Jacob (Yankel) Gelfand came to Philadelphia, Pensylvannia in Dec 1904 aboard the SS Merion from Liverpool. He told his children in the US that he came from Vitebsk in Belarus. In his US naturalization papers however he stated that he was born on April 30 1876 in Igumen (present day Cherven), Belarus. This suggests that though he was born in Igumen, he spent his last years in Russia predominantly in Vitebsk. His parents were Zalman Gelfand and Sara (or Hannah or Hinda Leah) Margolis.
When asked what his job was in Russia, he humoristically would say that "he worked for the Tsar". He meant that he was a soldier in the Tsar's army and in fact, in a common story for Jews in Russia at the time, he deserted the Russian army to come to America. Two years later his wife, Sara Swerling came over.
Jacob Gelfand lived and worked as a blacksmith in Philadelphia. His wife, Sara Swerling born in Riga when it was part of Russia, had been a school teacher in Russia and in the US helped her children with their high school work, including such subjects as latin. Jacob and Sara had four sons and one daughter, all born in the USA. Jacob Gelfand died in Atlantic City, NJ in 1961 at the age of 86.
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