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|Samuel Kaplan was born in a province in Russia in 1856. There is no
information available as to his background and education. He was in the Russian
Army for three years. In order to get discharged from the Army he had his ear
drums perforated and was hard of hearing for the rest of his life. After he was
released from the Army his occupation was as a cap maker. Hannah Lezinski was
born in Borisnay, Russia in 1864. No background information is available on her.
Hanna Kaplan (left)
with daughters Kitty Kaplan Wallace (middle)
Miriam Kaplan Kravitz (right)
|Samuel and Hannah met and married in Russia, we think, in 1879. It was an
arranged marriage. Oppression, anti-semitism and poverty made life unbearable.
He was not able to adequately care for his family. The Pogroms began in Russia
about 1880. They were forced to hide many times in the cellar. Hannah insisted
that everyone remain silent so that the Cossacks should not hear them. Life was
difficult and oppressive.
A son, Izzy, and a daughter, Millie, were born to Hannah and Samuel. When
mass migrations began from Russia to other parts of the world in the 1880's,
they decided that they should leave their native land and seek a better life for
themselves and their family. If the family could somehow get to a border there
would be opportunities through Jewish agencies to migrate to another country.
Somehow, some way, the Kaplan's walked, rode on horse and buggies, and made
their way to the border. Dodging Army and informers they managed to get to
London, England. Information as to how they arrived is incomplete, as the family
never discussed their background with their children.
Izzy Kaplan, Miriam Kaplan Cravitz, and
Kitty Kaplan Wallace
In London, Samuel found work as a cap maker, but he was a dreamer. He spent a
lot of time at the synagogue as he was a very observant Jew. Hannah, a practical
individual and a dominant force in the family, became a midwife. After arriving
in England, the following daughters were born: Miriam in 1885, Sarah in 1889,
Fairy in 1886, and Kitty in 1899.
At that time the famous Rothschild Family built row housing for the mass
migration to England from Eastern Europe, and the Kaplan family lived in the
East End of London in this housing development on Flower and Dean Street on the
third floor. It was a walk-up apartment three blocks from Petticoat Lane. The
apartment had three rooms with a coal burning fireplace. In order to obtain
electricity a shilling was put in the meter every four hours. Hannah, Samuel and
Kitty slept in the bedroom. The rest of the children slept on sofas and beds in
the living room. Yet, they managed to find room for friends who had just
migrated and who stayed with the family until they found their own place to live
Hannah also supplemented their income by weaving rag rugs. She was a
very creative person, with a strong character. She was always weaving or
knitting or crocheting. A lot of emphasis was placed on family life,
Judaism, holidays and togetherness. There were no other relatives so the
family was a close knit unit. Hannah was an immaculate housekeeper and a
good cook which was a challenge in those days with so little money. Each
child was assigned chores and could not leave the house until their job
was completed. Samuel went to the synagogue each morning before he went to
work. He worked twelve and thirteen hours a day. No meal was served unless
all members of the family were gathered together, and no one ever made
plans to eat elsewhere. After eating, Samuel insisted that Sarah and Fairy
do the clean up while the Mother rested. Afterwards they all sat around
the table and sang songs. The parents often packed lunches and took their
children to the park.
Top Row: R Meklir; Sandra Brenner; Jerry Brenner; Sylvia
Elkowitz; Ettie Handelman; Hank Gluckman; Steve Townsend; Loie Meeron.
Bottom row: Linda Steinberg; Tikway Gerendasy; Elaine Gluckman; Reka
Goldstein; Susan Cranston Kwon.
|Friday night, Shabbat, was the most important
time of the week. Many times, when money was scarce, the brass
candlesticks were in the pawn brokers, but redeemed before Shabbat in
order to light the candles. These candlesticks were brought from Russia by
the parents when they got married and are now in the possession of Ettie
As the children grew older, Hannah was out of the house more and more,
serving as a midwife. The children took over the responsibility of the
house, and Hannah was a severe task-master who expected perfection. During
the time that they were growing up it is interesting to note that the
parents spoke Russian and Yiddish in the house and the children spoke
The family observed strict Kashruth. Shabbat was a sacred time in the
household. On the preceding day, all the children had assigned chores,
from cleaning the house, to even washing the stoop on the outside of the
house. The scullery was scrubbed and no one escaped doing their job.
Hannah did all the cooking in preparation for Shabbat. Even though the
children were anxious to leave the table to be with their friends, they
On Saturdays very little activity was done except going to the
synagogue, and the family remained together around the house. When Shabbat
was over and the evening meal finished, Hannah and Samuel visited a pub
around the corner called Dirty Dick's, where they would have a drink of
beer. This same pub remains in business today, as witnessed by members of
the family who visited the East End of London. All of the children went to
school until the age of fourteen and had to learn a trade.
|At the age of fifteen, Millie married Joe Goldman in London. Joe was a
wood carver. Six children were born to them in London and they decided to
move to Boston where Joe obtained employment as a wood carver, where the
other three children were born, and where they made their home.
Izzy, Samuel and Hannah's only son, went to
Cheder and had a Bar Mitzvah. When he was fourteen he learned to be a
cabinet maker but was not interested in the trade. He left home for
Canada, but the immigration authorities sent him back to England. The
family managed to save some money to send him back to the United States
where he wanted to be. He settled in Philadelphia and worked as a paper
box cutter. He married Rose, had four children, and remained all of his
life in the Philadelphia area, except for a short period of time in
Baltimore, Maryland. We do know that Philip was named after Samuel's
Millie Kaplan Goldman with husband Joseph and all of her
9 children. Back row: Eva Goldman Tobin; Harry Goldman; Miriam Goldman
Cohen. Middle row: Becky Goldman Schneider; Joseph; Millie; Kate Goldman.
Front row: Philip Coleman; Ethyl Goldman Jacobs; Murray Goldman; Jack
|Sarah was an assertive person and after the age of fourteen she went to
the Pittman School to learn shorthand. She then went to work for a noble
lady as her secretary. She also studied the violin. All the monies earned
by the working children went to the parents to maintain the family and
allowances were doled out. Sarah turned many of their household duties
over to Fairy, however, it made no difference to Samuel and Hannah that
their children worked during the day - they still assumed their
responsibilities at home.
At a young age Miriam married Abe Kravitz in Manchester, England. Abe
was a shoemaker and they had five children.
Miriam and Abe Kravitz
|Fairy went to a regular public school until the
age of fourteen. She then went to work in the cap factory and also worked
in a shop making cigarettes. She did the chores at home and was very adept
at embroidery and all types of needlework.
Sarah met Wolf Sacks in London at a wedding. They courted for a while,
but Samuel and Hannah were not in favor of the match because Wolf was a
"Socialist." He went to America to seek his fortune, but
returned to London to claim his bride. He again went to America, Boston,
and worked with Joe Goldman for a short time. Wolf decided to go to
Detroit where there were more job opportunities. In 1913, after he settled
in Detroit, he sent a ticket to Sarah and they were married after her
arrival. They had two children. In 1915 Sarah and Wolf saved some money,
borrowed from the finance company, and brought Fairy over when she was
sixteen years old.
Fairy arrived by boat, steerage passage, and stayed with Sarah and Wolf
until she met Ben Buttner. Up until that time she modeled corsets to save
money for tickets for her parents to come to America. In 1916 she married
Ben Buttner who worked at various and sundry jobs. Two years later they
started a family and had four children. Fairy also worked in whatever
business Ben had. The sisters stayed very close together, and the cousins
were with each other frequently.
Sarah and Wolf, Fairy and Ben were very interested in perpetuating
"Yiddishkeit" (Jewish Identity) and Jewish culture, history and
language. They involved themselves in organizing the Shalom Aleichem
Institute and the Workman's Circle for their own personal identity. They
made the break from orthodoxy, but retained many Jewish customs,
traditions, and observed all Jewish holidays.
WITH FAMILY HISTORY