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22 March 2018 @ 01:30 pm
52 Ancestors Week 12 – Misfortune  
The theme for week 12 (March 19-25) is Misfortune.

There is a whole branch of my family I want to write about for this subject. I’ve briefly mentioned my grandfather’s sister (probably half-sister) Mary LEHRMAN (also known as Mary LUBOWSKY, Mariasha LUBOVSKY, Mariasche CHLEBATZKY, and Mariska CHLEBASKA)before. She was held for inquiry when she immigrated to the U.S. in 1912, but that just meant an extra day at Ellis Island until her brother, Nathan LEBOFSKY, came to get her. More significantly, she lost her husband in 1928, when she was 33 and had two young daughters. In 1936, she was convicted of the unlawful practice of medicine. The court record shows that the case had to do with her practicing electrolysis at her beauty salon. The state of New York was actually going after the electrolysis school and she got caught up in it. Basically, they sent an investigator to the beauty parlor and Mary removed hair from the investigator’s lip. Mary appealed and the New York State Supreme Court exonerated her in 1937. (By the way, there is some advantage to having relatives involved in criminal cases. The transcript of the appeals case is on google books.)

Unfortunately, Mary did not then go on to enjoy a long life. On 7 September 1943, when she was about 48 years old, she took the Congressional Limited train back to New York from Washington, D.C. This was the fast train, which was scheduled to make the trip in just about 3 and a half hours. An axle at the front of the seventh car (of 16) overheated just north of Philadelphia, causing the train to derail. Mary was one of the 79 people killed in this famous accident.

So there it is – from a life that was a bit of a train wreck to dying in a literal train wreck.

I believe the reason she had gone to Washington was to see her daughter, Sima SLANSKY, who had her own share of misfortune, beyond losing her father when she was only 10 years old. Sima married a man named Jack SLANSKY in 1940. It isn’t only cases like practicing medicine without a license that you can find information about on-line. You can also find Slansky vs. State of Maryland. Apparently, Jack asked for a divorce. Sima refused. Jack went to Reno in 1946. He came back to Maryland six days later and married another woman. Sima sued. The court found that he had not established legal residence in Nevada, so the divorce wasn’t valid and sentenced Jack to 18 months in prison for bigamy. Sima did not, alas, go on to a long and happy life either. She died of cancer at age 35.

I haven't found any great misfortune (or at least not a court case) involving Mary's other daughter, Athalia LEHRMAN. I know there is some interesting story there, as Athalia wrote music under her own name. She also wrote poetry under the name, Timmy LEE, and there's a social security record which suggests she adopted that name in 1953. I wonder if that name change had some association with her sister's death. She died in 2003,just about a month short of her 73rd birthday. Beyond that, she's a bit of a mystery.

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