The Blumberg Family
from Bielsk Podlaski and
Abraham Blumberg and Rebecca Kaplan
L-R: Gus, Jennie and Barnet Blumberg
Barnet Blumberg was my great-grandfather. You can read more about the families of Barnet and Max Blumberg below. I am seeking to make contact with others who are related to this family, including the descendants of Barnet's siblings Dora, Sore and Max, and Max's children Rose and Henry (aka Herman and Hyman). I am also seeking contact with descendants of Isidor Laskowitz and his wife Rachel Leah. They were the parents of Barnet Blumberg's wife Jennie (Scheine) Laskowitz (or Laskovich) and her sisters Annie and Fannie. Other surnames being researched in connection with the Blumberg family are Kaplan, German, Edelstein, and Breslau (or Breslaw, Breslow). Please contact me if you have any information about these families.
Barnet Blumberg and Scheine (Jennie) Laskowitz
Barnet Blumberg was born on July 10, 1866. His place of birth is believed to have been Bransk. (See Where were they from? below.) His parents were Abraham Blumberg and Rebecca Kaplan. Barnet married Scheine (Jennie) Laskowitz (also spelled Laskovich on their daughter Esther's birth certificate), daughter of Isidor Laskowitz and Rachel Leah, in 1889. Jennie was born in 1869 in a town in Lithuania with a name sounding something like "Vishnauer", which was 40 viorsts away from the town where the Blumberg's lived. One viorst equals 1.06 km, or 3,500 feet, 0.663 miles. Barnet was a tailor, referred to by his son Harry Blumberg as "Boruch the schneider". Barnet was one of at least three children. His brother Max was born around 1870 and his sister Dora was born around 1880. Is it believed that another sister, Sore (Sara?), was born in 1888. The long length of time between the births of these children might indicate that they had other siblings.
Barnet left Europe and traveled to the US from Hamburg via Glasgow, departing Hamburg on July 4, 1890. The record of his emigration in the Hamburg emigration database shows his place of residence as Bielsk, his given name as Boruch and his age as 25. He sailed from Hamburg on an English ship named Coblenz whose destination is listed as "Leith (Amerika via Glasgow)". Leith is a port on the east coast of Scotland, north of Edinburgh. He went from Hamburg, to the port of Leith and then traveled over land to Glasgow, where he boarded the ship The State of Nebraska for New York. The ship arrived on July 23rd, 1890. This was the period between the closing of Castle Garden in April of 1890 and the opening of Ellis Island in 1892. During that time immigrants were processed at the Barge Office at the foot of Whitehall Street near the Battery.
Barnet's wife Jennie also traveled to the US from Hamburg. She departed Hamburg on October 10, 1891 on the Scandia which came directly to the US, arriving on October 23, 1891. The record of her emigration in the Hamburg emigration database shows her given name as Scheine and her age as 22. Bielsk is listed as her place of residence.
Barnet's Application for Naturalization was entered in the US District Court in Brooklyn, NY on October 16th, 1894. He was naturalized on June 4th, 1900. The following information was taken from the naturalization papers. The file is in volume 20, record # 600. His address at the time was 232 Monroe Street. His date of birth was listed as June 1865, although his death certificate gives his date of birth as July 10, 1866. The 1900 census lists his date of birth as September, 1864. Max Gordon, who witnessed Barnet's declaration of intention, was his boss. He worked at 155 East Broadway making coats for the William P. Goldberg Company "which was right on the corner" according to Barnet's son Harry.
According to the 1900 US Census taken in June of that year Barnet and Jennie had been married for 11 years. This would place their marriage in 1889, one year before Barnet left for America and two years before Jennie emigrated. This census has Barnet's year of birth as 1864. Jennie's year of birth was listed as 1869. At the time of the census Jennie had given birth to 6 children, with 4 of them surviving. The other two are unknown. Jennie would later have two more sons: Gustave in 1901 and Harry 1903.
The 1920 census contains little new information about the family. They still rented their home but had moved to the Bronx from Manhattan some time between 1900 and 1920. By this time the children are adults but still living at home. Their oldest child Herbert, listed as Hyman on the 1900 census, was 27 years old. Herbert wasn't the only one to take a more Americanized name. Barnet is listed as Barney. His occupation was "presser of coats". The only child still attending school is 16 year old Harry. The rest are all employed and the census tells us what they did and the industry that they worked in. Jennie still could not read, write or speak English.
An interesting note is that Barnet's daughter Esther married someone who was a cousin by marriage. His name was Isaac Borodoker from Luck, Poland. Links to his record in the Ellis Island database are below.
Barnet and Jennie had six children. Only two of the six, Gustave and Harry, had children of their own. Barnet died on February 19, 1927 and is buried in Washington Cemetery on the grounds of the BBUV, near his brother Max, who died on January 23, 1931.
Barnet's last surviving son Harry was interviewed in his final years, including while living in the Hebrew Home for the Aged in the Bronx. Harry said that Barnet was from Bransk (which he correctly pronounced as Brainsk) which he knew was in Grodno Gubernia. A gubernia is a political subdivision.
On the ship's manifests and US census records the Blumbergs stated that they were from Bielsk, and Barnet and his brother Max were active in an organization for people from Bielsk Podlaski. Bielsk Podlaski is very close to Bransk. Harry recalled that he attended meetings of the Bielsker Verein with his father. This raises the question of exactly where our family was from. Uncle Harry recalled so much correct detail about the family history that it seems almost certain that he correctly recalled the name of his father's shtetl. Perhaps at one point they moved from one shtetl to the other. In addition, Grodno Gubernia was divided into districts, each called an uzed. One uzed in Grodno Gubernia was called Bielsk which had Bielsk Podlaski as its center, and the town of Bransk was in the district of Bielsk. Perhaps when they said they were from Bielsk, they were referring to the larger area that they were from, similar to saying you are from New York City when you live in Brooklyn. The only evidence we have are the ships manifests stating that they were from Bielsk, and their involvement with the Bielsker Bruderlicher Untershtitzungs Verein (BBUV, see below) which Max Blumberg helped found in 1888. There was a verein called the Brainsker Brothers Aid Association, but it wasn't formed until 1894.
Harry also stated that Barnet and Jennie ran away from the Czar and passed through Brianna in Switzerland. I have been unable to find Brianna on any maps. There, Harry said, Barnet refused to give his name because he was afraid that they were going to send him back to Russia, so the Swiss assigned them the family name Blumberg. Harry indicated that the family name in Poland was not Blumberg, but he could not recall what it was. We do know however that Barnet's brother came to the US three years before Barnet under the name Blumberg.
Harry also said that Barnet and Jennie were married in France before coming to the US. According to the information they provided on the 1900 US census we know that they were married in Europe. We have no way of knowing where they were married.
Other things that Uncle Harry recalled were that:
It is known that there were Blumberg relatives who remained in Europe. We also know that there were cousins who lived in Israel, but it is uncertain if they were from the Blumberg family or the Laskowitz family. Barnet's daughter Esther had a photo of them and wrote letters to them. The note on the back of a photo says "Doorat Uri, married in 1963". Click here to see their photo.
Our Family Name
Our family name in Europe may not have been Blumberg, as Uncle Harry indicated. However, our family only had a surname for less than 100 years before our ancestors came to America. Surnames were a relatively late addition for Jews in Europe. They were simply known as child son or daughter of father. To facilitate and centralize the collection of taxes after the partition of Poland in 1795, Jews were required to accept surnames. The many Germanic surnames that Jews bear today were given to Polish Jews during the Prussian and Austrian occupations. Blumberg, a German name, means flower mountain.
Historical Family Documents:
Max Blumberg and Anna and Lena Portiz
Max Blumberg was Barnet's brother. The date of Max Blumberg's birth is uncertain. He stated on his naturalization papers, dated October 16, 1894, that he was born on July 4, 1870. On the 1910 census his age is listed as 42, putting his year of birth around 1868. On the 1920 census his age is listed as 58, which would mean he was born in 1862. Lastly, when he died in 1931 his age was given as 58, meaning he would have been born in 1873. If Max was working when the census takers came then his wife or children would have answered the questions and they may not have known his date of birth or age. So, of these sources, we can only be certain that he provided his own birth date for his naturalization. According to his naturalization papers Max arrived in the United States on July 16, 1887. Max's name was not found in a search of ship's manifests from that date.
Max was married twice. His first wife was Anna Poritz. Max and Anna had four children. They were: Tillie Blumberg born in New York in 1888; Lena Blumberg, born around 1890; Herman (aka Henry and Hyman) Blumberg, born around 1895 in New York; and Esther Blumberg (later to be known as Estelle), born around 1897.
Max's second wife was Lena Poritz, and they were married on May 6, 1901. From this date and the birth of Max's daughter Esther we can conclude that his first wife Anna died some time between 1897 and 1901. According to their marriage certificate, at the time of his marriage to Lena, Max was 30 years old and Lena was 18 years old. Max's wife Lena was 7 years older than his daughter Lena. Max had three children with Lena. They were Rose Blumberg, born around 1904; Fred Blumberg, born around 1905; and Alfred Blumberg, born around 1911. As seen on this map, they lived about two blocks apart on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The address given for their Rabbi was on a few blocks away. On the 1920 US Census, Estelle (a.k.a. Esther) was listed as a niece. From this we can presume that Max's wife Lena answered the census taker's questions. Stating that Estelle was her niece would indicate that Max's first wife Anna was Lena's older sister. (This information was culled from the 1910 US Census, the 1920 US Census, and Esther (a.k.a. Estelle) Blumberg's application for a social security number.)
Click the links below to see documents and photos related Max Blumberg's family:
Bielsker Bruderlicher Untershtitzungs Verein
According to their materials, Max Blumberg was a founding member of the Bielsker Bruderlicher Untershtitzungs Verein (translated as Bielsker Brotherly Assistance Society). The BBUV was founded on April 13, 1888 as a mutual aid society established by people from Bielsk Podlaski and possibly its surrounding areas. Barnet was a founding member of the BBUV Loan Society, which was founded July 30, 1903. Barnet last paid his BBUV dues on September 4, 1926. Materials from the BBUV include:
Other Blumbergs from Bielsk
There are a few records of other Blumbergs from Bielsk entering the US through Ellis Island. Links to these records can be found below. The first record in the list is that of Barnet's sister Dora. The manifest says she stated that she was going to her brother Max. Dora later married a gentleman whose last name was Breslau (or Breslow).
The record for Sore (Sara?) Blumberg also says that she
was going to live with her brother Max Blumberg. It is
uncertain, but it appears likely that Sore was Barnet and
Max's sister. The ships manifest for this record is not
yet available on the Ellis Island web site. The microfilm
of the manifest was viewed at the New York Public Library.
Sore entered the US on January 6, 1906 on the ship
Kroonland which sailed from Antwerp. According to the
ships manifest she was going to stay with her brother Max
Blumberg. The address given for Max at the time was 233
Madison, New York City. No other records in my possession
show Max living at this address. However he did live at
230 Monroe Street which is just a couple of blocks away.
For some reason Sore is on the list of detained aliens
from this ship. She was discharged on January 7th, one day
after the ship arrived at Ellis Island. According to the
list of detained aliens she was served no breakfast, one
dinner, and no supper. The cause of detention is listed as
"to bro". Sore was not able to read or write and had not
been in the US previously. She was not in possession of
$50 or less, and the manifest does not state if she may
have had more than $50. She was 18 years old, meaning she
was born around 1888. We can search the 1910 and 1920
census for her, but if she was married we will not be able
to find her record under the name Blumberg. Perhaps there
is a marriage record waiting to be found showing who she
There were 22 years between the time that Barnet and Sore were born. Even if Sore belonged to an unrelated family, the length of time between Barnet's birth and Dora's birth was 14 years. Whether they had any other children is unknown. What is known is that Barnet, Max, Dora and Sore all identified their place of origin as Bielsk.
There is also a record of a Blumberg family from Bielsk entering the United States in 1898. This was a mother and three children. The handwriting on the manifest is difficult to read but the mother's name appears to be Maira or Maria. She was 34 years old, was able to read and write, and according to the manifest she was going to live with her brother whose name appears to be "D. Blumberg". His address appears to be Aldridge (or Eldridge?) Street however the first two letters are difficult to decipher. She entered the US with three children. They were Phillip, age 7, Betty, age 5, and Soffia, age 3. I have not yet been able to determine if this family is related to Barnet, Max and Dora.
Ellis Island Records
These are the records of Blumbergs from Bielsk (and a Blumberg cousin from Luck) entering the US through Ellis Island. Because they entered the US so early the records for Max and Barnet are not available on the Ellis Island web site. The Ellis Island web site requires that you have a free account to view these records. You may be prompted to establish an account or enter your user ID and password if you already have an account.
Copyright © 2003 Andrew Blumberg
Barnet Blumberg, Gus Blumberg, Lena Blumberg, Lena German, Scheine, Laskowitz, Laskovich, Jennie, Jenny, Annie, Fannie, Rebecca Kaplan, Becky, Abraham Blumberg, Max Blumberg