Monday, October 14, 2013

The Five Dubowskis

According to family oral history, one of my great-great-great-grandparental sets was that of Simon and Ada Dubowski. They had five children that anyone knows about: Barnett, Asher, Annie, Dora and Mary/Miriam.

  • Barnett is supposed to be the Barnett Dubowski who lived in London, England and had scads of children, such as Rebecca, Moses, Solomon Wolf, Samuel Myer, Abraham, Amelia, Sarah, Dora, Mordecai, Rachel, Golda, and Beatrice. Barnett was apparently born in Odessa and immigrated to England.
  • Asher apparently also was born in Odessa and immigrated to England (London), and married twice.
  • Annie is my great-great-grandmother. She married Elias/Hillel Goldroad in Russia and also immigrated to England (London). The story goes that Elias went back to Russia to visit family and was killed there in a pogrom. Annie later married Morris Cohen; and Morris' son Mark later married Annie's daughter Nancy (my great-grandparents).
  • Dora was also apparently born in Odessa, and married Harris Wolfson there. They immigrated to England (London) and later to Australia. They had children: Deborah, Nancy, Jacob, Eva, Sarah/Sadie, Abraham and Ada.
  • Miriam married Jacob Goldroad (supposedly a cousin of Elias). They lived in London, England, but moved to Australia, also spending some time in New Zealand. The family surname was at some point changed from Goldroad to Barripp. They had children: Nancy, Barney, Annie/Sybil, Fay/Deborah and Samuel.

Additionally, the name "Micklehunsky" (or some such variation) is supposed to be connected to this branch of the family.

Got all that? Great. So, with this oral history in hand, I went searching for documentation to confirm it.

Dora is the best person to begin with. Here is the key information from her death certificate:

died 15 February 1934, "Hollywood Flats", Carr Street, Coogee, New South Wales, Australia
Dora Wolfson
Female, age 80 years
Parents Simon Meckenshank, merchant, and Ada
Informant G. Meyers, son-in-law, 60 Melody Street, Coogee
Buried 16 February 1934, Jewish Cemetery Rookwood
Born in Odessa, Russia; lived 55 years in New South Wales
Married in Odessa, Russia at the age of 20 to Harris Wolfson
Children: Deborah, age 59; Nancy, age 55; Jacob, age 52; Eva, age 50; Sadie, age 48; Abraham, age 44; Ada, age 40; all living; and 1 male deceased

(Incidentally, I love it when people die in New South Wales; the death certificate is fantastically detailed.)

The problem here, of course, is that the name "Dubowski" never shows up in this record. Looking at other records for clearly the same person, however, show us that "Micklehansky" and "Dubowski" (or variations thereof) were pretty much synonymous. First of all, it's important to know that the Wolfson surname was originally "Vallenvensky" (or some such variation). We can see this by looking at the 1881 England census, which lists this family on Booth Street in Mile End New Town, Spitalfields, London:

  • Harris Vallenvensky, lodger head, married, age 28, occupation not known, born Russia
  • Dorah Vallenvensky, wife, married, age 26, occupation not known, born Russia
  • Nancy Vallenvensky, daughter, age 2, born Middlesex
  • Debby Vallenvensky, daughter, age 1, born Poland

A fellow Dubowski researcher sent me a transcript of daughter Nancy's birth certificate:

Whitechapel - 1880 - Whitechapel North County of Middlesex - Regno, 765
Born: Twenty fourth November 1879 at 5 Goulston Street , Whitechapel
Name: Nancy
Sex: Girl
Father: Harris Walowinski
Mother: Dora Walowinski formerly Duborfski
Father Occupation: Glazier
Fathers address: 5 Goulston Street, Whitechapel
Registered on the Tenth January 1880

This same person also told me that Dora's surname was given as Dubofsky on daughter Eva's death entry. Another Dubowski researcher says that Dora's maiden name on son Abraham's birth certificate was given as De Boska; as Duboski on daughter Ada's birth certificate; and Dubosky on husband Harris' death certificate. However, Dora's maiden name was given as Mickleshanski on daughter Sarah's birth certificate, Micklehonsky on daughter Deborah's marriage certificate; and Micleshansky on daughter Nancy's marriage certificate.

From all this I conclude that a) Dora is definitely a child of Simon and Ada, and b) Micklehansky and Dubowski are synonymous surnames.

Moving on from this knowledge, then, we can hook up Miriam. And I have the marriage certificate of Miriam and her husband Jacob Goldroad. Here is a transcript of the key bits:

Eighteenth October 1882
Groom: Jacob Goldroot, age 22 years, bachelor, tailor, living at 53 Back Church Lane, father Moses Elias Goldroot, clerk
Bride: Mary Miklisanski, age 21 years, spinster, no occupation, living at 53 Back Church Lane, father Samson Miklisanski, teacher
Married in the Princes Street Synagogue according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Jewish Religion by Certificate
in the presence of Saml J Cohen/A Hinkel (Frinkel?)

"Simon" is an anglicization of "Samson", and "Goldroad"/"Goldroot" is an incredibly uncommon surname, so this nails down Miriam/Mary as another child of Simon and Ada, and also gives us an occupation for Simon: teacher. This is further corroborated by this listing in the 1881 England census (about a year and a half prior to Miriam and Jacob's marriage), at 14 Dorset Street, Tower Hamlets, Christchurch Spitalfields, London:

  • Sampson Muhealcharsky, head, married, age 67, Hebrew teacher, born in Russia
  • Uda Muhealcharsky, wife, married, age 67, born in Russia
  • Miriam Muhealcharsky, daughter, unmarried, age 20, fur sewer, born in Russia
  • Nancy Muhealcharsky, orphan, unmarried, age 6, scholar, born in Russia
  • Abraham Muhealcharsky, lodger, unmarried, age 20, tailor, born in Poland
  • Harris Muhealcharsky, lodger, unmarried, age 18, boot maker, born in Poland

(Incidentally, I think the census transcriber went nuts with the "ditto" for the surnames of the last few people in this listing; I don't think the lodgers, born in a different country, were also Muhealcharskys; and I also happen to believe that the 6-year-old Nancy in this listing was my great-grandmother, daughter of Annie, whose surname should actually have been given as "Goldroad".)

At any rate, this census listing is terrific, because not only does it confirm that Simon also went by Sampson, that his wife's name was Ada, and that Miriam/Mary was one of his daughter, but we also find here that Simon and Ada actually immigrated to England. I therefore went looking for (and successfully found) their death records and ordered their death certificates. Most unfortunately, I haven't scanned Ada's death certificate yet and have managed to put it somewhere very stupid so I don't know where exactly it is; but I believe I remember that the address given for her was the same as that given for Simon on his death certificate; and I definitely remember that the informant (name, address and relationship to the deceased) for her death certificate was the exact same as the informant on Simon's certificate. And here is a transcript of Simon's death certificate:

20 May 1890, 6 Tusons Court
Simon Michelshousky
male
79 years
Hebrew teacher
informant S. W. Dubouski, grandson, present at the death, 106 Brick Lane, Spitalfields

(Ada's surname on her death certificate, incidentally, was given as "Michaelowski". It's also worth noting that 6 Tusons Court is the exact address where Miriam and Jacob Goldroad were living with their children in the 1891 census.)

So this is very interesting - it tells us that Simon and Ada had a grandson named S. W. Dubowski, who, in 1890 (Ada also died in 1890) was living at 106 Brick Lane, Spitalfields. And this is absolutely fantastic to know, because a year later on the 1891 England census, we just happen to have the following family living at 106 Brick Lane, Spitalfields:

  • Barnett Doubski, head, married, age 57, general dealer and grocer, own account, born Russia, naturalized British subject
  • Kate Doubski, wife, married, age 49, born Russia, naturalized British subject
  • Solomon W Doubski, son, single, age 26, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born Russia
  • Samuel M Doubski, son, single, age 23, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born Russia
  • Abey Doubski, son, single, age 20, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born Russia
  • Ammelia Doubski, daughter, single, age 17, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born London City
  • Sarah Doubski, daughter, single, age 15, assistant general dealer and grocer, employed, born London City
  • Mordeca Doubski, son, single, age 13, scholar, born London City
  • Rachel Doubski, daughter, single, age 9, scholar, born London City
  • Moses Doubski, son, single, age 7, scholar, born London City
  • Goldeau Doubski, daughter, single, age 3, scholar, born London City
  • Bloma Minzic, mother-in-law, widow, age 72, born Russia
  • Levi Goldstein, servant, single, age 26, carman, employed, born Russia
  • Senion Erellner (handwriting there is hard to read), servant, single, age 17, shop boy, employed, born Russia
  • Semlock Joseph, servant, single, age 17, shop boy, employed, born Russia
  • Dora Cohen, servant, married, age 26, general servant domestic, born Russia
  • Simona Isaacs, servant, widow, age 24, general servant domestic, born Russia
  • Rachel Moses, servant, single, age 20, general servant domestic, born Russia

Bingo. Here is S. W. Dubowski living at 106 Brick Lane. We can see from this census record that he is the son of Barnett Dubowski and, as we know from Simon's and Ada's death certificates, he is also Simon's and Ada's grandson. Since we also know from the many records listing the maiden name of Simon and Ada's daughter Dora that Micklehansky and Dubowski are the same family, we therefore know that Barnett is, as per family oral history, also a child of Simon and Ada.

And this brings us to Asher. Searching on Ancestry.com and familysearch.org, even with wildcards to account for massive variations in spelling, there's really just one "Asher Dubowski" at any given time in the whole of England:

  • There's an Asher Dubosky on the 1881 England census at 36 Dorset Street, Tower Hamlets, Christ Church Spitalfields, London. (Note that his supposed father Simon was living at 14 Dorset Street ten years earlier on the 1881 census.) He's listed as 38 years old, occupation boot finisher, birthplace Poland, wife Sarah, and children Aaron, Nancy, Rebecca, Moses, Milly, and Annie.
  • There's an Asher Duboski on the 1891 England census at 130 Wentworth Street, Whitechapel St. Mary, London. He's listed as 42 years old, occupation boot finisher, birthplace Russia, wife Sarah, and children Aaron, Nancy, Rebecca, Moses, Emillia, Yetty, Myer, and Lizzie.
  • There's an Asher Dubowski marriage record in 1899. I ordered the marriage certificate:
    Thirty First January 1899
    Groom Asher Dubowsky, age 47, widower, provision dealer, living at 34 Wentworth Street, father Simon Dubowsky, teacher
    Bride Annie Rachel Greener, age 35, widow, living at 62 Wentworth Street, father David Greener, no occupation given
    Married in the East London Synagogue, Parish of Mile End Old Town, County of London
    Witnesses Israel Greenberg and A Winkel
  • There's an Asher Dubowski on the 1911 England census (can't find him for love nor money in the 1901 census, unfortunately), living at 107 Dalston Lane, St. John-at-Hackney, London. He's listed as 64 years old, occupation grocer (shopkeeper), employer, birthplace Russia Polland (sic), wife Annie, and children Leak, Ada, Samuel, Israel, Miriam and Katey, plus step-daughter Rachel Kruner.
  • There's a probate record for Annie Dubowski in 1911: DUBOWSKI Annie of 107 Dalston-lane Middlesex (wife of Asher Dubowski) died 17 August 1911 at the Metropolitan Hospital Kingsland Middlesex Administration London 29 September to Asher Dubowski provision dealer. Effects #128 19s. 6d.
  • There's an Asher Dubowski marriage record in 1912. A fellow Dubowski researcher sent me a transcript of the certificate:
    28 July 1912
    Groom Asher Dubowski aged 62 years, widower, grocer master?, living at 107 Dalston Lane Dalston, father Simon Dubowski, grocer
    Bride Annie Weinstein aged 52 years, widow, living at 107 Dalston Lane Dalston, father Naphtali Feldman, rabbi

Clearly, the Asher Dubowski from the 1899 marriage to Annie Rachel Greener; the Asher Dubowski from the 1911 census; the Asher Dubowski from the Annie Dubowski probate record; and the Asher Dubowski from the 1912 marriage to Annie Weinstein are all the same person, for the following reasons:

  • He's listed as a grocer throughout.
  • The first name of the wife in the 1911 census matches the first name of the bride in the 1899 marriage record and the 1911 census says they've been married 12 years, which gives a marriage date of 1899. Moreover, Asher has a step-daughter (i.e. wife Annie's daughter from a previous relationship) living with him with the surname of Kruner, and the 1899 marriage record gives the bride's surname as Greener. It's reasonable to assume that Greener is an anglicization of Kruner.
  • Asher is living at the exact same address in the 1911 census, the 1911 probate record for his wife Annie, and the 1912 record for his marriage to Annie Weinstein.

And on both marriage records for this same Asher Dubowski, we find that he lists his father as Simon Dubowski; as a grocer on his 1912 marriage record, and as a teacher (BINGO!) on his 1899 marriage record. We know that Simon was certainly a teacher; but we've also seen him listed as a dealer/merchant on secondary records about his children; Asher's paper trail unites the two occupations into the same person, and demonstrates that Asher is another child of Simon and Ada. (My searches have shown that Dubowski is a very unique name; I would argue that the odds of there being two Simon Dubowskis who were teachers at the right age to be the father of this Asher Dubowski are way too huge for Asher to not be the son of our Simon.)

The only question now is whether the boot-finishing Asher Dubowski from the 1881 and 1891 censuses is the same person as the Asher Dubowski in later years. Given the rarity of the name "Asher Dubowski", the odds are good; as well, the "Leak" (probably supposed to be Leah) in the 1911 census is just exactly the right age to be the same person as the "Lizzie" on the 1891 census. However, it wasn't certain...until I did even more digging for records on Asher Dubowski.

Turns out there is yet another marriage record, for Asher Dubowsky, in Stepney, London, in 1932, to a Sarah Berkovitch. This seemed incredibly far-fetched; I mean, even taking the latest calculated birth date on all the records I have for the guy, he would have been eighty years old at the time of this marriage. So I discounted it and figured it was probably the marriage record entry for one of our Asher's grandsons, also named Asher.

What I also found which was more plausible was a death record entry: Asher Dubowki, age 94, death registered September 1934 in Stepney, London. The matching probate record read:

DUBOWSKIE Asher Peretz of 133 Commercial-street Whitechapel Middlesex died 31 August 1934 at St. Peters Hospital Valance-road Mile End Middlesex Probate London 30 October to Miriam Levine (wife of Reuben Levine) and Israel Dubowski grocer. Effects #2303 5s. 3d.

This is excruciatingly likely to be our Asher Dubowski, first of all because the calculated birth year in the death entry is in the same general neighbourhood as the calculated birth years in the other documentation we have for him (and honestly, "same general neighbourhood" is the best we can expect because the ages that this guy gave to various recordkeeping officials were all over the map). Second of all, we know from the 1911 census that he had children named Israel and Miriam, and then in the 1934 probate record we have the probate going to a Miriam Levine, wife of Reuben Levine; and Israel Dubowski, occupation grocer. It's not a stretch to figure that Israel could have taken over his father's grocery business; and a quick search of the England & Wales Marriage Index reveals a marriage entry for Reuben W Levine and Miriam Dubowksi in 1925 in London City.

This made me want to order the 1934 death certificate, but I was still discounting that 1932 marriage...until I found an article from The Evening Telgraph (Angus, Scotland) on 6 February 1933. It's an incredible smoking gun of a record:

90-YEAR-OLD-BRIDEGROOM
Weds Aftr Whirlwind Courtship
His Young Bride
Mr Ascher Dubowski, whose oldest surviving child is 70 years of age, married within a few weeks of his 90th birthday. For many years Mr. Dubowski carried on a grocery business in Wentworth Street, London, E.
His bride--he married after a whirlwind courtship of a few weeks--was Mrs. Sarah Jacobs, widowed for nine years, and the mother of six children. Mr and Mrs Dubowski live at 72 Commercial Street, E.1. Both are full of ??? romance and determined to make the ??? of their happy partnership. "My wife is the answer to all my prayers," said Mr Dubowski. "It has been worth waiting all these years for a wife like her. It is often said that it takes a lifetime to find the right person to marry. Well, here she is."
Up at 6.30 a.m.
The bride, looking like one 20 years his junior, said:--"I was a little bit ??? that when I married a man in his 90th year I should have to look after him like a child.
"But now I find him well able to look after me. He is in bed by 8.30, and is up every morning at half past six or seven to get me an early morning cup of tea!"
Mr Dubowski recounted how he came over to this country from Russia ??? [50 or 60] years ago.
"When I arrived here I started ??? finisher in a boot manufacturing business he said. "I worked from morning to night for 10s a week. Gradually I saved a little money, and when I had got a hundred pounds I began in business on my own.
"My wife is a grand business woman," he added, looking affectionately toward Mrs Dubowski. "She has already saved me a great deal of money by her advice. Always in a Hurry.
"Yes," the bride chimed in, "that is his trouble--he is always in a hurry. Whether it is business or anything else. Although he had only known me a ??? while, we were engaged very quickly. He gave me a #65 engagement ring and a diamond watch, and we were married without delay. He is a wonderful man--and I love him."
The bridegroom is extraordinarily ??? for his years. In appearance he is an athletic-looking old gentleman of, perhaps 70 or 75. He used to be a smoker, but he only indulges in tobacco on rare occasions.
"I prayed for a good wife," he ??? "and I have got one. I met many women of 50 and 60, and more, but no, I ??? a younger wife.
"As soon as I set eyes on my ??? I said to myself, 'She is the one for me. She makes me feel younger than I have been for many, many years. Of course I married her quickly--why, I was ??? somebody else might run off with her!"

Tell me that isn't absolutely fabulous. Here is a record that confirms that the 1932 marriage record actually is for our Asher Dubowski and not a grandson of the same name; and links the boot finishing Asher Dubowski in the 1881 and 1891 censuses to the Asher Dubowski who is the son of our Simon and Ada. (Admittedly, the bride's surname here is given as Jacobs instead of as Berkovitch as in the marriage record entry, but I'm guessing that one of those was her maiden name and the other the name of her late first husband.) Needless to say, I have ordered both the 1934 death certificate and the 1932 marriage certificate. I am extremely interested to see what the 1932 marriage certificate lists about Asher's father!

At any rate, this brings me to my own great-great-grandmother, Annie - supposedly the fifth child of Simon and Ada.

And here's where it all breaks down.

Family oral history is extremely clear on the point that after her first husband Elias Goldroad died, she remarried, to Morris Cohen, father of her daughter Nancy's future husband Mark Cohen. And indeed, in the 1891 England census we find Morris and Annie living together at 21 Buckle Street, St. Mary Whitechapel, London:

  • Morris Cohen, head, married, age 45, grocer, employer, born Russian Poland
  • Annie Cohen, wife, married, age 41, born Russian Poland
  • Nellie Goldroad (this is my great-grandmother; she alternated frequently between being called Nellie and being called Nancy), daughter, single, age 15, dairy maid, milk, employed, born Whitechapel London
  • Lizzie Thubert, servant, single, age 17, general servant domestic, born Germany
  • Rachael Cohen, sister, single, age 19, born Russian Poland
  • Clara Hoyer, visitor, married, age 32, slipper maker, employed, born Leipzig, Germany
  • Hugo Hoyer, visitor, married, age 36, slipper maker, employed, born Leipzig, Germany

I also got Morris and Annie's marriage certificate. It says:

14 November 1888
Groom Morris Cohen, 37 years, widower, tailor, living by Back Church Lane, father Samuel Cohen, furrier
Bride Annie Goldrose, 38 years, widow, living same place, father Michael Mikshomski, gentleman
Married in the Hambro Synagogue, Fenchurch Street, London City
Witnesses J Zaludsky and M. L. Staal

Michael Mikshomski. Not Simon - Michael. And not a grocer or teacher, but a gentleman.

WTF?!?

So needless to say, this was very disheartening. Family oral history is absolutely clear on the point that my great-great-grandmother Annie was a sister to Miriam, Dora, and all the rest; but the only piece of documentation I have which would tell me the name of her father (and the only piece of documentation I could reasonably hope to find, since even if I could lay my hands on Annie's death record - which would be incredibly tough, given the number of Annie Cohens there were living in London at the time - English death certificates don't give the name of the father of the deceased) gives a different first name and occupation for her father than I was expecting.

Of course, this information was all given second-hand by a woman who probably didn't understand the language too well; "Mikshomski" (which we've also seen spelled as "Michaelowsky") is a word that's related to "Michael"; perhaps it's a patronymic surname and she misunderstood what she was being asked and gave her father's first name as Michael instead of Simon. Or perhaps it was Annie's new husband Morris who was the sole informant for the marriage certificate, and he didn't have a clear handle on what his new wife's father's name was. And perhaps in this culture, "gentleman" and "Hebrew teacher" are not mutually exclusive. My father, for example, believes that "gentleman" actually means "retired"...which would make sense, since the marriage took place while Simon was still alive (wedding was in 1888; Simon died in 1890) and he would have been about 75 at the time.

But while all this is very nice theory; it doesn't give me concrete proof that we have a father-daughter connection between Simon and Annie.

There is, however, a definite connection of some kind between Simon and Annie. For one thing, Annie's marriage certificate at least confirms that she's a Mikshomski. For another thing, we have a beautiful set of records which connect Annie and Simon's daughter Miriam. Because on January 3 1893 we have a record from the New South Wales, Australia Immigration Deposit Journals: Jacob Goldroad, who was living at 96 Gipps Street in Surrey Hills, New South Wales (which incidentally is exactly where his sister-in-law Dora Wolfson nee Dubowski/Micklehansky was living at the time, according to the birth certificates of Dora's children Abraham (1890) and Ada (1892), as transcribed to me by another Dubowski researcher) put down a deposit for his wife Mary Goldroad (age 30), and her children Nancy (age 8), Barnett (age 5), Annie (age 4) and Deborah (age 2), who were living at 21 Buckle Street, Commercial Road, London - the exact address where Annie was living with her second husband Morris less than two years earlier in 1891.

This tells us that Miriam was living with Annie while her husband Jacob was getting himself established in Australia (his Australian naturalization record and a passenger list show that he went there from England in 1892). So this means that, in addition to Miriam and Annie having the same maiden name, there is a close connection between them. Perhaps they are sisters. There's also the distinct possibility I mentioned before, of my great-grandmother Nancy being the Nancy listed with Simon and Ada in the 1881 England census. If true, this is another connection - it makes sense that she would be staying with her grandparents so shortly after her father's death (which, according to family history, happened around 1880).

And that is as far as I've got connecting up "The Five Dubowskis".

1 comment:

kristen den hartog said...

How fun to come across your post. I am researching my family in the Brick Lane area, and so am reading a book called Rothschild Buildings by Jerry White. In it he mentions a grocer named Asher Dubowski, who lived very near my family. He goes on for a few paragraphs about Dubowski, "a tall thin man who lived with his second wife and several children in Strafford Houses".... If you haven't seen the book already, you might enjoy it!