By Levi Clancy for לוי on
- Meyer Levine and Sarah Trotsky
- David Levi and Mary Cooper
- Fratka Levine and Simon Forman
- Itka "Ada" Levine and Eli Singer
- בריינא לוין וראובן Breina Levine and Reuven Wittenson
- ומלכה לוין פלטיאל שמואל Shmuel Paltiel and Malka Levine
- חנה לוין ודוד בקר Hanah Levine and David Baker
- משה לוין ואווי פלטיאל Moshe Levine and Annie Paltiel
- פסח לוין Pesach Levine and Raina
- פלטיאל בן ציון Ben-Zion Paltiel
לוין משה Moshe Levine (Morris Levi) was born in Dziewienizki, Russia on 1885 May 1st and passed away in 1959.
Moshe Levine circa 1905.
Family Book §08
He was the fifth child of Meyer Levine and Rivka (Sarah) Davidovitch, out of their nine known children. He was educated in Hebrew and while young earned a meager living teaching Hebrew to local youngsters.
Annie Paltiel was born in Iwie on December 10th in 1878, 1883 (according to Myron) or 1885 (according to 1930 census, and border crossing to Michigan), and passed away in 1965.
Annie Paltiel circa 1900.
Family Book §08
Annie appears in a photograph of the Paltiel family in which her brother פלטיאל שמואל לֵייזֶער Shmuel Lazar Paltiel (Sam Lazarus) appears to be age 9-10 and she appears to be about age 2. As we know that שמואל Shmuel was born in 1870 or 1871, Hillel guessed that Annie was born around 1878. However her son Myron thinks her birth year would more accurately be 1883.
Life in Leeds
פלטיאל שמואל לֵייזֶער Shmuel Lazar Paltiel left for Leeds about 1897-1899 and Moshe Levine either went with him or followed soon after.
Going through British immigration changed names -- Moshe Levine became Morris Levi. Moshe went into business with שמואל Shmuel in a tailoring business that made button holes, as sub-contractors working out of their residence. Eventually it became a small 3 or 4-machine factory with a few employees.
אווי פלטיאל Annie Paltiel migrated to Leeds around 1900.
Since she was still single, her name was likely changed to Annie Lazarus to match her brother's new last name (not to be confused with his wife Ann Lazarus, formerly Malka Levine).
Living so near each other, Moshe and Annie must have known each other well. On August 5th 1907 they were married in Leeds.
Birth of Bennie
Bennie was born December 13th 1908 (the gravestone says 1909, findagrave.com).
Shortly thereafter -- by the following year -- the family of three emigrated from Leeds to Toronto.
Life in Toronto
Around 1909, the family of three arrived in Toronto.
Moshe must have continued to make his living in the tailoring industry. Very little is known of Moshe, Annie and Bennie's stay in Toronto except that they only stayed long enough (about a year) to qualify for a United States visa. After July 1910, Sam Lazarus and his son Ben arrived in Toronto and likely stayed with Morris and Annie their first year until the rest of the Lazarus family arrived form Leeds and/or the Levi family left Toronto for California. Hillel speculated that Morris and Annie Levi were the family pioneers to the new world.
Life in Los Angeles
Moshe and Annie left Toronto for California in 1911, eventually settling in Hanford for about ten years.
Moshe, Annie and Benny left Toronto via Port Huron, Michigan (arriving 24 Sep 1911) with a stated destination of Los Angeles, according to a ship manifest. In Los Angeles they had a small grocery store for a while, perhaps just a few years.
Life in Hanford
Then they moved to Hanford, California and had a junk and secondhand store. Moshe would go from farm to farm to collecting old gunny sacks which Annie would stick up. Without holes, the sacks were worth 5¢ more when resold.
Moshe did not know much about animals and when he bought a horse to pull his wagon, he me only to discover it had only one eye -- this is the horse that pulled the Hanford Junk Company wagon. Moshe's business evolved into the Home Furniture Company in Hanford which was managed by Joseph Lazarus in 1921.
While Morris and Annie Levi were in Hanford buying sacks, etc, in the earliest days, they went into partnership with a scoundrel and they lived in a covered wagon. One night, their partner stole all of their money. The family still in Toronto rescued them by chipping in some dollars to get them started again. I suppose they sent the money by Western Union Telegraph. (FB § 4)
Moshe Levine became a Naturalized Citizen around the time he registered for the World War I draft (his asthma kept him from serving). Annie automatically became a citizen too since that was the law before 1922.
Moshe was given SSN 573-44-2342. An infant boy was born to Morris and Annie in Hanford on October 17th 1915 but he died the same day and so far as is known was unnamed. Family lore has it that they also had another son at some point but nothing is known of that story.
Life in Fresno
Probably around 1917, when Dave Levi moved to Fresno, Morris, Annie and Bennie also moved there as Morris and Dave went into partnership with Levi's Furniture Company.
In Fresno, Morris and David Levi had their "Levi's Furniture Company", which did a terrific business. For tax purposes, they opened "Levi's Sack Company" and "Levi's Truck Company" and others so that they had a separate business entity for each of their enterprises. ... Morris and Dave Levi rented a horse and wagon for me out of their Fresno business and loaned me $5 to buy junk which I then sold to them. I don't remember just when it was that they went into partnership nor exactly when or why they broke up but I do know that even when Morris was in Fresno with Dave, he still owned the furniture business in Hanford which I managed for a while around 1920 or 1921 before I moved up to Turlock to go into partnership with Simon Forman. (Family Book § 4)
Loss of Bennie
Bennie died in a tragic automobile mishap on January 12th 1918 (the death certificate differs).
Leila Levi explains that Annie was leaving the house to go run errands, and Bennie either really wanted to go where she was headed or simply did not want to part from her. When she refused, he hid behind one of her wheels and she accidentally ran him over when leaving the house. He is buried in Fresno at Beth Israel Cemetery (findagrave.com)
Birth of Myron
Moshe and Annie begot their only surviving child, Myron Benjamin Levi, in Fresno on January 13th 1920.
Myron was born to them in Fresno on January 13th 1920.
Settling in Hanford
Moshe and Simon Forman went into business together in Petaluma, but the climate prompted Moshe to bring his family back to the Central Valley.
Around 1926, Morris, Annie and Myron left Fresno and moved to Petaluma where Simon Forman had also moved. Simon and Morris went into business together with a hardware store.
The climate was bad for Morris' asthma so in 1927 Moshe, Annie and Myron returned to Hanford to say.
Beginning again with used furniture and some new items, Hanford Furniture Company was begun and it remained the principal business until Moshe retired and Myron took over.
Hanford Furniture Company was a good business and the family did well in Hanford. Moshe and Annie lied a quiet and respectable life and were social with other Jewish people in the community and with their many family members in the central valley. Hillel writes "Your editor remembers dozens of family parties in Hanford where the men played Pinocle, the women cooked and talked, and the children played. It was a nice family." (Family Book §8)
Myron was raised in Hanford, ran his business from there for many years and after a few years of frequent moves with his wife and five children, returned to live the rest of his life in and around Hanford.
Moshe had a heart attack around 1940 and Annie carefully nursed him back to health. The Levi's celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at a gala event in Hanford in August 1957. In 1959, Moshe felt unwell so Myron drove him to Glendale for observation at a hospital. He died there that night, April 26th 1959, somewhat due to negligence on the part of the hospital staff that forgot that he was there.
In the late 1950's Annie had a stroke which left one arm mostly paralyzed. However, she remained healthy otherwise and moved to a rest home in Fresno where she died December 4th 1965.
Morris and Annie had an unsung historic life, with beginnings just slightly above the level of peasants in Imperial Russia, to emigration, to struggles in Leeds and in Toronto, to being the family "pioneers" coming over the border into the United States, to moving around California and attempting several business while at the same time trying and mostly failing to have and raise children, succeeding only with Myron, and finally owning a profitable furniture business to round out their success as immigrants. They were part of the story of America and especially of the immigrant story of Jews from Eastern Europe. They were able to leave an important history, fond family memories and a financial legacy to their son and grandchildren. As the Rabbi said at their funerals, Annie was a loving wife and Morris was a nice man. And, so they were. With no fanfare or speeches, they financially helped the majority of their relatives who needed help, and their only repayment was often love -- lots of love. (Family Book §8 Biographies of Morris and Annie Levi)
Lazarus, Hillel. 1989. Family Book.