I have two pictures of my great-grandparents, Mendel and Lena Silverman with my grandfather and his brother dressed in Russian Cossack outfits.

These are not two different pictures; they are the same picture pasted on different card stock from different studios.

Here is the photo I showed in The Silvermans Come to America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decreasing the quality of the image shows that this photo was taken by George H Rosenblatt, 202 Broadway, New York.

 

Here is the second copy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back of this photo is in Russian.  A friend translated it for me.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It says photograpgic studio of Josef Wasilewski, Stavropol, Kavkaz.  Stavropol is the city where my great-grandparents lived.  Kavkaz is the area like a state or province.  Tiny letters at the bottom of the back of the photo say Trapp and Munch.Wien

 

 

I have figured this much of the mystery out .  Trapp and Munch were the papermakers, located in Vienna.

This photo was taken at about the time the family emigrated, so it is possible that it was taken in either country, although I do find it hard to believe that they brought the Cossack outfits with them.

There is one more interesting bit. At the bottom of the front side of the photo with the Russian studio information in very small red letters it says  J.Wasilewski–in English.

 

Why would a Russian photographer have his name in English on the front of a photo?

So, I am left with a mystery.  Where was this picture taken?

Any ideas?

 

Photography has been a vital element of family history since its earliest days.  We cherish the oldest photographs taken when photography was an art practiced by a knowledgeable few.  Now we live in an age where every moment of our children’s lives is recorded, photographed, videotaped.

The photos I have been looking at lately were taken by a bygone class of photographers, itinerant street photographers.  These photographers would come to the neighborhood and take pictures of the children.  The pictures could then be sold to the proud parents.  In the neighborhood where my family lived  when I was young the photographer came with a prop, a pony and sometimes cowboy or girl costumes.  No urban kid could resist climbing on the pony and it was a hardhearted parent who wouldn’t scrape together the money for a photo.

I believe I must have some of the earliest of these “pony” photos.

The first photo I have of our neighborhood pony is one of my mother’s cousins taken around 1906.

Ida and Belle

 

Here is my father about 1916.

My Father 1916

My mother’s twin brothers were not far behind in 1924 and my cousin Danny in 1928

Herb and Syd

Danny 1928

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The later era of pony photography included costumes.

My brother about 1947

Two of my cousin Hank.

 

Cousin Hank

Cousin Hank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a picture of me on that pony, but I cannot lay my hands on it.  So, here is a picture of me at the age of three.

Me--No Pony

Please imagine me sitting on that pony in full cowgirl regalia imagining a life in the wide open spaces.

Finally, any of you who have looked at these pictures can plainly see that there is more than one pony involved between 1906 an 1954.  Yet in my mind and my heart there was one pony and I loved that pony in the way that only a small girl can love a pony.  I love him to this day.  In my mind’s eye I see him romping in pony heaven, munching on whatever ponies like to munch on, perhaps accompanied by a lovely female pony and surrounded by adoring little ponies.  That’s the way I see it.  Please don’t mess it up with reality, there’s way more than enough reality to go around.

 

This is the final part of four of the story of my grandfather, Alexander Silver. Follow the links for Parts I, II, and III.

My grandparents settled in Philadelphia by 1920.

They lived first in the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadlephia where we all lived when I was born.

My grandfather, my brother and me

Later we all moved to West Oak Lane where my grandparents and my father lived until they passed away.

Over their 66 years of marriage there were many births and celebrations.  I am putting up some photos.

My Grandmother Pauline

Sixtieth Anniversary

I will expand on this story at a later date.

This is the third part of a series about my grandfather, Alexander Silver.  You can read Parts I and II by following the links.

 

Alexander Silver married Pauline Bublick in November of 1896.  He was twenty years old and she was eighteen.  In 1900 the young couple and their first child, Ethel, were living with his parents on the Lower East Side of New York.

Pauline and Alex about 1896

Alex and Ethel

 

 

At the turn of the twentieth century the Lower East Side was a neighborhood teeming with newly arrived immigrants, half of them were Jewish, upwards of 350,000 people and they were all crammed into two square miles at the tip of Manhattan.  The Silvermans were living at 31 Forsyth Street, a typical tenement building.

 

Hester Street 1903

 

Forsyth Street

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the women in the tenements worked in the garment industry.  Conditions in the factories were difficult, long hours, low wages and terribly unsafe working conditions.  Even with the brutal conditions these jobs were sought after.  Many women and children did piecework if they couldn’t get a factory job or needed to be home with young children.   I found an interesting photo of an unknown female relative from this period.  I don’t know who this woman is, but the back of the photo holds a typical list of piece work either to be done or already finished.

Unknown Woman

Piece work list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 1902 my grandfather was involved in the growing labor union movement in the United States.  He became a recruiter for the Capmaker’s Union and spent at least ten years traveling the country working for the union. Although his citizenship papers say that his second child, Sylvia, was born in New York my grandparents and my aunt always said that she was born in New Orleans while he was working for the union. By 1907 they would be living in Detroit where my father was born in 1909.

Pauline, Alex, Ethel, and Sylvia

Alex, Pauline, and Stanley with family friends

 

 

 

 

 

Grandpa and Grandma never spoke much about this period in their life.  By 1920 they would be settled in Philadelphia where Grandma’s family was already established.  They would spend the rest of their lives there.

I’ll say more about their years in Philadelphia in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Part I of this series I listed some of the facts I know about my grandfather’s life.  In this post I have turned those facts into a story

My grandfather’s story is in many ways an ordinary story.  Grandpa’s is the Eastern European Jewish version of the story, but there is an Irish version, an Italian version, a German version, a Japanese version, a version for every ethnicity.  If you are African-American it is a different story.  Lack of choice changes the story, but mine is the ethnic story. You know this story, briefly, oppression in the homeland, leave everything and take a boat to a new country, arrive somewhere where you don’t speak the language, live in harsh, soul-crushing poverty, survive and thrive. These stories are common, yet I find them extraordinary.  A million people or more arrived in this country every year between 1890 and 1910.  These were primarily Eastern Europeans and my grandfather was one of them.

Why did he come?  At the end of the 18th century Catherine the Great, Czar of Russia, created the Pale of Settlement where the Jews of Russia would be forced to live.  The Pale included what is now the Ukraine, Poland and other areas.  The laws became more and more restrictive over time.  Even within the Pale Jews could not own land, paid extra taxes and could not attend university.   Eventually Russian law demanded that large numbers of Jews between the ages of 12 and 25 serve 25 years in the Russian army.  Any community that failed to provide its quota would be punished. The Silvers or Silvermans, as they were known then, left Russia forever when their oldest son was twelve. In light of the alternatives emigration to America looked good, even if the streets weren’t paved with gold.

In August of 1891 the Silverman family arrived in New York on the S.S. La Champagne having left Le Havre, France eight days earlier.

My grandfather traveled with his parents, Mendel and Lina and his brother Sam.  I have no idea how they got to Le Havre, most likely by rail. They may have stayed in France for a while, my father recalls his father speaking of time in France.  My cousin remembers being told they spent time in Ireland. Whatever their route and whatever the delays they came through the Barge Office in New York and started a new life.

The Barge Office New York---- Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

First Photo in America Mendel, Lina, Alex and Sam

 

There is much more to this story and there will be a Part III.

© 2009-2014 The Genealogy Gals All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright