The context of the Tulbowitz migration story

The context of the Tulbowitz migration story

What we learned from Maxim Mill was 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 1870 and then pulling up stakes and follwoing their 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 Tulbowitzes 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 wasn't 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 don't 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-Rabinowitzes 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.