Memoirs of Nathan Lipson Lipshitz

The following account of his family origins in Igumen and nearby Puchowitz was written by my mother's cousin Nathan Lipson (Lipshitz) probably some time in the 1970s and published by the New York based Igumener Society.

Howard Cuckle.


The Russian section where, our grandfathers lived is called White Russia. The State of Minsk is located in White Russia. The county of Igumen is in the State of Minsk.

Our grandfathers: Jacob Wolf and his brother Schneir Zalmon, lived in the town of Igumen. Jacob Wolf was a tailor and he had several people working for him. People in the town called him "Jacob Wolf the Tailor". Jacob Wolf had four sons and four daughters. The sons: David Osher, Solomon and Jeremia. The daughters: Sarah, Matlie, Mariashe, and Tonia. When Jacob Wolf's children grew up, they helped in his shop. David, the oldest son, was more scholarly, and he went for a higher education. As years went on, David was qualified to teach and he became a Hebrew teacher. He got himself a job as a teacher on a farm. He was teaching the farmer's children to read and write. In those days, a teacher on a farm moved in, got room and board plus a little pay, all included.

The farm where David was teaching was located several miles from the village called Puchowitz. The population of Puchowitz was about 400 families.

In Puchowitz lived a well known family by the name of Mailach, the second name Yermock. His wife's name was Eshke. (In Puchowitz he was called Mailach Eshkes.) Their business was pottery. They used to take clay pots and have them wired around so the pots would he more firm and would not break so easy. They were selling those pots to surrounding farmers, who used to come to town mostly on Sundays. Sunday was a very busy day for all business people in Puchowitz.

Mailach and Eshke had many children. Among their children was a daughter by the name of Rachel and a daughter named Dvosha. In the family naturally there were many sons and daughters, but right now we are interested in these two daughters. Dvosha, the older sister of Rachel, married a man from Koidanov. His name was Noah Hirshil. Koidanov is a village located in the county of Vilno. Koidanov was known as the place where the well known rabbi lived. He was called the "Koidanover Rabbi". It was a Chasidic Organisation and there were many followers who lived there. The man Dvosha married was a book binder for the Rabinical Organization. A child was born to Dvosha and Noah Hirshil and they named her Chaie. When Chaie was a few years old, her mother passed away and her grandmother Eshke took her to Puchowitz and took care of her. Not long after that Chaie's father Noah Hirshil died and Chaie became a complete orphan.

Chaie used to call her grandmother "Mother Eshke", and Eshke's Children who were her cousins, she brothers and sisters. There were [illegible] sisters and three brothers.

Some years later when sister Rachel became of age, Mailach and Eshke found out that there was a very fine gentleman, not far from Puchewitz, teaching a farmer's children. They got around, matched him up to Rachel. His name was David. David and Rachel got married and a short time later a child was born.

They all lived near each other. As time went on an unfortunate thing happened. Rachel died and left David with a baby on his hands. They all decided that Chaie, the orphan, who is now old enough, they got them together and that is when Chaie married David and took care of David's child.

Chaie and David moved into an apartment and after a while Chaie gave birth to a daughter and she was named Dvosha (Dora). Unfortunately the adopted child passed away. When Dvosha was two and one half years old, her brother was born and they named him Noah Hirshil (now Nathan). Later were two girls born: Malka and Drozna Leah.

During the early years of David's marriage to Chaie, David opened a dry goods store in Puchowitz, selling various merchandise, from piece goods to stuff for shoeing the horses. Also groceries, herring, candy, sugar, kerosene for lighting the lamps, plus oil for oiling the wagon wheels. (There was no electricity in those days.) David had a general store. David used to get up early every morning to put up the samovar and drink tea. At the same time he used to take his two older children Dvosha (Dora) and Noah Hirshil (Nathan) and teaching them to read and write and also arithmetic. That routine continued daily before David went to the store. And Chaie, his wife, after preparing meals for the day, used to go to the store and remain there until closing time. While the parents were away they had a servant girl to take care of the smaller children.

When Dvosha (Dora) reached the age of about 12 years old, she got a job as an apprentice tailor. After she learned the tailoring business, they put her on the payroll. Her pay amounted to one meal a day plus five rubles for a year.

[Nathan's account continues with how David's brothers moved to England and the USA, at least one of them in order to avoid army service. Later first Dora age 15 and later Nathan moved to the New York with help from one of David's brothers. He then details how Dora and he met their partner's and obtained work in New York. Finally the story returns to Belarus].

My sisters Malke and Drozna remained in Russia. Malke and Drozna had a very good education. Malke became a registered nurse and worked in biggest hospitals and with the biggest doctors. She was married and had no children. Drozna became a technician and was married and had a daughter.

When Hitler came to our section, my father David's business went bad and he had to give it up. My sister Dora and I sent them money to help them along. After a while our father David developed cancer in his arm. The doctors advised him to have his amputated but he could not agree to it. He suffered for a long time. He died in 1939 at the age of 74.

Some time later the Germans rounded up all the Jewish people from Puchowitz, our mother Chaie among them. They were told to take all their belongings with them and were marched off about three miles from Puchowitz. They reached a big dugout. They were all lined up in front of the dugout and were machine gunned. That was the end of our mother Chaie, she should rest in peace.

Our sisters Malke and Drozna lived in different cities and different parts of Russia. Malke and Drozna plus Drozna's daughter perished in a concentration camp. We have never heard from them since.

Copyright 2000 Igumen SIG
Webmaster Jeff Malka. JeffMalka@SephardicGen.com

Back to Cherven (Igumen) Main Page