Author Topic: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century  (Read 2582 times)

Offline Gwaelodian

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Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« on: Thursday 07 June 18 18:27 BST (UK) »
Hello. Roots chat researchers have helped me often in the past. For those that helped me trace the soldier who embroidered a sampler, Van Someran, they may  like to know I was not successful in locating this family. However, thanks to your help, the sampler is now safe in a small museum.

Today, I am asking help to locate a person I met some years ago. He owned three shops in the Welsh Valleys but lived in London. When I met him, he was approaching ninety and still working. As he got older, he told me much of his history. I have tried to find him via census research but had not luck. I am not good at it!

When I met him, he was called Ernest Gershenson. I learned as I got to know him better his birth name was Nachmen Mendle, son of Chika Writson and Benchein Gerschenzen. They came from Russian Poland to Tredegar in Wales at the turn of the century. He remembered the Tredegar riots against the Jewish families.

When he died in the 1990s (I think), he was living in Sutton,  Surrey. I have so many letters from him, so many of his tales, that I would love to find him in a census. He never told me his date of birth, but he seems to have been a child when the Tredegar riots happened in 1911. Anyone there who feels like helping me on this search? Many thanks.

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Offline Maggsie

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Re: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 07 June 18 18:55 BST (UK) »
Hi,
A death in Sutton in 1998, aged 95.
in 1939 he was married to Fay, she was a midwife.
Maggsie

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Offline Gwaelodian

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Re: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 07 June 18 19:07 BST (UK) »
Wow. That was quick. Thank you. I know that is correct re name of wife, who predeceased him. I am curious as to when he changed his name from his Jewish birth name. Again, thank you.  :D

Offline JustinL

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Re: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« Reply #3 on: Thursday 07 June 18 19:18 BST (UK) »
I would lay money on the family being that of Barnet and Katie Gershenson with children Fanny and Manuel living in Tredegar.

The surname Gershenzen is a phonetic rendering of the patronymic name Gershonson = son of Gershon.

Benchien = Bentzion, often anglicised to Barnet or Bernhard

Mendle, more commonly written Mendel, was a nickname for the Hebrew name Menachem. A derivative nickname was Manel/Manele, which in turn was further corrupted to Manuel. One ends up with the situation that men with the Hebrew name Menachem become known as Emanuel in everyday life.

There were three Gershonson births in Bedwellty between 1911 and 1917. Mother's surname 2 x Wrightson, 1 x Rightzen

Emmanuel E. Gershonson married Phoebe Rosenberg in 1924 in Bedwellty.

Justin

Offline Gwaelodian

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Re: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« Reply #4 on: Thursday 07 June 18 20:06 BST (UK) »
That is most interesting! Thanks. I think he had a sister Faggie? ;D

Offline Gwaelodian

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Re: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« Reply #5 on: Thursday 07 June 18 21:04 BST (UK) »
Reading your research again, in line with that from Maggsie, I am wondering if he has had two marriages. His wife of later years was Fay, but all you have found is in line with what I know of the family when in Tredegar.  His sister Faggie. Oils tie in with the name Faggie.

Do you know why he would have changed name to Ernest? Was it to fit in with the new country or simply to be less obviously Jewish in days when there was so much aggression directed at Jewish families?

Than you. A lot to think about.

Offline Gwaelodian

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Re: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« Reply #6 on: Thursday 07 June 18 21:06 BST (UK) »
Some pretty grim typos in the above.,iPod itis! Faggie is in line with the name Fanny. X

Offline JustinL

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Re: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« Reply #7 on: Friday 08 June 18 07:12 BST (UK) »
The English secular name Fanny was commonly adopted by Jewish women/girls with the Yiddish name Feiga/Feyge, which would have been name used within the family and Jewish community.

Phoebe Pamela Gershenson, b. 7 Mar 1901, died in Sutton on 14 Mar 1992.

In 1970, for example, she was living at 6 Cyrillian House according to the Electoral Roll.
Strangely, Ernest was not registered, but the telephone book lists him at the same address.

In 1939, Ernest was recorded with an unmarried midwife named Fay (aka Fania) Gershenson. That was his sister.

As to why he assumed the name Ernest, I imagine it was a desire to be less conspicuously foreign, specifically Jewish. Did he have an accent (neither Welsh nor English) at all, when you met him?

What baffles me, however, is that he did not change his surname which strikes me as fairly obviously Jewish, but then maybe that's just because I have been doing Jewish genealogy for so long.

Justin



Offline Gwaelodian

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Re: Russian Polish immigrant to Wales at turn of century
« Reply #8 on: Friday 08 June 18 07:52 BST (UK) »
Justin
Your research is golden! I remember he had a midwife sister. I understood from what he wrote to me he had little to do with his wife or son. I could never establish if they were living together, or if indeed she had predeceased him. He has given me graphic details on his experience of the 1911 riots...or pogrons ...against the Jewish families in Tredegar. We never managed to locate his birth village of Kibblitch, which he felt was some thirty miles from Odessa. I wonder if, maybe, the name was changed in the occupation. Apart from the grim side of his experience, there were striking and happy stories, one being how, after they moved to Cardiff, his mother, a chemist in her homeland, made Turkish delight in her copper, which they sold door to door. Ultimately, a big company bought the recipe which had been created by his grandmother,  and made it for the larger market! Amazing, stoical, determined lovely people.
Thankyou for your insight.,much valued. Iím beginning to ponder writing up his story. I have so many notes and letters, re-found recently when clearing my bookshelves and files. Thankyou again. Next hunt is where they lived in Cardiff.