Monday, September 5, 2011

My search for my Jewish family roots

A family history compiled by David Michaelson.

What follows is a history based around three people: Dora, David and Ida. These three are thought to be siblings, though there some inconsistencies regarding that. They seem to form the coming together of three families based in and around the city of Daugavpils (Dvinsk), then Russia, now Latvia: the Misrochs, Dimensteins/Dimensts and Cohns, though there is almost no evidence for the last of these. For nice symmetry, these three individuals are also the origins of three family branches: Dora married into the Luban family (from Rezekne, near Daugavpils) to form the Luban branch; David changed his name to Danning, forming a new family branch, and Ida married into the Spero family.

What follows starts with a narrative, but mostly it is a collection of information, gathered mostly from the internet, drawing from Russian and US census data, ships manifests, death indices and from the memories of the children and grandchildren of Dora and David. Since I have been unable as yet to contact the Speros, I sadly cannot draw from their memories.

MY SEARCH FOR MY JEWISH ORIGINS: (narrative introduction)

I guess the first thing I should cover is where we came from. Living memory seemed contradictory at first. Harry and Ben Danning remembered references to “Poland.” I am assuming that these references were made in the 1920’s and 1930’s, which will be relevant in a moment. Evalyn Michaelson remembered (it turns out with some accuracy though also some misinterpretation) references to “Rezitska, Latvia” from Dora Luban, her grandmother (spelling of “Rezitska” is a guess on Eve’s part...she assumed, wrongly, it merely was a pronunciation of Russia). For my part, I remember my grandmother, Celia Jacobson, saying our family came from “somewhere near ‘Minsk’ or ‘Pinsk’ or something like that.” So it seemed like we had Poland, Latvia and possibly Belarus as possible places of origin, all of which were simply “Russia” at the time our ancestors left. At first I thought it would be impossible to sort this out, but I have found the solution that brings them all together and have since visited these places. In fact the solution is kind of obvious since it is where these three places (as well as Lithuania) come together, focusing on what was the Vitebsk and Livland districts of Russia back then.

My first clue came courtesy of a Patricia Liebham who I found on the website. She has provided me with two 1920 US census records (see below) of Lubans from Milwaukee, WI. My grandmother, Celia, had lived in Milwaukee before the Danning family convinced some of the Lubans to migrate to Los Angeles. Celia’s father was Solomon (sometimes called Samuel...originally I found Sawel) Luban and her mother Dora Luban. One of the two 1920 Census records Patricia gave me was for Solomon Luban, his wife Dora and their children Simon, Sarah, Celia, Jacob and Norma. This, obviously, was Dora and Solomon’s family. Growing up I was very close to Celia, Sarah and Norma. In this record, Solomon, Dora, Simon, Sarah and Celia were all born in Russia, while Jacob (remembered by my grandmother as Jack) and Norma were born in Milwaukee. The place of birth within Russia is hard to read but looks something like “,” maybe “Litovsk” or “Litevsk.” There is another 1920 Census record of a Henry and Esther Luban, living on the same street as Solomon’s family (11th Street in what seems to be a primarily German, Christian neighborhood). Henry and Esther had 6 children: Belle, Sarah, Minnie, Sophia, Helen and John (also remembered as Jack). Henry, Esther, Belle and Sarah are listed as having been born in Russia in a place that looks like “,” maybe “Witebsk.” I figured it is likely that two Luban families living on the same street in Milwaukee in 1920 are probably related and this has been borne out. If Henry and Solomon were related, then “” and “” probably refer to the same place. I took a guess and found the city of Vitebsk (also spelled Witebsk) which is now in Belarus but once was the capital of a district (Vitebsk district) that included part of what is now Latvia and which was part of Poland in the 1920’s and 1930’s. This, based on the 1920 census record and the memories of Poland, Latvia and Minsk/Pinsk (Belarus), seemed a likely place for us to come from.

I then turned to the website. Searching for “Lubans” I hit the jackpot. I found an 1897 “All Russia” Census record for a Sawel and Dweira Luban of exactly the correct ages living in a town called “Rezekne” in the Vitebsk district of Russia. Today Vitebsk is in Belarus and Rezekne is in Latvia. Solomon was a carpenter according to the 1920 census record, and the Sawel in the 1897 Russian census record is listed as a joiner, which is essentially the same profession. So based on profession and age as well as similarity of names, Sawel and Dweira of Rezekne Russia of 1897 are almost certainly Solomon and Dora of Milwaukee, WI of 1920. Furthermore, Dweira is listed as having been born in a town called “Daugavpils” which is near Rezekne and today is near the border of Latvia and Lithuania. Daugavpils is also called Dvinsk. Daugavpils is a city where there are a lot of Misrochs and Dimensteins, names that are associated in both memory and death records with Ida and Dora, while Rezekne (and nearby Jekapils) have many Lubans. I think Dora, Ida and David would have been born in Dvinsk. Their parents may have had hit hard times (matching what my mother and grandmother tell me that their parents died in an economic depression of hunger), so, I was told by family lore, at about the same time, David was sent off to South America and Dora was sent to live with an uncle who owned an inn. My guess is that the uncle lived in Rezekne and that is where her marriage to Solomon was arranged. I do find a record of one family of Misrochs living in Rezekne, but the husband’s occupation is “Coopersmith,” and there is no mention of an inn. Maybe the inn didn't fall into an area where records have been translated to English yet. Interestingly, family memory among Henry Luban’s family suggests that the Lubans of Rezekne were innkeepers. Was Dora’s “uncle” a Luban?? That would not fit my own family's memory, but would simplify the story a great deal (Occam's razor and all that).

I have visited Rezenke and Daugavpils and some of the places where my ancestors lived are still there. My story, overlapping with this one, of that personal journey can be found here.

I find no record of David’s trip from Russia. Family memory indicates that the family could no longer support him, so he was sent to Buenos Aires where he worked for the postal service until he could make his way up to America. When he did, he first moved to Philadelphia where he met Jennie Goldburg, whose family included one of the first Jewish cops in Philadelphia. Somewhere along the way he met a woman who taught him English and he took this woman’s name, Denning. Not wanting to sound too Irish, according to Harry Danning, he changed it to Danning. Jennie and David (who is remembered by Curtis Ben Danning as having the full name of Robert David Danning) moved to California. The story goes that they honeymooned in California but couldn’t find the money to get back so they just stayed. Interestingly I find records on the Ellis Island database of a Raphael and other Misrochs from Russia coming from Buenos Aires to Philadelphia (through New York) around 1922. Although this is very similar to the names associated with Robert (Raphael?) David Danning, and the path from Russia to the US is the same, the date is way too late since David was certainly in California by then. Still there is evidence for a trail of Misrochs from Russia to Argentina to Philadelphia that may have been pioneered by Robert David, then continued at least into the 1920’s.

I have possibly found records for Solomon’s and Dora’s trips from Europe to the US, but they are very uncertain. Solomon (according to the 1920 US Census) came to the US in 1904. I find a record of a Schlime Lewin, age 37, occupation: joiner (same age and occupation as Sawel/Solomon) who came over on the ship Statendam out of Rotterdam arriving in New York City. We have no memory of family in NYC at that time, but I do find records of Lubans from Jekapils (near Rezekne) in NYC. Maybe they are related. Maybe Sawel (living in Rezekne), Shlime (on a ship to the US) and Solomon (also called Samuel) are all the same person.

Dora, Simon, Sarah and Celia are listed in the 1920 US Census as having come to the US in 1906. I find a listing for a Bassje D Lande, Ente Lande, and children named Simon, Sara and Chaje coming to Ellis Island in 1906 on the Corina from Liverpool. Their destination is Chicago, which is close to Milwaukee. This entry is actually crossed out from the ship’s manifest, but an entry for the same people (different spellings) is shown soon after on a ship named Campania from Liverpool. The ages of Simon, Sara and Chaje all match the ages of Simon, Sarah and Celia for 1906. Bassje D. Lande, however, is listed as age 46 while Dora would have been 36. Still, the “D.” in Bassje D. could be Dora. Finally there is Ente Lande. Ente’s age is identical to the age Ida would have been at that time. We don’t know when Ida came over, but it is likely that she came with Dora. So I think we have a somewhat garbled record of Dora, Ida, Simon, Sarah and Celia coming to the US. Ente is listed as the same name as Dora, yet Ida was not a Luban. I suspect that since she was traveling with Dora, and Dora was older by more than 10 years, Ida just went along using the same name to simplify immigration. All of this is speculation, but it a tantalizing link between Sawel and Dweira in Rezekne and Solomon and Dora in Milwaukee.

So I conclude that our family came from Dvinsk/Daugavpils where Misrochs and Dimensteins abound. David got put on a ship to Argentina sometime around 1888. Probably, Dora was sent to Rezekne about the same time. By 1897 she was married to Solomon in Rezekne, though they had no kids yet. Simon might actually have been born that very year (1897). Sarah was born the next year (1888) and Celia in 1903. Solomon left for the US in 1904 (following his relative Henry who left in 1903) and Dora, with Ida, Simon, Sarah and Celia, followed in 1906. Norma was born 1910 and by that time they were in Milwaukee. It is unknown if they lived elsewhere before Milwaukee, but Henry Luban came to the US first, but, according to Henry Luban’s family, followed Solomon to Milwaukee. This implies an intermediate residence (Chicago, perhaps?). They were still in Milwaukee in 1920. Sometime around 1924 or so, Dora divorced Solomon and moved, with her kids, to Los Angeles where David already lived (after working his way up from Argentina via Philadelphia where he met Jennie Goldberg). It isn’t clear when Ida joined them.

That covers where we came from. But who were Dora, David and Ida? Everyone, Harry, Ben and Leah Danning as well as Evalyn Michaelson, all remember the three of them as siblings. No one seems to suspect that these three were anything but two sisters and a brother. There is some uncertainty about their original last name. Everyone remembers Misrach, but there are echoes of another name, Diamondstein (probably originally Dimenstein, which is as common as Misroch in Dvinsk). Evalyn remembered that David got his name “Danning” as a modification of Diamondstein. Harry, Leah and Ben counter this: Danning came from Denning, the last name of the woman who taught David English. I am uncertain as to whether he took the name Danning once he was in the US (in Philly?) or before. Ben does remember being teased as a kid about being really “Diamondstein” instead of “Danning”. I was ready to discount Diamondstein completely as mere rumor, but something from the Spero side makes me wonder.

Here I enter the realm of California Death records, a useful, if morbid, database. Celia Jacobson’s death record lists her mother’s maiden name as “Misrach,” presumably reflecting Eve’s memory of her grandmother. Since the only records I find of Dora are from after her marriage, the direct records only indicate her married name of Luban. But according to Celia’s death record, Dora was a Misrach, originally. In agreement with this is the death record of Celia’s brother, Simon. His death record lists his mother’s maiden name as “Misroch.” The spellings are equivalent, so from both Simon’s family and Celia’s family it is remembered that Dora was a Misroch/Misrach. There is no death record in this database for David Danning since he died before 1940, when the records began to be kept, so I can’t get more information from that side of the family. But when I turn to the Spero side I find something very strange. I find Ida Spero’s death record and it lists her mother’s maiden name as Mizrach, yet another spelling of this name. But wait! Dora and Ida are supposed to be sisters, yet Dora’s maiden name is Misrach, but Ida’s MOTHER’s maiden name was also Mizrach! This suggests they were not sisters. Dora’s death record lists HER mother’s maiden name as Cohn. I have no other evidence for this name, though there are lots of families with names similar to Cohn who lived in Daugavpils. Looking at the death record of Ida’s son, Simon, I find that his record lists his mother’s maiden name as DIAMONDSTEIN! Dora was a Misrach whose mother was a Cohn. Ida was a Diamondstein whose mother was a Misrach. This suggests that Ida and Dora were really cousins! I can find no way to reconcile these. Family memory insists they were sisters, but death records suggest that they were cousins. If they were cousins, it is unclear where David fits in. Two things might back up the idea of Ida and Dora being cousins instead of sisters. First, according to death records, Ida was about 13 years younger than Dora and 12 years younger than David. This is a LONG time between children. Second, according to memory, Dora was sent away to live with an uncle. If that uncle was actually the husband of her aunt, her father and aunt would have been Misrochs, and the uncle she was sent to live with could have been a Dimenstein who was Ida’s father. I can’t resolve this unless I can find a way to contact the Spero side of the family, something I have been unable to do so far.

The Misrochs are remembered by the Latvian archivist, Aleksander Feigmanis as being timber merchants. I find records of these Misrochs on the website. He remembers Dimensteins as including religious personnel (Dora was proud of her family since they had many Rabbis…a hint at a Dimenstein connection?) I did find records of Dimenstein rabbis on Aleksander also remembers Lubans as being innkeepers.

I have only hints as to the names of Dora’s parents. My mother remembers she was probably named Chava. If Dora’s death record is correct, she was Chava Cohn or something similar. The 1897 “All Russia” census record for Dweira Luban lists her father’s name as Awsey. If her maiden name really was Misroch, then he was Awsey Misroch. Now some more details and info from actual records.


Mizrach/Mizrachi: Jews in Syria (not Iraq, though?), Iran, Afghanistan (who are from Iran), and India (not all) and beyond, including China. Includes very old established presence of Iranian Jews in the 1800s in Russia, and many European countries. A mizrach is also a religious item. Derived from the Hebrew word for “East,” Mizrach is something to put on the wall to indicate the direction a Jew should pray (direction of the Temple Mount).

Luban comes from the name of a lake, Lake Lubanas, in Latvia not so far from Rezekne. Rezekne is south of the Lake. There was also a shtetl called Lubana north of the Lake.

Our Family in Russia:

From the 1897 “All Russia” Census, Vitebsk district: (From

The following two entries are the basis for my linking our family to the Rezekne and Daugavpils areas.

Luban, Sawel, Father: Jankel; Occupation: Joiner; Age: 28; Birthplace: Rezekne; address: Rezenke, Volkov lane 11-2

Is this Solomon? According to Evalyn Michaelson, Solomon, her grandfather, sometimes went by Samuel. Solomon was a carpenter (same as joiner) and would have been 27/28 in 1897.

Luban, Dwiera, Father: Awsey; Age 26; Birthplace: Daugavpils (same as Dvinsk); address: Rezenke, Volkov Lane 11-2. Comment: wife of Sawel.

This is right for Dvorah. The name is similar, the age is about right (26/27) and the fact that she moved from her hometown (“was sent to live with an uncle outside the shtetl”) all fit. I should note that Dvorah may not have actually been her name. Dwiera looks more like Dvira, a different Jewish girl’s name that could also be anglicized to Dora. I think she would have left Daugavpils around 1884 or so assuming she was sent away at the same time that Robert David Misroch/Danning was sent away to South America.

From same census there also are:

LUBAN, Schmuila Jankel, Age: 76; Birthplace: Rezenke, address Plekshenskaya 24-2

(this may be the Jankel who is Sawel’s father; Jankel/Yankel is a version of Jacob)

LUBAN, Kreine, Age: 55; Birthplace: Rezenke, address same as Jankel; comment: wife of Schmuila Jankel (presumably Sawel’s mother; Kreine is probably a version of the name Kreindel)

GALBRAICH, Josel, Age: 40; Birthplace: Kraslava; occupation: Shop-assistant; Father’s name: Schmuila (Galbraich?); address: Rezekne Bolshaya Ludzenskaya 38-3. This would be Esther Luban’s father (see below for Henry Luban’s family).

GALBRAICH, Hanna Scheina, Josel’s wife. Age: 44; birthplace Rezekne. Presumably Esther’s mother.

There was a widow living with Josel and Hanna: FALKOV, Glika aged 70, born Rezekne.

There are many records for Maltinskys and Imjanitovs in Rezenke at that time (this is the name of Esther Luban’s mother’s parents). There are two households of Maltinskys who are neighbors to Josel and Hanna Scheina Galbraich (in Bolshaya Ludzenskaya 38-1 and –2). In 38-1 there is a Hillel (b. 1834) and Gitel (b. 1849) Maltinsky, who probably were Hannah’s parents (Hillel is also remembered as Ely or Eli). Ely/Hillel’s father was Meyer Maltinsky.

I find no record that matches Henry (Henach) and Esther (Menucha) themselves even though they would probably have lived in Rezekne at the time. There is a 1911 record in the 1911 Vitebsk Gubernias Database ([allbelarus]vsyaminsk ) of a Berko Luban from Rezhitsa (Rezekne) area whose father is Iankel (Jankel). The connection is not clear.

Rezenke (also called Rositte or Rezhitsa) is a town in what was the Vitebsk district of Russia. Vitebsk is now in Belarus, but Rezenke is in Latvia. Daugavpils (same as Dvinsk or Dinaburg) and was in the Lifland (or Livland) Province of Russia (whose capital was Riga). It is now in Latvia. Dvinsk has many Misrochs, Cohns (various versions of the name), and Diminsteins (see ALL LATVIA database) any of whom could be relatives. Lubans are concentrated in Rezenke (see above) and Jekabpils/Jekapils, also in the same area.

The Misrochs and Dimensteins I find on in Dvinsk can be compiled into a handful of family trees but none have the name Awsey that is listed in the 1897 census record as being Dora’s father. There are too many variations on the name Cohn to compile any meaningful family tree. The Lubans also are hard to compile into a family tree mainly since the records for Rezekne, where the Lubans are centered, don’t include as much information about family connections as the records for Dvinsk.

The Jewish Community of Dvinsk (Daugavpils): (adapted from website)

Dvinsk (now Daugavpils, Latvia, German variation: Dinaburg) was part of the Vitebsk Gubernia (province) of the Russian Empire. It was one of the leading Jewish cities and a centre of high Jewish culture and debate. Jewish gravestones in the area date from the 17th century.

There is a book called Memories of the Days of My Childhood or A Look at the City of Dvinsk by Sarah Feige Foner of the House of Menkin - Printed in Warsaw, 1903 that describes life and religious conflict in Daugavpils between 1862 and 1871, the decade just before Solomon, Dora and Robert David’s births. Excerpts can be found at the website: In this book Foner outlines a fierce feud between the Hassidic and Mitnagdim (“opponents”) Jews. The former were more “spiritual” and the latter were more “intellectual” and were followers of the 18th century Rabbi known as the Vilna Gaon. In addition to this feud, Dvinsk also had a strong Jewish Mafia presence at the beginning of this period but was cleaned up by the end of the period. The St. Petersburg railroad ran through Dvinsk and the city included a fortress and large garrison.

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia (Funk & Wagnalls), commerce and manufacturing in Dvinsk were largely in Jewish hands. The 1893 census showed 330 industrial establishments owned by Jews and 99 owned by non-Jews. The most important trades followed by the Jews were tailoring (1,210) and shoemaking. Interestingly, the professions of several of the Misrochs, Dimensteins and even Lubans found in Dvinsk and Rezekne are tailors or shoemakers. Some 32 factories are identified including button manufacture, a sawmill, match factory, tannery etc, all owned by Jews with a total of 2,305 employees recorded. A further 684 day labourers are noted.

In 1910 the city numbered 111,000 of which 50,000 were Jews. Unlike its immediate neighbor the Courland district, Dvinsk was within the Jewish Pale of Settlement. Its ethos derived more from Russian, Lithuanian and Polish influences than from Courland which was broadly German in character and cultural background as a result of nearly 700 years of de facto domination by the Baltic Germans. Note, however, that many Jewish names in the area (e.g. Galbraich (Goldberg) from the German Halbraich) are German in origin.

The poverty of the Pale was a feature of Dvinsk Jewish life and it is estimated that 30 per cent of Jewish families applied for aid from the community in 1898. There were numerous Jewish aid societies recorded including a Mutual Aid, founded in 1900 and with more than 1,200 members by 1901. A loan fund was established in memory of the Merchant M Vitenberg. Loans, secured by personal property, were advanced without interest. Other charitable institutions included a society for aiding the poor founded by the Jewish governor, with an income in 1899 of some 8,917 Roubles, soup kitchens, a charitable dining hall, a bikkur holim, a dispensary and a lying-in hospital all organized and run by the community. These testify to the traditions of self help and community organization that reflect the high value placed on charity to those less fortunate.

Dvinsk was an important center of Jewish thought and culture and nurtured a number of Rabbis known and respected throughout the Jewish world. Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Kuk [Kook] of Palestine was a pupil of Reb Reuvele Dunaburger. Meier Simcha Hacohen, Rabbi of Mitnagdim for 39 years while Rabbi Yosef Rosen served as the Chassidic rabbi for 50 years. Both were formidable Talmudic scholars and vivid personalities. They were considered rivals but were buried next to each other.

Finally, the important painters Chagal and Rothko were born in the Vitebsk district. Rothko was from a Dvinsk family and a family portrait of the Rothkowitz family from which he was descended can be seen at .

Further reading on this important and most Jewish of Russian cities can be found in the Latvia SIG Newsletter – See: Vol. 1, No’s 1,2 and Vol. 5, No’s. 1,2,3 - which contains the "Jews in Dunaburg" extracted from the Jews of Dunaburg, published in 1993 by Z. I. Yakub. See also Dvinsk, the Rise and Fall of a Town, by Yudel Flior (translated from the Yiddish by Bernard Sachs), Johannesburg, Dial Press [1965]. Unfortunately this book is out of print but it is an excellent evocation of the flavor of Jewish life in Dvinsk at the turn of the century and above all records the enduring affection of the writer for his home town following his emigration to South Africa in 1928.

Pictures from Daugavpils can be found at:

The Pogroms:

We supposedly left Russia due to pogroms. This is probably true, since our emigration, with the exception of Robert David Danning, precisely occurs just before and during the first stages of the pogroms. The following is a description of the Baltic revolution and its aftermath, beginning around 1905. Henry Luban, see below, left 1903 and Solomon and Henry’s family in 1904; Dora and her kids would still have been around as the revolution and pogroms started but left in 1906.

Excerpts from the website:

“Here we reach the focal point of this chapter, the 1905 revolution in the Baltic provinces of the Russian Empire. Marxism had been introduced to Latvia directly from Germany, and the Latvian proletariat had virtually no contact with the Marxist groups in St. Petersburg, Moscow, or other Russian cities. Unrest broke out in St. Petersburg on January 22,1905, and was echoed two days later in Riga with the proclamation of a general strike. The strike was called by the Federative Committee, which consisted of representatives from the Latvian Social Democratic Workers' Party (LSDSP, from the Latvian name), founded in 1904, and the Jewish Social Democratic organization "Bund," founded in 1897. One can say with confidence that Latvian Social Democrats and Jewish Bundists were close allies in leading the struggle for social reform, abolition of class privileges, a democratic constitution, and national autonomy -- territorial autonomy for Latvians, cultural autonomy for Jews. Bund representative Leonid Korobotchkin and others were prominent revolutionary activists alongside several Latvians. The LSDSP and the Bund established "military organizations" with 500 members at the garrisons in Riga and Liepaja (Libau), which agitated among soldiers of the Russian army. The Bund played a leading role in revolutionary activity in Latgale, Eastern Latvia, especially in the center Daugavpils (Dvinsk), a railway junction town where many Jews lived…

“The 1905 revolution was followed by repression -- punitive expeditions, gallows, forced labor. Toward the end of 1905 and in early 1906, savage pogroms were organized in the western and southwestern parts of the Russian Empire, which claimed many Jewish lives. Latvians refused to join in these anti-Semitic actions. In the town of Ludza (Lutsyn) in Latgale, there was an incident in which local Latvian Catholic peasants prevented Russians from attacking the town's Jews. This was reported at the end of January 1906 by the newspaper Gaisma (Light), published in St. Petersburg in the Latgallian dialect:

“‘Shortly before Christmas, the Black Hundred [a right-wing Russian gang] set out to attack the Jews in Ludza, to beat them up and plunder their shops. It is well known that no decent Latvian belongs to the Black Hundred. It had been decided to attack the Jews on a given day. Many of the Black Hundred showed up in Ludza, and by the end of the day, it appeared that the shedding of innocent blood was close at hand. Catholic Latvians from the surrounding area, having learned of this, came to Ludza in large numbers and stayed until late in the evening. They told members of the Black Hundred there would be no violence against the Jews, for Jews were people like everyone else. More Latvians than Black Hundred members had arrived in Ludza, who soon understood there would be no fooling around with the Latvians. Having failed to achieve their objective, the Black Hundred cursed the Latvians and retreated to their dark comers.’”

Coming to America:

Robert David Danning is the first of the family we know of to leave Russia. He was sent away “because the family could no longer afford to support him” when he was around 14. There may be another reason for his being sent off. According to Sarah Foner, during the 1860’s the Russians forcibly kidnapped Jews for service in the army, often using this as a way to separate them from their Jewish heritage. Any son after the first was liable to be taken. There was also a law that at least one son should be sent to a non-Jewish school. Many families sent away sons other than the eldest to avoid these fates (when they couldn’t pay for a substitute). It is quite possible that as David got older, his family realized they couldn’t buy a substitute and didn’t want him taken into either the military or the gymnasium, so they packed him off to Argentina. There is no record that I can find of David’s travels between Russia and the US, though, as I say above, there is evidence for other Misrochs following in his exact footsteps in the 1920’s, long after David had settled in California.

Turning to the Lubans:

There is a ship’s manifest (from the Ellis Island database, which can be accessed through that might document Solomon’s entry into US. Hard to say. The ship is the Statendam out of Rotterdam, leaving Feb. 6 1904, arriving Feb 17, 1904. The year is right but Martin Michaelson has evidence from photos that Solomon came through England. The entry is:

Schlime Lewin, age 37, married, Russian-Hebrew, Occupaation: Joiner, Last residence looks like something like Swislocs (???) and the destination seems to be New York. The age and occupation are correct, but we have no record of the Lubans being in New York (though Lubans from Jekapils did indeed settle in New York) and I have no clue where “Swislocs” might be. This is the only entry I can find for someone with the initials S.L. entering the US in 1904 who has a name remotely like “Solomon Luban” who also is a joiner/carpenter. Other entries may be more similar in name (e.g. Samuel Lewin…) but don’t match occupation at all.

Even more tenuous is a ship’s manifest that might indicate Henry Luban’s family, Esther, Belle and Sarah’s, entry into the US. The manifest for the ship Kroonland from Antwerp (Aug. 20, 1904 arriving Aug. 29, 1904, has the following entries:

Rachel Liebstein, age 37, married, Russian-Hebrew, from “Mosty?” Russia, going to join her husband, Ephraim (?) Liebstein in Brooklyn, NY. If Solomon was on his way to New York (see above) sailing from Holland, maybe Esther would have followed a similar path. Problem is, “Rachel” isn’t “Esther” and Esther would have been more like 26-27. BUT notice the last two children, below:

Rachel was sailing with her children:

Moische, age 9; Feiwel age 7; Leib age 3; Beile age 2; and Sore, age 11 months.

In the 1920 census record, Henry and Esther’s elsdest kids were Belle and Sarah. They would have been age 2 and about 1 in 1904. No elder brothers are listed in 1920. No older brothers are mentioned by Henry Luban’s family. So this makes it unlikely that this record is of Esther and her family. Considering this entry to be referring to Henry’s family is based only on the names Belle and Sarah with about the right ages. Note also that Ephraim could well have been anglicized to Henry (derived from Enoch). I can find no better candidate entry for their immigration, though we certainly know they came. I can also find no evidence for Henry’s entry, though it is unclear what name “Henry” comes from.

There are two ship’s manifests that might document the arrival of Dora, Dora’s three oldest children and Ida to Ellis Island. The first manifest contains appropriate first names and mostly appropriate ages, but the names are crossed out. A latter manifest for a second ship has the same names, but the ages are different (and less appropriate). In either case it takes some imagination.

Manifest for the Corina, leaving Liverpool, England, November 17, 1906, arriving in New York November 26, 1906. There is no record of how they got from Russia to Liverpool.

Transcribed from this manifest (though on the real manifest the place of residence is hard to read):

Name Gender Age Married Ethnicity Place of Residence

0005. Lande, Bassje D. F 46y M Russian, Hebrew, Kansilow

0006. Lande, Ente B. F 23y S Russian, Hebrew, Kansilow

0007. Lande, Simon M 8y S Russian, Hebrew, Kansilow

0008. Lande, Sara F 7y S Russian, Hebrew, Kansilow

0009. Lande, Chaje F 2y S Russian, Hebrew, Kansilow

The “D” in Bassje D Lande could be Dvora/Dwieva, though she SHOULD be 36 in 1906. Bassje may be a version of Basya/Batyah. Ente could be Ida (who is not a Luban, but probably traveled with Dora and her family from Russia and hence would have used the same name for easier immigration) and she would have been about 23 in 1906. Simon and Sara are the correct names and ages. Chaje could be Celia, who would have been about 2 in 1906. Her real name may well have been Chaya (the feminine of Chayim, “life”). Oddly, their destination is Chicago, IL, where they are joining Bassje’s husband. Chicago is quite close to Milwaukee, of course, but I have never heard that we were in Chicago at any point. Bassje’s hair is listed as black and eyes as blue, unusual for a Jew but not uncommon in our family. She is 5’ even. Their place of origin on the original manifest looks more like “Sherpoli, Russia” rather than Kanislow which is shown in the transcript.

These names are crossed out, along with the three above them, on the manifest. They show up again on a manifest for the Campania, leaving Liverpool November 24, 1906 and arriving in New York December 6, 1906.

On the manifest for the Campania they are listed:
Name Gender Age Married Ethnicity Place of Residence

0024. Lande, Bassin F 46y M Russia, Hebrew ...isslov, Russia

0025. Lande, Ente F 28y S Russia, Hebrew ...isslov, Russia

0026. Lande, Sura F 8y S Russia, Hebrew ...isslov, Russia

0027. Lande, Simon M 6y S Russia, Hebrew ...isslov, Russia

0028. Lande, Chaja M 3y S Russia, Hebrew ...isslov, Russia

These are clearly the same people as on the manifest above but Bassin’s age is still wrong, but now all the other ages are also off. Simon and Sara’s relative ages are reversed. Chaja is now male. On this manifest, Bassin is listed as being from something like “Therpole” (could this be Daugavpils?) and Ida from “Charnovsky” or something like that. Ida’s occupation is listed as “tailoress.”


There is documentation for Lubans in Milwaukee in 1920:

From the 1920 US Census (courtesy of Patricia Kiddoo-Leibham)

**Solomon Luban household, 1920 U.S. census, Milwakee, Milwakee County, Wisconsin, page 35A, sheet 8 A, lines 24-30; T625-1999.

Listed with wife, Dora; daughters Sarah, Celia, and Norma; and sons Simon and Jacob. (see attachment transcribed by Patricia and the original, which is hard to read)

What Patricia transcribes as “Litnok” looks more like “Lit…sk.” This could be some version of Livland/Lifland, the province in which Daugavpils is? Or, more likely, it is a miswriting of “Witebsk” (see records for Henry Luban, below) the district that contains Rezekne.

From Wisconsin Death Record:

Solo5on (sic) Luban; died 24 Feb. 1963; age 93, Milwaukee, WI.

From the California Death Records:

**LUBAN, DORA (D’vora) (Misrach) Birth: 05/08/1870 Mother’s maiden: COHN Death: 03/18/1960 (CA)

Compiled from SSDI and California death index:


SSN 552-62-4000

Residence: 90005 Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Born 21 Mar 1897 (WI)

Mother: Misroch (Misrach)

Died Apr 1985

Issued: CA (1960)

NOTE: Incorrectly indicates birth place as WI; actually born in Rezekne, Russian Empire


SSN 563-03-7188

Residence: 91405 Van Nuys, Los Angeles, CA

Born 1 Aug 1898 (WI)

Died May 1974

Issued: CA (Before 1951)

NOTE: Incorrectly indicates birth place as WI; actually born in Rezekne, Russian Empire


SSN 563-12-1398

Residence: 90036 Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Born 1 Jan 1903 (WI)

Mother: Misrach

Died 27 Jan 1997

Issued: CA (Before 1951)

NOTE: Incorrectly indicates birth place as WI; actually born in Rezekne, Russian Empire


SSN 546-24-0902

Residence: 91405 Van Nuys, Los Angeles, CA

Born 5 Mar 1910 (WI)

Died Aug 1979

Issued: CA (Before 1951)

Note: Solomon Luban’s naturalization papers (kept by Sarah Luban, daughter of Simon Luban) has Norma listed as “Naomi.”

Along with Solomon and Dora, living on the same street in a German neighborhood, there is also a Henry Luban. The following is from the 1920 Census record as transcribed by Patricia Kiddoo-Leibham:

Henry Luban / Milwakee, Milwakee, Wisconsin / 1920

Author: Patricia Leibham Date: 21 Nov 2002 1:10 AM GMT

Surnames: Leiphon, Leibham, Luban

Classification: Census

Henry Luban household, 1920 U.S. census, Milwakee, Milwakee County, Wisconsin, page 201, sheet 10 B, lines 28-35; T625-2000.

Listed with wife, Ester; daughters Belle, Sarah, Minnie, Sophia and Helen; and son John.

NOTE: What patricia transcribed as “Wituls” looks more like “” to me probably the same place as “” on Solomon’s census record. Litovsk or Vitebsk best fit the data. Vitebsk is the most likely since this is the district that contains Rezekne.

Esther’s maiden name was Goldberg, derived from the Russian Galbreich or Gelbraich which was originally German Halbreich. Her Hebrew name was Menucha.

On I find a record of a Minnie Galbreich, born in 1873, married to an unknown Luban. This might be Esther, though according to the 1920 census record she should have been born later than 1873. If this is Esther, her parents were Jospeh Berl Goldberg (born 1857 in Shtetl Kreslavka (not far from Daugavpils), Russia, died 1918 (in Manhattan) and Hannah Sheina Maltinsky (born 1853 in Rezhitsa (Rezekne) Russia, died in 1940, Brooklyn). Joseph’s parents were Schmuil Galbreich (born 1827, Russia) and Mnuche (unknown maiden name, born 1829, Russia). Hannah’s parents were Ely (Hillel) Maltinsky and Fannie Imonitoff. Joseph and Hannah had many children other than Esther. See: and for more details on Esther’s family. Ely’s father may have been Zolman Maltinsky, born around 1794. I have found a photo of Hannah and Joseph with 2 children from 1898 (go to ).

Much of the above information on the Galbraichs and Maltinskys was confirmed by Belle (nee Luban) Garfinkel, daughter of Esther and Henry Luban.

Another Maltinsky can be found on Meyer Maltinsky (born 1882, died 1939) married to Sarah Goldberg (born 1884, died 1966). Sarah Galbraich/Goldberg was Menucha/Esther’s sister (see photo link above for a picture of Sarah (aka Sadie). The relationship between Ely Maltinsky and Meyer Maltinsky is not certain but it seems that Ely Maltinsky’s brother, Chaim Maltinsky (also found listed on in the 1897 All Russia census in Rezekne, b. 1843), had two sons, Morris and Meyer Maltinsky, making Ely and Meyer cousins.

As shown above where I cover 1897 “All Russia” census data for Rezekne, there are records for Esther’s parents and grandparents living that year in Rezekne.

Compiled from the SSDI:

Known children of Henry and Esther:

Belle is: BELLE Garfinkel is still alive. Her husband was Harry Garfinkel. Her daughter is Joan Tarachow, of Glendale, WI 53209. Among Belle’s grandchildren is Henry Rollins of rock fame.

Sophia married Sidney Tarachow in New York. They had 2 daughters.

SOPHIA TARACHOW born: 01 May 1908 died: 29 Mar 2000 (V) last known address: 10021 (New York, New York, NY) SSN: 113-03-592, New York

“Minnie” is still alive but is actually Minette Luban (unmarried). Sarah and Helen are also alive in their 90’s. Sarah married Harry Fishman but had no children. Helen married Milton Hotzman and had a son and 2 daughters.


SSN 387-44-4117

Residence: 53216 Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI

Born 1 Jan 1912

Died 16 Apr 1988

Issued: WI (1961 And 1962)

This is actually wife of Jack Luban, not the same person as Helen Luban, sister of Jack and daughter of Henry, who is listed on the 1920 census record. Her maiden name was Wein.


SSN 387-40-3840

Residence: 53223 Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI

Born 19 Jul 1911

Died 11 Aug 2001

Issued: WI (1957 And 1958)

Same as John Luban, the son of Henry. The records of Congregation Beth Israel in Milwaukee, which officiated at Jack’s memorial, indicate that his parents were indeed Henry and Esther and he had sisters named Minette (Minnie?) and Belle. His wife was Helen and he has a son David who lives in Maryland.


I can find no comparable census or ships manifest data on the Danning side. The roundabout way David came to the country seems to have hidden his tracks quite nicely. However, a bit of baseball trivia regarding Ike Danning from a baseball website:

Yiddish Baseball

[Harry] Danning, by the way, was the brother of IKE DANNING, a catcher who played briefly in the majors and was a participant in our favorite Jewish baseball story. The scene is a 1930s celebrity game in Los Angeles. At bat is Yankee JIMMY REESE, born James Hymie Solomon in San Francisco. Pitching is HARRY RUBY, a famous songwriter. Danning is catching and rather than teach Ruby the signals, he calls out the pitch he wants in Yiddish. Reese gets four hits. Danning says to Reese, "I didn't know you were so good." Reese replies, "You didn't know I was Hymie Solomon."

Of course it is really Ike’s brother, Harry, who was the famous baseball star in the 1930’s. He had a very promising career until knee problems and WW II interrupted his career. He was told after the war that he shouldn’t go back to baseball, so he retired without a pension, married and moved to Indiana, close to Chicago. There is an interview with Harry Danning in the book Dugout to Foxhole by Rick van Blair, 1994.


Sarah Danning: USC law School: '24, retired in 1995, after 71 years in practice. Born in 1902 in Los Angeles, she was - like most of the students who studied law at USC - the first person in her family to attend college, let alone study law. A graduate of Los Angeles High School, Danning’s parents paid her tuition while she lived at home to save money. While preparing for a job interview, she remembered the wise counsel of Judge Clair Tappan who was also a professor at the Law School from 1904 to 1928: “Don’t tell the interviewers you can type; you will be treated as a secretary rather than an attorney.” Her seven-decade career included ten years in practice with classmate Ladislav “Jack” Styskal, and 22 years as a trustee on t h e b a n k r u p t c y c o u r t . S h e r e t i r e d f r o m Danning, Gill, Diamond & Kollitz

Sarah Danning died in Nov. 2003 (?)

Compiled from the SSDI and California Death indices:

No record of David Danning’s death (he died in 1928 or so, before these records were kept)

(David’s Wife?) DANNING JENNIE (nee Goldberg) born: 03/17/1879 died: LOS ANGELES(70) Manhattan Beach 11/01/1962.

DANNING, IKE Birth:01/20/1905 Mother’s Maiden: GOLDBERG died: CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES Death: 03/30/1983 SSN: 548-05-5702

(Ike’s Wife) DANNING , MARYON born: 02/06/1907 died: CALIFORNIA ORANGE 10/05/1973 .

FLORENCE DANNING Birth: 12 Oct 1923 Death: 29 Sep 1999 (V) 90067 (Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA) SSN: 555-24-8231 California

GOTTLIEB, ESTHER (nee, Danning) Birth: 09/19/1908 Mother: (Jenny) GOLDBERG Father: (David) DANNING CALIFORNIA Death: LOS ANGELES(19) 03/12/1988 SSN: 548-05-8318


Compiled from the SSDI and the California Death indices:

SPERO, IDA Birth: 11/14/1883 mother’s maiden: MIZRACH Death: LOS ANGELES 05/22/1966 Last residence: 91335 (Reseda, Los Angeles, CA) SSN: 566-80-8250 California

Ida’s husband’s name is uncertain. The only candidate I can find who makes any sense is a James Spero, whose entry follows. However, according to Evalyn’s memory of Ida’s husband being referred to as “The Old Man,” this James Spero seems too young.

JAMES SPERO Born: 18 Jul 1885 Died: Jan 1970 Last residence: 91335 (Reseda, Los Angeles, CA) SSN: 107-28-5710 New York

Note: There are many Speros in New York, as well as a handful in California.

The Spero children:

SIMON SPERO Born: 06 Aug 1911, NEW YORK Died: Oct 1990 Last residence: 91607 (Valley Village, Los Angeles, CA) SSN 548-05-9245 California, Mother’s Maiden: DIAMONSTEIN

EMANUEL B SPERO 17 Jan 1914 16 Dec 2000 (V) 91504 (Burbank, Los Angeles, CA) (none specified) 548-05-9242 California.

Manny (Emanuel) Spero was a tail gunner in WWII, was shot down and was a POW.

I don’t have information on Bertha Spero (who presumably goes by a different name since her marriage).


To round things off, here is some information about Celia Luban’s husband, Joseph Jacobson’s, family. There are no records of Joe’s death since he died before the records were properly kept. However, I do find two records of land purchases made by Joseph in 1924 near San Diego. When I was a child Celia still had this land, inherited from her husband. Interestingly, 1924 is also the latest year that is likely to be when Dora and her family moved to California, following David’s family.

Land sale:

Name: JOSEPH JACOBSON (my grandfather)
Date: 18 Jan 1924
Location: CA, San Diego
Document #: 929362
Serial #: CALA 0035853
Sale Type: Cash Sale
Meridian or Watershed: SB
Parcel: Township 009S, Range 003W, Section 10

Date: 18 Jan 1924
Location: CA, San Diego
Document #: 929362
Serial #: CALA 0035853
Sale Type: Cash Sale
Meridian or Watershed: SB
Parcel: Township 009S, Range 003W, Section 9

Joesph had a sister Hazel, who I know nothing about. He also had a sister Florence, but I don’t know the name of her husband, so I can’t trace her or her sons, Everett and Morton even though they probably live in Brooklyn where I live. He also had a sister Lena who married Henry Kaufman:

LENA KAUFMAN born: 25 Oct 1887 died: Mar 1979 last known residence: 10471 (Bronx, Bronx, NY) SSN: 118-40-6093 New York

He also had a brother George. I find two possible records of George Jacobson:

GEORGE JACOBSON born: 28 Jun 1893 died: Mar 1970 last residence: 11209 (Brooklyn, Kings, NY) SSN:083-09-0243 New York


GEORGE JACOBSON born: 16 May 1905 died: 05 Nov 1989 last residence: 11238 (Brooklyn, Kings, NY) SSN: 087-05-6309 New York

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