Friday, April 23, 2010

Family Controversy: Misrochs and Diamondsteins

Three siblings, known only by either their married names or immigrant names, were Dora Luban (wife of Solomon Luban), Ida Spero and (Robert) David Danning. All three were born in Dvinsk, Latvia. Their parents may have had hit hard times, so, maybe at about the same time, David was sent off to Argentina and Dora (and Ida?) was sent to live with an uncle who owned an inn. Some family memory suggests that their parents committed suicide due to the hard times. My guess is that the uncle lived in Rezekne and that is where her marriage to Solomon was arranged. I do find a record of one family of Misrochs living in Rezekne, but the husband’s occupation is “Coopersmith,” and there is no mention of an inn (see Misroch family tree starting with Moisey). Interestingly, family memory among Henry Luban’s family suggests that the Lubans of Rezekne were innkeepers. Was Dora’s “uncle” a Luban??

But who were Dora, David and Ida? Everyone, Harry, Ben and Leah Danning as well as Evalyn Michaelson, all remember the three of them as siblings. No one seems to suspect that these three were anything but two sisters and a brother. There is some uncertainty about their original last name. Everyone remembers Misrach, but there are echoes of another name, Diamondstein (probably originally Dimenstein or Dimenst, which is as common as Misroch in Dvinsk). Evalyn rememberd that David got his name “Danning” as a modification of Diamondstein. Harry, Leah and Ben counter this: Danning came from Denning, the last name of the woman who taught David English. I am uncertain as to whether he took the name Danning once he was in the US (in Philly?) or before. Ben does remember being teased as a kid about being really “Diamondstein” instead of “Danning”. I was ready to discount Diamondstein completely as mere rumor, but something from the Spero side makes me wonder.

Here I enter the realm of California Death records, a useful, if morbid, database. Celia Jacobson’s death record lists her mother’s maiden name as “Misrach,” presumably reflecting Eve’s memory of her grandmother. Since the only records I find of Dora are from after her marriage, the direct records only indicate her married name of Luban. But according to Celia’s death record, Dora was a Misrach, originally. In agreement with this is the death record of Celia’s brother, Simon. His death record lists his mother’s maiden name as “Misroch.” The spellings are equivalent, so from both Simon’s family and Celia’s family it is remembered that Dora was a Misroch/Misrach. There is no death record in this database for David Danning since he died before 1940, when the records began to be kept, so I can’t get more information from that side of the family. But when I turn to the Spero side I find something very strange. I find Ida Spero’s death record and it lists her mother’s maiden name as Mizrach, yet another spelling of this name. But wait! Dora and Ida are supposed to be sisters, yet Dora’s maiden name is Misrach, but Ida’s MOTHER’s maiden name was also Mizrach! This suggests they were not sisters. Dora’s death record lists HER mother’s maiden name as Cohn. I have no other evidence for this name, though there are lots of families with names similar to Cohn who lived in Daugavpils. Looking at the death record of Ida’s son, Simon, I find that his record lists his mother’s maiden name as DIAMONDSTEIN! Dora was a Misrach whose mother was a Cohn. Ida was a Diamondstein whose mother was a Misrach. This suggests that Ida and Dora were really cousins! I can find no way to reconcile these—memory insists they were sisters, but death records strongly suggest that they were cousins. If they were cousins, it is unclear where David fits in. Two things might back up the idea of Ida and Dora being cousins instead of sisters. First, according to death records, Ida was about 13 years younger than Dora and 12 years younger than David. This is a LONG time between children. Second, according to memory, Dora was sent away to live with an uncle. If that uncle was actually the husband of her aunt, her father and aunt would have been Misrochs, and the uncle she was sent to live with could have been a Dimenstein who was Ida’s father. I can’t resolve this unless I can find a way to contact the Spero side of the family, something I have been unable to do so far.

The Misrochs are rememberd by the Latvian archivist, Aleksander Feigmanis as being timber mercahnts. I find records of these Misrochs on the website. He remembers Dimensteins as including religious personnel (Dora was proud of her family since they had many Rabbis…a hint at a Dimenstein connection?) I did find records of Dimenstein rabbis on Aleksander also remembers Lubans as being innkeepers.

I have only hints as to the names of Dora’s parents. My mother remembers Dora's mother was probably named Chava. If Dora’s death record is correct, she was Chava Cohn or something similar. The 1897 “All Russia” census record for Dweira Luban lists her father’s name as Awsey. If her maiden name really was Misroch, then he was Awsey Misroch.


  1. Hi. I have subscribed to your blog and think it is interesting. I am related to the Lubans in Milwaukee referenced below from your research:

    "Henry and Esther had 6 children: Belle, Sarah, Minnie, Sophia, Helen and John (also remembered as Jack). Henry, Esther, Belle and Sarah are listed as having been born in Russia in a place that looks like “,” maybe “Witebsk.” I figured it is likely that two Luban families living on the same street in Milwaukee in 1920 are probably related and this has been borne out. If Henry and Solomon were related, then “” and “” probably refer to the same place."

    Henry and Esther were my great grandparents. I never knew them. My grandmother was their daughter Helen who married Milton Holzman. Belle, Minette, Sarah and Sophia were my great aunts and I grew up knowing all of them. All lived in Milwaukee except Sophia who lived in New York after marriage. My mother (Helen and Milton's daughter Susan) says that she grew up calling Simon "Uncle". He was Henry's brother (actually my mother's great uncle). The only child of Henry and Esther who is still living is Belle. She is 107 and still pretty sharp.

    My mother also said that before emigrating from Russia with Belle and Sarah, Henry and Esther had a son Moshe who died in early childhood. I am told that only Belle remembers him.

    Amy Siegel
    Annapolis, Md

  2. Thanks for commenting Amy...I will include your info on Moshe in an appropriate article. Thanks. Sorry I didn't see this for about a year!

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