More Than I Bargained For

Family of Jacob and Hannah Solomons

Before today there were 6 posts on this blog about my Jewish family history, which has turned out to be more than I bargained for. They were all written between 31-Jul-2019 and 1-Dec-2019. Now there are three including this one. I had been reading them over and over again and decided all but “Where’s grandma?” and “Armistice Day” needed to be removed to reduce the amount of aimless rambling on the site. I also shortened the last of these two posts as well for exactly the same reason.

I’m uncovering information fairly regularly, even through the Covid-19 pandemic, and I just feel a lot of what I had posted was incomplete snippets of one unfinished story. Although it isn’t possible to tell truly complete family history stories, I should at the very least tell everything I know. I should also wait until I know enough to tell a story.

Anything interesting here?

My Mother was Jewish and my Father was not. I have concentrated on my Jewish grandmother’s side of my family because this all started when my Mum said she wanted to know what happened to her Mum. They fell out around 1949/50 and never saw each other again. Earlier, when I said my family history has turned out to be more than I bargained for, let me just spend a little time outlining some of what I know, and therefore a taste of what will be included in future posts.

My great-great-grandparents on my grandmother’s side were Jacob Solomons and Hannah (Levinson) Solomons as shown in the graphic at the top of the post. It seems Hannah, if not Jack, was born in Vishay (Veisiejai), Lithuania in 1862. They arrived in England before September 1881 when the first of their eight children was born.

Her name was Esther Solomons and she is my great-grandmother. Esther went to New York in September 1906, seems to have met a married man on board, and nine months later, gave birth to my grandmother, Eva Lichtenstein, in Fullbourne Street, London. Then in September 1907, she returned to New York without Eva, who was left with Hannah to be brought up. Esther ended up in Prince Rupert, Canada in 1913, married a greek Candy Maker cum Cook and was then brutally murdered in 1928. It was front page news for days and remains unsolved.

Eva got married in 1926, gave birth to my Mum in 1928, was separated from my grandfather in 1931 and ended up marrying a Cat Burglar from Bristol who once robbed Lord Beaverbrook.

Jacob and Hannah’s next three children were all boys. Hyman was a Cabinet Maker, Louis worked as a Fruit Merchant and Alexander was a Commercial Traveller who lost his life in France during WWI.

Next came four girls. The first was Kitty who followed Esther to Canada, where she got married, and was murdered in the same street as Esther was murdered, though almost exactly 17 years to the day afterwards. She left my Mum a one and one-half carat single diamond ring in her will. It was an argument over the whereabouts of this ring which lead to my Mum and grandmother falling out.

The last three girls were Rachael, Dinah and Rebecca. Rachael was a Tailoress, Dinah worked as a Fur Coat Finisher and Liner, but I do not know what work Rebecca was employed in. My Mum knew Hannah as well as all her children apart from Esther and Alexander, who died before she was born in 1928. It was my Mum who told me all the names in the graphic at the top of this post, as well as their children.

My Mother lived in 126 Long Acre, London, with a lady she called an Aunt, who Mum says witnessed a murder that I have found was of Russian Dora. Though probably not my family, I have been keeping an eye on Dora, whose real name is Helen Freedman. The Electoral Register shows my Mum lived there two years after the Murder of Helen.

When I set out to find what happened to my grandmother, I never expected brutal murders, prostitution and other crimes to feature as much as they have. On saying that, most of the time, my family history is full of people just living their lives as best as they can, loving their children and being loved back. The experience of tracing my family history has also brought me into contact with many kind and generous people from around the world who, otherwise, I would never have met.

Is that it then?

There are further stories on my Jewish grandfather’s side, and goodness knows what my Dad’s side will bring up. I have purposely left the detail behind some of these stories for the posts to come, including what I found to be the most upsetting story of them all.

Here ends the quick round-up of some of what I know. If there are still just three posts on this site when you are reading this, please be assured I have almost finished the fourth post ready for publication, and have the next lined up to begin.

Please come back soon.