Recently I hired a researcher in Kiev to look into the family of Fenya (Fannie) Ronen, who was the only member of her immediate family to have immigrated to the United States. Genealogical research in Russia is complicated and difficult: there is the matter of language, there is little or no access to records, digitization of records is only just beginning, many archives are suspicious and uncooperative and there are laws that limit who can access information, well beyond the limitations that we have here.
Because Fannie died when those of her grandchildren who had been born were quite young, she wasn’t around to tell us about her family or her life in Russia. We have some information from her ship manifest and from family stories: she was from Kiev, her father Meier was a “tailor for the Czar’s army,” she had a couple of sisters and a brother. The letters she and her husband Louis wrote to each other, both in Russia and while she was waiting for him to send for her, gave us a few more details. We learned there was another sister, Sarah, we learned of sister Nechamka’s tragic death, we learned of the blood libel case involving the uncle in Fastov. But there is so much more that we never knew.
I had a few goals for the research: How was the family related to the uncle in Fastov, who we now know was Froim Zalmanov Pashkov? What was her mother Chana’s maiden name? Did Chana and Meier have any siblings? What happened to the family after the revolution and civil war, and during World War II? Can any descendants be located?
Here is what I learned from this research:
In 1895 Meier Yankelev Ronin was an Apprentice Tailor, of the Bourgeois class, and lived with his master, Zelik Evseev Relin, at 7 Basseynaya Street in Kiev. Therefore, we know that his father was Yankel (Yakov).
A son named Yakov was born to Meier and Chana in 1900 in Kiev and died in 1903.
Chana’s name was Chana-Raysa, but we could not learn her maiden name.
Nechamka’s death from typhus in 1919 at the age of 24 was confirmed. She is buried in Kiev.
Meier and all the children, except for Yakov, were born in Loyev, Rechitsa district, Minsk Guberniya. There is some documentation for this, although no documentation was found for Fenya at all. The repository for records pertaining to Fannie’s birth are likely in Minsk, beyond the reach of this researcher without spending considerably more.
Meier was known in Russian as Mark.
Meier, daughter Franka and daughter Sarah were evacuated from Kiev in August 1941, just a few weeks before the slaughter at Babi Yar. Franka and Meier lived at the same address and she does not appear to have been married.
Sarah was married to Grigoriy Lopushanskiy, who was then in the military, and had an 11-year old son, Yan.
Meier, then about 77 years old, and Franka were evacuated to Chirchik, Uzbekistan and Sarah and Yan to Michaylovka in Stalingradskaya.
We also learned more about Froim Pashkov’s family, including that his wife Bashiva Srul-Gershova was born in Fastov and therefore was unlikely to have been Meier’s sister, since he was from Loyev, and more likely to have been Chana’s. However, we do not have confirmation of this, though the researcher is pretty confident. If Bashiva was Chana’s sister, then we would have Chana’s father’s name, Srul-Gersh (Israel Hirsch). We also learned the names of three of Pashkov’s children born before the birth of Yosel Pashkov, the child murdered in 1913.
More details about this research, the results and the sources found can be found in the Ronen section of this website. It was pretty exciting to get this information!