Louis Kessler's Family Research
and Unsolved Mysteries

As an experienced genealogist and a studier of kinship relations,
I have done a fair bit of research into my roots in the development of my family tree.

Here, I present some of my findings,
and the puzzles that are plaguing me the most.

If anyone out there knows anything about what I have presented here,
I respectfully request that you
and I will be more than willing to mutually share our family info.

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Family Surnames and Places in My Research

On this page, you will find some "thumbprints" of graphics images that are fairly large. To see the full graphic image, either click on the graphic image, or on the text with the words "Full image".


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Moise and Ruhleia BRAUNSTEIN
Rivenu and Adasia BRAUNSTEIN
Marcu "Mordechai" and Esther BRAUNSTEIN

Moise Yitzhak BRAUNSTEIN (1802-1885), Ruhleia (maiden name unknown, 1825-after 1885)
had at least two children - Rivenu and Marcu:

Rivenu BRAUNSTEIN (1852 - 1908?), Adasia MERARU (1861 - 1908?)
Marcu "Mordechai" BRAUNSTEIN (1872 - 1933), Esther HECHTER (1878 - 1940)

Rivenu and Adasia left Romania for Turkey in the early 1900's, to escape some of the anti-semetic movement that was then taking place. They settled in a Jewish farm colony at Eskisehir. They went with their eight children that were not yet married: Louis, Molly (DAVID), Annette (ISOVITZ), Marie (SIEGALL), Rose (PERLOW LIEBERMAN), Dave, Rachelle (KIEVES), and Sarah (BUIUM). and also with the KIEVES family who were close friends. Their oldest child, Becky (FINGER) had previously married and moved to Paris, France.

Marcu instead went with his family in April 1902 to Canada, settling in Lipton, Saskatchewan where he opened and ran a general store. Their store burned down in the 1920's. The family then moved to Lorlie Saskatchewan and ran the store there. Marcu and Esther had three children: Max, Morris, and Rebecca (SHAFRON).

After Rivenu and Adasia died, 7 of their children left for America to join their Uncle Marcu in Lipton. They arrived at Ellis Island in New York around 1911. Louis, Molly, Dave, and Sarah made it to Lipton Saskatchewan. Annette, Marie, and Rose were detained in Ellis Island for 6 months, possibly with the measles. After 6 months, the three girls went to Chicago. Rachelle, who married in Turkey, stayed there with her husband. When she passed away in the 1920's, her husband and children went to Saskatchewan.

My research has identified over 300 kin-folk of Rivenu and Marcu.

BRAUNSTEIN - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. Rivenu and Marcu were said to be brothers, but my current information indicates that they were about 20 years apart in age, and Marcu's mother would have been 47 years old when he was born, which seems quite unlikely. I suppose it is possible that Marcu was Rivenu's nephew.
  2. The city of Eskisehir in Turkey is of much interest to me. It is where some of the family resided for several decades in the early 1900's. Eskisehir is a large city, but supposedly the family was in a Jewish farm colony from there. Most Jewish genealogical resources concentrate on the Jewish settlements of Eastern Europe. I have so far found very little about Turkish settlements. I would love to eventually do an in-depth study of the Jewish settlement at Eskisehir.
  3. The Ellis Island story seems fascinating to me. The girls may have been detained because they were sick with the measles, or there may have been some other reason. The question I have is what really happened at Ellis Island with this family? I eagerly await for the Ellis Island records to be made accessible on the Internet to help with this.
  4. The KIEVES family, although not directly related to me, seem to be an important clue to my BRAUNSTEIN's family background. The BRAUNSTEIN and KIEVES families were apparently very close. They lived near to each other in Turkey, and possibly may have also known each other in Romania (although I have been unable to confirm this). My grandfather, Louis BRAUNSTEIN, supposedly set up his sister Rachelle with Moses KIEVES, and they soon married. There were 4 KIEVES brothers and a sister - two came to Canada (Kiva and Moses to the Sonnenfeld colony in Saskatchewan), Philip went to New York, Zeida went to Porto Alegre in Brazil, and the sister Celia went to Paris France.
  5. It is possible that Becky, the oldest BRAUNSTEIN, may have gone to Paris France either with the KIEVES sister, or one may have gone to join the other. This would be a very interesting story to pursue.

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Josub and Toba FOCSANER
Louis and Shifra SEGAL

Hers FOCSANER (1835 - 1913), Dwora NAFTALOVITZ (1837? - 1890?)
Josub FOCSANER (1859 - 1927), Toba SEGAL (1867 - 1923)
Zalmon HERTZAN (1875 - 1944)
Louis SEGAL (? - ?), Shifra (maiden name unknown, ? - ?)

Hers was supposedly a wealthy man who owned a winery. He and Dwora lived in Dorohoi. Dwora may have been from Iasi. They had at least 4 sons and maybe other children. Hers is buried in Botosani.

Josub was the oldest son of Hers and Dwora. He married Toba in Ungureni, which is about 20 km NE of Botosani. He and Toba immigrated to Canada via Hamburg Germany in April 1902 on the German vessel S.S. Bulgaria, with their children, Hyman who was 11, Goldie (BRAUNSTEIN KESSLER) 10, Dora (ELFENBAUM) 8, Shava (ZELICKSON) 2, Max 1, and Toba's brother Zalmon HERTZAN who was 27. Zalmon was often called "Shlomo" - his Hebrew name. The Hamburg passenger lists state they came from the town of Ungureni in Romania. Upon arrival, they located in the Tullymet municipality near Lipton, Saskatchewan. The family lived in a log house that Josub and Zalmon built. Their youngest child Rebecca (JACOBS) was born in Tullymet.

"Joseph Folkshonner (sic) arrived with the second group (of Romanians). He was a simple, honest, hardworking farmer. He prospered so well that even the English farmers respected him.

He, his wife and children all worked hard. You should have seen his daughter, Goldie, sixteen, ploughing with four large oxen. The plough left a furrow in a straight line. His seventeen-year-old son and his brother-in-law, could do equally as well."

- from Memoirs of a Pioneer Farmer in Western Canada by Jacob A. Baltzan

Louis SEGAL was an older brother of Toba who lived in London England. Louis' Yiddish name was Laib. The story was told by Shava ZELICKSON that Louis and Shifra visited Canada after he heard that Zalmon had some land. Louis, his wife, and his daughter went to Lipton Saskatchewan and joined his sister just before the First World War. He turned out to be absolutely inept at farming. Sol Sinclair recalled that Louis would often come over to borrow some horses because he didn't know how to handle his own team of oxen. Louis' wife and daughter were said to have completely domineered him. After the war Louis and Shifra left for Florida. They were said to have then divorced, which was quite unusual in those days. The family then never heard from them again.

Josub's father was Hirsch (Tzvi) FOCSANER. He lived in Moldavia and supposedly owned a winery. It could very well be him listed in the JewishGen Online Burial Registry: Hers Focsaner, buried 01 Jun 1913, Block F Row 4 Number 7 in the Botosani Romania cemetery (13,198 burials)

Josub was apparently one of 7 brothers. The others include Sigmund, Simon, Isak, a brother in Paris France, and two more. I have have been in contact and sharing information with relatives on Sigmund and Simon's sides who are also doing family research.

My research has identified about 150 kin-folk of Josub and Toba.

I have much of this family documented online: "The FOCSANER and Related Families in Romania".

Josub and Toba FOCSANER
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FOCSANER, HERTZAN, SEGAL - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. My great aunt told me that Josub's brother (they said Isak) had a son named Samuel who was a lawyer in New Jersey. But it couldn't have been Isak's son according to the info we now have, and no one has yet identified a Samuel, or a New Jersey lawyer.
  2. Zalmon may not have used his original surname from Romania. The maiden name of Toba, who was known to be Zalmon's sister, is documented as SEGAL which supports the theory that HERTZAN was not Zalmon's last name.
  3. Many references to Zalmon spell his last name as HARTMANN, and not HERTZAN. Why this was so is also a mystery.
  4. The story of Louis and Shifra SEGAL is about all I know of them. How did they originally get to England and what were they doing there? What happened to them after they left (presumably to Florida) and where did they end up. What about Louis and Shifra's daughter? Who is she? Did she marry and where may her family be right now? Of all my mysteries, this one is the most intriguing!
  5. SEGAL was much too common a Jewish surname in Romania. Finding my SEGALs there will be a challenge.
  6. There is a lot of early info on the Jews in Romania going back to the 1700's, including many Censuses. Some Jews may have come from Austria as "Sudits" in the early 1800's and much is written and studied about them. The name FOCSANER is mentioned in those studies. This will all take much research and luck to piece together (including knowledge of the Romanian language and the Cyrillic script).

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Louis and Sarah KESLER

Louis KESLER (1878 - 1940), Sarah KATKOW (1877 - 1929)

Louis KESLER was from Russia and fought in the Russian army. He came to Canada in 1906 and settled in the Sonnenfeld colony in Saskatchewan. Sarah came to Sonnenfeld in 1908. Sarah passed away childless. Louis then married Goldie FOSSANER BRAUNSTEIN (my grandmother) whose husband Louis BRAUNSTEIN (my grandfather) had died 5 years earlier.

I know of none of Louis KESLER's family, other than his father being Joseph, and none of Sarah KATKOW's family other than her parents being Yidel "Yehudah" and Clara Rivka.

Louis KESLER and an unidentified compatriot in the Russian Army
Full Image = 28 KB

The grave of Sarah (KATKOW) KESSLER
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KESSLER, KATKOW - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. Nothing is known of Louis KESLER from when he was in Russia, nor anything about his family or hometown. I would love to find some information about him. The photo above may help. Can anyone identify the army uniforms, or identify the person in the photo with him?
  2. Sarah is also a mystery. I do not yet know if Louis and Sarah were married in Russia or in Saskatchewan. KATKOW is a fairly rare name. Ultimately I suspect I may find something on her.
  3. Most of Louis' documents spell his name with a single "S". My father later adopted the double "S" spelling of KESSLER. But it is strange that Sarah's gravestone spells KESSLER with the double "S".
  4. The 1916 Canadian Census is the only record where I have a listed place of birth for Louis and Sarah. It looks like Ogic or Oyic or Ogu or something like that in Russia (see image). I have searched for any type of place name that is even close to any of those in spelling or sounding, and I haven't come up with anything yet. I'll need another clue.

    Ogic?? Full Image = 17 KB

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Minnie ZEW (ZEFF),
and the whole Mezhirichi clan

Joseph HERMAN (1888 - 1959)

Joseph was the son of Wolf HERMAN and Yacha LAPIDES. They lived in the town of Mezhirichi in the province of Volhynia in what is now the Ukraine. The town numbered about 3,000 people in 1897, of which about two-thirds were Jewish.

Joseph's parents died when he was about 11 or 12, and he was raised by his grandmother. Joseph came to Canada alone around 1900. His grandmother, then 82 years old, had put him on the ship. He arrived in Winnipeg where many people from his town has previously emigrated to. His surname in Canada evolved into GERMAN.

Joseph had one sister, Minnie, who married Gedalia ZEW. Minnie and Gedalia died in Mezhirichi. They had eight children. Eunice (TENENBAUM) came to Winnipeg in 1928 and is still living in Montreal. Zipora (PISETSKY) went to Israel and has family there. Gedalia and Minnie and the other children may have perished in the Holocaust.

Gedalia's mother's maiden name was GERSHFIELD. This GERSHFIELD family supposedly lived across the street from my grandfather Joseph HERMAN in Mezhirichi. There was one GERSHFIELD son and three GERSHFIELD daughters who married ZEW (later ZEFF), SITNER, and ZIMBERG. Almost all the children of these four siblings came to Winnipeg in the early 1900's and married into the ZAIDMAN, GINPIL, MINDESS, SHAPIRO, and GUREVITCH families.

In fact, a large number of the Jewish community in Mezhirichi came to Winnipeg in the early 1900's. They formed their own Mezhiricher Landsleit and Aid Society. In 1941, the Mezhiricher community in Winnipeg built and congregated in their own synagogue, the Tiferes Israel, until it closed in 1973. The number of people in or from Winnipeg with connections to the town of Mezhirichi must number in the thousands.

My research has identified about 100 kin-folk of the HERMAN family,
and about 150 kin-folk of the GERSHFIELD family.

HERMAN, GERSHFIELD, Mezhirichi - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. Since much of this family came to Winnipeg, this is one side I actually am getting a lot of help from others in the city that are also interested in their family history. We are still in the process of listing out all the family relatives and may get up to about 1000 before we are done.

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Louis and Chai Mindy GORETSKI

Louis GORETSKI (? - 1895?) Chai Mindy SILVERBERG (? - 1903)

Louis and Chai Mindy lived on a farm in Odessa in the Ukraine. They were both only-children, but they remarkably had seventeen, yes 17, children of their own. Three of the children, Benjamin, Ester, and Abraham immigrated together to Canada, arriving in Winnipeg in 1905. One child, Frumah, was known to have died in a fire in Odessa. The other 13 children were said to have been killed in the First World War.

Benjamin married Sarah Rivka (maiden name unknown). Ester married Joseph GERMAN (see above). Abraham married Sonia TABACHNIKOV.

My research has identified about 100 kin-folk of Louis and Chai Mindy.

Ester and Abraham GORETSKI at their mother (Chai Mindy)'s gravestone in Odessa.
Full Image = 93 KB

GORETSKI - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. I have very little information about the family and their life in Odessa. The photo shown above is one of the most interesting items I have on them. Which cemetery was this taken in? Does this cemetery still exist?
  2. Why did Benjamin, Ester, and Abraham leave for Winnipeg after their mother died, when their brothers and sisters did not?
  3. Who were the other 13 brothers and sisters? What were the circumstances under which they died during the First World War? Did they all die, or did some survive? Maybe they have kin that escaped whatever befell them, and these family units are in existence somewhere.

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Ralph and Yetta KUSHNEER

Ralph Harry KUSHNEER (1883 - 1927), Yetta ZASLOVSKY (1884 - 1926)

Ralph's mother married twice. Her first marriage was to a LERMAN. They had at least 4 or 5 children who were Ralph's half-brothers and sisters. Some of them settled in Boston. Ralph's mother later married Mordechai KUSHNEER. Ralph was the only child of this marriage. Ralph was born in Lukashevka in the Ukraine. Yetta was born in Tetiyev, also in the Ukraine. She was the youngest child in her family. They married about 1906 in the Ukraine, and left for Canada in 1907, arriving in Winnipeg to join Yetta's brothers and sisters who were already there.

All of Ralph and Yetta's nine children were born in Winnipeg. The four oldest children moved to Cleveland where some of their ZASLOVSKY cousins lived as there were jobs available. The five youngest children spent some of their early years at the Jewish Orphanage in Winnipeg once Ralph and Yetta passed away.

My research has identified about 100 kin-folk of the KUSHNEER (later KUSHNER) family.

Ralph and Yetta KUSHNEER with their 5 oldest children in 1915.
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KUSHNEER (KUSHNER) - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. KUSHNEER was a strange English spelling to choose. The children modified this to the more common KUSHNER. Was there a reason why the double-E was chosen?
  2. I've heard several stories from independent sources that Ralph was a twin, but his twin had died. I wish I knew more on this.
  3. I do not yet know Ralph's mother's maiden name. Finding this out would lead to a whole new line to trace.
  4. I have contacted family on the LERMAN side. There is actually quite a bit of research done there. Ralph was considered part of their family tree, but since he was most likely a half-brother, he is not blood-related to his LERMAN step-father or any LERMANs other than his half-siblings and their descendants.

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Peter and Elizabeth ZASLAWSKY
Jack and Annie ZASLOWSKY

Peter ZASLAWSKY (1872 - 1955), Elizabeth KAUFMAN (1873 - 1955)
Jack ZASLOWSKY (? - ?), Annie (maiden name unknown, 1873 - 1935)
Yetta ZASLOVSKY (1884 - 1926)
Two other ZASLOVSKY brothers

Yehudah ZASLOVSKY lived in the Tetiyev shtetl in the Ukraine. He had 5 children. Two sons emigrated to Cleveland which was the destination for much of the Tetiyev shtetl. Peter, Jack, and Yetta went to Winnipeg.

Some of the family names in Cleveland that may be are related include: KOPPELMAN, CHERVIN, BOGARD, SELBY, GOLDSTEIN, MOLINSKY, and MILLS.

My research has identified about 100 kin-folk of the ZASLOVSKY family.

ZASLOVSKY - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. ZASLOVSKY, ZASLAWSKY, ZASLOWSKY, SASLOVSKY - Yikes! I have seen many different spellings of the family name, and I really must spend some time to confirm the spelling the family members used. I do believe, however, that several variants were in use, possibly even between brothers and sisters.
  2. Much of this side of the family still resides in Winnipeg, and I really have a lot of people that I can still talk to to fill in a lot more information.
  3. The people who moved from Tetiyev to Cleveland interest me. Why two of the brothers went to Cleveland and the other 3 siblings went to Winnipeg is still a mystery.

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Moshe and Charna FURMAN

Moshe FURMAN (1860s? - ?), Charna OSHILA (? - ?)

Moshe and Charna lived in Zhitomir in the Ukraine. They had six children, Nechama (married name unknown), Gittel SNIDER, Buzi (married name unknown), Frumah UNIKEL, Motel, and Jack. Most of the family remained in Zhitomir, but Jack and his wife Eda MUCHNIK left for Winnipeg in 1928 shortly after they married.

My research has identified about 50 kin-folk of the FURMAN family.

FURMAN - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. I do not know much about the side of the family still in the Ukraine. How many survived the war? How many emigrated? How many still remain?
  2. Charna's family, OSHILA, would seem to be easier to track down because of the uncommon surname, but it seems to be so uncommon, that I have not encountered it in any of my research to date. There is supposed to be at least one OSHILA descendant who was living in Detroit several years ago. I will have to check the Internet phone books and try to track him, her, or them down.

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Yankov and Zipora MUCHNIK
Yehoshua Eshel and Mirian MUCHNIK

Yankov MUCHNIK (1830s - ?), Zipora ROTHSCHILD (1830s - ?)
Yehoshua Eshel MUCHNIK (1862 - 1925), Mirian DUBOWA (1872 - 1908)

Zipora was said to have been from the ROTHSCHILD family. Yankov and Zipora supposedly owned hotels in the Ukraine, and entertained the ROTHSCHILD families when the came to visit. Yankov and Zipora had five children: Sarah Zeisel SCHWARTZ, Yehoshua Eshel, Leah CHERNIS, Shaindel BRONSTEIN, and another son (name unknown).

Yehoshua Eshel married Mirian DUBOWA. They both were born and lived in Kodnia in the Ukraine. Yehoshua was also known as "Shiesal". He was a cattle dealer. Shiesal and Mirian had six children. Two came to Winnipeg in the 1920s, two escaped to Zhitomir during WW II, and the other two were killed when the Nazis overtook Taskent. Mirian died when she was only 36. After Mirian died, Shiesal married Chonka BRONSTEIN. Mirian and Chonka were said to have been 1st cousins of each other.

Mirian had a brother, Srouel Elievitz DUBOWA. One of his sons emigrated to New York and there are currently some DUBOWA relatives there. Another son and his family stayed in the Ukraine and are now living in Berdichev. Families also known to be related to DUBOWA include KEMACH in Israel, KRIS in Berdichev, and CARP in Winnipeg.

My research has identified about 100 kin-folk of the DUBOWA family.

DUBOWA - Unsolved Mysteries

  1. The ROTHSCHILD family is well documented and has an enormous family tree going back to the 1600's. Unfortunately, it is mostly the male lines that are followed. I have not yet found the link of Zipora (ROTHSCHILD) MUCHNIK to the ROTHSCHILD family.
  2. The New York and Israeli relatives should still be out there somewhere. I do not have that much information on them yet.

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For More Information About My Family Research

If the clues above seem to indicate that you might have a possible connection to one of the lines I am researching, please .

I am very willing to share my family information with you if you are willing to share with me. Together we may both be able to help each other with our common family. I have had hundreds of people contact me as a result of this web page, which has resulted in scores of amazing revelations for myself and my many new-found and possible relatives.


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