Saturday, February 16, 2019

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: How Did Your Parents Meet?

For this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, Randy Seaver is recycling a question he has asked before, but he has reworded the challenge:

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music!), is:

(1) One of our family stories for our descendants should be how we met our spouses.  Another one should be, if we know it, how did our parents meet each other?

(2) This week, let's tell our "parents meeting" story if we know it.  If you don't know that story, tell us another one about one of your relatives meeting his/her spouse or significant other.
(3) Tell us in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook post.  Please leave a comment on this blog post to lead us to your answers.

As I mentioned, Randy has asked this question at least once before.  I answered it back in 2015.  I have not added any details to my knowledge of how my parents met (I really need to talk to my father about that), so I'll write about my great-grandparents instead this time.

I was told by my mother that her maternal grandparents, Joe Gordon and Sarah Libby Brainin, met when Joe was boarding in Sarah's parents' house in Manhattan.  It was common for immigrant families to take in boarders, particularly from the same ethnic group, both as a way to help make ends meet and to help new immigrants arriving in the United States.  Apparently my great-great-grandparents, Morris and Rose Dorothy (Jaffe) Brainin, had boarders at various times.

My great-grandfather arrived in New York City in 1909 as Jojne Gorodetsky.  In the 1910 census he had already changed his name and was enumerated as Joe Gordon, living with his uncle Sam Schneiderman (his mother's brother) and Sam's family in Manhattan.

My great-grandmother arrived in New York City also but earlier, in 1905, as Sore Leibe Brainin.  Her father, my great-great-grandfather Mendel Hertz Brainin (he went by Morris and Max in the United States), arrived in 1906.  I still haven't found my great-great-grandmother Ruchel Dwojre Brainin on a passenger list with the three young children she brought with her, but by 1910 the entire family was here and was enumerated in Manhattan also (except for Sarah's brother David).

Joe must have become a boarder in the Brainin household sometime between 1910 and 1913.  Joe and Sarah became engaged in 1913 and married on April 4, 1914 in Manhattan.  The marriage lasted until Joe's death on May 2, 1955.

I have Joe and Sarah's engagement photo, but I can't find the scanned version.  My grandmother told me that this photo of them was taken while they were engaged.


  1. You're right, it was very common for families here to take in relatives/friends as boarders. The extra money was nice, but I am sure they enjoyed having family members with them for a while and got to know new friends from the "old country."

    1. Not only relatives and friends, but also fellow "countrymen" (or in this case fellow members of the tribe). Because my great-grandparents were from different parts of the Russian Empire, the only language they had in common was Yiddish!

  2. My husband has several ancestors who met at boarding houses!

    1. Several? Wow, that's an interesting trend for a family tree!


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