Abe (Abraham) Abramowitz was born in Courland in the Russian empire about 1884. He was a child of Hirsch Leib HaLevy and Etta / Jetta Smarkovitch Abramowitz. His father was a butcher and according to family stories, worked for the Tzar. Abe was one of 10 children.

His oldest brother, Max, emigrated to the United States around 1892. When Max left, Abe was only about 8 years old.

In 1904, his brother, Sam, left for the United States. A short time later, two of his sisters, Gussie and Sarah, followed Sam to the United States. Their brother Max had sent money for all of their passages.

Did Abe plan to follow his siblings, or was he encouraged to do so after the Russian Revolution of January, 1905. During the revolution, many Latvians, especially Jews, were killed or forced to leave the country. We know his sister, Chana Mera, and her husband were deported to Ukraine. We don’t know if this was in the 1905 revolution or in the 1914-15 pogroms. However, there was a lot of unrest which might have prompted Abe’s decision to leave.

Abe left via Hamburg, Germany, on the steamship the S.S. Pennsylvania. To get to Hamburg, he would have had to take a train to the German border. He probably had to bribe the guards to let him cross into Germany. This was a common occurance if you did not have exit papers. Since he was of conscription age, it would have been hard for him to get papers. This train would take him to Berlin.

From Berlin, he would have taken another train to Hamburg. This train would have been crowded as Hamburg was one of Europe’s busiest ports.

Herman Wolinksy describes his grandfather’s journey in the article” “Retracing My Grandfather’s Journey: Kovno to Hamburg, Through Hull to America”:

. . . the trek from Kovno would have been a time-consuming affair. The journey to Hamburg would have taken up to four days. The railway carriages on which he traveled comprised a series of locked compartments. Each compartment had uncomfortable seats with limited luggage racks above them. There would have been enough space for eight people in the carriage. Most of the luggage would be in separate vans situated at the rear of the emigrant trains that traversed Germany. The railway companies locked all carriages for the passenger’s own safety. Upon disembarkation at Hamburg, they would stay at approved lodging houses

Below is a picture of the S.S. Pennsylvania and one of passengers getting onto the ship (1).

The steamship S.S. Pennsylvania
Passengers getting onto the S.S. Pennsylvania

Abe boarded the steamship on August 11, 1905. (2) The first stop was Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France. From there they crossed the Atlantic and docked at the Hamburg-American piers in Hobokon, New Jersey. Because he was travelling in the steerage section, he would have had to take a ferry or barge to Ellis Island to be examined for physical and mental acceptance. From Ellis Island, he would have taken another ferry to the pier at Battery Park. From there, he could walk to his brother Max’s apartment on Chrystie Street. He arrived in New York on August 24, 1905.

Ship manifest for Abe Abramowitz, Aug. 1905

On the ship manifest above (3), he lists himself as 21 years of year and lists his occupation as handler. According to one source, a handler is a person who buys and sells things. (4) However, according to the “Dictionary of Old Occupations” (5), a handler is “a pottery industry worker who specialised in making cup handles”.

The transcription of the manifest is on the right. You can see that the original record contains more information.

When he first arrived, he lived in his brother Max’s tenement apartment along with his siblings, Sam, Gussie, and Sarah.

Abe Abramowitz ship manifest

Abe does not appear with Max and his siblings on the 1910 Federal Census. (6) However, I believe he had moved out and was living as a boarder on Market Street. He was now working as an operator in a coat factory.

1910 Federal Census for Abe Abramowitz

On February 20, 1916, he married Eva Poley. Note is mother’s name is incorrect on this transcription.

Over the next 13 years, Abe and Sarah had six children, 5 daughters and one son:

  • Sarah (1917 – ?) who married Harry Locker. They had on son
  • Francis ( 1918 – ?) who married Abe Silver. They had 2 sons
  • Morris (aka Sol) (1920 – 2004)
  • Nettie (1924 – ?) who married Harry Goldkrantz. They had 3 children
  • Lee (1926 – 1977)who married David Brown. They had one son.
  • Ethel (1930 – ?) who married Chuck Unger. They had 4 children.

In 1919, he applied for a Declaration of Intention to become naturalized. He would have to wait 3 more years to get his Naturalization papers. (7)

From this document we learn that Abe was 5′ 7″ tall and weighed 160 pounds. He had black hair and brown eyes.

In the 1920 (8) Census, he is living at East Seventh Street #222, Rear in Manhattan. He is living with his wife, Eva, and two children, Sarah and Francis. He is now working as a chopper in a meat company. Note that his year of immigration is incorrect as we know he arrived in 1905.

1920 Census for Abe Abramowitz

We have a bunch of pictures of Abe and his family thanks to cousin Arnold Brown. However, we do not know where these were taken or how old he was in these pictures.

Abe Abramowitz

Abe Abramowitz
Abe Abramowitz
Abe Abramowitz

Abe Abramowitz
Abe Abramowitz

The following two photos were labeled as Abe with family, but unfortunately, we do not know who the other people are.

Abe and unknown family
Abe and unknown family

In the 1930 census (9) we see that all of his children were born. They were now living at 539 5th Street in Manhattan. He was still speaking Yiddish and put that he had not attended school. We was now working as a street cleaner.

1930 Federal Census listing for Abe Abramowitz

In 1933, his brother, Sam, died suddenly from a heart attack.

Then on May 5, 1934, Abe passed away. At the time he was working as a helper in a garage. From family stories, we learn that after he died, his older brother, Max, acted as a father figure to his six young children.

Abe is buried in Mt. Zion Cemetery in Maspeth, NY. Note his last name was transcribed as AbrOmowitz making it difficult to locate.

Abe Abramowitz death certificate information
Abe Abramowitz cemetery information
protrait of Abe Abramowitz
Abe Abramowitz

Abe’s wife Eva was left to raise the children on her own with the help of Abe’s brother, Max.

Here is Eva with her daugthers.

Eva and her daughters

Abe's wife, Eva
Abe's wife, Eva

From the following pictures, we can tell that Eva enjoyed being with her grandchildren.

Eva and grandchild
Eva and grandchild

Eva and daugher Francis’ child

Eva and grandchild

Some Photos of Abe’s And Eva’s Children

  • Sarah (1916 – 1954) married Harry Locker. They had one son. Sarah died in Los Angeles, CA

Sarah Abramowitz
Sarry and Harry's wedding picture

Sarah, oldest daughter of Abe and Eva
Sarah, oldest daughter of Abe and Eva

  • Francis ( 1918 – ?) married Abe Silver. They had 2 sons.

Frances and her mother, Eva

Eva and Francis

Frances, daughter of Abe and Eva
Frances, daughter of Abe and Eva

Frances and her son, daughter of Abe and Eva
Frances, daughter of Abe and Eva, and her son

  • Morris (aka Sol) (1920 – 2004) – Sol remamined a bachelor throughout his life.

Sol, son of Abe and Eva
  • Nettie (1924 – ?) married Harry Goldkrantz. They had 3 children
Nettie and family
Nettie and family

  • Lee (1926 – 1977) married David Brown. They had one son.

Lee Brown pictures

  • Ethel (1930 – ?) married Chuck Unger. They had 4 children.

Ethel, youngest daughter of Abe and Eva
Ethel, youngest daughter of Abe and Eva
Ethel, youngest daughter of Abe and Eva

Abe and Eva would have loved to be part of this picture. Here are all of their children and grandchildren together at Kenny’s Bar Mitzvah, circa 1973.

Four of Eva’s daughters:

Fran, Nettie, Lee, and Ettie

Fran, Nettie, Lee, and Ettie, Eva's 4 daughters

Abe and Eva's children and grandchildren

Front row from left – Steve Nemeth (Netties’s son-in-law), Arnold Brown , Lisa and Larry Unger (two of Ethel’s children).  

Back row from left Sue Nemeth (Nettie’s daughter), Sol, Lee, Harry and Nettie, Ethel, Kenny (Ethel’s middle son) Chuck (Ethel’s husband), Frances and Abe Silver, Harold and Martin Silver (Frances’ 2 sons).


  1. The S.S. Pennsylvania Steamship from the Hamburg-American Line
  2. The Port of Hamburg
  3. The Ship Manifest for Abe Abramowitzhttp://Citation information Detail Staatsarchiv Hamburg; Hamburg, Deutschland; Hamburger Passagierlisten; Volume: 373-7 I, VIII A 1 Band 169; Page: 1773; Microfilm No.: K_1791 Edit source Source information Title Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934 Author Staatsarchiv Hamburg Publisher Ancestry.com Operations, Inc. Publisher date 2008 Publisher location Provo, UT, USA Edit repository Repository information Name Ancestry.com Close
  4. Defnition of Handler
  5. The Dictionary of Old Occupations on the Family Researcher website
  6. 1910 Federal Census listing Abe Abramowitz on Ancestry.com
  7. The Naturalization Process
  8. 1920 Federal Census as found on Ancestry.com
  9. 1930 Federal Census as found on Ancestry.com