Why did Hannah decide to leave Latvia?Our paternal great-grandparents were Hannah Wolfson and Aron Bliden. Aron was the son of Ber and was born in Zagare, Lithuania. He grew up in a section of Zagare called Siauliai, Kaunas. In 1846, he appears on the Tax and Voter lists as being Middle Class and owing a Candle Tax. We know he had 2 brothers: Mordedchai and Judel Reuven. To learn more about them, check out the Aron’s Siblings’ page. We also know that he married Anna Shockot, aka Hannah Wolfson. She loved to tell her children, how, as a little girl, she would watch her father work. He was a goldsmith, or maybe a silversmith. At the end of each day, he would sweep up the gold or silver dust, and Hannah loved to blow it away. We know that Hannah had 3 siblings. To learn more about them, check out the Hannah’s Sbilings’ page. Note: There are not many Shockot’s in the JewishGen.org Latvian database. However, there were many listed in the Lithuanian database. Could it be that Aron and Anna/Hannah met in Lithuania and then moved to Latvia? Also, I noticed that there were several Vulfson father’s whose children were listed with their mother’s maiden name of Shocket. This was a practice that was common in that time period. My other theory, then, is that Anna/Hannah’ mother was a Shocket and her father was a Wolfson. At some point in time, we know Aron and Hannah moved outside of Riga, Latvia, probably to an area called Wenden. There they ran a mill that produced flour for the city of Riga. On one side of the structure was the house, on the other side was the mill. There was a stream on the property and the children loved to go log rolling down it. There was a caretaker and even after all of Aron’s children moved away, he stayed on the property with his family taking care of the house and mill through the 1930’s.
In 1930, Lily Rose(second on the left) returned to her childhood home. The caretaker and his family were still there. You can see the stone house on the left side and the mill in the front.A little side story: Aunt Mildred Blieden Rich told me that when she was a little girl, she went to a friend’s house. The friend’s family was also from the Riga, Latvia, area. When her friend’s mother found out she was a Blieden, the mother exclaimed, “Oh, everyone in Riga knew the Blidens!” Hannah and Aaron had 9 children with 6 surviving past infancy. The names of the surviving children were Lily Rose, Harvey, Herman, Abe, Meyer, and Reve.
- Lily Rose graduated from the gymnasium (high school) near their home in Riga. Hannah and Aron gave her a special gift for her accomplishments. She would be allowed to visit the United States for one year. She would travel with her mother’s 2 sisters, her Aunt Zetta Wolfson Blumberg and her Aunt Wolfson Shapiro and their families. However, she stayed in the States after meeting her husband, Barnett Handler in New York.
- In 1903 when she was 52 years old, Hannah no longer wanted to stay at the Mill since none of the children wanted to run it. She took her youngest child, Reve, just a little girl, to the United States and settled in Brooklyn because that is where her sister, Zetta Blumberg lived. She sailed on the ship Kroonland on August 25, 1903, leaving from Antwerp. Her children paid for her passage. On the ship’s manifest, she listed Wenden. Latvia, as her address.
The Kroonland and part of it’s passenger list showing Hannah and Reve
- Herman emigrated to South Africa and became a jeweler
- Harvey, our grandfather, was studying to be a Rabbi when his father died so also left and travelled to London, then to South Africa and finally decided to join his mother in Brooklyn, NY, as did Abe and Meyer.
- However, Lily Rose and Meyer eventually settled in the Harrisburg, PA. area
- Abe went to Missouri where he was a Jeweler.
(Hannah seated and some of her children: Harvey, Reve, Abe, Lily Rose)
To learn more about the lives of Hannah and Aron’s children, click here,
except to learn more about their son, our grandfather, Harvey, click here.Hannah never learned to speak English, but she did manage to travel around. She loved going into the Turkish baths in Coney Island. She would take her grand-daughter, Mildred (Harvey’s daughter), with her. Mildred would wait on the boardwalk while her grandmother went in to the baths. Hannah died in May of 1935, which was just 6 months after her son, Harvey, passed away.
Outstanding research questions:
- When did Aron leave Lithuania for Latvia
- How did he meet Hannah
- Where was Hannah from?
- When did they get married
- When did he die and where is is buried