JOSEPHSON-L ArchivesArchiver > JOSEPHSON > 2008-05 > 1211762417
Subject: [JOSEPHSON] My Eastern European family on the distaff side
Date: Mon, 26 May 2008 00:40:17 -0000
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Surnames: Josephson, Volpiansky, Alexander, Alton, Byrne, Handforth.
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Despite my Alton surname, I'm searching for information about my maternal grandfather, Philip Josephson, who immigrated into the UK from Romania around 1894, aged 2 years old. He had a number of brothers, maybe a sister.
My understanding is that his mother was called Gazelle and that his family were jewellers to Queen Marie and King Karol. They lived in Iasi/Jassy.
Philip Josephson was a textiles import/export merchant in Manchester from around the time of his marriage to my grandmother,Eda Alexander (or Volpiansky) in 1919 to the 1970s. His third wife and then widow, Gertrude, continued trading under the Jospehson name. I have no interest in 'inheritance'.
I am also interested in my Volpiansky, Russian Jewish family - my grandmother, Eda's family. (The Josephsons were also Jewish). My great-grandparents, Bernard and Sarah Volpiansky may have been born around 1860 in Grodno or Bialystok. They emigrated to Sheffield, Yorkshire, England prior to the 1880s, with just one child, Rachel, born in Russia (my Great Aunt); the rest of their 9 children were born around the 1880s in England. Great-grandmother, Sarah (whose maiden name may have been Ravelsky), died 3 years after giving birth to my grandmother, Eda, who died in Manchester in the late 1970s, under the surname Woods.
The Volpiansky family, at some point, altered their name to Alexander. They moved to Manchester after the death of Sarah. Great grandfather Bernard, was a rabbi - both in Sheffield and Manchester. Both families (Josephsons and Volpianskys) were, of course, Orthodox Ashkenazi.
The Volpiansky children were: Rachel, Rosie, Alec, Sid, Julie (Yenta), Bertha (Basha), May (Minnie), Fay, Eda.
Rosie Alexander owned a chain of wallpaper shops under the name of Alexander and Rose. She died in the south west of England, aged 51, of TB, before WW2, possibly in Plymouth and may be buried in Torquay.
Alec emigrated to Buenos Aires where he worked for the Norwich Union in the early-mid 20th century. He died in the 1960s. He was the friend of Nesta Torres Morres.
Sidney emigrated to Johannesburg, and had shares in a gold/diamond mine - also in the early-mid 20th century. Like Alec, he never married. He had a close, male business partner.
My mother, Rebecca Ruth Josephson, the daughter of Philip Josephson and Eda Alexander, was born in 1919. Philip and Eda divorced two years later. Eda shortened her surname to Jephson. My mother was known as Ruth. She attended Manchester High School (Dover Street) in the 1930s and then worked at Boots Royal Exchange Lending Library. At the age of 19, she married Robert Andrew. They divorced 7 years later. In 1947, she married my father, Bernard Alton. I was born in 1952, an only child, like my mother before me. Therefore, I may be the last of the line, as none of the other Volpiansky children had offspring themselves with the possible exception of Minnie, who gave birth to an illegitimate son (David?)in London between 1910 and 1920 and had him adopted at birth.
I DID meet a couple of Josepson-related relatives many years ago: one of them was Gertrude, whom I learnt, by hearsay, was at first, shocked by me turning up (Gertrude was Philip Josephson's third wife) and then, from what another 'relative' told me, suspicious of my motives in trying to contact her again decades later.
I would like both Gertrude and Pamela (both in the Greater Manchester connurbation when last heard of) to understand that I have NO financial interest whatsoever in trying to trace my ancestry and am, in fact, insulted that anyone should imagine I would do so. Also, I'd like Pamela to be aware that, although she had her own health problems, both my late father, Bernard Alton, and myself, Anne-Ruth Alton, also had/have serious health problems and we ended contact with her after a brief reunion c.1989, given her insensitivity to our needs. My only reason for searching my family tree I surely have in common with many people: I want to discover my roots, more about my 'fascinating' family and, as I appear to be the last of the Volpiansky line, to find out more about them in particular. There was a family rumour about a connection with the American film score composer, Harry Rabinowitz and also talk of a relative in Waterbury, Connecticutt.
My Alton side is the only English strand, being my father's father's name i.e. the family name of William Alton, my grandfather, who married Winifred Byrne in the late 19th century. A little has been traced on the Alton side - I'd like to discover more. Of the Byrne side, I have got stuck. Winifred was born in or around Ballaghadereen, Co.Roscommon (or Mayo?) in 1874. She had two sisters, one of whom was named Margaret. The family came to live in Manchester, England, when Winifred was a toddler.
My late father and I visited Ballaghadereen in 2001, but could not trace Winifred in the (Roman Catholic) parish records. Later, I could not find a match on Cyndi's list; of course, the Black and Tans destroyed many Irish parish records and there was a fire in the genealogy building in Dublin.
Dad and I did discover a Kemmitt relative (a rare Irish surname) - there was evidently some connection between the Kemmitts and the Byrnes and Dad was aware of an Uncle Michael Kemmitt in the Co.Roscommon area. The Kemmitt relative could shed no light on how we came to be 'related' however.
Dad had an Aunt Mary Kate Handforth, wife of the President of the Santa Fe Railroad, who survived the San Francisco earthquake of 1904(1906?)...Aunty Mary Kate visited Manchester with her daughter, Margaret Mary around the late 1920s and my father knew them then.
There are some Alton relatives in Morecambe, Lancashire and in New Zealand and possibly in Zambia or Botswana.
I would love to hear from anyone who can help me to discover more about my family history and 'meet' with any long lost relatives.
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