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This site last updated May 30, 2002
Abraham and Anna Grace Jaffer
Abraham Jaffer and his wife Anna Grace Kessler Jaffer
left Hamburg, Germany on October 16, 1888 to begin their trip to America.
They started their journey on the steamship Northenden. The Hamburg
passenger list showing Abraham and Hinde Jaffe indicates they were
both 19 years old. They were stated to be previous
residents of "Schatt," in Russia. Schatt is the Yiddish name for Seta,
a town in central Lithuania. His occupation is listed as "miller."
They landed in Grimsby, on
the east coast of England, took a train west to Liverpool, and then traveled
by the steamship Servia to New York, where they
landed on October 29, 1888.
arrival list for the Servia appears to spell his name as "Abram Taffie."
The list indicates his occupation was laborer, and
they traveled with one piece of luggage.
For more on Abraham and Anna's
trip to the United States, click here.
They settled in Hartford,
Connecticut, where Anna's sister, Sarah Kessler Rosenfeld and her husband
Ike already lived.
Abraham and Anna's first child,
Dora (Dorothy), was born on June 4, 1890. The birth
record lists the parents' names as Abraham Jaffa and Hinde Kassel.
This is the only known record after arrival in which Anna Grace used the
name "Hinde." Later records all use the name Hannah or Anna.
Without the name on this first birth record, it would not have been possible
to locate them on the Hamburg passenger lists, and their town of origin
would have remained unknown.
They had a total of 7 children
who survived infancy: Dorothy (1890-1937); Louis (1892-1932); Ida
(1894-1965); Sally (1898-1975); Florence (1902-1920); my father Maurice
(1903-1985); and Herman (1905-1949). Twins born prematurely in 1896
and listed in the birth records did not survive. There were other
children who likewise died shortly after birth; the 1900 census indicates
Anna had 8 children, four of whom were then living.
In Hartford, Abraham worked as
a nickleplater and machinist for the Pope Manufacturing
Co. which manufactured Columbia bicycles,
and starting in 1895 Pope automobiles. He is listed as working
for Pope in his first appearance in Geer's Hartford directory in 1891,
and worked for Pope through 1901. There is no listing for 1902.
Beginning in 1903 he worked as a peddler, coal deliverer and iceman.
They lived at various addresses
in Hartford on North St., Pleasant St., Sisson Ave., Market, Front, Sheldon
and Lawrence. The name in the directory was spelled Jaffee in 1891;
Jaffar between 1892 and 1901, and Jaffer from 1903 onward. (Daughter
Dorothy was still listed as Dora Jaffar in the Annual for Hartford
Public High School, the Owl, for 1904).
The Jaffers are listed in the
census of 1900 and 1910 (the 1890 census was destroyed by fire).
In 1900, both were said to be age 30, and his occupation was toolmaker.
They lived next to the Rosenfelds, whose household included Sarah and Anna's
father Benjamin Kessler, born in 1830. I have located no record of
Benjamin's death in Hartford, and it is unknown whether he returned to
Abraham died in 1913, probably
as a result of the aftereffects of tuberculosis, and is buried in the Spring
Grove Cemetery in Hartford. His tombstone indicates his father's
name was Pesach (which means "Passover"); his
death certificate indicates his mother's name was Rachel.
Family lore both
confirms and expands upon the above documents. Abraham's family was
previously known to have operated a mill in a small town in the Kovno district
of Lithuania, and his wife was believed to come from Jonava. The
identity between the Abraham and Hinde on the Hamburg list in 1888, and
the Abraham and Hinde (Anna) documented in Hartford from 1890, is thus
confirmed by: (1) the statement of Abraham's occupation on the Hamburg
list, (2) the close distance between Seta and Jonava, and (3) the
close correspondence between the ages of the parties as set forth on the
Hamburg list and later records.
In Hartford, Abraham became
involved in the labor movement. While working at Pope, he invented
a manufacturing process which was adopted by the company, but he received
no compensation. It is not known whether either of these factors
contributed to his leaving Pope and becoming self-employed.
In his later job as iceman,
he was well-loved by the children on his route who eagerly awaited his
arrival. Delivering ice was strenuous work and is believed to have
affected his health.
He was highly regarded
for his knowledge, and helped other immigrants to learn English.
Although not religious, was often called upon to resolve disputes about
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