30 April 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Rebecca & Abraham Sotskess

Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York,
 Block 89, Gate 156N, Line 5L, Grave 3,
 photographed 3 September 2008.
If you're going to a cemetery to view relative's graves, photograph all the graves in the plot. You never know when you will find unanticipated family members. It could well be the gift to your genealogy research that keeps on giving.

About 10 months into my new family history hobby, my first family history trip was to New York City. I was headed to a family celebration in the area, and included a visit to Montefiore Cemetery in Queens to record family members' graves. I contacted the cemetery ahead of the trip via email regarding the burials I thought they might have and received grave location information for many of them. [1]

When I got there on September 2, 2008, I walked the two First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association (FLPBA) plots and located all the graves marked Garber, Morris and Myers. Happily, there were more than expected. Having had no prior experience with recording graves, I found I'd budgeted more time than needed. So, I decided to return the next day and photograph all the markers in the two plots. 3 September 2008: that's when I photographed the tombstone of Rebecca Sotskess.  

My cousin Hal Blatt had previously told me that my great grandmother Sarah Myers Morris had a sister Rivka. No one knew her married name.  Several months after my cemetery trip, I located a cousin, Peter Myers, who was able to fill in some information about the Myers family. Rivka's married name had been Sotskess. Fantastic! I'd already recorded her grave. I acquired her death certificate for confirmation. [2]

Memory of the world

The crown of our head has died
Here lies
Rivka daughter of David
Died 14 Shevat 5700
May her soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life
DIED JAN 24, 1940
Rivka (the Hebrew equivalent of Rebecca) Malzmann (changed to Myers) was the third child and second daughter of David and Ida. She was born about 1879 in Labun, Russian Empire (today Yurovshchina, Ukraine). She married Abram (Abraham) Czaczkes in Europe. 

Abraham arrived in New York City in May 1910 and Rebecca followed in September that same year. [3] Abraham, like all of the men associated with the David and Ida Myers family, was a glazier in New York City. They changed their name to Sotskess, apparently maintaining a similar pronunciation of the surname. Unfortunately, the name is still so unusual that it is frequently manhandled in records and indices. 

Strangely, Abraham's grave was not in the FLPBA plots at Montefiore. I'd located and acquired his death certificate, so I knew he, too, was buried in Montefiore.[4] It took a little doing (because the search engine on the Montefiore Cemetery website is not robust and the surname had been misindexed as "Stoskess"), but I finally located his grave in another landsmanshaft plot: United Old Konstantin Benevolent Society.  This was the landsmanshaft for people from Starokostyantyniv, a larger town 20 miles SSW of Labun.
Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, New York,
 Block 20, Gate 397N, Line 1L, Grave 11,
 photographed 25 September 2012.
Here lies
Avraham son of Yosef
DIED APR 10, 1948

This past summer, I revisited Montefiore, located and photographed additional graves in the FLPBA plots, took photos of graves that (mercifully) had been newly cleared of hedge vegetation, and located Abraham's grave. I also took the opportunity to photograph all the graves in the Old Konstantin burial plot. [5]  

The Sotskess' did not have any children who lived to adulthood. And may never had had children. I have not found any evidence of any children who were born and died in New York City.
1. Now Montefiore has a searchable index online.
2. New York County, New York, Certificate of Death number 2120 (24 January 1940), Rebecca Sotskess, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.
3. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 23 November 2008), manifest, President Lincoln, Hamburg to New York, arriving 26 May 1910, Abraham Czaczkes, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial: T715; Microfilm Roll: 1487; Line: 27; Page Number: 104.
"New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 25 November 2008), manifest, Kroonland, Antwerp to New York, arriving 13 September 1910, Riwke Czaczkes, citing National Archives Microfilm Serial: T715; Microfilm Roll: 1553; Line: 24; Page Number: 145.
4. New York County, New York, Certificate of Death number 8709 (10 April 1948), Abraham Sotskess, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.
5. This and the updated records for the First Lubiner plots have been submitted to JewishGen's Online Worldwide Burial Registry and should be online sometime this summer. 


  1. I remember that my father's name appears as a witness on one of the death certifictes. We were
    living on Perry St., they on Christopher St. three blocks away, I was five years sold, I believe.

  2. It was Abraham, obviously, after re reading the dates.

  3. You are correct. Joseph Myers, one of Rebecca's younger brothers, witnessed her death certificate.


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