Sidor Saga

Sidor/ Sider Family - partial history

Even though I have information about his father Nachman and about his grandfather, I wish to begin with Shabtai Sider and fill in from there. 

Shabtai was born in Brest Litovsk (at that time located in the Russian Empire, and today within the territory of Belarus) circa 1866.  He was the son of Nachman and Tova Sider.  Shabtai was one of at least 5 brothers.  His name was given as Shebsil in the Russian birth records and as Simon on Hyman Sidor’s marriage certificate.  He married Esther Choty and according to family stories had around 13 children.  On Nov. 16, 1904 Schepsel Sidor (age 38) arrived on the ship “Frankfort” (interestingly Shabtai’s profession on the ship manifest states “fireman”) from Bremen Germany in NYC, USA for a visit with his ‘wealthy’ brother (in the Cigar business) who was living (according to the story) in Chicago, Illinois, USA (I have located a rather large Sider family in Chicago whose ancestor arrived at the beginning of the 20th century).  His brother invited him to stay in the USA and send for his family but Shabtai refused saying “the rocks in the USA were “treif” (what they were in Poland is another question) and headed back to Europe.

I have only managed to find birth records for 4 of Esther and Shabtai’s children:  Nachman born July 5, 1895 and died 1897, Rose Baila born April 15, 1896 – died March 18, 1966, Hyman Velvel born December 1905 (I have no date in any records) and died January 15, 1933, and Pinchas Moshe (Paul) born February 24, 1910 and died 1993.

According to what I heard the family was not poor (Paul said they were rather wealthy).  There are two stories about the final days of Shabtai.  One that he was a coach dealer and died in a rather unfortunate coach accident (further details are available).  The more probable story is as follows:

The year was 1915, it was the beginnings of WW I the massive Russian armies had been thrown back in two disastrous campaigns which were followed up by further German offensives.  In August 1915 the German Armies were fast approaching Brest Litovsk.  The Russian Military Governor commanded all people to leave the area (copies of the order are available).  Shabtai placed his children and wife in a wagon or coach with whatever possessions he could salvage and began to head east towards the oncoming Russian Armies (which were moving up to fight the fast approaching Germans ).  A long column of Jewish refugees were strung out on the road east of Brest Litovsk when they were spotted by a Cossack unit.  The Cossacks immediately attacked the defenseless Jews and a terrible massacre ensued.  Shabtai tried to escape the attacking Cossacks by whipping his horses into a gallop.  Sadly Shabtai was shot and the wagon soon turned over (while moving at a gallop) killing several other of the family members.  Anyone who had survived the crash and tried to move away from under the wagon was slaughtered by the bloodthirsty Cossacks.  According to Paul only he and Haim stayed under the wagon until the Cossacks left, and therefore they were the only two to have survived.

QUESTION:  Where was Rose Baila at this time??  In 1912 (at the age of 16) she had met Israel (Isidore) Lutnick, a tailor, son of Shabtai and Miriam, born April 15, 1893 in Wlodowa, at one of his friend’s homes.  They married February 5, 1913 in Brest Litovsk.  Soon thereafter Srul Itzkov Latnick (Isidore Lutnick) came to the USA on the ship Finland from Antwerp, Belgium, which arrived Oct. 11, 1913, promising to send for his young wife as soon as possible.  WW I broke out before Isidore was able to send for Rose and she had to wait until 1920 until he sent for her.  Haim and Pinchas Moshe followed soon thereafter.

According to some she was living in Warsaw during the war (which was behind German lines in 1915).  Or perhaps she too was in Brest Litovsk and witnessed the death of her family??  It is known that she was extremely attached to her brother Hyman, to the extent that she tried to throw herself into his grave at his funeral and then thereafter immediately bought a plot nearby the Pernick area at Mt. Hebron so she could be buried close to him.  It is also known that at family weddings Rose would get extremely emotional (sometimes hyperventilating and moaning and groaning) – why?

Once the Cossacks were gone Hyman and Pinchas crawled out from under the wagon.  Hyman scrounged around for food keeping the two alive until German soldiers arrived.  At first they were kept by the soldiers and later turned over to a Jewish German charity which was aiding Jewish Russian refugees.  They were brought to relatives (Chaim B. Sninbaum) in Warsaw (Bonifraterska Str. 27/28) where they spent the rest of the war.   It is from Warsaw that they departed in 1921 to the USA.  They traveled on the SS Hudson and arrived in NYC, USA July 5, 1921.  They were sent for by Beyla Lutna (Rose Lutnick) living at 1520 Brook Ave., Bronx, NY.  The 2 boys had $9 between them!  Chaim is listed as age 16 and his profession as Tanner, and Pinchos as age 8.

It is known that Shabtai Sider was an observant Jew (from pictures and family stories).  Being wealthy he was also known to have been very generous opening his home to many Yeshiva students for meals.  In those days there were no dormitory arrangements.  Yeshiva students had to find lodging and (usually somewhere else) meals!  Shabtai’s table was often surrounded by many hungry Yeshiva boys.

Upon arriving in the new country Hyman immediately tried to find work, but who would hire a new “greenhorn”.  He went from factory to factory looking for work.  He was always being told that he wasn’t needed.  He had heard that it was the boss who did the hiring and he felt if he could only get in to speak to the boss he could get a job, but nobody would give him that chance.  He was short and a bit scrawny but solidly built.   Each factory had ‘security’ guards to make sure that the boss wasn’t unduly bothered (as well as to remove unwelcomed workers).    Hyman decided that the next place he went to he would get in to see the boss.  The next factory was the Ace Shoe Factory and the boss (owner) was one Harvey Bright (as it was painted on his office door).  Hyman was determined to get in and not one to be easily dissuaded (even by two rather large security guards by the door) Hyman saw a chance when the boss’ door was opened, ran to the door, and through into the office before the two guards noticed him!  Harvey Bright was busy with some papers as this upstart ran into his office followed by the two “gorillas” who wished to remove him!  Harvey lifted his head from the papers just as the two guards grabbed Hyman.  There was a sudden look of recognition on Harvey’s face!  He ordered the two guards to release Hyman and asked Hyman to sit.  Harvey (in Yiddish) ask Hyman “don’t I know you?”.  Hyman said he didn’t think so but “how about giving me a job…”. Then Harvey said “I know you are Shabtai Sider’s son!!  When I was in Yeshiva in Brest Litovsk, and my name was Chaim Britowitz, I often ate at your father’s generous table! – Sure I’ll give you a job!, which is how Hyman got his job at the Ace Shoe Factory.  It is there that he met one of the foremen, Edyth (Ita Leah) Pernick (daughter of Markel and Pesha Baila Pernick) whom he married November 24, 1924 (they were married by her cousin Yale H. Hoffberg).  They had 3 children: Seymour (Shabtai/ Shepsil), Esther, and Ben.

Hyman was a real “go-getter”, self motivated and hard working.  He took life very seriously.  It is said that Hyman had a “golden touch” – all his business ventures were successful.  He quit his job at the shoe factory and went into business for himself.  He opened a dry goods store in Brooklyn.  Though affected by the stock market crash and the depression the family was doing fairly well economically.  They owned a car and took vacations.   Sadly while going out on a rainy day to do a friend a favor Hyman caught a cold which rapidly turned into pneumonia and on January 15, 1933 (16th of Tevet) tragically at the age of 27 (?) Hyman was taken from this world, leaving his wife a widow with three children.  It is said that he had life insurance and left his widow and orphaned children well off economically.

Markel Pernick (Ita Leah’s father) was the third of 8 surviving Pernick siblings (children of Eliezar and Devora Baila, on Pesha Baila’s immigration papers, or Baila Devora Pernick) born February 1, 1870 in the Brest Litovsk area in a small town of Neipokotetz.  He married his wife Pesha Baila Jasinofsky, born circa 1873 in Kobrin, in Brest Litovsk on September 9, 1901.  She was 27 and he was 31 at their wedding, quite old for those days.  Markel often jokingly complained that he had never received the “dowry” that Pesha’s father had promised him.   Markel had been drafted into the Russian Army (date unknown) and is said to have served as a cook (?).  He is also said to have seen combat, possibly in the Russo-Japanese War and in WW I.   They had three surviving children: Ita Leah (Edith) born  August 24, 1902, Lazer (Louis) born July 15, 1907, and Avrum (Albert) June 16, 1914.  It is said that there were other children who either were miscarriages or died in their youth, but there are no records of such.   Most of Markel’s siblings went to the USA pre-WW I.  Unfortunately he and his family were caught in Russia during the war and he was only able to head for the USA from Danzig on the SS Susquehanna on March 10, 1921 and arrived in Boston, Mass., USA on April 12, 1921.  He came with his daughter Ita Leah (both are listed on the passenger list).  There is a story that Ita Leah had gotten separated from Markel in Danzig (and swindled of her ticket and money).  In desperation she looked everywhere but couldn’t locate her father!  Finally not wishing to become one of the “lost women” who frequented the port she went to the pier and was going to jump off.  Just as she was about to leap off the pier into the dark black waters of the Baltic Sea a stranger appeared and called out to her.  He ran over to her, calmed her down, gave her money and a new ticket and helped her find her father! It was only in 1927 that Pesha Baila and Avrum joined Markel and Ita Leah in the USA, due to political and financial complications.  Lazer went to the USA via Argentina (where he spent about a year) in 1921.  Ita Leah was a poet and actress (an emotional and high spirited person).  She was never very strong physically and when her beloved Hyman died suddenly and then with Esther’s near fatal illness, she was broken.  She continued on until June 15, 1942 (1 Tammuz) and died of a blood clot.  At about the age of 8 (around 1935) Esther fell ill and an infection took hold in her mastoid glands.  Now-a-days it is a simple thing to take modern antibiotics and the infection clears up but in the 1930’s it was often a death sentence.  Desperately Edith ran from doctor to doctor (or quack to quack) who willingly took all her money but had no cure or solution.  Another name was added to Esther, she was now Chaya Esther but the situation still worsened.  After all her money was gone, and almost all of her hope Edith met a young Jewish doctor who offered a revolutionary and dangerous treatment.  He offered no guarantees but was willing to do the operation gratis.  Clutching at straws in the wind Edith accepted and the operation was done (to cut through the bone of the skull behind the ears and to physically drain the infection). It was a success and Esther survived. 

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Comments 3 comments

Janet Kleinman 7 years ago

Interesting, but I kept reading hoping to hear about the four Sider brothers who came to America (cousins of your tribe). Two came before WWI and two with their mother after WWI. The youngest two also worked in the shoe industry andcame in through the port of Boston. A brother and his family, my grandmother's first and only child from her first marriage died during the Second World War. He had a passport for himself and his wife, but refused to come unless the brothers could bring the whole family at once. They didn't have the money. After the world broke out we never heard from them again. By the way, I never knew the last name of my grandmother's first son, so I could never take the geneology a step further.

Preparing for the New Year here, after a good visit to New York. Our daughter and granddaughter are coming for the holidays so it will not be lonely. Otherwise families are thriving. Our son, however, has been unemployed for some time now. It is a good thing that his wife is a successful a lawyer. Say a pray for him, as I am worried about his self-confidence.

Love to all,

Janet Sider Kleinman

ps. Never heard about relatives in Chicago.

RosaBeila and Paul were my father's first cousins.


hsidor 7 years ago Author

This posting is only the PARTIAL story... much more remains to be written (when I have the time!) I would love to hear more from you as well!

your cousin

Haim


Haim 3 years ago

I live and I work in the Jewish charitable organisation in Brest (Belarus). We have created at ourselves a small museum of history of Jews of Brest, therefore I try to collect any information concerning Jews of Brest. I work in city archive much and I wish to write the book about the Jewish community of Brest. With the big interest has read your story. Especially me have interested history of eviction of Jews from Brest in 1915. It is a little investigated theme. You write, that you have an order on eviction from a city. You could not send me it photo. Probably you have photos concerning lives of your ancestors in Brest, or their memoirs on it. If you could send them on my electronic address, it would be essential replenishment of our museum.

Sincerely,

Haim Basin, hesed@brest.by.

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