Sarah Abramowitz Freedman was born to Etel (Yetta) Smarkovitch and Hirsch Leib HaLevi Abramowitz in the Mitau area of Latvia. Her father was a butcher and according to family stories supplied meat to the Tzar’s army. She was one of 10 children. Although her sister, Gussie, graduated from gymnasium (preparatory school for higher education), we do not believe that Sarah did.

According to her ship manifest, she was 19 when she sailed to America with her sister, Gussie, and her cousin, Feige Abramson. She sailed from Copenhagen in third class on the steamship Island. It was a long, arduous journey. To read about the details of how she got to America, see my blog “From Mitau to Manhattan: Grandma Gussie’s Journey to the United States in 1904“.

When she arrived, she first lived with her brother, Max, in his tenement at 34 Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side. Max had sent money for siblings Sarah, Gussie, and Sam to emigrate and they were all living together in 1905. Sam had arrived first, followed by Sarah and Gussie. The following year, their brother, Abe, joined them.

According to the 1905 Census [1], Sarah work in the millinery industry. Soon after arriving, she had her picture taken probably to send home to show her family that she was well. According to family stories, she missed her mother terribly throughout her life.

1905 Census for Max Abramowitz

Sarah Abramowitz Freedman
Sarah Abramowitz Freedman

By 1909, according to her sister’s marriage license, Max had moved his family to the Upper East Side to 48 E. 107th Street. The area was known as East Harlem and was considered prime real estate because of its proximity to the elevated railorads on Second and Third Avenues[2].

On March 10, 1912, Sarah married Charles Freedman in Manhattan [3].

Sarah and Charles' wedding photo
Sarah and Charles' wedding photo
Sarah and Charles
Sarah Abramowitz-Marriage Record

By 1920, Sarah and Charles had four children: Henry, Dorothy, and twins, Hellen and Edith. Below is a picture of the twins. Edith is on the left.

Edith and Hellen Freedman

At this time, Sarah’s uncle, Max Abramowitz, was living with her family. Note that in the 1920 US Census Record his name is totally misspelled. (see below) [4]

1920 Census for Charles and Sarah and family.
Sarah Abramowitz Freedman
Charles, Sarah, and unknown man

Above: Sarah is on the left. On the right is Charles, Sarah, and an unknown man.

In 1925, Sarah’s family lived at 121 Fulton Avenue in the Queens, Long Island City, New York. Charles is in the paper business and Sarah is a housewife at home. [5]

1925 NY State Census for Sarah and Charles and family

By the 1930 Census, Sarah and her family were living at
8-07 Astoria Avenue in Queens, New York. Charles is still in the paper industry.[6]

On the right: Dorothy, Sarah, and Charles, Hellen is kneeling.

Her brother, Sam, died suddenly on January 22, 1933. Her brother, Abe, passed away on May 5, 1934.

Dorothy, Sarah, and Charles, Hellen is kneeling.
1930 US Census for Sarah and Charles

On June 9, 1935, Sarah’s daughter, Dorothy (1915 – 2014), married Kalman Sekely. Over the years, they had 3 children.

However, in the 1940 US Census [7], Sarah’s other three children still lived at home.

They now lived at 26-80 30th Street in Queens. Charles is still in the Paper and Twine business. His annual income was $2,080.

Their son, Henry, was now working as an Electrical Engineer and earning $1800 per year.

On the right is a picture of 26.-80 30th Street. [8]

Sarah, Dorothy, and Charles

Sarah, Dorothy, and Charles

1940 US Census for Sarah and Charles
Sarah and Charles on vacation

Sarah and Charles on Vacation

Their son, Henry Friedman (2013 – 2004) attended the prestigious Stuyvesant High School. He then received more than one degree in electrical engineering from CCNY. In 1960, he earned a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University.

When he was born, his name was misspelled as Friedman on his birth certificate and his parents left it that way. That is why his name is different from his father’s.

Henry married Celia Osipowitz on June 1, 1950. He and Celia had three children. According to family stories, the Osipowitz’ ran a Deli that Sarah and Charles frequented. They started talking and realized that they should fix up their single children! That is how Henry and Celia met.

Henry Friedman, son of Charles and Sarah

The twins, Edith and Hellen, both married and had 2 children each.

At right, is Edith, her husband, David Zegun, and her daughters.

Edith Zegun and family

In the 1950 Census [9], Charles and Sarah are both listed as 60 years old. There is no occupation listed and in the work category, “OT” for other was recorded. That means he was not working but nor was he unfit to work.

1950 Census record for Charles and Sarah

We are not sure when Sarah died, but Charles remarried in 1964 [10]. The marriage was short-loved as Charles died soon afterwards according to family stories.

After Sarah died, her grandchildren were asked to remember her fondly as she had a difficult life and could be difficult at times. Interestingly, her sister Gussie’s grandchildren were told the same thing about Gussie.

Charles' 2nd marraige record
Ellis Island Wall of Honor for Sarah
Ellis Island Wall of Honor for Charles

Memories of Sarah from two of her 10 Grandchildren:

Note: Throughout her life, Sarah never learned to speak English. She only spoke Yiddish so it was hard for her to communicate with her grandchildren. Therefore, not many stories were shared about her life.

From Maggie Farkas, daughter of Dorothy:

Maggie said that her grandmother, Sarah, made her own borscht. She always had Bosco chocolate syrup in the house. Maggie can still picture the Aunt Jemima cover over the toaster. Maggie felt that Sarah was bossy and domineering whereas her husband, Charles was mild-mannered and easy-going.

Sarah was afraid of mice.

She told her grandchildren that in the old country women were shrewd while the men stayed in the house and studied Torah. She had very thin hair and probably suffered from an undiagnosed lactose interorance condition. Sarah enjoed Yiddish music and songs. “Rozinchiles mit Mandlen” (Raisens and Almonds) was one of her favorites.

Education was very important to Sarah and she insisted that Maggie go to college. However, Maggie remembers her grandfather always reading the Yiddish newspapers but never her grandmother. That is why she always thought her grandmother could not read and was uneducated herself.

Maggie remembers her mother and grandmother screaming and crying when they found out about Sarah’s two brothers and their families who stayed in Riga and ended up being killed in the Holocaust. They had not wanted to leave because they were well off and established in Riga.

Maggie got married when she was 20 and the following year she and her husband took a trip to Europe. Sarah did not want them to go. She said nothing good ever happened in Europe.

Sarah kept kosher but she loved pizza.  When she went to visit her daughter, Dorothy, they always brought pizza with them since they wouldn’t bring it into their own home.  Dorothy would get upset since she would cook a nice meal and all they would eat was the pizza.

Sarah liked to swing her grandchildren up and down on her ankles.

Sarah and Charles were orthodox but they attended a conservative synagogue since they wanted to sit together. They were often seen walking hand in hand.

From Helen Freedman, daughter of Henry:

Helen’s parents met because Charlie and Sarah would frequent her other grandparents’ Kosher delicatessen and the two sets of parents compared notes: One had a single son, and one had a single daughter, and they fixed them up! Visiting all four grandparents was easy since they lived right down the street from one another.

Helen remembers that Sarah and Charles had a two bedroom apartment. Their bedroom had two twin beds and the other bedroom was “Henry’s room.” One time Helen had a sleep-over and slept in her dad Henry’s room . The night she spent with Bubby and Charlie, they played cards and Helen had a terrible case of the hiccups. She couldn’t stop hiccuping and felt terribly embarrassed.

The first time Helen saw her father cry was when Sarah, his mother, died. He had been a momma’s boy.


  1. 1905 NY State Census Record: New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1905; Election District: A.D. 08 E.D. 01; City: Manhattan; County: New York; Page: 59 on
  2. The History of the Upper East Side
  3. Charles and Sarah’s Wedding Record: “New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829-1938”, database, FamilySearch ( : 22 August 2022), Charles Friedman or Freedman and Sarah Abramowitz, 1912.
  4. 1920 United States Census: Year: 1920; Census Place: Manhattan Assembly District 17, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1216; Page: 15B; Enumeration District: 1193, on
  5. 1925 NY State Census: New York State Archives; Albany, New York; State Population Census Schedules, 1925; Election District: 37; Assembly District: 01; City: Long Island City; County: Queens; Page: 3 on
  6. 1930 US Census: Year: 1930; Census Place: Queens, Queens, New York; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 0044 on
  7. 1940 US Census: Year: 1940; Census Place: New York, Queens, New York; Roll: m-t0627-02720; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 41-67 on
  8. picture of 26-80 30th Street in Queens from the Zillow website.
  9. 1950 US Census: United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: New York, Queens, Ne on
  10. Charles’ 2nd marriage record: New York City Municipal Archives; New York, New York; Borough: QueensEdit source, Source information Title New York City, Marriage License Indexes, 1907-1995 on