Tublowitzes of Rostov-on-Don

The younger generation moved to Rostov, but the elder Tulbowitzes stayed in Latvia

More 120 year old news about the Tulbowitz clan from the Minsk archives sent to me today by archivist extrordinaire Maxim Mill:

Hello Walter,
I have looked at the 1886 list of Vitebsk guberniya business owners (it has preserved only partially) and found following record:
"Peisach son of Gavriel Tulbowitz 68 years old listed with Rezhitza Jewish Community small retailer."
It means that Solomon's father continue living in Rezhitza after his son moved to Rostov.
Exact dates of birth of Tulbowitz family members we will not be able to determine, only their year (that's how records used to be taken)
The earliest Rezhitsa records I've seen in the archive are in the bad condition and go as far back as 1806.

I can imagine the reproachful letters from Peisach and Sora to Shalom-Aron and Sophie:
It was bad enough when you got the meshuganah idea to abandon us to move to far-off Rostov--to go live among the Cossacks. Nu, that came out really well, didn't it? But now in our declining years, you decide to move to the end of the world...to America. Pure madness! But maybe you can take us along with you? No, you dont need to be weighed down by alterkakas (old folks)...But it breaks our hearts we will probably never see you again...But still, you are right, get the kinderlach out of Russia before the next pogrom...May God protect you on your long journey...

Something like that. Sunrise, sunset and all the rest...

Big News! Proof that Tulbowitz family of Rostov originated in Rezhitsa, Latvia

Please read the back and forth between myself and geneology investigator Maxim Mill who has been looking into the roots of the Tulbowitz family who were identified to Tanya and I during our trip to Rostov as "Rezhitsa meshanye (small merchants from Rezhitsa).

On 12/24/07, Belarus wrote:
Dear Walter,

I have checked Rechitsa and Rezhitsa beginning and mid of 19th century records.
In Rechitsa there is not even close to Tulbowitz last name was found.
In 1811 Rezhitsa revision list just one family with this last name was found, in 1850 lists 2 Tulbowitz families were found.
Minsk historical archive only has Rezhitsa records prior to 1858 year. The latest records are being kept in Riga (Latvia) historical archive.


Walter Ruby wrote:

First, many thanks for your efforts and for clarifying that there are records of Tulbowitzes from Rezhitsa, but not in Rechitsa. We are very excited to hear that you located some Tulbowitzes in Rezhitsa at exactly the right point in history (the first half of the 19th Century). First, can you explain to us exactly where Rezhitsa is today? Is it in Russia or Belarus? I understand it is near Vitebsk, but I have been unsuccessful in finding it on the map. What is the population today and what would have the approximate population been in 1850? Was it a mainly Jewish town in those days? Did it have any distinctive features? I see on the Internet that there is also a Rezhitsa (now called Rezekne) in Latvia. Could our Tulbowitzes have been from there as opposed to the Rezhitsa near Vitebsk?

We are obviously most interested in the first names of people in the Tulbowitz families from Rezhitsa that you found both from 1811 and 1850. As I believe I informed you previously, we know that Solomon Tulbowitz (1845-1918) (my great-great grandfather) and his wife Sophie (1846-1928) moved to Rostov-on-Don and are listed in records there from the 1870's as "Rezhitskee Meshanye". We know from their gravestone in Albany, N.Y. that Solomon's father was named Pesach and Sophie's father was named Meir. Do any of these names appear in your records? Do any other first names appear?

We understand from everything we have learned that the family name Tulbowitz was quite unusual. Do you have any idea of the origins of the name? Given that Solomon and Sophie are identified in the Rostov records as having been from Rezhitsa and given that you have found two Tulbowitz families from there in 1850, is it a safe deduction that we are descended from one of those families?

Please give my warm regards to Yuri Dorn and tell him I will be in touch with him shortly. Again all the members of the Ruby family all very much thank you for your efforts on our behalf.

Best Wishes and S'Novim Godum,

Walter Ruby

On 12/26/07, Belarus wrote:

Hello Walter,

Current name of Rezhitsa is Rezekne, which is in Latvia, not in Belarus. This town was renamed twice: in 1915 and in 1946. Today it's population is close to 38,000 residents.
In 1808 Rezhitsa's population was 754, from them 536 residents were Jewish. This place had only one street. In 1852 overall population was 3,615, from them Jewish population was 2,303.
Prior to 1939 there were 6 active synagogues, 2 Jewish schools, and 1 Talmud Tora.
In 1939 population was 10,795, from them 6,478 were Jews.

In 1850 Rezhitsa census there is a record:
Tulbowitch Peisach son of Gavriel, 32 years old
His wife Sora, daughter of Meir, 28 years old
Their son Sholom-Aharon, 5 years old

I only made this note, because I thought that it might be the perfect match.
I have forwarded your regards to Yuri, now he asked me to send you his.

Best regards,

From: Walter Ruby
Date: Dec 26, 2007 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: Belarus research
To: Belarus

Maxim, Thats it--you are right. Its the perfect match. Shlomo was also Shalom-Aron; forgot to mention it in last e-mail. Is there any way of knowing when Shalom-Aron and wife Sophie moved to Rostov? Could their parents possibly have accompanied them? Also, how far back can we take the family? Do we have birth dates of Peisach and his father Gavriel or other family members? Anything on professions, military service, etc? We are enormously grateful for this information...


Walter Ruby

Walter Ruby to Dan, joanne, eruby
show details 8:36 pm (41 minutes ago)

Dan, Jo, Gene--check out message from Maxim below!!!! Pretty amazing stuff....

Amazing stuff indeed! We now know the town in Latvia from which the our great-great grandfather Shalom-Aron Tulbowitz and his wife Sophie set out for distant Rostov, probably in the late 1860's or early 1870's. We dont know if Peisach Tulbowitz or any of the older generation went with them as well, though we found no mention of them in the Rostoc records, as we did of Shalom-Aron, Sophie and two of their children, Gavriel (b. 1878), no doubt named for his great-grandfather, Gavriel, now our farthest back ancestor (great-great-great-great grandfather) and Isai (d 1879, aged 3). Why did young Shalom-Aron and Sophie move to Rostov...One would assume for the far greater economic opportunities; as we know Rostov was a booming port town and thus a good place to open a tavern. Byut why did they go so far and not to Riga, Kiev, Moscow, St. Petersburg? Well, the last two were clearly closed to Jews in 1870, and I am guessing that was true of Riga and Kiev as well, though need to confirm that, Odessa was likely open but nearly as far away as Rostov...I suspect Maxim and Yuri Dorn, the chief Jewish geneologist in Belarus, will be able to help us with some of this conjecture.

So here are Shalom-Aron and Sophie moving to Rostov full of hopes and ambitions around 187o and then pulling up stakes and follwoing their daughter daughter Raizl (Rose) and her new husband Abraham Bloch to America 20 years later. Why? Here we have some pretty strong conjecture that having had Rose kidnapped as a small girl and having to pay ransom to get her back and then having the province being placed in the hands of the Cossack military brigade in 1887 by order of the Czar, was more than the Tulbowitzs wanted to put up with--especially if you factor in a small pogrom in Rostov in 1883 begun after a drunken peasant refused to pay his bill to a Jewish innkeeper (if it wasnt the Tulbowitzes, it must have been someone they knew). So Sophie leaves Russia for America together with newlywed Rose and Abe in 1890 and then Shalom-Aron follows with another other child Eduard 3-4 years later--once Abe, Rose and Sophie--have moved up to Albany. (there was supposed to be another child of Shalom-Aron and Sophie alive in 1900 but we dont have a record of him/her? Could it have been Gavriel, born in 1878 in Rostov?

Anyway, what a life for Shalom-Aron and Sophie moving from one side of the Russian Empire to the other early in adulthood and then 20 years later pulling up stakes again and following their children to the Goldenye Medina, all the time searching for a place that they and their children could live in peace and security and have some prospects of economic success as well. We know they had already achieved a good bit of that in Rostov with the tavern, and Rose grew up as a modern girl who loved Russian culture and loved Rostov. It must have been a bitter pill when they deduced that all of that effort had been in vain and there simply was no safe future for Jews in Russia. As an old lady, Rose always told Sandy Brenner that Rostov was the most beautiful city in the world...Its strange for me too having made three trips to the city and having come to relate to Rostov as one of our ancestral lodestones to find out that the family was only there about 20 years (considerably less than I have lived in New York) and that the Tulbowitzes were really Litvaks whose hometown was only a couple of hundred miles away from the origins of the Spektor-Rabinowites in eastern Belarus and later Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. Lena Lincoff's--our great-grandmother on the other side of Dad's family--and Walter Ruby's mother presumably is descended from the town of Likuva in northern Lithuania, maybe 100 miles from Rezhitsa (Rezekne) in Latvia. And, of course, as we know, the roots of our mother Helga's family is nearby East Prussia and likely before that, the Minsk area of Belarus. So what we have is a whole lot of Litvaks from all the sides...

Wow a lot to assimilate but an enormous sense of exaltation to have taken the two families, Spektor-Rabinowitzes and Tulbowitzes, back several generations before what Stan was able to tell us about them before he died. We have brought to light much that had seemed completely obscured in the mists of time. A collective pat on the back to all of us and also to my partner, Tatyana, without whose formidable translation skills and acting as a wonderful resource to help me understand many of the cultural and historical facets of this, we would never have made the great progress we have...Next up, The Rubys: The Book.

photos of graves of Solomon and Sophie Tulbowitz

Here are photos of the grave of our great-great grandparents Solomon (Shalom-Aharon) and Sophie Tulbowitz, which I took at the Beth Abraham Jacob Cemetery in Albany last month. Solomon Tulbowitz lived from 1845-1918 and Sophie from 1846-1928. We are not yet sure where they were born. According to documents Tanya and I found last month in Rostov, which I will shortly post here as well, which record the birth and circumcision of a son, Gavriel in 1878, and the death of a three and a half year old son Isai in 1879, the couple was described as "meshanene (townspeople) from Rechitsa, a town in southeast Belarus. So given that the bulk of Rostov's Jewish population growth came in the 1860's and 1870's as the trading and manufacturing town on the southern reaches of the Don, just above the Azov and Black seas, making it "the Chicago of Russia", my guess is that the couple was lured there in search of prosperity, which is also why they would be still registered as belonging to Rechitsa. According to Ruby family lore, they ran a tavern there and their oldest daughter Rose (1874-1949)was kidnapped by Cossacks as a small child. The Tulbowitzes could not have been thrilled by an ukaz (degree) by the Czarist government in 1888 that henceforth Rostov (which was formerly part of the Pale and attached to a province centered in Ekaterinaslav (today Dnieperpetrovsk) in Ukraine, would be part of a new Don military province. When the law came down, it looked like the Jews would be forced to leave en masse but by 1891, clearly fearful of destroying Rostov's economic vitality, the regime ruled that all Jews registered as Rostov residents could stay. We know that the Tulbowitzes were still registered as being from Rechitsa as of 1879. Were they able to change that in the ensuing decade? If not, their anonamlous status would go a long way to explaining their pull-out from the city to America--first newly married Rose, her husband Abraham Bloch and mother in law Sophie Tulbowitz in 1890 and Solomon and the rest of the family three or four years later. We know they were gone by 1895-96, as no Tulbowitzes show up in the all-Russia census taken in those years. Certainly, given Rose's traumatic experience as a small child, and a small pogrom in 1883, which took place at a tavern when a drunken Russian refused to pay the Jewish owners, they couldnt have been confident that Cossack control of Rostov made the place a safe bet for the long run.

The 1900 U.S. census shows Solomon, Sophie and son Edward (born 1876 and probably the twin of Isai) living in Albany near Rose, Abe and their own growing family, with Solomon and Edward working as tailors. Did all the rest of their children die in childhood? What about Gavriel? We know from Sandy Brenner, who heard from her mother Lillian Ratner Klein, that matriarch Sophie in her later years was known as the "scoial worker" because she was concerned about everyone's welfare and got involved in trying to solve the problems of others. Thats not a lot, but its something and we;ll keep digging. Love to you, Shalom-Aharon and Sophie Tulbowitz, from across the centuries.

Walter emails from Rostov

Dan and Jo,

We are in Rostov having a great time with warm and wonderful people. It is also close to 100 degrees and havent had a chance to swim in the Don which is clean only intermittently. I am also very tired, so only a brief note for now. There arer, sadly, fewer mentions of Tulbowitzes than I had hoped. The problem appears to be that Rostov did this super-wonderful census in 1896 that would have had all sorts of terrific information on them, but as you know, Rose, Abe and Sophie left for US in 890 or 1891 and the rest of the clan left within a few years, so there werte none of them left in '96. Couldnt Shlomo-Aharon and company have held on for a year or two to get into the census? They ought to have anticipated some great-son would show up 110 years later seeking info on them. Maybe they did, but Rose said, "Get your asses in gear and come to Albany." The family may have also been metioned in earlier records that have, lamentably, disappeared. So we have had bad luck in this regard.

The syangogue archivist, Yevgeni Gimududinov found two precious bits of info on the Tulbowitzs We bought the documents from the municipal archives, so will be able to put them up on Ruby Family History at some point. One from 1876 records the birth of a son to Shlomo-Aharon and Sophia (not Sophie as she is recorded on her grave) by the name of Gavriel. Not Eduard, who probably was born in 1878 as the U.S. census said. Gavriel's brithday is Sept 28, 1876 and it is also recorded that Gavriel was circumcized on Oct 3, 1876. The documents gives the rank of "Meshanin" or "townsman" to Shlomo-Aharon. That was a rank that included professionals, artisans, and small business people that was a lower ranking than "merchant". Interestingly, we saw a newspaper later today from 1874 where all the meshanins in Rostov are listed and there is no Tulbowitz there, so maybe the family was rising from poverty and just attained that status in 1875 or 1876. Dan, you mentioned that the U.S. census record about the family said there wete five children (Rose, Edward and who else?) Was the name Gavriel or Gabriel among them? Anyway, meet another family member.

The second listing was from Aug 13, 1879 and records the death of a son named Isai or Yitzhak, aged 3 years and 5 months. So Sophie must have gotten pregnant again almost immediately after giving birth to Yitzhak. Strange--but thats what we have. So meet another family member who was only with us for a short time.

We have a LOT of information on the Jews of Rostov at that time, of the synagogue and cemetery (now gone) and much, much else. But it looks like we'll be leaving here having added only marginally to the concrete knowledge of Tulbowitz's-on-Don. Still, it was very much worth the trip, just being here absorbing the milleu and seeing a city that was down at the heels when I was last here in 1999, now bursting with prosperity--a mini-Moscow. The transformation is incredible. We had dinner at a Cossack restaurant (really!!!) in a recrerational area on the Don last night and the place was full of flashy people flashing cash. Russia is indeed bursting with pride and money.
Anyway, I drank way too much and danced like crazy and then had to get up early for a day of geneological research. Am headed now for a much needed nap.




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