Tuesday, October 24, 2017


Samuel Rain is the husband of Rebecca Levine Rain, my great-aunt.  But I can't find Samuel and family coming to America.  I searched the passenger lists.  3 census indicate they all came in 1904.  The Intention, Declaration and Naturalization documents show his name as Samuel Rain, the ship name, the year he came, the ship line, the departure and arrival cities - how hard could it be to find him?  Well, really hard!

Sam and Rebecca had 9 children, and it took awhile to find a descendant who may hold the key.  After several phone calls, it was determined that "Rain" was not the original name.  It was somewhere, someone would have to find it.  It might be Regn - the Yiddish word for rain - that didn't work.  Roitman, Rein, Rhein, Rohklin, Rudensky - where to begin?

Going back to the Lynn, MA directories for 1904 through 1906 I found a Frank Rain and a Joseph Rain.  All living relatively close to each other.  All tailors, all coming from the same region in present day Ukraine;  Derazhne, Rovno, Wolyn.

Looking for the descendants for Frank and Joseph I found a grandson who confirmed that his grandfather's father's name was Mordechai Markel, which happened to be the same father's name on Sam's tombstone.  So, now we have brothers.  Not long after checking over death certificates, Joseph Rain had the same father as well.  Now we have 3 brothers.  But, what was their name in the "old country"?
Insurance Policy

Through some digging, emails and a moderate dose of pleading, a miraculous treasure trove of documents came my way.  Documents in Russian and some in Ukrainian, indicating that Frank Rain was none other than Froim Mordechai Razyzkij.  A friend's father was able to discern the name from the documents.  Someone else determined that one of the documents was an insurance policy purchased for 6 rubles to pay out 100 rubles in the case Froim was injured or killed in the Russian army (or possibly the Navy) there was some discussion about that).  
Discharge Papers

The other document was a medical discharge paper.

Did Frank collect the $ 100 rubles and use it to get to America? Time will tell.

The next step is to get the documents fully translated, and then go see if I can find the "Razyzkij boys".

Visiting my local Family History Center I was able to find the 1904 passenger lists for the S.S. Potsdam, leaving Rotterdam, Holland 1904.  

But Frank's documents have a correction on the arrival, was it 15th Sept. 1904 or 8th Aug. 1904?  When I searched the first date I couldn't find a Razyzkij.  Another trip and additional digging will hopefully uncover his arrival. 
Cohen Family - 1912 

Frank arrived in 1904, by 1912 he and his wife's family gathered for a group photo.  Frank is 2nd from the right, last row, his wife Jennie is in front of him.  Their 4 children are 7 from the left in the big bow, Laura,  9, from left Abraham, Jacob and Elizabeth. 

Having Frank's name will hopefully help me find Sam and Rebecca, and Joseph's arrival.  Sometimes to get where you are going you end up taking a different path.

Friday, September 22, 2017


Joseph Palumbo with relatives
Joseph Palumbo attended “Evening Elementary School” at P.S. 13 in Brooklyn, NY to learn to read, write and speak English.  It was after a long day’s work that he would gather the strength to go to class.  For at least 2 of those years, 1923 to 1925, Joseph wrote in the same composition notebook. 
He learned about the founding fathers; Washington, Jefferson, Adams.  He learned about Lincoln and the civil war.  Joseph wrote about everyday events and customs that to many immigrants may have been confusing.  How to call a doctor from a corner store and use a telephone, remember to bring a nickel and the phone number.  How to buy a ready-made suit in a store or ride in an elevator with an operator.  City government and how it works.  The steps needed to stay healthy.  Written in pencil on ruled paper, you could see in the penmanship Joseph’s commitment to learning.  And carefully noted on top of his assignments was an occasional “snow day” when school was not held.

The first entry is on January 14, 1923 and it is a story about “Tony”.  “Tony is a lively boy who liked to run and jump.  One-day Tony ran in front of an automobile. Tony was knocked down and got a cut on his forehead and a scraped knee.” 
Tony and the automobile
It goes on to describe Tony’s day in detail, the driver who hit him, the kind doctor, the hospital and Tony’s prognosis. (He had to stay in bed for a few days to be on the mend.)  There are nearly 50 stories like that in Joseph’s composition book. 

Joseph was born in Procida, Italy, October 4, 1897.  Leaving Naples, Italy on the SS Providence, 25th January 1921 as Giuseppe Palumbo he arrived in New York on the 9th of February 1921.  He lived and worked in Brooklyn, as a machinist and carpenter.  He petitioned for citizenship 15 July 1927.   And took the oath not long after.  
Marriage Certificate

His bride to be was Mary Grippo, escorted to New York by her brothers, as this was an arranged marriage. In 1928, in New Jersey, Joseph-the new American citizen and Mary were married.  They went on to have a happy life, had several children and grandchildren, and traveled back to Italy several times to see relatives.

The composition notebook, photos and documents were found in a worn, black, travel case, stashed in the back of a closet.  Somebody thought to save the items, perhaps they forgot they were there. In any case, I was privileged to “meet” Giuseppe Palumbo.
Certificate of Completion
Visiting the Lower East Side Tenement Museum in New York, taking a tour of a tenement and walking the neighborhood to learn about the immigrant life, was eye-opening.  Learning about Joseph through these documents brought the immigrant experience to another level. 
Letter from the Principal
Joseph Palumbo is not part of my family.  He is the grandfather of a friend.  His story and my family's story are similar though.  Both came from far off countries, both wanted a better life, both were willing to work hard, both were willing to learn and participate in the building of our nation and both were proud to become Americans.

Friday, September 15, 2017


Her name is Rebecca Levine Rain.  She is the sister to Hyman Levine (written about in a previous post), from Derazhne, Russia, (Ukraine).  Married to Samuel Rain, Rebecca and Sam had 9 children.

Rebecca Levine Rain
 (photo courtesy of Russ B., grandson)
The 1910, 1920 and 1930 census lists her immigration arrival as 1904.  As of yet, I've not been able to find her, Sam or assorted children.  Although I have dates and ship name for Sam, none have proven correct.

1910 through 1917 had the Rain family living in Lynn, MA.  Samuel at the time was a tailor, and was getting into real estate.  There is a Rain Building at 203 Essex Street, in Lynn, MA, that bears his name.

Around 1918 the Rain family is in Haverhill, MA.  Samuel is still a tailor. As told from a great-grandson, Samuel was involved in making uniforms for soldiers during WW I.  Not sure if that is how they got to Haverhill.

By 1920 the family is found in Salem, New Hampshire.  Sam decided to become a chicken farmer.  In the Salem, NH Annual Report for the year ending January 31, 1921 we find Henry Harry Rain (child # 7) listed in the graduation exercises of the Salem Public Schools. He read a composition "The Pilgrims - The Voyage and the Colonies" (not sure if his or not).

Salem , NH Annual Report 1921

The Salem, NH Annual Report for the year ending January 31, 1930 indicates Sam Rain was reimbursed by the town for hens killed by roving dogs in the amount of $ 41.  Upon visiting Salem, NH during the summer of 2017 the site of their chicken farm is now developed.  The staff at the Kelley Library was most helpful in finding the annual reports.

Salem, NH Annual Report 1930

Sam died in Salem, NH of a cerebral hemorrhage on March 21, 1934. He is buried in the Children of Israel Cemetery in Haverhill, MA.  Rebecca moved to Lawrence, MA not long after Sam died.  It appears she lived with one of the married daughters.  Rebecca passed in 1945 and is buried next to Sam. 

(photo courtesy of ddjohnsonri)

Monday, August 28, 2017


Here lies - My husband and our dear father -
Josef Mordechai, son of Dove Chaim - the Levite
Died on 15 Av 5699
May his soul be bound up in the bond of life
Tombstone Tuesday is about Max Joseph. Batkin, Brooklyn, New York.  Born the 23rd of June 1873 in Vilna, Lithuania, he came to the US in 1899, married to Shifra Chaite.  The initial information about Max came from "The Red Book" as it is referred to in the family.  The Batkin Family Genealogy, compiled and edited by Stanley, L. Batkin, is a comprehensive publication about the Batkin clan.  Stanley Batkin sent this book to each cousin, it is a work of love and a fantastic resource.

Max J. Batkin's parents are Philip (Baruch) Batkin and Sarah Rivlin, born and died in Vilna, Lithuania.  Max has a brother, Henry Batkin, born in Vilna, and they had a sister Julie who remained in Vilna.  Not much else is known about Julie.

Max had 3 children; Jacob (Jack) Batkin, born in 1900 in the USA, Brooklyn, NY, on Essex Street. A copy of his birth certificate was found in New York.  Jack married Lillian Bloom, they had a daughter, Selma, who married Sidney Goer, who had two children, Suzan Goer and Jay Goer.

The oldest son, Harry Batkin was born in Brooklyn, in 1899.  He married Faye Smith, born in Vilna. Harry and Faye had two children, Helen and Paul.  Tragedy struck on July 4th, 1928 in Coney Island when a car accident severely hurt Harry. Suffering burns over his body he died the next day.  Faye and the children eventually moved to Boston to be with her parents, Issac and Sarah Smith.

There is no information on Ceil, the daughter who remained in England. no birth date, marriage information, town - nothing.

Max's brother Henry came to the US in 1891.  Married to Annie Rosenthal, they had 5 children - Jennie, a daughter, Rita, Fannie and Jacob.  Unfortunately this side of the family did not escape tragedy, as Jacob was killed in a robbery while collecting rent from the tenants of a building that Henry owned.

Max J. Batkin is buried in the Baron Hirsch Cemetery on Staten Island, NY. two graves down from his son Harry.  He is in the Velizer Progressive Benevolent Association section.  In the 25th anniversary  program publication of the Velizer Association, M. Batkin is listed as a trustee, and there is a page of memorials, that includes Max's son Harry.

Sunday, August 20, 2017


His name is Hyman Levine.  My grandmother (May)
always commented about how he is so handsome. It took a long time to figure out that he came to the US as Chaim Woskobojnik. According to the Hamburg passenger list, he left Hamburg, Germany the 12th of April 1899, arriving on April 25th. He traveled steerage, and arrived in New York. He was born around 1867 in the vicinity of Rowno (Rivne), Russia (now Ukraine).  Hyman's occupation is listed as a journeyman shoemaker, which makes sense since he ended up in Lynn, Massachusetts the then "shoe capitol of the world" during the turn of the 20th century.  

Married to Sophie, they had 5 children.  Sophie brought the 4 girls to the US on the 1st of September 1903, leaving from Rotterdam, arriving at the port of New York, with the last listed residence as Derazhno, Russia (now Derazhne, Ukraine).  Sophie was born around 1873.  Hyman and Sophie's 5th child, Louis, was born in Massachusetts.

Chaim met his family in New York - Tzirel (Sophie), Maelke (May), Sure (Sara), Feige (Frances), Chane (Anna) and brought them to Lynn, MA to settle in on Summer Street..  

January of 1903 Hyman made his declaration of intention at the Lynn Police Station.  On August 13th, 1906 he became a citizen.  On both documents the witnesses were Arthur Levine and Charles Crowley.  Arthur is believed to be a cousin, and further documentation and investigation is trying to prove that point.  Hyman could not write - he made "his mark".

By 1912 tragedy struck the family with Sophie (daughter of Reb Ozer) passing away at the age of 44.  Hyman married a widow with two children not long after and family life became complicated with five children from one family and 2 from another.  Hyman and his second wife had one child together, Jacob.

Hyman (Chayim Ze'ev, son of Reb Yaakov Halevi) died February 20,1940. He and his second wife are buried in Haverhill, MA.