A Genealogical Study
HISTORY OF THE TARAKHOVSKII FAMILY
The earliest Tarakhovskii family member known to date is Shlomo or Solomon Tarakhovskii, who lived in the Ukraine in the 1860s and 1870s. He had six children: Chaim Jankel (1865/6 – c.1919), Chana (1868/9 – 1939), Hillel (c.1872 – c.1942), Dinah (d.c.1933), Myer (1878/9 – 1957) and Fraida (c.1880 – 1949). The debate continues as to where exactly the family originated, with most of the oral traditions saying they came from the city of Yekaterinoslav (now called Dnepropetrovsk), in the south, but most of the evidence suggesting they came from an area about 200 miles to the north, in Chernigov Gubernia. The debate is explained in full in the Research Summary and Projection section.
What seems in little doubt is that 1893 was a crucial year in the history of this family. It was in this year that the eldest three siblings emigrated to England. Chaim Jankel had married and had daughters aged 5 and 1, Chana had married in the January of 1893, and Hillel was married with a daughter aged 2. It is thought that these three couples, plus the three children, arrived in Hull together, or within a short time of each other. Chana and her husband, who would come to be known as Benjamin Kaitiff, were swindled by money exchangers shortly after arrival, meaning they had even less money on which to survive. Benjamin had relatives in Liverpool and Southport, so the families made their way west.
In March 1894, Chaim Jankel’s wife Slava gave birth to a third daughter, whom they named Kate, though it is not known whether she was born in Liverpool or in nearby Southport. Chaim Jankel was an incredibly talented musician, playing 10 instruments, but specialising in the double bass. However, he failed to find work as a musician, and had to be content with a job as a shul doorman of some kind, possibly a shammas.
Later in 1894, he and his family decided to return to Russia. Although this seems absurd, having survived the perils of emigration to the West, but it was a more common practice than many would think. Many Eastern European immigrants found they hated their new country or missed their homes or, in some other way, realised that the West was not the magical new world they had heard so much about. Many immigrants did return to their homeland, and Chaim Jankel, now with three daughters, did just that. It is thought that, on their return, they settled in Yekaterinoslav/Dnepropetrovsk, as their descendants seem totally sure that the family lived there at some point.
Chaim Jankel and Slava went on to have a further four children in Russia. In 1907, there were violent pogroms and the family were lucky to escape. They were saved from a mob by military officers whose offices were in the same building in which the family lived. They knew Chaim Jankel because he had played in a string ensemble which had played at their parties in the past and they hid the family in a closet until the danger had passed.
After this, the decision was made to emigrate once more, this time to America. He made sure his eldest daughter, Chana, married her boyfriend, who would become known as Simon Hoffman and, in 1908, sent the young couple, along with his second daughter, to an aunt in Milwaukee, WI. It is thought that this aunt was on Slava’s side of the family, rather than the Tarakhovskii side.
The following year, Chaim Jankel followed with Kate, arriving at Ellis Island and making their way west to Milwaukee. Finally, in August 1910, Slava brought the four youngest children to Milwaukee, again through Ellis Island. It seems this last group were originally booked to arrive on 4 July, but did not sail; it is not known why. They arrived successfully on 15 August.
This branch of the family grew to be enormous, with a wonderful community spirit, and most branches stay in regular contact. A thread of longevity runs throughout this family, and Chana, who became known as Hannah Hoffman, lived to be 107.
Meanwhile, back in Liverpool around 1896, her aunt Chana Kaitiff was experiencing chest problems. She was advised to move out of the centre of Liverpool, so the family moved to the town of Southport, around 20 miles north of the city, on the coast of the Irish Sea. Chana and Benjamin had had two children in Liverpool, and would go on to have four more in Southport, where they would live out their days. This couple were the founders of the huge Kaitiff/Rothstein family, many of whom now live in Manchester.
By 1896, Hillel and his wife Fanny had also moved to Southport, where Hillel owned a grocery shop, as well as making picture frames, pewter and imitation antique furniture. He had taken the surname Harris, but this and Tarachovsky seemed to be used interchangeably as first name and surname! Harris would eventually be the surname passed on to his descendants. They had a second daughter there in 1896 and a son in 1900. However, in March 1903, Fanny died following complications in childbirth, whilst giving birth to a third daughter. This daughter did not survive either, sadly. Suddenly, Hillel was left with three children and no wife, which may explain what he did next. He is recorded as marrying a Miriam Caplan in Manchester in the August, less than five months after Fanny died. It is assumed that he remarried so soon partly in order to ease the burden of bringing up three children.
By the time of his son David’s Bar Mitzvah in Liverpool in 1913, Miriam does not appear to have been alive or, at the very least, not associated with the family. By 1919, Hillel had married a third time, to a woman named Esther Winer (née Rabinowitz), and they had a son that year, whom they named Sidney. However, the marriage was a very unhappy one, and the couple lived apart, with Sidney living with his mother. Hillel died c.1942, from injuries sustained having been run over by a tram, according to family legend.
It is my belief that the three youngest siblings of the Tarakhovskii family – Dinah, Myer and Fraida – arrived in Britain later than 1893, possibly with their father.
Dinah married a man who came to be known as Daniel Black. Family legend tells that Daniel, when repeatedly refused permission by Dinah’s father for her hand in marriage, put a gun to his head and threatened to commit suicide on the spot unless he was allowed to marry her! Thankfully, Shlomo relented and the couple were married. This is thought to have occurred in Russia, though it is not certain. Rumour has it that Daniel acquired the surname Black either because of his particularly dark complexion, or because his original surname may have been Schwartzman, or a similar variation. He is rumoured to have been a sergeant in the Russian army – extraordinary heights for a Jewish serviceman.
They had their only child, a son named Sam, in Liverpool in 1907. Daniel ran a furniture shop and Dinah a grocery shop, before they established a fish and chip shop at 192 Brownlow Hill c.1912. It is thought that Daniel was in business with Dinah's brother, Hillel, making and repairing furniture, and making reproduction antiques. However, family legend suggests some sort of scandal divided the partners, which may be why Daniel and Dinah opened the fish and chip shop and, later, emigrated to America.
It is rumoured that Dinah and her family tried to book their passage to America on the Titanic in 1912 but, fortunately, this was not possible, and they had to wait until 1914, when they were able to sail to Canada on the Mauritania. They made their way to their relatives Milwaukee, taking with them only the standard clothes a young family would take on a holiday, but they never returned, and settled there permanently. Sam flew in the US Air Force in World War II as a flight surgeon, seeing action in Italy. He returned to Southport to visit his cousins in 1966 to try to solve the mystery, but met with firm refusals to divulge any details of the divisive issue that seemed to have led, directly or indirectly, to his parents' decision to emigrate and never to return.
One distinctive feature of Dinah and Daniel's emigration was their total change in socio-economic status. In Liverpool, they had been almost upper-middle class, with two incomes, and were able to send Sam to an expensive private school. However, when they emigrated, they became paupers, possibly because they had left many assets of various kinds back in Liverpool. Whether this shows that they only decided to stay in America once they arrived will probably never be known.
Myer married a woman called Chaya, who may have been his first cousin. In the same way that his brother Hillel had changed his name to Harris, Myer changed his to Marks. This may be an indication of how the name changes came about. It appears that Hillel & Myer were either given, or chose, English names to fit in, as so many of that generation did. However, both appear to have misunderstood, or been misunderstood, resulting in Harris and Marks (originally the forename Max) becoming surnames.
Myer & Chaya, who was known as Jane, had children in the Cheetham Hill district of Manchester in 1905, 1907 and 1909, before moving to Liverpool some time between 1911 and 1914. Myer worked as a cap presser, using various machinery to make flat caps and hats, such as those used in the army. He also worked in sheet metals.
By 1914, they had settled in Liverpool and opened a fish and chip shop, known locally as “Black’s chip shop”. This may have been the same business that Daniel Black owned in Brownlow Hill, but on different premises about half a mile away. Myer died in Stapeley Home for Aged Jews in Liverpool, in October 1957.
Fraida married a man named Osher Silver (formerly Zilber). He was a truck driver from Odessa, in the very south of the Ukraine, and used to drive long distances to visit Fraida before they emigrated. It is not known where there married but, by 1914, they were living in Liverpool. They were unable to have children so, in 1918, adopted a baby of a few months old, who they named Sidney. He had been born in London, but his parents had both died in enemy air raids in the last few months of World War I. His descendants live in London and Israel.
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