The German / Gurman / Germaine + Edelstein

Family from Bessarabia

Louis German
Louis German

Sarah German (nee Edelstein) circa 1904
Sarah German
(nee Edelstein)
Anna German (nee Edelstein) circa 1948
Anna German
(nee Edelstein)

Brothers Samuel German and Louis German married sisters Sarah Edelstein and Anna Edelstein. I am the great-grandson of Samuel German and Anna Edelstein. These two families came to the US between 1898 and 1902. We can guess that the marriages of these two brothers to two sisters was arranged. 

Samuel German was born circa 1876. He entered the United States around 1898 and died on July 10, 1904 from an epidemic of spinal meningitis. Anna Edelstein was born around 1884. She entered the United States in 1900 and died on January 31, 1950. Samuel and Anna had three children. They were:

  • Rubin (aka Ruby) (could also be Ruben), born around 1901.
  • Sarah (aka Shirley) German, born around 1903.
  • Lena on 1910 census, Elinor on 1920 census (aka Lee), born around 1905.

Louis German was born June 20, 1877. He entered the United States in 1898 and died on July 4, 1926. According to the 1920 census Louis became a naturalized citizen in 1915 however the record of his naturalization is yet to be found. His address at the time of the 1920 census and at the time of his death six years later was 390 New Jersey Avenue, which was a tenement in Brooklyn, NY. The birth date of his wife Sarah Edelstein is unknown. She is believed to have entered the US in 1902, and her date of death is approximately 1904. She may have died from the same epidemic that her brother-in-law Samuel died from. Louis and Sarah had three children. They were:

  • Harry German (who later changed his name to Gurman) born around 1896.
  • Sam German born around 1898.
  • Blanche German born around 1899.

According to the 1910 US census, Harry and Sam entered the United States in 1902. Since they were around 6 and 4 years old respectively, we can presume that they entered the US with their mother Sarah and sister Blanche.

Each of these two families lost a parent due to the untimely deaths of Samuel and Sarah. After the death of Blanche's mother Sarah, her father Louis sent Blanche to live with her uncle Louis and aunt Katie Kaplan (nee Edelstein) who lived at 5th and McKean Street in Philadelphia. This would explain why Blanche is not listed on the 1910 US census with her father Louis German. It is believed that Katie Kaplan was a sister of Blanche's mother Sarah. At some point Harry and Sam moved to Philadelphia apparently to live near their sister.

Around 1906 surviving spouses Louis and Anna were married. In 1910 they lived at 350 Sheffield Avenue in Brooklyn, NY. Louis and Anna had the following children together:

  • Irene German.
  • Isadore (Ike) German.
  • Rachel (Ray) German born around 1907.
  • Benjamin German born around 1909.
  • Max German (who later changed his name to Germaine) born February 13, 1914.

The 1910 and 1920 census records provide little help in determining the European origins of our family. Both census records simply state the families were from Russia. However the burial plots of Louis, Anna and Sam provide more significant details that indicate where they were from. Louis and Anna are buried on a plot purchased by the First Bessarabian Benevolent Association of East New York, which was organized in 1909. Sam German is buried on the grounds of the First Independent Sekuraner KUV. Sekurani (also spelled Sokiryany, Secureni, Sokyrjany, and Sekiryany) is a town in northern Bessarabia. From these two burial plots I believe that we can safely assume that the family originated from Bessarabia, which is the present day country of Moldova in south-eastern Europe bordered on the north, east, and south by Ukraine and on the west by Romania. It is also known as Moldavia. It is likely that if they were not from Sekurani they were from somewhere near this town, which is near Moldova's western border with Romania.

At the time they lived there this area was part of Russia. Jews first emigrated to Bessarabia from Poland and Germany in the 1500's. According to the Russian census there were 225,637 Jews living in Bessarabia in 1897. The country was a center of Yiddish and Hebrew literature. Widespread impoverishment and pogroms during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to large-scale emigration. The names Edelstein and German might indicate that these two families migrated from Germany to Bessarabia at some time in the past. Follow the links below to articles on the 1910 Jewish Encyclopedia web site, which provide a brief history of this area.

The death certificates of Sam, Louis and Anna provide the names of their parents. Samuel and Louis were the children of Samuel German and his wife Bessie (or Beshie). Since Samuel was apparently named after his father, we can presume that the elder Samuel German passed away before the birth of his son. Anna and Sarah were the children of Abraham Edelstein and his wife Rachel.

They certainly had a difficult life in Bessarabia. How unfortunate it is that Samuel and Sarah met such untimely deaths so soon after reaching the US. And yet as fate would have it the family structure was maintained as best it could be by the marriage of the surviving spouses. From the three marriages eleven children were born. They stuck together literally until the end. They started with next to nothing and overcame tremendous hardship to have their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in the freedom and prosperity that they certainly intended for us.

Source material

Other surnames connected with this family are: Edelstein, German, Germaine, Gurman, Weisberg, Abramowitz, Abrams, Bellow, Kopyt, Dorfman, Ferdman, Silverman.

If you are a descendant of Samuel and Bessie German or Abraham and Rachel Edelstein, or their children Samuel German, Louis German, Sarah Edelstein or Anna Edelstein please email me. You may also leave a message in the guest book so that other cousins can get in touch with you. The only known photo of any of our ancestors is shown at the top of this page. If you have photos or other material that you can contribute to this site to share with our family please let me know.

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History of Bessarabia

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Copyright © 2003 Andrew Blumberg