The German / Gurman / Germaine + Edelstein Family

from Bessarabia

Louis German

Louis German

Sarah German (nee
              Edelstein) circa 1904

Sarah German
(nee Edelstein)

Anna German (nee Edelstein) circa 1948

Anna German
(nee Edelstein)

Brothers Samuel German and Louis German married sisters Sarah Edelstein and Anna Edelstein. I am the great-grandson of Samuel German and Anna (Annie) Edelstein. These two families came to the US between 1897 and 1901. We can guess that the marriages of these two brothers to two sisters was arranged.

Samuel German was born circa 1876. He entered the United States around 1898 and died on July 10, 1904 from an epidemic of spinal meningitis. Anna Edelstein was born around 1884. She entered the United States in 1900 and died on January 31, 1950. They were married on September 24th, 1901. Samuel and Anna had three children:

  • Rubin (aka Ruby, Ruben), born in October 26, 1901 as Bennie German, but was identified as Rubin in the 1905 New York State Census
  • Sarah (aka Shirley) German, born around 1903
  • Lena on 1910 census, Elinor on 1920 census (aka Lee), born December 24, 1904

According to his Declaration of Intention, Louis German was born on December 20, 1870. His age shown as 35 on the 1905 New York State Census, as 39 at the time of the 1910 U.S. Census, and 45 at the time of the 1915 New York Census all indicate a birth date in 1870. However his death certificate says that he was born on June 20, 1877. According to this Declaration, Louis entered the United States on May 15, 1896. The 1920 U.S. Census says that Louis became a naturalized citizen in 1915 however his Declaration is dated November 24, 1924. He died on July 4, 1926. His address at the time of the 1915 census and at the time of his death was 390 New Jersey Avenue, which was a tenement in Brooklyn, NY. The birth date of his wife Sarah Edelstein is unknown. She is believed to have entered the US in 1902, and her date of death is approximately 1904. She may have died from the same epidemic that her brother-in-law Samuel died from. Louis and Sarah had three children:

  • Harry German (who later changed his name to Gurman) born in Russia around 1895
  • Sam German born in Russia around 1898
  • Blanche German born around 1899

According to the 1910 US census, Harry and Sam entered the United States in 1902. In 1902 they would have been around 6 and 4 years old respectively, we can presume that they entered the US with their mother Sarah and sister Blanche.

Each of these two families lost a parent due to the untimely deaths of Samuel and Sarah. After the death of Blanche's mother Sarah, her father Louis sent Blanche to live with her uncle Louis and aunt Katie Kaplan (nee Edelstein) who lived at 5th and McKean Street in Philadelphia. This would explain why Blanche is not listed on the 1910 US census with her father Louis German. It is believed that Katie Kaplan was a sister of Blanche's mother Sarah. At some point Harry and Sam moved to Philadelphia apparently to live near their sister.

Between Sam's death on July 10, 1904 and the 1905 census taken in June 1905, surviving spouses Louis and Anna began living together. A record of their marriage has not yet been found. In 1910 they lived at 350 Sheffield Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Louis and Anna had the following children together:

  • Irene German
  • Isadore (Ike) German
  • Rachel (Ray) German born around 1907
  • Benjamin German, born Benny German, December 5, 1909
  • Max German (who later changed his name to Germaine) born February 13, 1914

The death certificates of Sam, Louis and Anna provide the names of their parents. Samuel and Louis were the children of Samuel German and his wife Bessie (or Beshie). Since Samuel was apparently named after his father, we can presume that the elder Samuel German passed away before the birth of his son. Anna and Sarah were the children of Abraham Edelstein and his wife Rachel.

How unfortunate it is that Samuel and Sarah met such untimely deaths so soon after reaching the U.S. And yet the family structure was maintained as best it could be by the marriage of the surviving spouses. From the three marriages eleven children were born. They started with next to nothing and overcame tremendous hardship to have their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in the freedom and prosperity that they certainly intended for us.

Where they came from

Louis German's Declaration of Intention provides places of birth for himself and Annie. His place of birth was stated as Moleff Padulski, Russia. Annie's place of birth was stated as Scala, Austria. The burial plots of Louis, Anna and Sam provide additional detail about where they were from. Louis and Anna are buried on a plot purchased by the First Bessarabian Benevolent Association of East New York, which was organized in 1909. Sam German is buried on the grounds of the First Independent Sekuraner KUV. Sekurani (also spelled Sokiryany, Secureni, Sokyrjany, and Sekiryany) is a town in northern Bessarabia. About two thirds of Bessarabia lies within modern-day Moldova.

The town of Mohyliv-Podilskyy (likely misspelled as Moleff Padulski on Louis' Declaration) is in present day Ukraine on the border with Moldova and not far from Sekurani.  The town of Skala-Podilska (likely Scala), also in present day Ukraine near the border with Moldova, was under the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the time that Annie and Sarah lived there, and is likely the town of Scala given on Louis' Declaration. This map shows the proximity of Mohyliv-Podilskyy to Skala-Podilska.

Jews first emigrated to Bessarabia from Poland and Germany in the 1500's. According to the Russian census there were 225,637 Jews living in Bessarabia in 1897. The country was a center of Yiddish and Hebrew literature. Widespread impoverishment and pogroms during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to large-scale emigration. The names Edelstein and German might indicate that these two families migrated from Germany to Bessarabia at some time in the past. Follow the links below for more history on these places.

Source material

  • Family photos:
  • Skala-Podilska:
    • Skala-Podilska on JewishGen's KehilaLinks.
    • The entire English translation of the Memorial Book of Skala can be downloaded from this link at the NY Public Library. 
    • A list of Skala residents who perished during the Holocaust, including some with the name Edelstein, is available on JewishGen.
  • Mohyliv-Podilskyy:
    • Mohyliv-Podilskyy on JewishGen's KehilaLinks.
    • An English translation of the chapter on Moghilev (aka Mohyliv-Podilskyy) from the memorial book Geschichte der Juden in der Bukowina (History of the Jews in the Bukovina) is available for reading on JewishGen.

Other surnames connected with this family are: Edelstein, German, Germaine, Gurman, Weisberg, Abramowitz, Abrams, Bellow, Kopyt, Dorfman, Ferdman, Silverman.

If you are a descendant of Samuel and Bessie German or Abraham and Rachel Edelstein, or their children Samuel German, Louis German, Sarah Edelstein or Anna Edelstein please email me. The only known photos of any of them is shown at the top of this page. If you have photos or other material that you can contribute to this site to share with our family please let me know.     

History of Bessarabia

Please email me if you have any questions, family information or materials to contribute to this site.

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Copyright (C) 2021 Andrew Blumberg