Let’s start with her mother’s maternal side. My grandmother’s maiden name was Lillian Schwartz. Except, of course, it wasn’t. It was Leja SCHWARZBORT. Even that is not quite the case, since the spelling of the family surname was SZWARCBORT in Polish. And her first name was actually Esther (Hadassah in Hebrew), but she preferred her middle name. Anyway, she arrived in the United States on the S. S. Gothland from Danzig on 11 October 1920 at the age of 19, along with her mother and siblings. That would put her as born in 1901. However, my grandfather’s naturalization certificate gives her birth date as 15 December 1903.
Her mother (i.e. my great-grandmother) was Malka Ryfka nee MAKOWER, but she was usually called Mollie. According to the shipping manifest, Mollie was 41 in 1920, which would mean she was born in 1879. I also have her marriage certificate (thanks to JRI-Poland), which shows she married Enoch Ber SZWARCBORT in 1896. That marriage was registered in Brok, by the way. I’ve recently found her grave information. She is buried in Mount Judah Cemetery in Ridgewood, NY. The burial date was 25 July 1952, so she presumably died a day or two before that.
As for Grandma’s siblings, there are two brothers and two sisters on the manifest, all of whom match lots of family photos (and in three of the four cases, I actually knew them.) Though things are not entirely unconfusing there, either. Freja (Frieda) and Moses (Morris or Murray) are shown as both being 15 years old (so born in 1905). And, based on their naturalization certificates, which both give a birth date of 16 July 1906 in Ostrov, Poland, it seems that they were twins. I find it absolutely astonishing that nobody in the family has ever mentioned them being twins. Then there is Fisolek (Phil), who is 11, so born in 1909. Except, on his naturalization certificate, he gave his actual first name as Fizek and his birth date as 14 April 1907. By the way, he was naturalized in 1943, when he was in the Army. I hadn’t known that, so was surprised to find his naturalization certificate in South Carolina, not New York. (Murray was naturalized in 1931 and Frieda in 1936.) Finally, there is Bina (Bernice), who was 9, making her born in 1911. That also implies she must have been a parting gift, so to speak, from my great-grandfather, since he emigrated in 1910.
I haven’t found my grandmother’s naturalization certificate, but I believe it must be from before 1929, when she went to Havana on a vacation and met my grandfather. She was a witness on both Frieda’s and Murray’s naturalizations, as well as on my grandfather’s, so she must have been a citizen by then. However, there is another peculiarity, as she signed Murray’s as "Lillian Schwartz," in January of 1931, even though she had married my grandfather in Havana in 1930.
One more bit of information from the shipping manifest is that Mollie gave her nearest relative in the country she came from as her sister, Juda SENDROWIRZ. I haven’t been able to track down anything on her yet. But I believe that Malka and the children most likely lived with her after Enoch emigrated, because she was apparently in "Zawski" (which should be "Zambski" but there are other typos on the manifest, including showing their surname as "Sohartzbort," which made searching for the manifest challenging at best.) I know (from Murray’s passport) that the family was living in Zambsk-Koscielsse, in the district of Obryte. That passport also, by the way, told me that his eyes were "the color of beer."
I have only family lore regarding Mollie’s parents, so will leave off discussing them from now. The key part of the legend is that her mother (or, possibly, her grandmother) was a foundling, literally left on the doorsteps of the synagogue. You can imagine what this does for research possibilities.
Here are a few more details. Frieda, Phil, and Murray never married. One story is that Phil was in love with a divorced beauty queen, and Mollie, on her death bed, made him swear a promise not to marry her. Another story is that Frieda had been on the verge of forming an inappropriate relationship (with a non-Jewish man) back in Poland. Bernice married Ely FUCHS and I have been entirely unable to find their marriage date. Which is rather odd as Bernice and Ely were the relatives we saw the most often when I was growing up. Given how close my mother was to Bernice, I would have expected to find the wedding invitation – and, given my mother – things like pictures and the menu and so on. But those may yet turn up.
My grandmother died in 1968. I think Murray died before then. Phil died in the early 1980’s and Bernice in the late 1980’s. I thought I knew when Frieda died, but all I can remember is that it was some time between 1996 and 2002.
As for my great-grandfather, Enoch Ber SCHWARTZBORT arrived in the U.S. on the S. S. Zeiten from Bremen in March 1910. He listed Malka as his closest relative remaining in his original country and he said he was going to his brother, Chaim, at 24-26 Henry Street. I have the birth certificates (from the Brok archives) for Enoch, Chaim Wolf, and their two sisters, Itka and Chawa. All of those were registered at the same time, in 1878, so they were born before then. I found Chaim's shopping manifest, which indicates that he was married to a woman named Blima, who was still in Poland at the time. He also said he was going to an uncle named Kalman LEWIDRA. I think I've tracked down Kalman's shipping manifest but haven't deciphered the handwriting yet. My uncle thinks we had some relatives in the printing business somewhere upstate and that may relate to him.
Enoch took on the name Henry, though the 1930 census shows him as Harry. Even though it appears he was using the SCHWARTZ surname by 1929-1930 (based on postcards my grandmother wrote home from Havana), his death record is under Henry SCHWARTZBORD. He died in Brooklyn on 28 January 1937 and was buried the next day at Mount Judah Cemetery. The death record indicates that his father's name was Harry (presumably, actually, Aharon) and his mother's was Sarah NASLOL.