Monday, November 10, 2008

An immigrant's road to America

Over the past few years I've been trying to piece together a family history for my paternal line.  After some false starts and dead ends, the picture has become clearer.  My recent trip to New York has uncovered some very important documents that shed some light on the how events in Poland unfolded during the years 1910-1921 and ultimately led to the Deresiewicz family immigration to the United States.

My cousin, Shelley Kohen, had some old family documents that her mother, Bella Dershewitz Kunin, had inherited.  Among these docments were Bella's original birth certificate, a lease agreement for a tavern business in Poland and others.  My cousin Norman Sakoff found a box of photos and documents that he inherited from Helen Dershewitz Richman after her death in 2000.  In that box I found passports for Gitel (Gertrude) Deresiewicz and children and Rozalia Singer, her mother.  I also found other travel related documents.  This additional information gave me real insight into how the Dershewitz family came to America.

Here is a timeline of events as well as I can piece them together for the family of Solomon Deresiewicz:


  • Solomon Deresiewicz and Ella Singer, daughter of Isaac Singer and Rosa Leibler, are married and living in Lukowica, Galicia.


  • Gitel (Gertrude) Deresiewicz is born April 26, 1910 in Lukowica.


  • Solomon Deresiewicz enters into a lease agreement with Jozef Grzybowicz for a tavern business in Kamienica on September 27, 1911.  The lease is for 12 years with 2400 krone to be paid annually in quarterly installments. This was about $500 USD at the time.


  • Ester (Estelle) Deresiewicz is born July 1, 1912 in Lukowica.  Ella Singer Deresiewicz dies shortly after.


  • Solomon Deresiewicz marries Ella Singer's sister, Gitel Singer.


  • Jakob (Jack) Deresiewicz is born August 29, 1914 in Kamienica.
  • A major turning point of WWI, the Battle of Limanowa, is fought December 1st to the 15th.  Austro-Hungarian troops held off the Russian army from moving westward and taking Cracow. 
  • There are family stories of Russian cossacks riding their horses into the tavern in Kamienica.  Solomon is said to have taken them into the basement and got them drunk before they could do more damage.
  • My grandmother, Gertrude, said that the Russians were far worse than the Germans at that time.


  • Avram (Abraham) Eber Deresiewicz is born March 5, 1916 in Kamienica.


  • Juda Leib (Louis) Deresiewicz is born May 21, 1917 in Kamienica. View his birth certificate.


  • Beila (Bella) Deresiewicz is born October 22, 1918 in Lukowica. View her birth certifcate.



  • Rozalia Singer is granted a passport on January 4, 1921.
  • The Deresiewicz family and Isaac and Rozalia Singer leave their ancestral homes for Warsaw in March 1921.
  • Family arrives at the Hotel Rossya in Warsaw on March 2, 1921
  • Passport Warsaw entry stamp is dated March 3, 1921
  • The family members proceed to obtain visas for Germany, Belgium, France and United States from embassies in Warsaw.
  • US visa obtained March 7, 1921
  • German visa obtained March 9, 1921
  • French visa obtained March 9, 1921
  • Belgium visa is dated March 19, 1921
  • The family travelled from Warsaw to Berlin, through Belgium to Cherbourg, France during the middle of March.
  • The Deresiewicz family entered US Health Service quarantine on March 25 in Cherbourg in preparation for sailing on the Cunard liner, Saxonia on April 10.
  • Cherbourg exit stamp on April 10, 1921.  Family boards the Saxonia for the trip to the US
  • The Deresiewicz family arrives at Ellis Island April 20, 1921 and is met by Louis Singer to begin life in their new country.

These were difficult years for the Deresiewicz and Singer families.  World events shattered dreams and forced an exodus to a place a world apart from the life they knew.  Driving them was the hope that this new country would offer opportunity for a new life.

1 comment:

  1. That is amazing to find that outand to share it. So sad to have to give up all you know and I can only imagine how terrified eveyone had to be. Leaving family, going to a country with nothing and no one. Thankful our families made it. Family history is always fascinating. Thanks for sharing.❤