My great-great-great Uncle, Solomon Hoffman

by Randy Wasserstrom, Cary, North Carolina In 2004, I went on a genealogical trip to Latvia. In Talsi, I discovered the gravestones of my maternal great great great uncle Solomon (Zalman) Hoffman (1829-1906) and his wife, Chasse (1832-1908). It was a very serendipitous discovery as I had actually been visiting nearby Sassmacken and only stayedContinue reading “My great-great-great Uncle, Solomon Hoffman”

My Family in Sassmacken

The following post was generously contributed by Randy Wasserstrom. The Michaelson/Michelsohn family photo above, taken in 1893, includes the following from left to right: Sam, Louis, Yetta, Harry, John, Aaron and Rose. My great grandmother, Yetta Hoffman, (1861-1916), was born in Sabile, Courland, Russia and was one of the fifteen children of Osser and SarahContinue reading “My Family in Sassmacken”

Leaving Courland

Among my collection of interviews is this story, told by Paula Thal Aminoff in 1974, of her brother Jacob, from Talsen, and his efforts to leave Courland (now Latvia) before being drafted into the Russian Army. Ted: You know about Abraham Blumberg.. well, I’ll tell you. His father, Abraham’s father [Jacob Blumberg] was fairly well‑to‑do,Continue reading “Leaving Courland”

Callout to Researchers

A few weeks ago, I was officially appointed the town leader for both Talsi and Valdemarpils for JewishGen’s Latvia and Estonia Research Division. “What does that mean?” I asked. The goal of town leaders is to maintain contact with area researchers, locate and index records and make them available, and generally serve as a contactContinue reading “Callout to Researchers”

The Thals of Sassmacken

From a 1981 interview between Rabbi Lennard Thal and my great-grandfather’s sister, Paula Thal Aminoff, I have this quote: “Sassmacken. There was full of Jews. And there were a bunch of Thals there – not related, another family, very fine people, but not related to us. Ours was a big family and they were aContinue reading “The Thals of Sassmacken”

Talsi and Valdemarpils, 1989

I originally wrote this for an old family newsletter, The Thal Gazette. Now over thirty years ago, our brief visit to Talsi and Valdemarpils feels like a completely different time. Because of the recent “openness” of the Soviet Union, our family was able to visit our “hometowns” in Latvia this summer. The four of usContinue reading “Talsi and Valdemarpils, 1989”