrived in New York very soon after the pogrom, by January 1906, unless Harry was born early. Anna may have had a difficult first few years, possibly having witnessed the pogrom and experienced the fear, followed by the long trip to America, her parents trying to get to grips with a new country with little money and a new baby. In the New York death records, there is a Nathan Gershma Goichman who died in 1946, and if this was him then he might have been the younger brother of the Shlema Gershkov who died in the pogrom. They might also have been related to the brothers on the surveillance list, and possibly to Lena Gochman and the Nechetskys.

Milton retired to Florida and died in 1999. Sam died in 1966, age 59, and is buried in Bayside cemetery in Queens. Harry died in 1978 in the Adirondacks. His residence was in the small community of Blooming Grove, a beautiful rural area, in the same county where his sister had been institutionalised. Possibly the family had always remained in touch with her. He is however buried at Huntington Station, Long Island, an area where Long Island is becoming more rural, which must have been his previous or main home. This is the first family who was able to move out of the city, which might have been Anna’s idea when she moved closer to the East River.

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Blooming Grove, New York

In searching for Anna Goichman on a ship’s list, I tried the name ‘Chane’ and found another baby, six months old, travelling from Odessa with her parents Josef and Rose Goychmann and her grandmother Janke Goychmann shortly after the pogrom on 30 December 1905. They had no friends or relatives in the US and were sponsored by the Hebrew Society, which I assume is the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS). I had no idea that people affected by the pogrom were able to find space on ships for America as early as December 1905. I had assumed that the ships might have been booked for several months. If not, it might be that the ships leaving in the few months after the pogrom had some of the people most affected by the pogrom on board, even if their names were not in the pogrom records, as many more probably were killed in the pogrom, and there was also the large group who had their homes and livelihoods destroyed. HIAS had a huge operation at Ellis Island helping immigrants with form filling, money, food, and locating housing and jobs, both in New York and across the country. According to Wikipedia:

 

In the half-century following the establishment of a formal Ellis Island bureau in 1904, HIAS helped more than 100,000 Jewish immigrants who might otherwise have been turned away. They provided translation services, guided immigrants through medical screening and other procedures, argued before the Boards of Special Enquiry to prevent deportations, lent needy Jews the $25 landing fee, and obtained bonds for others guaranteeing their employable status. The Society was active on the island facilitating legal entry, reception, and immediate care for the newly arrived.

 
HIAS also searched for relatives of detained immigrants in order to secure the necessary affidavits of support to guarantee that the new arrivals would not become public charges. Lack of such affidavits and/or material means impacted a large number of immigrants: of the 900 immigrants detained during one month in 1917, 600 were held because they had neither money nor friends to claim them. Through advertising and other methods, the Society was able to locate relatives for the vast majority of detainees, who in a short time were released from Ellis Island.

 
One of HIAS’ jobs was to deal with orphans travelling alone. I have never seen a record of a child alone on a ship’s manifest except the Scheindless brothers who seemed to be in a group with an adult. This is a photograph of orphans from the 1905 pogrom travelling from Odessa to New York in May 1908.

orphans arrived 1908

HIAS also had offices in Europe but I could not find any information about their role in helping families emigrate. Josef lists his profession as merchant, which suggests that he had his own business, so I assume that he lost everything in the pogrom necessitating help from HIAS who may have come to Odessa specifically because of the pogrom.

gojchman josef ship 1906 close

Goychmann family, December 1905, Hebrew Society

Like Leie Gochman, this family also had to go through the Board of Special Inquiry, probably to check that the Hebrew Society would continue to settle them. There was another Goichmann family of two merchant brothers, Chaim and Idel, and families including two children of 3 and 2, on the same ship being helped by the Hebrew Society. It seems that this large extended family, who may have worked together in a business, all had their livelihoods destroyed by the pogrom. This would have been around the same time that Esther Goichman was leaving with Anna. The other two families may have been related to Josef but could not use him as a sponsor as he had only recently arrived in New York himself. I began a search for the family of Josef and Rose and after finding no Goichman or Gochman families with those names, tried to search with only the first names and discovered a family in which all the dates and ages matched a Josef and Rose Gutmann with three children, Stella, the same age as Chane, Morris and David. Joseph’s brother, Meyer, was also living with them. Josef was working as a cap maker in a sweatshop, quite a change from being a merchant in Odessa.

sweatshop 1910

Clothing sweatshop New York c1910

By 1920 the family had moved to Brooklyn, Josef was working in a cap factory, and there were two more daughters. Morris and David’s names had changed to Max and Theodore, and the family name had changed to Goodman. Rose’s mother, Sylvia Luskin, was now living with them. In 1930 they were living in the same place and Josef is described as a cap maker and proprietor. They had had another son. Stella had married and was living with her in-laws not far from her family on a street of terraced two-storey houses. What particularly interested me about this family, besides the incredible number of name changes, was eventually finding an online family tree which had begun with the Goodman descendants but could not find their way back through the previous names, Guttman or Goichman, and had no idea where the family had come from and what had brought them to America. They had no idea of Josef Goichman, the Odessa merchant, who had left directly after the pogrom helped by the Hebrew Aid Society. The silence permeated through many generations and so many stories were lost, as in my family.

Because I had known nothing about the lives of any of my older relations, they meant very little to me – I could not differentiate one from the other, especially as they rarely addressed the children. I had once asked and been told the family had come from Russia but nothing more was said, and I’m not sure I actually believed it. If I had been given some idea of their lives in those days before electricity, cars and telephones, of the forests and huge spaces, I would have been fascinated and wanted to hear their stories. If only I had been shown an old postcard and someone had said, ‘This is where we lived.’ Instead they were silent and seen only as distant old people, sitting, observing us children, from a far-off corner of the room.

Navahradak,_Rynak_(XX)

Novogrudok, Minsk district, marketplace

Another name, Groisman (Гройсман), was in the pogrom death records, on the surveillance list, and, between 1893 and 1908, had eight members on the Odessa Jewish small business list, both in the centre and in Moldavanka. In the 1904-05 directory, one Groisman owned property at 15 Alexander St., one was a second guild merchant with a fish business at 74 Bolshaya Arnautnaya, and another had a lumbar business in Moldavanka at 40 Gospitalnaya. None of them had a similar name to Samuil Shimonov, 22, in the death records, or Leivi Itsek Moishe, 26, on the police surveillance list. However, on the ships’ lists, leaving Odessa in April 1906 was a woman of 30, Chane (later Eva) Groisman, with four children, travelling to her husband in New York, Jossel (later Joseph), a butcher. Their eldest son was called Moishe, then Morris, so there may have been a connection with Leivi Itsek Moishe. There were also several Josephs on the business list. The other children were Liube (Lillian), 9, Hersch (Harry), 5, and Roza (Rose), 3. The family was temporarily detained by the Board of Special Inquiry, the two younger children were admitted to the hospital and it was noted that Moishe had atrophy and partial paralysis of one leg, possibly from polio.

groisman ship 1906 paralysis

Chane Groisman travelling to her husband Jossel, April 1906

At first the family, now Grossman, lived on First Avenue in East Manhattan and then moved to the Bronx, to Simpson St near 163rd St, where the Nechetskys had settled. In 1920, Joseph’s much younger sister, Anna, 28, was living with them as well.

940 simpson st bronx

940 Simpson St, Bronx

The family remained there until 1940, when Joseph, now a widower, Morris and Lillian, both single, moved further north in the Bronx near to where Harry and his family had settled. Morris had not married, possibly because of his weak leg, and Lillian, the eldest, seems to have taken the role from childhood of looking after the family. The youngest daughter, Rose, disappears from the records. She does not appear in the New York marriage records, although she may left New York and married. There are several Rose Grossmans in the death records, both in the Bronx and other parts of New York, so she may have stayed, choosing to live by herself and avoid the public records, possibly because she was out a lot. She is last in the census in 1920 as a 17-year-old, living at home, working in a department store. Lillian was working as a stenographer, Morris as a bookkeeper, and Harry as a shop clerk. Everyone in this tightknit family had their role to play settling into New York life until sometime after 1920 when Rose, like Anna Goichman, went her own way. Although this family is easy to trace as there were not endless name changes, it is difficult to work backwards and imagine where they might have been living in Odessa and who they might have been.

The Jewish families who wanted to leave Peresyp after the pogrom were all working class families but several of the names, such as Poliakov, Nemirovsky, and Rabinovich, which are relatively common, also included very wealthy Jewish families either in Odessa or elsewhere. Lazar Poliakov (1843-1914) was a wealthy banker and Lazar Leib, 18, who died in the pogrom, may have been his grandson. In the 1904-5 directory, many Poliakovs owned property in both the centre and Moldavanka. There is one L. Poliakov who owned a property in the middle of Moldavanka, at 29 Rozumovskaya, which is a continuation of the street running through the centre, Malaya Arnautskaya. The house below is 27 as there is a gap and then modern buildings where 29 might have been.

27 rozumovskaya poliakov 2

27 Rozumovskaya

Gelman (Гельман) is another common Jewish name and two different Gelman families were victims of the pogrom, a young man of 25 and a woman of 38 with two small children of 5 and 2. Their names do not relate to the worker on the Peresyp letter, the five Gelmans on the Jewish business list, or the member of the social Democratic committee wanted by the police, Azriel Nakhimov.

1816 GELMAN Shaya Shlemov 25
1915 GELMAN Efoim-Menash Zusev 2 years 5 months
2018 GELMAN Isruel Zusev 5
1570 GELMAN Fradya Meerova 38

I mention them because the mother and two children are the only family group of mother and children in the records, although, according to the accounts, there were many deaths of mothers and small children in the pogrom. The father of the children, Zus Gelman, does not come up anywhere in the records. On the Jewishgen Odessa database, an Israel Gelman was born in 1900 (http://thefamilytree.com.ar/odessa/RES_AODB_Home.asp). The index does not carry on until 1903, but there are some individual birth records and one includes a Gelman child born in July 1903 with different parents. Efoim would have been born around May or June. He must have had remaining family if they knew his age so exactly.

My next step will be to return to Odessa to explore other places Jews may have lived outside the main areas of the centre, Moldavanka, Slobodka Romanovka and Peresyp.

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Filed under emigration, families, photographs, pogrom death list, silence

The Scheindless brothers

Searching the Ellis Island database for 1906 by the city name Odessa (http://stevemorse.org/ellis2/ellisgold.html), on one manifest there are three groups of people leaving from Hamburg on 15 August and going to the New York Industrial Removal Office. One of the groups is a teacher, Sarah Perlmann, from Odessa with four children from Ekaterinoslav, Rose Kogan and her siblings, a second group consists of a 20-year-old housemaid, Rivka Jurkowsky, and her 13 and 10-year-old siblings, and then there are two brothers, 9 and 7, from Odessa, Israel and Schiekel Scheindless, possibly sons of the couple, Mordko and Khaya, from Kherson,who were killed in Slobodka, and who may have had little extended family in the area. Scheindless (or Sheindles, Scheindlis, Scheindlass, Scheindels etc) was a rare name in Russia outside of the Sheindels in Vilna, and even less common in the United States where the name was soon changed to Shindle or Schindler. In the Yad Vashem Holocaust database, there are only two people with similar names, Sheindlis and Shendelis, from Odessa.

sheindels izrail 1903 army belarus

Israel Sheindels 1903

This photograph is part of a database of 1,222 names of Jewish conscripts from Vilna gubernia (Vilna province), Photographs of Conscripts to the Russian Army, 1900-1914, Lithuanian Archives of Image and Sound and is part of the Jewishgen collection. This is another Israel Sheindels, possibly a relation of the Odessa family. There are many photographs like this, in public archives, on documents, which may or may not be known to the person’s descendants. Some photographs have been deliberately placed online, such as those on the Yad Vashem website, to remember those who died. Others, like the one above may be unknown. There is no photograph of the Israel from Odessa who may or may not have ever talked about his childhood, and this photograph of another Israel Sheindels, is a reminder that we cannot know what the orphan Israel looked like. The two may have been cousins. They may have had a certain look in common, but probably not.

All of the group sponsored by the Industrial Removal Office, among many others, were detained at Ellis Island from 25 to 28 August as a possible LPC or ‘likely public charge’, people who might not have a sponsor or means of support. There must have been a tremendous fear of deportation as one entered Ellis Island and endlessly waited around to be inspected and re-inspected.

scheindless i s ship 1906

S.S. Amerika 1906 Scheindless brothers

From the website of the Industrial Removal Office records database, the office is described as: ‘created as part of the Jewish Agricultural Society to assimilate immigrants into American society, both economically and culturally. It worked to employ all Jewish immigrants.’ It was founded in 1901 and funded by the Baron de Hirsch fund in order to move Jews from the overcrowded cities of the east coast of America to smaller towns across the country, and give them training in a trade. There is no mention of the organisation actually bringing young orphans from Russia to the United States, but possibly this was especially arranged after the 1905 pogrom.

Only one of the boys, Israel, turns up on the database of the Industrial Removal Office. Just the bare facts. On 5 September 1906, a week after arriving in New York, Israel was sent to Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Name: Scheindless, Israel
Date: 9/5/1906
City: Pittston
State: PA
Box 9, Page 39, Entry 17535
Collection: I-91: Industrial Removal Office. Records, n.d., 1899-1922
In the 1906 online Jewish Encyclopaedia there is an entry for Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, where Jews had been settling from the 1830s.

‘The Jewish educational, philanthropic, and social activities of the city are entrusted to the following institutions: the religious and Hebrew schools, the Synagogue Industrial School, branch lodges of the leading Jewish orders, the Young Men’s Hebrew Association, the social and literary clubs, four aid societies, a free loan association, and the Executive Committee of Jewish Congregations (which aids the work of the Industrial Removal Office). With this equipment the community is an important center of Jewish activity in northeastern Pennsylvania, reaching out to Hazleton, Plymouth, Pittston, and the smaller towns in the vicinity. The Jews of Wilkesbarre now (1905) number about 1,800, or about 3 per cent of the total population.

Water_Street,_Pittston,_PA 1908

Water Street, Pittston, PA 1908

So this was the world that Israel found himself in towards the end of 1906. And he may have seen young boys his age coming home from the pits, like those below.

Breaker_boysS._Pittston,_Pa. 1911

Breaker boys, S. Pittston, 1911

The very brief record does not indicate whether, at the age of 9, Israel was simply fostered into a Jewish family or apprenticed to a tradesman. But, on 14 May 1907, eight months later, he entered the New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum with a note in the record that ‘no information came from Russia at the time of the massacres’. So he was an orphan of the massacres, and the son of Mordko and Khaya in Slobodka. His age is listed as 12 (he may have been 10) and his term at the orphanage was expected to end in May 1911. There is a column on the form for whether the child was ‘committed or surrendered’. Almost all the other children at the orphanage had been placed there because they had lost one parent and the other needed to work, or there were serious problems in the family such as illness, alcoholism or unemployment. Most of these children had the name and address of a parent and were committed to the care of the orphanage. Israel was surrendered.

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Hebrew Orphan Asylum of the City of New York 1907

Two books have been written about experiences at the New York Hebrew Orphan Asylum during the depression years, An Orphan In New York City, Seymour Siegel (2000) and The Luckiest Orphans: A History of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of New York, Hyman Bogen (1992), but no book has explored experiences from the early 1900s, especially after the great influx of Russian immigrants in 1905. Forgetting Fathers: Untold Stories from an Orphaned Past, David Marshall (2015), yet to be published, is a look into the unknown story of the author’s grandfather at Hebrew Orphan Asylum, possibly in the early 1900s. The people whose stories of the orphanage in the 1920s and 1930s appear in these books had very varied and mixed reactions to their experiences. Some prefer to tell a positive story of having had more opportunities for an education, sport, and getting outside New York City to summer camps than was possible for many children from New York’s Lower East Side. Others felt angry that their parents or parent had not been able to keep their family together although they understood the problems their parents had. Most were able to admit suffering from a lack of love, although many made friends for life. Women could be more perceptive about the problems and insecurities of creating a home and family themselves when they had no idea of what this really involved.

The official history in the guide to the records of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum of the City of New York (http://findingaids.cjh.org/?pID=250011) gives some indication of trends at the early part of the 1900s.
‘Unable to care for all of its residents, HOA began a boarding out program, in which families are paid to house residents. The exact year when this began cannot be confirmed, due to a gap in annual reports in the collection. However; the first mention of “boarding out for want of room” appears in the 1875 annual report. This program continued until 1893 and was reintroduced by Superintendent Solomon Lowenstein in 1906…

By the turn of the twentieth century, partly because of the influence of new theories of psychology and social work, the focus of child-care policy had gradually shifted to the psychological well-being of individual children. The succeeding superintendents began to liberate the orphanage from the rigid institutional policies set up previously. Baar’s successor, David Adler, relieved some of the regimentation; he added pockets to uniforms (according to Hyman Bogen “…the boys didn’t know what to make of it; few of them owned enough possessions to fill even one pocket”), took away the silence rule, allowed mail to be written and sent by the children, and increased the amount of outings. Most importantly, Adler abolished corporal punishment, mainly by hiring governors who were not graduates; however, since he kept the monitorial system, the beatings continued. Rudolph Coffee, a Jewish Theological Seminary rabbinical student and the next superintendent, worked to “deinstitutionalize” the orphanage. He “abolished” the uniform, silenced the rising bell, allowed hair to grow, and established the first publication created by the children titled “The Chronicle of the H.O.A.”’

Hebrew_Orphan_Asylum,_Amsterdam

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Hebrew Orphan Asylum of the City of New York

What could life have been like sleeping in an iron bed in a great hall with a hundred other children without even a locker for personal belongings, knowing you were one of the only ones without any parent, grandparent or other family to possibly eventually return to? By 1901 children were allowed to speak during activities, and letters were allowed to and from home. In stories of the orphanage in the 1920s and 1930s, letters and visits to and from family were a crucial lifeline, which must have been especially difficult for those with no family. The last document for Israel from the Hebrew Orphan Asylum was his discharge in 1912. It was a form designed for a parent or guardian to withdraw their child, with a place for their signature, none of which was possible in Israel’s case. He had completed a trade school course in carpentry and had been boarded out with Mrs Eva Green at 948 Union Avenue in the Bronx with a job working for the property developers Bing & Bing.

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Israel Scheindless discharge 1912

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South Bronx 1901

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Union Avenue, Bronx

The brothers Leo and Alexander Bing were property developers who set up a company in 1906 and built some of the best pre-war Manhattan apartment buildings and hotels.

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903 Park Avenue, Bing&Bing 1912

Much later I discovered that Israel’s new life of independence, living outside the orphanage, working for a well-known property developer and construction company, did not last much more than a year. But at the time that I discovered the orphanage records all I could find about Israel after 1912 was an Israel Shindles, a baker from Russia, who was over 10 years older and living in Philadelphia in 1920.

Even though Joseph does not appear in the orphanage records, both Israel and Joseph Scheindlass are listed in the 1910 census as inmates at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum, age 14 and 13 (although in 1906 they were 9 and 7). There are no more Scheindless’ or Scheindlass’ in the US records. In the 1915 New York census I came upon a Joseph Schindle, age 18, an inmate at the New York State Reformatory in Elmira, New York. He was listed as a U.S. born cabinetmaker with a previous address of 1126 Willoughby Ave, Brooklyn. It may or may not have been Joseph.

The Elmira reformatory, founded by Zebulon Reed Brockway in 1876, was the first in the United States and was set up for young men from 16-30 with an emphasis on discipline, education and training. There were several hours of military drill a day, trade school and night classes in general education.

Elmira Reformatory - 1900

A few excerpts from the 1916 HAND BOOK of the New York State Reformatory At Elmira, Fred C. Allen (http://www.joycetice.com/booksc/1916ref3.htm) give an idea of how the reformatory was run.

How the Prisoners are Boarded.
The prisoners take their meals in dining rooms, to which they are assigned according to grade. The food supplied to the three grades, is uniform in quality, but the ration of the first grades admits of a somewhat greater variety than does that issued to the second and third grades.
First grade prisoners who have been economical in their various expenditures, and have thus obtained a certain credit balance, showing a specific sum saved, occupy a separte dining room and are allowed a more extended dietary than their fellows, their accounts being duly debited with the cost of the additional items received. These prisoners are also permitted to converse while at table, another privilege not accorded to inmates using the other dining rooms.
The Rooms of the Prisoners.
The prisoners’ rooms are seven feet wide, eight feet long, and nine feet high, and each has its ventilator, opening at the roof of the institution. The walls are whitewashed and in each room is an iron bedstead, a wooden cupboard, table and chair, and an electric lamp. Closets and lavatories are at present installed in 176 of the rooms.
Inmates’ Daily Routine.
With the exceptions hereinafter noted, the various tasks and exercises occupying the reformatory day, are apportioned in the following manner:
During the morning hours, until about ten o’clock, a large number of the prisoners are occupied in cleaning the rooms and corridors, repairing buildings, apparatus, etc., while others, including all new arrivals, are being drilled in military exercises. There is also at this time, in the institutional gymnasium, a class in physical culture composed of prisoners thus assigned by the physician as being in especial need of gymnastic exercise and other treatment here given. A little after ten o’clock, general military exercises begin and these occupy the remainder of the morning are participated in by the major portion of the population.
The prisoners dine at noon. The first part of the afternoon is devoted to the trades school, and there is also an afternoon physical culture class in the gymnasium. These sessions last until about half-past three; from there the prisoners pass directly to their various classes in the school of letters, and receive instruction until five o’clock, when their labors for the day are concluded. After a half-hour for supper, the prisoners retire to their rooms to rest, read or study, until their bed-time, at nine o’clock.

The subjects taught in the school of letters are: arithmetic, bookkeeping, language, history, ethics, literature, civics, economics, and hygiene.
Trades school:
Barber, Bookbinder, brass smith, bricklayer, cabinetmaker, carpenter, clothing cutter, electrician, frescoer, hardwood finisher, horseshoer, housepainter, iron-forger, machine woodworker, machinist, moulder, paint-mixer, plasterer, plumber, printer, shoemaker, signpainter, steamfitter, stenographer and typewriter, tailor, tinsmith, upholsterer

The reformatory also had a farm, greenhouses and a recreation park. The 1916 Handbook ends with a long, detailed, idealised story, with photographs, of a fictional boy called Peter Luckey who is sent to the reformatory for stealing.

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Peter Luckey 1916 Handbook

Joseph Schindle may not have been Joseph Scheindless except that there does not appear to be another Joseph Schindle born at that time from Russia or Brooklyn in the records, and Joseph Scheindless, who later probably became Joseph Schindler, from Odessa, did live most of his life in Brooklyn. Strangely, on the 1915 census, at the address 1126 Willoughby Avenue, a house with 7 families, there was a Schindler family with a 19-year-old son named Joseph.

The life and routine at Elmira was quite similar to that at the Hebrew Orphan Asylum so it is understandable that a child who may have spent his childhood from the age of seven at the orphanage, might have found it quite difficult as a teenager to move into the outside world boarding with a couple or family, and may have needed a few more years of strict, institutional life.

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1126 Willoughby Avenue, Brooklyn

Israel may also have had trouble adjusting to the outside world, as, in 1913, he joined the army when he was only 16, claiming to be 19 and born in the US. He had changed his name to Isidore Schiendles, Israel probably not being a helpful name in the army. Joseph may also have claimed to have been born in the US and older than he was, if he was thinking of joining the army. There is no World War I registration card for Joseph online so he may have still been in the reformatory in 1917 or he may have joined the army.

Israel’s army record and death certificate are online. He fought overseas from 1917 to 1918. When he died in 1963 in Philadelphia, he was buried in a veterans’ cemetery and the form shows that after his discharge from the Army he changed his name again to Sidney Schindler. It is clear from his death certificate that his son did not know the town where his father was born or the names of his father’s parents. It is also clear that being a veteran of World War I was very important to Israel and, however traumatic it may have been, his experiences may have cemented his identity as American and helped him to create a story other than that of an immigrant and orphan of the Odessa pogrom.

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Isadore Schiendles veteran burial card

Another person who came up in the records while searching for Israel, was an Israel Shindles, a Russian born baker in Philadelphia, who was over 10 years older than Israel Scheindless. Israel/Sidney also became a baker and it seemed a possibility that he had moved to Philadelphia, where he is living on the 1930 census, because he knew the other Israel. The other Israel is also similar in age to the young boy in the photograph who joined the army in Vilna in 1903. Israel/Sidney is not on the 1920 census when he first left the army, but Joseph does appear in Philadelphia as a boarder with a Russian family, working as a machinist, on the same street, West Moyamensing Avenue, as the older Israel. Joseph married in Philadelphia but then moved back to Brooklyn by 1930, not too far from Willoughby Avenue.

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546 West Moyamensing Avenue, Philadelphia (white house)

Joseph and Israel both named their eldest son Morton after their father, Mordko. Whatever they may or may not have told their families about their pasts, whatever stories they may have woven, they would have been reminded and wanted to be reminded of their father every day. And although, on the censuses, Joseph kept pushing his date of immigration back in time, first 1904 and then 1900, possibly trying to prove to himself or others that he had been too young to remember Russia, on the one census when he was asked what city he was from, he did say Odessa. My eldest aunt, born in 1901, 5 years old when she left Odessa in 1906, changed her birth date to 1903, and told her family she was too young to remember Russia. She never said where she had been born or had lived as a child. Israel, on the other hand, wrote his immigration year correctly as 1906 on the 1930 census, although to join the army he must have claimed to have been born in the US as, on his World War II registration, his birthplace is listed as Hartford, Connecticut. Why Hartford? Had he also been fostered out there at some point?

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Joseph Schindler, with wife Fannie and children Morton, Florence and Alberta, 1930, Brooklyn

One wonders how the two brothers were affected by the pogrom, the death of their parents and being uprooted from their home and country and taken to an orphanage in New York. Were they remote and silent like many men at that time, or quick to anger so that family felt they were walking on egg shells, or did they develop a lively, outgoing personality, in order to divert conversations from any mention of the past? Were they stern disciplinarians or easy-going and tolerant? Did they believe that their children needed the strict discipline they had had in the orphanage or did they want the opposite for their family? By 1940, both brothers had been married for nearly 20 years and Israel had 7 children while Joseph had 4. And how did the children feel? Possibly each one felt differently, depending on whether they knew anything or nothing of their father’s past, whether they sensed sadness, loss or simply the mystery of an unknown past. Research on second-generation Holocaust survivors has found that different children in a family have very different experiences, one child possibly feeling the parent’ s emotions more acutely and feeling more uncomfortable talking about the past, while another child may feel less emotionally affected and be more curious about the parent’s possibly untold story. The Schindler children may have felt the past was best forgotten, or may have been curious to understand why their father had been who he was. They may have felt confused and rootless without a past. They may not have cared. They may have been angry or disappointed not to have family stories or sympathetic, knowing that things had not been easy for their parents.

But could I have the wrong people? Did Israel and Joseph actually remain as carpenter and cabinetmaker or did Israel become a baker by working with a relation in Philadelphia, and did Joseph become a machinist and ironworker because he had learned the trade at the reformatory? Because Sidney Schindler had spelled his previous name as Schiendles on his World War I enlistment, and Joseph admitted to being from Odessa on the 1930 census, these are probably the children of Mordko and Khaya, from Slobodka. There was one other Scheindlis on the Hamburg ships’ manifests, a Moses Scheindlis, age 18, a locksmith from Odessa, travelling in October 1906, two months after Israel and Joseph. He may have been an elder brother, who had not been in a position to look after his younger brothers. Unfortunately I could not find him in any other records, trying endless possible name changes, so I do not know if he was able to help the younger children in any way.

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Brownsville market, Brooklyn

Most people want to tell a hero story, a story of success and happiness, which is why pogrom stories were not told. The pogrom deaths were not success stories. There was a success in the survival and moving on of the families of those who died, but this success rested on so much pain and grief that they were not tellable stories. But now, a century after the pogrom, it seems to be time to tell the stories of those who died and the children and grandchildren who moved on, carrying the ghosts of the past with them.

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Filed under emigration, families, photographs, places, silence