Sunday, April 17, 2016

Moshe and Chaya Sura Groiskopf

Mosche and Chaya Sura (Kurman) Groiskopf
Labun, Ukraine abt 1925
     Mosche Groiskopf was born about 1880 in Labun, a small town near Polonnoye, in what is now Ukraine.  He was the fourth child (that I know about) of Chaim and Chaya Groiskopf.  Like his father and brothers, Mosche grew up to be a blacksmith.  He married Chaya Sura Kurman, daughter of David and Miriam Kurman of Labun in about 1900, when he was about 20 and she was a few years younger.  They quickly had two children, David, in July 1902, and Alexandra (Shivka) in about 1905.
    As I have mentioned before, times were hard in that area of Ukraine, so in 1907 Mosche decided to go to America where his older brother Elkunah (Elcon Grosser) was living and where he was quite successful.  Leaving his family behind, Mosche made his way to Liverpool, England, where on July 8, 1902 he boarded the RMS Lake Megantic [1], newly refurbished to carry immigrants to Halifax and St John, Canada [2].  He arrived in Quebec on July 17 listing Philadelphia as his final destination.[3]   He crossed into the U.S. by train, declaring that he was a smith, and that he was going to his brother (Cohn Grosser) in Philadelphia[4].   
Brothers Elcon, Joe and Mosche Grosser
Philadelphia, abt 1907
     Some time between 1902 and 1906 he returned to Labun, perhaps to try to convince Chaya Sura to return to the U.S. with him.  He returned to the U.S. alone in February 1907, this time traveling through Hamburg [5] and arriving in New York City aboard the Graf Waldersee on February 16 [6].  He listed his last residence as Tadeushpol, a small village about 4 miles from Labun, and again said that he was going to his brother Elcon Grosser in Philadelphia.
     Within a few years, he had accumulated some money, and, missing his family, returned again to Labun.  According to his grandson who often visited Mosche and Chaya Sura in Labun as a child, he built three brick "American style" houses in Labun.  His family lived in one of them, his brother Zise, also a blacksmith, lived in one, and Chaya Sura's brother, also called Zisye, lived in the third.   Mosche worked as a blacksmith, having a forge set off from the house, and also repaired tractors for the local farmers.  One of the houses had a garage, but since none of them had a car, they used it for the animals.
     After the 1917 Russian Revolution conditions got worse in the Ukrainian countryside, especially for Jews.  Civil war, and invasion by German, Russian and Polish forces between 1917 and 1922 devastated the area as various groups fought for control of Ukraine. [7] There were pogroms in the area of Labun.  The family sent their son, David to the United States in 1921[8].  Mosche, Chaya Sura and Shivka tried to follow him, going to Riga, Latvia for about a year in about 1922, but because the U.S. had passed restrictive immigration laws by then, they were unable to get visas, despite strong efforts by family already in the U.S.  They returned to Labun.  The wars ended after the area was incorporated into the Soviet Union, in 1922, but they were followed in the 1930s by a man-induced famine, the Holodomor, resulting in the deaths of millions across Ukraine[9].
       The farms in Labun were collectivized.  Because Mosche was skilled with iron work and fixing tractors, he worked for the agricultural commune as a blacksmith.  They and most of their relatives were still living in Labun when the Nazis arrived in 1943. (Shivka had married and moved to Kiev). They, along with the rest of the Jews in the town, were all murdered in the woods near the town.  There is now a small memorial in the woods for those who were murdered there[10].      

1., UK Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc 2012) Record for Mosche Grosskopf
2. Record for ARAWA / COLON / LAKE MEGANTIC / PORT HENDERSON / ANAPO / PORTO SAID 1884 , accessed April 16, 2016.
3., Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2010), Record for Marche Groeskoff
4., U.S. Border Crossings from Canada to U.S.1895-1956 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2010) The National Archives at Washington, DC; Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports1895-1954; National Archives Microfilm Publication: M1464 Roll: 13; Record Group Title: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Record Group Number 85. Record for Mosche Groiskopf.
5. Staatsarchiv Hamburg, Hamburg Passenger Lists 1850-1934 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2008) www.ancestry.comStaatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Microfilm No.: K_1798. Record for Moische Groiskopf
6., New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2010), Year: 1907; Arival: New York, New York; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Microfilm Roll: Roll 0830; Line 25; Page Number 22. Record for Meiskke Greiskopf
7 Ukrainian War of Independence. .
8., New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2006) www., database online. Year: 1921; Arrival:, Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_2938; Line 23 Record for David Grojskop
9., loc.cit.
10. Blog: Going the Extra Yad: Labun (home at last) 14 June 2013 .