A Genealogical Study
HISTORY OF THE DOBRZYNSKI FAMILY
PART I – INTRODUCTION
It is thought that Heinrich Dobrzynski was born in the town of Witkowo, about 13 miles east-south-east of the German city of Stettin (now Szczecin, in Polish territory), probably between 1828 and 1831. He was a tall and very meek man. His wife’s name was Hanna Schelinski (right), born a few years later in the same region. She was a short, dumpy woman, with a very dominant personality and a ferocious temper. This would be a template for the marriages of a great many of their descendants: the fiery, strong-willed wife and the meek and retiring husband. The descendants of this couple, and particularly the women, are often very stubborn, determined people who are not afraid to say what they think, no matter who it upsets! These women also tend to possess a knack for business.
It appears that Heinrich and Hanna married before emigrating, as Hanna, under the surname "Doberzinsko", sailed alone from Hamburg to London on the Wilberforce, arriving on Saturday 15 June 1849. Presumably, Heinrich was already in London and had paid for her passage to join him. Hanna's listing is the earliest record of any of my ancestors' arrivals in England. The couple settled in the East End, where Heinrich became known as Henry Samuel or Samuels; the records list both versions liberally. The Anglicised surname could have been taken from his father’s name, Shmuel, after a misunderstanding due to the language barrier at the immigration desk.
See the list of immigrants that includes Hanna's name
Henry was soon able to establish himself as a boot- and slipper-maker, and the couple’s first child, Eva, who would come to be known as Fanny, was probably born in the East End in the early 1850s. A further four children followed in the next few years, of whom one has not been traced, and two never married. The many descendants of the two remaining Samuel/s daughters, Fanny and Leah, have been traced to the present day in some detail; parts in very minute detail. Fanny was the matriarch of the Rose family; Leah was the matriarch of the Leventhall family.
PART II – INTRODUCING THE ROSE FAMILY
Fanny (left) was the first of the family to get married, in the Hambro Synagogue in London, on the evening of Wednesday 8 February 1872. Her bridegroom was Abram Brzezinski (right), a tailor, who was probably born in Kalisz, Poland, between 1848 and 1852. Abram’s father, already deceased by the time of the marriage, is listed as “Elias”, obviously an Anglicisation of the Polish name Eliasz. Fanny and Abram’s first child was born later in 1872 and named Albert Henry. However, when Abram came to register Albert’s birth, the registrar could not spell Brzezinski, so assigned the child the surname Rose, on account of Abram’s rosy cheeks! From then on, Abram was known as Abraham Rose. He and Fanny would have three more children during their time in the East End.
At some time after 1872 but prior to 1881, Henry and Hannah and their remaining children still living at home had moved to Leeds. This move was presumably to increase revenue from Henry’s boot-manufacturing business, in which his children took an active role.
By the following year, when their fifth child was born, Fanny and Abraham had moved the family out to Stroud in Gloucestershire, joining the fledgling Jewish community there. However, the Stroud community was short-lived and there must not have been enough work to sustain the family, so they moved on again shortly afterwards, this time to Leeds, soon establishing themselves at 11 Belgrave Street, a few doors from the shul. They had a further seven children, the youngest of the total of 12 being born in 1897.
By this time, Abraham had changed his career quite suddenly, around 1894, moving from tailoring to kosher butchering – an important decision in the future of the family. It is not known why he made such a sudden career change, having been a tailor all his life, but one idea is that he took over a butcher’s shop that already existed.
The fiery family temper saw its earliest known outing in 1896, when the eldest Rose daughter, Elsie, was refused permission by her parents to marry her sweetheart, Dick Lyons. Abraham felt Dick was not good enough for his daughter, and family legend has it that the young couple eloped to London. However, they married at Belgrave Street shul in Leeds on 17 January that year, so there must have been some people there who knew what they were doing. In any case, Elsie and Dick did move to London and started a family. Her parents sat shiva for her, as if she had died!
Abraham died in November 1903, at the family home at 10 Cobourg Street. During the preceding nine or ten years, the butcher’s shop had been a huge success and had opened branches at both numbers 9 at 11 Belgrave Street, an unknown address in Lady Lane, 62a Templar Street and 36 Meanwood Street. It would appear that 10 Cobourg Street became the family residence from about 1900. After his death, Fanny and sons Mick and Phil took on the running of the different branches, which resulted in more heated arguments, the upshot of which was that Mick was “excommunicated” from the family, just as Elsie had been. Phil emigrated to Australia and then to the United States. Fanny continued to work in the business, as well as setting up a rag trade of her own, until her death in January 1918.
Having introduced the Rose family, it would be utterly confusing to try to trace the history of all 12 branches chronologically, so the history of each branch will be covered in turn in the next section.
PART III – THE ROSE GARDEN
Albert Henry Rose (1872-1917) married Rachael, a Latvian immigrant, and had two daughters in the first few years of the 20th century, before his premature death. His younger daughter, Ruby, died the following year, prompting Rachael and their surviving daughter, Ada, to emigrate to Baltimore, MD, in December 1920. Ada was dearly loved by all who knew her, and also died tragically young, aged only 52.
Elsie Rose (1874-1945) celebrated her successful defiance of her parents by having 12 children herself, all born in London. She angered her mother further by naming her eldest child Eva, after her, even though Fanny was still alive! At the outbreak of World War II, many of these branches moved to Leicester, but returned to London almost immediately, when the expected bombing did not occur. However, when the Blitz did arrive, a mass move to Leicester occurred, and most of the scores of Elsie and Dick’s descendants remain there today. Elsie’s youngest two sons fought in North Africa and Italy in World War II, and one, a pilot named Albert, was captured by the Italians and interned in a prisoner-of-war camp. He escaped from the camp and was sheltered by Italian peasants. However, the Nazi authorities caught up with him and, pursued by armed police opening fire, Albert just made it over the border into Switzerland, quite literally evading the bullets! He stayed in Switzerland and married the daughter of the family who gave him shelter. The couple returned to England after the war, and had three children, though later divorced.
Myer Rose (1877-1940) married a woman from Manchester named Sarah Cohen. Their marriage was blighted by her mental illness and incarceration (possibly occurring as a result of the loss of an infant son in 1915), and both died young. Of their three surviving children, two married and had families: the Barnetts and the Reubens, both of whom emigrated from Leeds to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1948. In the 1960s and 1970s, these two families both spent several years living in each of a number of countries in the southern hemisphere, including Rhodesia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Today, the Barnetts live in Melbourne and most of the Reubens live in Johannesburg.
Mick Rose (1880-1954) remained in Leeds and had two children. He took on the butchering business after his father’s death and made it a great success, with a well-known name. For some reason, Mick may have been charged with the responsibility of bringing up of his youngest sisters, Cissie and Becky, but some thought he did not fulfil this responsibility. It is also rumoured that either Mick or his brother Phil (below) once killed a bull with a single punch!
Phil Rose (1882-1969) was a highly intelligent entrepreneur, who had a knack of being able to survive and make money wherever he went. He made and sold creams from animal fats to treat chilblains, and acted as the family doctor. He was very medically minded, and used to insist his brothers and sisters took his own home-made jalap every spring as a laxative to "clear out their systems"!
At some point, probably in the first few years of a the 20th century, Phil emigrated to Australia, where he made no small amount of money. He then moved on to Chicago around 1910. His mother, Fanny, was strongly opposed to his marriage, as his intended bride, Janie (or Jennie) Deane, was rather weak and frail. Nevertheless, in typical Rose family fashion, he ignored his mother and married Janie anyway, in 1911! Phil had one son named Abe in 1912, who was unfortunate to be born with some form of intellectual disorder, possibly autism. At some point later in time, Phil and his family moved to California. Janie died young, leaving Phil to care for Abe alone.
Sometime around 1968, Phil and Abe visited family in Montréal, London and Leeds, though proposed reasons for this visit differ. However, this event is remembered by a great many family members of various generations. Ignoring advice from his sister Cissie in Montréal, Phil travelled to England in sandals and without a jacket, where he promptly caught pneumonia! He was cared for by Martha Goodman. He is known to have visited his sister Rachel Goodman in London and his nephew Percy Rose in Leeds. Both Phil and Abe returned to the US, where Phil died in 1969. His death certificate reveals he had been suffering from stomach cancer for two years prior to his death, so perhaps the reason for his voyage was indeed to visit his family and his homeland one last time.
Esther Rose (1884-1966) married an atheist in 1910, causing predictable ructions in the family, despite the fact her husband, Morris Shedlow, was Jewish. Esther kept out of family disputes and was respected for it. She loved reading mystery and murder novels.
Rachel Rose (1885-1971) was already six months pregnant when she married Harry Goodman in 1909, though this is not widely known. They had seven children, mostly in Leeds, but later in Manchester and London, where the family settled. The eldest of these was known as Simi, and earned notoriety within the family when he abandoned his wife and three young sons in 1946. He worked for the American Red Cross for a time, before vanishing altogether. It is rumoured he moved to Hastings and then to Germany, where he is alleged to have re-married, despite remaining legally married in Britain! His wife and two of his sons later emigrated to Adelaide. Sadly, when Rachel died in 1971, her family was torn apart by a bitter feud which lasted over 25 years.
Leah Rose (1888-1966) was another much-loved and well-respected member of the family. She married but never had children, and was always close to her sister Rachel. She moved to Hove when Rachel and her family did, and returned to London with them too, ultimately sharing a flat with Rachel in their later years.
Miriam Rose (b.c.1889) is a mysterious character. She is believed to have married a non-Jewish man and lived in Bradford, but no more is known about her. It is assumed the rest of the family “excommunicated” her for her choice of husband, and she has never been traced, as her married name is not known.
Harry Rose (c.1891-c.1955) also married a non-Jewish woman, and ran a truckers’ café in Doncaster. He had three sons, two of whom fought in World War II. The younger, Wallace, may have been at Dunkerque in 1940 and was killed in action in August 1944 in Normandy. He is buried at Bayeux. Interestingly, Harry himself is believed to have joined the army when underage, to escape his brothers' bullying, and the family were forced to “buy him out” in some way, at least once. This would have probably preceded World War I.
Cissie Rose (c.1893-1978) married an Irishman and had two daughters in Dublin in the 1920s. Cissie’s poor health forced the family to return to Yorkshire in 1937 and they later emigrated to Montréal, after World War II, where their descendants remain today. Cissie was someone who refused to fall out with family members, and was the better for it.
Rebecca Rose (b.1897) had two sons, Albert and Jack, both of whom were strong characters and much-loved. Albert died young, and the widowed Rebecca joined Jack in moving to Israel, where they later died.
PART IV – HISTORY OF THE LEVENTHALL FAMILY
Leah Samuel/s was much younger than her sister Fanny, so her story begins much later, with her marriage to grocer Joseph Leventhall in Leeds in 1886. Clearly, fertility was a family trait, as Leah produced nine children in 15 years, before Joseph’s sudden death from appendicitis in 1901.
Annie Leventhall was originally engaged to Bernard (aka Barney) Cohen, but he eventually decided he preferred her younger sister, Ada. In the meantime, Annie fell in love with his younger brother, David! Both couples married.
Sophia Leventhall died suddenly aged just 12, in unusual circumstances. It is believed she had been swimming, then bought an ice-cream directly afterwards, and died later that night. It was rumoured that her autopsy was the first to be carried out on a Jewish person in Britain. However, this appears to have been discredited by references to coroner’s reports relating to earlier Jewish deaths in Leeds.
In another twist in the tale of Leventhall marriages, when Dora Leventhall's (left) husband Paish Frieze died, she married her sister Pearl’s widower, Ephraim Mark Rowlands! One of Pearl Leventhall’s (right) daughters, Irma Rowlands, married her second cousin, Percy Rose (Mick’s son), continuing the colourful trend.
On one occasion, Pearl Leventhall was approached by the wife of Leeds Alderman Hyman Morris. The woman was adamant that she was related to Pearl’s mother, Leah, via the Blashky family, which is a large Jewish family in both Leeds and Sheffield. However, this story is rumour only, and has yet to be confirmed.
Henry Leventhall (left) was homosexual, but never told his family. He emigrated to the US in 1938 and joined the forces. After he was discharged on grounds of being too old, he worked on Douglas aircraft in California, before moving to Florida and working in Mexico on oil rigs. He also ran an antiques store for a time. Only his sister Pearl and her daughter Leila kept in touch with him.
PART V – CONCLUSION
Heinrich and Hanna founded an enormous family, as can be seen. There were hordes of children, and families featuring the most amazing characters. Unfortunately, the combination of so many strong personalities has, more often than not, resulted in many heated arguments and disputes. Nevertheless, the descendants of the Rose and Leventhall families continue to thrive, as do so many of the family traits, passed down from generation to generation.
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