13 September 2016

Tombstone Tuesday: Samuel and Clara Shlionsky, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY

I have not been able to determine why Samuel and Clara Shlionsky came to be affiliated with the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association (FLPBA) and buried in one of the FLPBA's plots in Montefiore Cemetery. The information I have seen, thus far, indicates that they were not from Labun (or Lubin in Yiddish), but from Odessa. In most other cases, I have been able to determine links to Lubiners. These two remain mysteries.

BORN                 DIED
DEC. 23              JAN. 13
1878                  1930

Yechiel son of Yitzchak Shlionsky
May his soul be bound in the bonds of the living

Samuel was born, according to his gravestone, on 23 December 1878. His father was Yitzchak and his mother was Rose Axel.[1] 

Clara was born on 10 January 1881 to Nissen (as indicated both on her gravestone and her passenger manifest).[2] I do not know her mother's name. However, her brother, Simon Levitan, was recorded living with the family in New York in the 1910 and 1930 census records. His WWI and WWII draft registration cards and his naturalization papers and passenger manifest also indicate birth in Odessa.

Here lies
Chava daughter of Nissen
JAN. 10, 1881 - MAR. 26, 1967

Samuel and Clara were married about 1902 in the Russian Empire.[3] They had their first two children, Herman and Esther, there. 

In 1906, Ichiel traveled to Grimsby, UK and, then, on to Liverpool where he boarded the S.S. Celtic for New York. He arrived on 30 September 1906.[4]

Clara and the children followed, landing in New York on 9 September 1908.[2] Samuel and Clara had their third child, Rose, in New York City in about 1911.[5]
The 1910 census enumeration and Samuel's Word War I Draft Registration Card indicate that he was a painter and store owner.[6] But, Samuel's real career was in real estate development. Several newspaper articles indicate that Samuel invested in several apartment buildings. In 1927, the bottom fell out.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle fairly shouted the headline on page 1: "Real Estate Worth $6,000,000 Involved in Bankruptcy Suit. Creditors Press $500,000 Claims Against Shlionsky Apartment Projects."[7] 

Samuel's death certificate tells the rest of the tale.[1] He died on 13 January 1930 at his home at 84 West 174th Street in the Bronx. The cause? It was certified by the Medical Examiner: "Asphyxia." He'd turned on the gas. Suicide.

He was buried the next day in Montefiore Cemetery: block 5, gate 567W, line 1R, grave 1. If allowed, suicides are sometimes buried in the back of plots. This may be the case here. At Montefiore, row numbering starts at the back.

Clara and the children continued to live with her brother Simon Levitan in the Bronx. Son Herman became a doctor and practiced psychiatry in New Jersey. His obituary in 1966 indicated that his sisters had married and become Esther Silverman and Rose Sack.[8]

Clara died in March 1967 in Pennsylvania.[9] She is buried in
block 5, gate 567W, line 3L, grave 3.

1. Bronx County, New York, death certificate no. 405 (1930), Samuel Shlionsky, 13 January 1930; Municipal Archives, New York City.
2. Manifest, S.S. Russia, September 1908, list 11, lines 21-23, Clara, Irmja, and Esters Schlionsky, age 28, 4 and 3; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 September 2016).
3. 1910 U.S. Census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district 952, sheet 5B, dwelling 17, family 103, Samuel and Clara Schlionsky; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 March 2011).
4. Manifest, S.S. Celtic, September 1906, list 11, line 1, Ichiel Schlinsky, age 28; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 September 2016).
5. 1930 U.S. Census, Bronx Co., NY, pop. sched., Bronx, E.D. 3-168, sheet 5B, dwell. 32, fam. 118, Clara Shlionsky family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010).
6. "World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2010), card for Samuel Shlionsky, no. 2729, Bronx, New York City Draft Board 14; NARA microfilm publication M1509.
7. "Real Estate Worth $6,000,000 Involved in Bankruptcy Suit," Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY), 4 January 1927, p. 1, col. 4; image, Fulton History (http://www.fultonhistory.com : accessed 11 September 2016).
8. "Herman Shlionsky, A Psychiatrist, 62," New York Times (New York, NY), 3 June 1966, p. 38, col. 3; images, New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com : accessed 11 September 2016). 
9. "U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-2014," database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 September 2016); entry for Clara Shlionsky, March 1967.


  1. A sad story...But about how someone unaffiliated might be in a plot unconnected to his or her hometown, I know some groups sell off plots that members don't need. This is how relatives from my family obtained a place for someone who died unexpectedly, when there was no room in the family's group plot.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Marian. That is certainly possible, but I should have stated that my previous research on this landsmanshaft indicates that they did not open it up to another community or to completely unaffiliated people. Although, this is oral history: unfortunately, much of the paper work from the society is lost. I have studied 66 immigrants from the community and in all other cases can account for their interment in one of the FLPBA plots based upon family or geographic ties to Labun. So, this one is (so far) an outlier.


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!