Today's Sepia Saturday starts with a group portrait and then briefly examines the cast of characters - those onstage and those mysteriously offstage.
Here is the Zalk family, circa 1900: Max (b. 1859 in Poland), his wife Gittel (aka Gertrude), and their children Sarah, Louis, and baby Eva. The person I'm especially interested in is Gittel, nee Lass.
The story I have heard is that she did not want to come to America; Max came over and had to convince her. She finally emigrated in 1888 with Sarah and Louis (age 3).
According to the 1910 census, Gittel was born Nov 1851 -- or in 1852, according to the 1930 MN census. Her daughter Eva’s birth certificate states that Gittel was born in 1860. Hmm. In addition to these discrepancies, I have spent considerable time winnowing conflicting stories and data in order to determine whether Gittel was the half-sister or the step-sister of my great-grandmother Lena Laser Blumenfeld. Step-sister is most probable.
One version of the relationship is that Lena Laser's father, Moses Laser, died; her mother, Leba Laser (nee Loss) (who was also sometimes referred to as Libshe or Lipse Loss!) , then married a widower with the last name of Lass -- one of whose children, Gittel, was much older than Lena (born in 1865).
But there are other theories as well. For one thing, the similar surnames (let alone the musical-chair given names) are enough to drive one batty. Lass, at least, appears to be solid, as there were other relatives in Minneapolis by that name.
Here is what purports to be a later photo of Gittel. Do you think, as I do, that she bears little resemblance to her earlier self? She seems a good deal paler, for one thing.
Here is my forebear, her step-sister Lena Laser Blumenfeld, at a similar age, probably in the 1930s.
Compare this photo of Lena as a teenager in Kovno (now Kaunas) Lithuania. Not much resemblance there either, but at least her complexion is the same! (Victoria Carte refers to the format of the photo. If your browser can translate Lithuanian, there is some semi-intelligible information on this Kaunas University Library page.)
For the record, the following is the only known photo of Lena's mother Leba Libshe Lipse Loss Laser Lass...or whatever... taken sometime before her death at at 87 in Minneapolis in 1923. (She emigrated in 1912 to join her children in the States.)
Babushkas one and all! Eventually, at least.