01 October 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Nina Wilson Herman

Tombstones in the shape of a cut tree trunk are a common symbol in Jewish cemeteries and usually used for those who passed on before their time. Nina (pronounced Nynah) Wilson Herman, unfortunately, exemplified that circumstance, dying in the influenza epidemic in New York City.

Nina (born Nechama Wilensky) was the eldest child of Saul and Hoda Wilson. She was born 25 January 1888 and died 11 January 1919, just shy of her 31st birthday. She left behind her husband, Max Herman, and two children: her daughter Winifred Herman Green (3 September 1911 - November 2005) and her two month old infant son, Victor (9 November 1918 - 24 March 1974). 

Since the text of several of the lines were not standard tombstone fare, in March 2010 I uploaded an image of this tombstone to the ViewMate application on JewishGen. Two volunteers (David Rosen and Joe Slater) translated the text for me (thank you). They mentioned that sometimes these sort of poetic statements are difficult to adequately translate. They also noted that the fifth through eighth lines start with an acrostic of Nina's Hebrew name, Nechama ( נחמﬣ ).

Here lies
Nechama daughter of Zelig Chaim
Tenth of Shevat 5679
                    She was her husband's comfort;
                    Her children's protector and joy;
                    The light of her parents' eyes;
                    Woe, that these virtues have been buried.
May her soul be bound in the bonds of eternal life
Our Beloved
Nina Herman
Born Jan. 25, 1888
Died Jan 11,
Nina came to the United States with her mother and two younger brothers in 1897.[1] They settled in Hudson, New York until 1905-6 when they moved for one year to Albany and then, finally, to New York City.

On 26 May 1910, Nina married Max Herman (ca. 1878 - 1935), a merchant who sold gloves and corsets. [2] After Nina died, the children lived with their grandparents and aunt, Saul and Hoda Wilson and Esther Wilson.

My mother, Norma Wilson Garber, born in 1921, was named after her late aunt Nina. Her Hebrew name was also Nechama. 

Nina's grave is located in the United Hebrew Community section of Mount Lebanon Cemetery in Queens, New York: Block F, Section 6, Subsection 4, Line 2, Grave 33.
One thing I am curious about are the circles with the diagonal lines through them located at each corner of the tombstone marker. I suppose they might be just decorations, but I've never before seen them on a marker. If any readers have any ideas about what these may signify (if anything), please comment, below. Thank you.

1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 September 2009), manifest, Pisa, Hamburg to New York, arriving 1 June 1897, list 7, Nachame Wilensky; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial M237, Microfilm Roll 579.
2. New York County, New York, Certificate and Record of Marriage no. 11661 (26 May 1910), Max Herman and Nina Wilson, New York City Municipal Archives, New York.

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