Oshai Firestein was born in in Russia in 1840. His great-granddaughter, Rennie Marks Salz, says that she was told Oshai crossed the Prut River into Romania at the age of 8 to escape the Russian army. He married Mali (or Molly) Wechsler in Husi around 1860. They had seven children: Calman, Samuel, William, Joseph, Fanny, Rose, and Rachel.
Oshai and Molly brought four of their six children to the United States in 1887 or early 1888. (Fanny had already married. She would emigrate to the U.S. with her husband and family a few years later. Calman never left Romania.) At first, Oshai's family was in New York City. But soon the family had moved on to Glens Falls, NY, north of Saratoga Springs. This is where their last child, Rachel, was born.
Oshai died in Glens Falls in 1920. Molly died in Pineville, KY in 1927 and is buried in Glens Falls with her husband.
Glens Falls, NY
Sam Firestein was born in Husi in 1866. (See the Documents page for a translation of his civil birth certificate.) He was among the first wave of Jewish merchants who made their homes and fortunes in the Appalachian coal fields. He lived through the Depression in Brooklyn and died there in 1954. This from Raluca Dragnea:
"Sam came to the U.S. in 1887 or early 1888 with his parents and siblings (except for his brother Calman, who stayed behind in Leova). He shoveled snow in New York City for money after the March, 1988 "Great Snowstorm." Shortly afterward, Sam traveled with a friend from Husi named Amster to Kentucky where they were peddlers in the mountains until they and one of the Eusters opened a store in Beattyville..."
With little money down, an immigrant like Sam Firestein or Nathan Amster could stock his pack and start to make some money. Here is how Deborah R. Weiner describes it in her book, Coalfield Jews: An Appalachian History:
"It was their link to the Baltimore Bargain House that brought many of the early Jewish entrepreneurs to the coalfields. Some descendants later recalled that the wholesaler directed their fathers and grandfathers to the region even as the railroads were under construction. As one man put it, the peddlers would disembark 'where the railroad ended' and immediately begin to trudge up the hillsides with their packs."
Pack peddlers were more than just welcome in the rural Applachian mountains; they were essential. People were always happy to see them, broken English or not.
Emma Marcovici Firestein
Rifka Malka "Emma" Marcovici was born in Husi in 1880. She came to the U.S. in 1901 with her parents. She married Sam Firestein and lived in Beattyville, Kentucky. Their children were Stella and Cletta. The family moved from Beattyville to New York around 1907, a year or so after Cletta was born. Emma died in 1910.
Anna Carp Firestein
Anna Carp Firestein was Sam Firestein's second wife. Anna Carp was born in Husi in 1875. She and Sam had a third daughter, Sylvia. Anna died in 1949.
"Anna was a wonderful mother to Sam and Emma's children, Stella and Cletta. Sylvia was much like her mother: lively and always ready for new adventures."
Sam Firestein's brothers, Bill and Joe, followed Sam to Beattyville. Bill Firestein arrived around 1895 and Joe around 1903. The three Firestein brothers operated "dry goods" stores in Beattyville, Jackson, and Campton, Kentucky. Bill married Julia Beach, a local banker's daughter. In 1942, Bill drowned himself in a river after being told he had incurable cancer.
During an altercation, Joe Firestein shot and killed a man in the Jackson store in 1905. He was convicted of manslaughter, but pardoned by the governor after a short time in jail. Sadly, almost immediately after his release, Joe died of typhoid fever.
Fanny Firestein was born in Husi in 1867. She married Harris Levine in 1883 and they had their first daughter, Lena, while they were still in Romania. Fanny and Harris came to New York City around 1900. They had three more children: Joseph, Becca, and Hyman. The family lived in New York City. Sterling Euster shared what he remembers about Fanny's family:
"Fanny was the oldest of the Firestein girls. She married Harris Levine, who had a retail
store in Warrensburg, New York which is north of Glens Falls. Fanny's daughter, Lena, married a doctor, George Ball. They lived in Brooklyn. Lena and George had one son, Philip Ball. He went to Yale and was chosen to be the
Jewish roommate for Henry Ford's. Jews were not buying Ford cars as the Fords were perceived as being anti-Semitic. Someone thought having the two room together would change that somehow. Philip also went to Columbia Law School, but never practiced law. He invested in real estate. He died in the 1960's leaving no children."
Avram Firestein was born in Husi in 1868. Sadly, nothing else is known about him. (See the Documents page for a translation of his civil birth certificate.)
Rose Firestein was born in Husi in 1879. She married Morris Euster around 1903 and joined him in Pineville, KY. They had three children: Abraham, Hester, and Ruby. Rose died around 1935.
Rachel (or Rae) Firestein was born in Glens Falls, NY in 1900. She married Max Euster (Morris Euster's brother) in 1923 and they also lived in Pineville, KY. They had one child, Sterling. Rae died in Cincinnati in 1991.
Calman Faerstein and family
Calman Fairstein was Oshai and Mali Firestein's eldest son. Calman was born in Husi around 1864. (See the Documents page for what might be a translation of his civil birth certificate.) He married Sima Pomerantz, a woman from Leova — a town on the east bank of the Prut River, now in Moldova. Calman and Sima had two children, Israel and Rahila. Calman's family left Leova during World War II, but returned after the war. He died in Leova in 1937. Sima died in 1911 of cancer at the age of 31.
Rahila Faerstein and Solomon Ghertzenstein
Israel and Rahila both became physicians. Rahila met her husband, Solomon Ghertzenstein, at medical school in Bucharest. Israel and Rahila's descendents — many of them doctors and engineers — live in Israel and Canada.
Malvina and Tanon Feuerstein