history, Uncategorized

 Meet the Teitelmans

This one is my favorite so far, and I have no clue what it says.

It is addressed to a Miss M. Tietelman of New Haven, Connecticut in 1912.

Minnie Teitelman was a Jewish girl born in Russia on September 15, 1888.  Things hadn’t been great for Jews is Russia for a while,  but when Alexander II came to power in 1894, things really blew up and violence intensified.  From 1903-1908 Russian Pogroms increased.  The Tsar at best, looked the other way as thousands of Jews were killed.  Many historical accounts put the Russian government behind the rising tensions.

Clearly, Russia was not a warm and friendly place for Jewish families at this point.  They (understandably) wanted to get the heck out of there.  The problem was, Russia wouldn’t let them leave.

This led to Jewish families having to sneak across borders, taking only what they could carry.  On foot and by train, these brave individuals traveled great distances in search of freedom.

Minnie’s Teitelman family was one of those who sought the freedom that America offered.  Her parents Meyer and Vitia (Vera) arrived along with their 7 children in 1907.

It wasn’t an easy transition.   They took what work they could get.  They lived in a tenement,  and worked in what is literally listed on the census as a “sweat shop”.  The kids worked there too.

The Teitelmans would have lived in a tenement house similar to this when first arriving in America.

A lot of immigrant families never made it out of these conditions.   The Teitelmans are not the norm and that is why I fell in love with them without even knowing who had sent the card or what they had said. It wasn’t even a second generation that got them out either.  Meyer?  Yeah,  he came over as a poor laborer.  A few years later?  He owned his own grocery store.  It was located where now a grassy park is.

Their kids?

Frank married a lady named Bessie and owned and operated a retail store selling fixtures.

Samuel married Ruth and became a successful CPA.

Minnie, the recipient of our card?  She never married,  but she did end up owning her own Children’s clothing store.  “Kiddie Shop” was located in the building below.  She died in 1985 at the ripe old age of 96 years old.  That is so awesome.

Ella (Helen) married well and lived in NYC happily ever after as far as the records show.

Edward had his own plumbing and heating business.

Max- oh Max.  He makes me so proud.   He attended Yale and got his law degree before marrying his sweetheart and founding Chapel Hill Construction and basically building a large portion of New Haven, Connecticut.   Hospitals, schools,  you name it.

Nathan was the baby and the saddest part of this story.   Nathan answered the call of World War I.   Unfortunately,  he was killed in actiom at Chateau Thierry on July 19, 1918.  Before leaving for war he had been a trolley operator.

This family enriched their communities in ways that many could only hope for.  I may never figure out what this card says (translations appreciated) but despite that, I am absolutely in awe of this family and how they epitomized the American Dream.


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