It started with a guy named Yechiel Suttleman back in the shtetl back in the 1800s
Yechiel was quite a guy. He wasn’t happy living his life with only with one wife. When wife number one died, he married numbers two and three.
Here is an attempt..and a great one..to demonstrate the complexities and power of my family. I am proud to be a product of the descendants of Yechiel.
Suttleman Family Odyssey
By Lara Diamond
Yechiel Suttleman was born in 1850 to Pesach Tzvi (son of Menashe) and Sima Rivka Suttleman, registered in the town of Muravitsa (modern-day Mlyniv, Ukraine). On April 18, 1858, the family’s home was burned down. Pesach Tzvi testified that the home was worth 700 silver rubles, and he had no specific suspect.
Later in the 1858 census, the family was living with Pesach Tzvi’s brother Efraim Yankel and family, as well as other extended family members in the town of Boremel. Yechiel was still living there in 1875 when he registered for the mandatory Russian Army draft.
Source: State archive of Rovno oblast. Fond 567, opys 1, file 28.
Around 1890, Yechiel married Chana Himmelfarb. She had two children, Rivka and Hinda. During her pregnancy with Hinda, her younger sister Chaya came to help with the kids. After Chana died in childbirth with Hinda, Yechiel married Chaya 30 days later.
Still in Europe, Yechiel and Chaya had 4 children: Jesse, Chaim Dovid, Jennie, and Minna.
In 1904, the first member of the Zuttleman family emigrated to America. Moshe Zuttleman (later Morris Zitelman) arrived in the port of New York on December 20. He then traveled to Baltimore to join a Himelfarb uncle.
Rivka (later Becky) and Hinda followed in 1908 and 1910.
Yechiel and Jesse followed in 1911, arriving in the Port of Philadelphia and then going to Baltimore. They got together money to bring over Chaya and the younger kids.
In October 1911, Yechiel was joined by Chaya (later Ida), Chaim Dovid (later Dave), Charna (later Jennie), and Mania (later Min). All except for Minnie were seasick as soon as they boarded, so the 4-year-old roamed the ship by herself. Editorial note by Jane Zweig..Aunt Minnie always was the free spirit of the bunch.
The family soon moved to a farm in Annapolis Junction, Maryland where they also had a small country store. The 12th Suttleman child, May, was born in 1913.
As WWI took off and the nearby Camp Meade (today’s Fort Meade) was popular, Minnie started a delivery service for the families living on the base.
Meanwhile, Reise Suttleman married Nathan Paciornik, and they moved to Curitiba, Brazil.
Around 1920, the family moved to Baltimore, and many of the kids had various grocery stores in town. They went to Shomrei Mishmeresh Congregation (today part of the Jewish Museum of Maryland)
Yechiel died in Baltimore in 1930 after a series of strokes.
Meanwhile in Europe, Tzivia had married Avraham Tzvi Diamond and Shaindel had married Elli Kriger.
Tzivia’s oldest daughter Kreina had married David Mazurik and had a daughter Rivka; all were killed in the Holocaust, along with Tzivia’s son Shlomo.
Shaindel’s children Kreina, Hershel, and Moshe were killed in the Holocaust as well.
Tzivia’s children Pesach (Paul), Devora (Deborah), and David survived, as did Shaindel’s son Isaac Wolf.
The relatives in Brazil and Baltimore helped the survivors leave Europe and get on their feet again. The Diamonds ended up in Baltimore, and Isaac Wolf Kriger went to Brazil.
In 2011, descendents of Yechiel Suttleman had a family reunion. Family members travelled from across the United States, Brazil, and Israel. Editorial note: I was not able to attend as I was out of town at a close friend’s wedding.
Thanks to Lara Diamond..a granddaughter of the Diamonds.
So there you have it. A normal family? Anything but. how many families have a great grandfather with three wives from the old country riding a horse in Annapolis Junction Maryland?
And sadly so many have died. Many died prematurely. My mother, Debby died 20 years ago at the young age of 64. I knew it was young but I am almost 61 and 64 was really young. Debby was the daughter of Charna or Jenny as she was known in America.
Mania or Min was the more flamboyant sister to Jenny. Jenny was just sweet and kind and unconditionally loving.
I was the first girl in my family and my cheeks were always pinched and squeezed. Shayna maidele nana or Jennie always said to me.
And Jenny married Sam. Sam fought in the First Legion in Palestine in 1918 with the British against the Turks. But that is a whole other story for another blog.
And yesterday we lost a really good one. Howard Blank, son of Minnie was an amazing fun loving man. He accepted everyone wherever they were. No thinking was ever criticized. And he was fun. He loved his wife Judy. They had a story book romance..travelling the world, dancing, and loving their blended families unconditionally.
So it is up to my generation and the few remaining descendants from Yechiel. I don’t like this role. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. These strong men and women were supposed to live forever. But they didn’t and aren’t.
So now I am planning, along with others, to bring the family together next July 4 for a weekend at the beach. Relatives will come from Brazil, Florida, Arizona, and parts unknown to see each other and perhaps meet for the first time.
Our family will lose all of the historical memory if we don’t do this. So I guess I will happily step up to the plate and be a matriarch..for my family and for Keira, my beautiful granddaughter.