07 February 2017

Tombstone Tuesday: Anna Chalewsky, Montefiore Cemetery, New York

I have been documenting gravestones from the three First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plots in New York cemeteries. Most of the people interred were from the organization's home community of Labun/Lubin, Volhynia gubernai, Russian Empire. And most of those not from Labun can be linked to those who were. Such is the case with Anna Chalewski.
Here lies
Our beloved mother
A modest and important woman
Hentsya daughter of Avigdor
28 Nisan 5686
At the age of 85 years
May her soul be bound in the bonds of the living
Anna Chalewsky
Died April 12, 1926
Age 85 Years 

One would think that with a surname like Chalewsky, that finding her would be a snap. But, I have been unable, thus far, to locate her death record in New York City records. [Update (21 April 2017): With the help of commenter Anonymous, I located and ordered Ann'a death record from the New York City Municipal Archive. Kings County (1926) 9302. An unnamed son of Anna was the informant for her death certificate. Anna was identified as a widow who had come to the USA 19 years before (1907 - check!). Her parents were identified as Wolf Sherlesky and Bessie Cohen. Of course, "Sherlesky" would have been her married name. So there is an immediate problem with this information. In addition, the father's name does not seem to match what is on the tombstone. Although it is possible that Avigdor was also known as Wolf.]

Two of her daughters are also in the First Lubiner plot at Montefiore Cemetery: Rebecca Berman and Bertha Myers.

Rebecca's marriage record on 5 February 1912, shows Becky Cholawsky marrying Morris Berman.[1] Her mother is identified as H. Cholawsky and her father, M. Cholawsky. Her gravestone indicates that her father's name was Meier.[2] She was born about 1891.

Bertha's marriage record is a bit confusing. She married Jacob Myers (my great grandmother's first cousin) on 20 December 1911 and identified her parents as M. Goldman and Anne Cholewska.[3] Bertha's maiden name is listed as Goldman. She was born about 1892.

There are a variety of scenarios in which Bertha might have become Goldman. But, so far I have no proof pushing me toward any one of them.

Bertha's death certificate tells a different story. Her father was identified as Meyer Chale and her mother as Anna Chale.[4] Her son, Fred Myers, was the informant. Ordinarily, one would think that Bertha's word was worth more than her son's when it came to her maiden name. But, I am not so sure.

But, back to Anna! She arrived in New York City as Henie Chalewski, age 55, on 3 July 1907.[5] She was a widow accompanied by her two daughters, Votte (age 21) and Taube (age 19). 

In most Jewish genealogy we find that adopted American names usually start with the same sound as the original Hebrew and Yiddish names. That's a tradition, however, not a rule. And neither of Anna's daughters followed convention.  

Rebecca Berman's Hebrew name on her tombstone was Votah (the same as entered on her passenger manifest). Bertha Myers' Hebrew name on her gravestone is Tova. The Yiddish equivalent of that name was Taube (the same as her passenger manifest). Both sisters' gravestones identify their father as Meier. 

Bertha Myers' naturalization record confirms that she was the Taube who arrived with Henie (Anna) Chalewski and sister Votte in 1907.[6]

The 1925 New York State census found Annie Chalewsky living with her son, glazier Isidor Chalewsky, his wife Sarah and their children at 235 East 103rd Street, New York, New York.[7] I believe Anna had one or two other sons who also became glaziers in New York City.

The Chale name, I believe, comes from some of Anna Chalewsky's sons (and their offspring) who, after a time, shortened their surname to Chale.

Isidore's arrival in the United States is recorded in a U.S. border crossing in October 1909 in Quebec, Canada.[8] His name was Itzik Chalewski and he was going to his mother Ensy Chalewski in New York City. 

He had sailed on the S.S. Laurentic from Liverpool on 14 September 1909.[9] His name is crossed off the Laurentic's passenger list with the note "Erased by purser - changed destination to Canada." The crossed-off entry also included this tidbit: Itzik was planning to join his mother Hensya Chalewski c/o Morris Mohlman, 118 W. 3rd St., New York. 

118 W. 3rd Street is significant in my family because it was the address, starting about 1909, of my great grandfather Isidore Morris' and his business partner (and likely relative ) Benjamin Molthman's glass store, called Morris Molthman Glass. So, I think the "Morris Mohlman" on Itzik Chalewsky's passenger manifest was actually not a person, but my great grandfather's store and home address. 

Isidore Chalewsky's death record identified his parents as Meyer Chalewsky and Anna Shukart.[10] The informant for this record was Isidore's daughter, Bessie Taffel.

The town of origin for the Chalewsky family is unclear. A couple of the sons identified Staro Kostyantiniv as their town of birth on manifests. Naturalization documents identified "Volin" - the gubernia, rather than the town name. Staro Kostyantiniv is about 25 miles south southwest of Labun. 

On Sarah Chalewsky's naturalization petition, she identified her husband Isidore Chalewsky's town of birth as Scharovka [11]. The town, today called Sharivka, is located south of Khmelnitsky (Proskurov).

Anna Chalewsky's grave is located within the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association plot in Montefiore Cemetery, Queens, NY: block 89, gate 156N, line 3L, grave 5.

1. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 6428 (5 February 1912), Moris Berman and Beckie Cholawsky; Municipal Archives, New York City.
2. Rebecca Berman, gravestone, died 17 January 1972, Montefiore Cemetery, Queens County, New York.
3. New York County, New York, marriage certificate no. 29954 (20 December 1911), Jacob Myers and Bertha Goldman; Municipal Archives, New York City.
4. Kings County, New York, death certificate no. 1421 (19 January 1954), Bertha Myers, Municipal Archives, New York City.
5. Manifest, S.S. Vaderland, 3 July 1907, stamped p. 18, lines 28-30, Henie [indexed as Henri] (age 55), Votte (21) and Taube (19) Chalewski; images, "New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 January 2017).
6. Bertha Myers, petition for naturalization (1943), naturalization file no. 393317, Eastern District of New York; Record Group 21: Records of the District Courts of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City. 
7. 1925 New York State census, New York County, New York, enumeration of inhabitants, Manhattan, assembly district 18, election district 15, p. 29, Isidore and Sarah Chalewsky family; images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 April 2014).
8. "U.S., Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1956," images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 17 January 2017); passenger list, Dominion, October 1909, sheet 3, line 1, Itzik Chalewski, age 34.
9. Manifest, S.S. Laurentic, 23 September 1909, p. 9, line1, Itzyk Chalewsky (age 35); images, "Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935," Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 January 2017).
10. New York County, New York, death certificate no. 10535 (3 May 1944), Isidore Chalewsky; Municipal Archives, New York City.
11. Sarah Chalewsky petition for naturalization petition (1943), naturalization file no. 431566, Southern District of New York; Record Group 21: Records of the District Courts of the United States; National Archives - Northeast Region, New York City.


  1. Might this be "your" Anna? Anna "Sherlesky," born about 1844 in Russia, the daughter of Wolf and Bessie (Cohen) "Sherlesky," died 12 April 1926 at Brooklyn, New York, aged eighty-two years, and was buried the following day at "Monteford" Cemetery. An extract of her death record is available at /FamilySearch/: https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2W5Y-Q4T. She might be listed as Anna "Chalewich" at Find A Grave. See F.A.G. memorial 148789131.

    1. I believe you have nailed it! I will order the record to see for sure. Whoever did FAG, must have just copied the entry from the Montefiore Cemetery online index that has Anna's grave indexed as Chalewich, as well. I wish people would not do that - it just copies errors. Thanks for your expert help!


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