Abels Family History

Other Abels in America

O Brother, where art thou?

There were (at least) five Abelsky men who appear to have come from the same area of Lithuania. There is strong evidence that three of them, Jacob, Harry (a different Harry) and Issac were brothers. There was also a Phillip Obelsky of Philadelphia who my mother believed to be Harry's brother. For this we have only anecdotal evidence, so far.

Jacob Obelsky

In the 1900 Census we find Jacob Obelsky, born 1861 who came to the US in 1885. He is married to Bessie, who also came in 1885. They have three children, all born in the US -- Benjamin 13, Rosey 8, and Maxey 6. Jacob is a clothier, and they live in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania. Make a mental note of Shenandoah -- it comes up again in a bit, and it's the link that we need to tie Jacob to our other Abels.

Jacob Obelsky died March 4, 1910. I found a cemetery listing for some of the Obelsky family in Shenandoah, so I know the fate of some of them. It appears they had two children that didn't live long enough to appear on any census records: Hannah who died Jan 7, 1904 aged 3 years and Rebecca, who died Feb 19, 1893, aged 3 years. Bessie is now the head of the house, and she has a dry goods store. Ben and Rose are working in the dry goods store. Poor Max died April 26, 1906, only 18.

A dry goods store (not the Obelsky's),
around 1907.
Ben's WW1 Draft registration doesn't give us much new info. He's listed as the manager of the Obelsky Estate.

In 1920, the census says Ben is now the head of the household, but Bessie and Rose still live with him. Ben still has the store, and Rose is working at the store in sales.

Ben died Sept. 8, 1922, but in the 1930 census we see that Bessie is still hanging in there! She is now listed as the head of household and owns her own home worth a whopping $60,000 (which must have been a fortune in 1930) and she is the supervisor of the dry goods store. Bessie finally died on Oct 20, 1938.

Harry Abels -- that's right, another Harry

Hirsch Abelsky arrived in New York in 1899. He declared in the ship manifest that he was going to meet his brother Jacob Abelsky in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania.

There are two more Abels that show up in the 1910 Census in Robinson. One of them is Hirsch Abelsky, who is now using the name Harry Abels. He is in the junk buyer at the oil field. His wife is Celia, and they have a daughter Anna 4, and Freda, 10 months.

It's worth mentioning that the oil refinery was a huge business in the Robinson area, and continues today. The refinery has a tradition dating back to 1906, when Lincoln Oil Company built the original facility. In 1924, the 750 barrel per day capacity refinery was acquired by the Ohio Oil Company, forerunner of todays Marathon Oil Corporation. [*]

By the 1920 census, this Harry had moved to Hewitt, Oklahoma, where is a junk dealer at an oil field. They now have a son Jerome, who is 5.

In the 1930 census, Harry and Celia have moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma. He owns his own place valued at $10,000 and has a radio. He's now a merchant in oil supplies.

Philip Obelsky

My Mom has always told me that her dad Harry had a brother in Philadelphia, Philip Obelsky who had sons Ben and Jacob (later he used "Jack") and a daughter Anne. According to his social security information, Philip Obelsky was born May 3, 1881, and died July 15, 1966 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His wife Rebecca was born in 1883 in Russia and they immigrated together in 1900. His Yiddish name was Efraim and we can find Efraim and his wife in the ship manifest. Rebecca's brother was Hirsch Abelsky, who we just met. They say that their final destination was Philadelphia where they was going to meet Hirsch.

We are positive of the cousin connection between Philip and Harry with Jacob, Hirsch and Isaac. However, since Philip's wife Rebecca was Hirsch's sister (and obviously was the sister of Isaac and Jacob as well) then it follows that Philip married a cousin -- possibly a first cousin. This wasn't at all uncommon.

In 1910, the census tells us that Philip had a 5 & 10 cent store, and we see his daughter Anne 7, and son Benjamin, 10 months old. His son Benjamin Obelsky was born Aug 5, 1908 and died in Apr 1980 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Inquirer May 15, 1918 Ad which lists Philip Obelsky's store

Jack Obelsky was born in 1915, according to his WW2 Army enlistment information. He enlisted on Nov 18, 1942 in Philadelphia. He had 1 year of college at that point. His civil occupations were as an oboe player in a band and an automobile parts clerk. He was unmarried when he enlisted.

In Philip's WW1 draft registration, he says that he is a hardware dealer, working for himself and working out of his home at 1715 Ridge Ave in Philadelphia. At this time, he put his birthday as May 1, interestingly. He had brown eyes and black hair.

By 1920, the family had moved to Camden, NJ. We see in the census that Philip own his own home and had a hardware store, and daughter Anna was a saleslady in the store.

By the 1930 Census, the family was back in Philadelphia living at 1935 33rd St. where Philip owned his home worth $9,000. Benjamin and Jack (as he was now calling himself) still lived with them, but Anne is gone, so I assume she is married. Philip is a hardware retail merchant, and Benjamin as a book keeper for a stove manufacturer.

Issac Abels

In Issac's ship manifest, we see that he is also going to meet his brother Jacob Abelski in Shenandoah. His wife Lottie and the children immigrated in 1906. We see them in their ship manifest traveling toghether under their Yiddish names, which look like Lata (Lottie), Berka (David), Benjamin (Bennie), Neihe (Nellie), Sorke (Sarah), Chana (Anna). Lottie states that she is going to meet her husband Itzak Abels at 527 ??? St. in Muncie, Indiana. Traveling with them is Lottie's sister and 2 year old child. She states she is going to meet her brother-in-law, Itzak Abels. Their names are Sore (Sarah) and Schomka (Sam) Santotki.

Issac is the other Abels that shows up in Robinson in the 1910 census is Issac Abels. Isaac Abels is there with his wife Lottie and their children David 19, Bennie 14, Nellie 11, Sarah 10, Anna 5, and Samuel, 1. Isaac Abels' trade was (not a big surprise) as a scrap buyer in the oil fields and he lives next door to the second Harry (married to Celia, not married to Anna Rappaport).

In 1920, Isaac and family are still in Robinson, living at 705 East Main acccording to the 1920 census. They also have a niece living with them, Anna Mae Rottman who is 9. Anna was the daughter of Sore (Sarah) who traveled to America with Isaac's family and lived next door to them in Robinson. After Sarah died, Anna was adopted by Isaac's family, but kept her father's name of Rotman, because her father was still alive. And again, no surprise, Isaac is still in the Junk business.

I haven't been able to find Issac and Lottie in the 1930 census as yet, but I see the records for his son David and son Ben.

[*] http://www.marathon.com/Global_Operations/Refining_Marketing_and_Transportation/Refining/Robinson_Illinois/