21 January 2013

Avrum's Women, Part 8: Fannie's Story*

* This article reflects both my research on Baranovka during the time Feiga Grinfeld lived there and information generously shared by Feiga's family. For earlier posts on Feiga and my research, see the links at the end of this post.

The Russian Civil War

Jewish residents were enthusiastic about the Tzar's abdication in March 1917. The end of the World War had left the battleground communities of Eastern Europe in shambles. It is estimated that 70-80 percent of the Jewish population were without a regular income. [1] Now, before villagers could even consider their limited options for economic recovery, the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917 and the ensuing political chaos made the Empire's hinterlands playgrounds for thugs.

For three years competing armies, bandit groups, and political groups, each with their own flags and uniforms, roamed the land. The Red Army Bolsheviks, desiring Marxist revolution, fought the Russian Provisional Government. Ukrainian nationalists sought independence. The newly formed Polish State pressed territorial claims. The White armies fought to restore the Tzarist government. Anarchists rallied. And bandits groups took advantage of all.


The Jewish people, rightly or wrongly viewed by all as on the incorrect side of the conflict, were targets. While many Bolshevik leaders were of Jewish origin, the Bolsheviks were atheists and opposed to the private trade that had been, for many Jews, their only economic option in Tzarist Russia. The White anti-Bolshevik (pro-Tzarist) forces, used anti-semitic sentiment to rally people to their cause. Between 1918 and 1919 over 1,200 pogroms were carried out in Ukraine. Over one third of these are attributed to the Ukrainian Nationalist military commanded by Semion Petliura. In addition, White armies pogromized Jews in territories they occupied.

Between 1918 and 1921, in more than 2,000 pogroms, 500,000 Jewish people were left homeless, 30,000 were killed in the violence, and, overall, about 150,000 Jewish people died.[2]

The pogroms during the civil war were as brutal as their methods and targets were varied. They were not merely spontaneous riots against Jews, but organized mass murder.[3] [4] Sometimes bands would target people of wealth or businesses. Sometimes the armies would come for the men, shooting them on sight. Other times the armies would torture their victims using a variety of methods. Sometimes they would come for the women, brutalizing them. Sometimes they would target the young, the infants, the old. Waves of thugs would pillage Jewish homes, business, and fields. And just when the Jewish residents thought they had nothing more the give, another armed group would come through taking the very stones from which Jewish homes had been constructed. One could not tell exactly when a pogrom would start, but one knew that the pain would be indescribable and unrelenting.


The Leib (Levy) Yitzchak and Frieda Liderman family had been living in Baranovka where Feiga was born in 1878. Due to restrictions on Jewish lives and livelihoods in Tsarist Russia many relatives and neighbors had left in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Prior to the start of emigration, the Jewish majority population of Baranovka had been as high as 1,990.[5] 

Feiga married fellow Baranovka-dweller Shalom Shachna Grinfeld, son of Yitzchak. Shachna made a living selling flour sacks. On 18 September 1899, they had their first child, Lea.[6] After that they had Wolf (Tzvi) in about 1905 and then Raya (Rachel) on 11 August 1907. [7] Shachna was well-regarded in the community and in 1917 served as a delegate from Baranovka to the Zionist convention in Petrograd (St. Petersburg/Leningrad). [8] 

Abstract (created on 21 June 1910) from a metric book kept in the Baranovka Municipal Archive (copy courtesy of Nancy Metz; translation courtesy of Emma Karabelnik)[6]
Education was important to the Grinfelds. Lea attended a Russian gymnasium. The image included, above, is a portion of a document abstract created in 1910 and certified in 1917 as part of Lea's application to attend school. It documents her birth in Baranovka.
Abstract from metric book
Issued according to paragraph 1086 of 1876 civil law from Community Rabbi of Novograd-Volynsk district for application to educational institution, stating that in the metric list of Jewish female births in Baranovka, Novograd-Volynsk district, is written: "In 1899 on September 18, born in Baranovka daughter Lea to father, citizen of Baranovka Shachna, son of Itzhak Grinfeld and mother Feiga, daughter of Levi Itzhak.
Signed and approved on June 21, 1910
[on the left margins] Documents with corrections and marks from Rabbi Y. Fridman office will not be accepted
The other side of the document (not pictured here) indicates that this is a genuine copy made from the original metric certificate approved by the Baranovka Town Committee on 29 June 1917. It is signed by the Secretary of the Town Committee (whose name is not legible).

Wolf attended school taught by Josef Zalzman whose parents also lived in Baranovka. Josef's father had a small shop selling a variety of goods including flour, gasoline, tobacco, and horse feed. Their family was not well-off, but Josef's father was very religious and wanted his eldest son to study the Talmud. Ultimately, Josef attended yeshiva under the Chofetz Chaim in Radin, (today Radun, Belarus) and studied with Rabbi Amiel in Sventzion (today Svencionys, Lithuania), Vilna Gubernia. He first taught school for a wealthy Jewish family. This was the first time in his life that he had been given a good diet. He later returned to Baranovka to teach. 

For those who'd not emigrated from Baranovka, the Great War and then the Russian Revolution meant that all options for departure were gone. And so, by 1919 there were relatives and friends in America whom Feiga and her family had not seen in 10 to 20 years. Two of Schachna Grinfeld's brothers, Hori and Betzelal (who became Harry and Charles Greenfield in the USA), had left Baranovka in 1900 and 1903, respectively, residing first in Indiana, then Cincinnati and Kentucky.[9] But Feiga, Shachna and their family had stayed. They had survived the World War and the Revolution and now were living through civil war in Ukraine. 

Josef Zalzman had been visiting the Grinfelds when bandits entered the village and began to gather the Jewish villagers into the synagogue. Feiga sent Shachna to the home of a Christian friend for safety and urged Josef to go, as well. He chose to stay with Feiga and her children. The Baranovka Jewish Youth organized and managed to drive off the bandits, but not before Shachna was murdered.

Between March 1919 and December 1920 Baranovka was plagued by five pogroms carried out by disaffected and demoralized military detachments and roving bands of armed bandits. Forty-five people were murdered; 20 women were violated. About 200 families were affected by the pogroms. In June 1923, an American Joint Distribution Committee report indicated there were 12 widows, 6 full orphans and 40 children who'd lost one parent. Before the pogroms 2,000 of Baranovka's population of 6,000 were Jewish. Less than three years later, 500 non-Jews and 300 Jews had left. Jewish-owned shops had decreased from 100 before the programs to 40. Thirty-five percent of the heads of Jewish families were either unemployed or without definite occupations. [10]

Shortly after Shachna's murder Josef was invited to Korets, a town about 28 miles northwest of  Baranovka, to become principal of a school. Lea accompanied him and taught in the school, as well. But the pogroms that had plagued Ukraine had cast a terrible pall. 


In December 1920, when travel from the Soviet Union again became a possibility, Josef and his sister Sara left Korets for New York where their sister Ester had moved in 1911.[11] Manifests and naturalization records indicate that the Grinfelds moved to Warsaw and prepared to leave, as well. Wolf Grinfeld arrived in New York in October 1921. [12] Lea and Raya followed in December 1921. [13] Feiga's children went to Paintsville, Kentucky to their uncle Charles. Like Charles they changed their last name to Greenfield and Wolf took Robert as his new first name.

From his new home in New York City, Joseph Saltzman contacted Leah and asked her to marry him. They married in the Bronx on 17 April 1922 [14] and remained in New York for a year, staying with Joe's sister Esther. 

By March 1922, Feiga was living in Warsaw. [15] In November 1922 she arrived in New York accompanied by my great grandfather Avrum Garber and a woman by the name of Pezsa Garber. While their manifest says that both Avrum and Feiga would head to Avrum's son Nathan's home on the Lower East side of New York City, Feiga actually headed west to join her children. [16] I have not been able to track Feiga's early moves in the United States and I have not determined how and why she and her children settled in Cincinnati. But, by 1925 they were living in Cincinnati at 712 W. 9th Street. [17] 

Greenfield family members alerted Joe and Leah to a job opening teaching Hebrew at a school in Louisville, KY. It was an attractive opportunity because it was close to family in Lexington and Paintsville, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio. 

When Ray and Robert married and had children, they named their sons Sheldon, likely in memory of their father Shalom Shachna. [18]

The End

Fannie Greenfield lived out her years in Cincinnati. The last several years she lived with her daughter Ray Young, her son-in-law Harry Young and her grandson. She passed away on 30 November 1942 at the age of 63 leaving three children, several grand children and a brother, Morris Liderman, in Detroit. Her grave is located at the Adath Israel Cemetery.

"Ohio, Deaths, 1908-1953," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZP6-FVZ : accessed 21 Jan 2013), Fannie Greenfield, 30 Nov 1942; citing Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio, reference fn 69916; FHL microfilm 2024039.
Gravestone for Fannie Greenfield, Adath Israel Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo from Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati website  (http://www.jcemcin.org : accessed 31 October 2011).


How is Feiga Grinfeld related to the Garber Family?

We began this study with the intent of determining how Feiga Grinfeld is related to Avrum Garber. I had hoped that her death certificate or some other document might shed light on that. Thus far, however, we still do not have a tie between the Garber family and the Greenfield and Liderman families. There is one more obvious option using available United States records: Morris Liderman - Fannie's brother in Detroit.

In the next post (after I recover from this one) in this series I will review what we have learned and search for Fannie's brother in Detroit.

1. Gitelman, Zvi, A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press), 2001, p. 82.
2. ibid, page 70.
3. Dekel-Chen, Jonathan, David Gaunt, Natan M. Meir and Israel Bartel, editors, Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European History (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press), 2011, p. 4
4. Weisser, Michael R., A Brotherhood of memory: Jewish Landsmanshaftn in the New World (New York: Basic Books, Inc.), 1985, p. 113
5. Spector, Shmuel (editor), The Encyclopedia of Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust (New York: New York University Press), 2001, p. 87.
6. Abstract of metric book from Baranovka Municipal Archives documenting birth of Lea Grinfeld, 18 Sep 1899, abstract prepared 21 June 1910 and approved by the Baranovka Town Committee on 29 June 1917. Original document in the possession of the Metz family. Translation, 12 November 2012, by Emma Karabelnik, via JewishGen.org, ViewMate application.
7. Hamilton County, Ohio, United States District Court (Ohio: Southern District). Petition for Citizenship no. 9399, Faiga Grinfeld, 16 January 1931.
Gravestones for Robert Greenfield and Ray Young, Adath Israel Cemetery, Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo from Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati website  (http://www.jcemcin.org : accessed 31 October 2011).
8. Ori, Azriel and Mordechai Boneh, editors, Sefer Zvhil (Tel Aviv: Association of Former Residents of Zvhil and the Environment), 1962, p. 243. Digital copy online at the New York Public Library (http://www.nypl.org : accessed 10 January 2013). Paragraph translated by Emma Karabelnik via ViewMate on JewishGen.org.
9. The years of emigration are approximate as I have been thus far unable to find their Ellis Island manifests. In a previous post I'd said that I did not have Harry and Charles' naturalization records. Since that time, they have been loaded on Ancestry.com.
"Kentucky, Naturalization Records, 1906-1991," digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 January 2013), Harry Greenfield, Petition for Naturalization no. 75, 11 April 1917, citing National Archives and Records Administration.
"Kentucky, Naturalization Records, 1906-1991," digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 January 2013), Charles Greenfield, Petition for Naturalization no. 14, 1 January 1911, citing National Archives and Records Administration.
10. Kowalsky, I.M., "Report on Baranovka, Novograd-Volunsk Gubernia," digital image, "1921-1932 New York Collection," American Joint Distribution Committee Archives,  (http://www.archives.jdc.org : accessed 7 July 2012), report dated 5 June 1923.
11. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 13 November 2011), manifest, Manchuria, Antwerp to New York, arriving 6 January 1921, list 28, Josef and Sara Zalcman, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
12. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 12 November 2011), manifest, Polonia, Danzig to New York, arriving 12 October 1921, list 5, Wolf Grinfeld, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
13. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 30 June 2012), manifest, George Washington, Bremen to New York, arriving 5 December 1921, list 8, Raya and Leja Grinfeld, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
14. Bronx County, New York, Certificate and Record of Marriage no.1494 (17 April 1922), Joseph Saltzman and Lena Greenfield, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.
15. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 7 February 2009), manifest, Lapland, Antwerp to New York, arriving 2 April 1922, list 7, Feiga and Aron Garber, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
16. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 8 March 2008), manifest, Aquitania, Southhampton to New York, arriving 4 November 1922, list 4, Avrum Garber and Feiga Grinfeld, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715.
17. "Williams' 1925 Cincinnati Directory," digital image, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County Virtual Library (http://www.virtuallibrary.cincinnatilibrary.org : accessed 4 November 2011), Greenfield, page 722-723. 
18. 1940 U.S. Census, Hamilton County, Ohio, Population Schedules, Cincinnati, Enumeration District 91-208, sheet 65-B, family 100, Harry and Ray Young, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 April 2012).
1940 U.S. Census, Hamilton County, Ohio, Population Schedules, Cincinnati, Enumeration District 91-208, sheet 61-B, family 41, Robert and Faye Greenfield, digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 April 2012).
Previous posts in this series:
Avrum's Women, Part 2: Feiga Grinfeld
Avrum's Women, Part 3: Following Feiga (and Raya)
Avrum's Women, Part 4: The Trouble with Harry
Avrum's Women, Part 5: Finding Feiga 
Avrum's Women, Part 6: Added Confirmation
Avrum's Women, Part 7: Feiga's Family
Avrum's Women, Part 9: Fannie's Brother Morris
Avrum's Women, Part 10: Morris Lederman - Who's you Mama?
Avrum's Women, Part 11: Garber Y-DNA = Lederman Y-DNA 
Avrum's Women, Part 12: Finding Family with Family Finder  
Avrum's Women, Part 13: Bond of Brothers  


  1. Very well documented and interesting personal history...I have thought that history, government changes, affect and mold individual development or personality. ONe day I will see if the psychological literature has tied the two together.


  2. Thank you. Someone pointed out to me recently that some of my research methods (particularly an article I published in Avotaynu a couple of years ago) have an anthropological bent. Based on my academic background, that makes a lot of sense to me. (I may have to do a blog post on that!).


Comments on posts are always welcome but will be approved before posting. I actually prefer to just let people comment without going through this rigmarole, but I've recently had to delete some posts that I had not vetted before publication. So, please don't be offended. I love to hear from you!