Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jacob Meisler September 22, 1891 - March 23, 1989

L-R Max Meisler, Jacob Meisler w/ two friends
120 years ago today, September 22, 1891, Jacob Meisler was born. Jacob Meisler is my husband's maternal grandfather and our sons' great grandfather. In celebration of Jacob Meisler's (Papa, Grandpa, Jake, Poppy, Uncle Jack) birth I am going to fulfill a request made to me in 1993.

The Backstory...

On June 8, 1993, Bertha Meisler Helfand (my mother-in-law) sent me the following request:
"I've been lax about having this "poem" printed like the one's you had made so I'm passing the job on to you.
I know that you're getting busy now - and since I've waited all these year to have it 'permanent-ized' - please take as long as necessary to have it done. You can make up 4 copies - keep one for yourselves & send me the bill."
Here is the poem Bertha (Birdie, Bertie, Mom, Grandma from the Bronx, Aunt Bert) is referring to; she wrote it for her father in honor of his 90th birthday, September 22, 1981.
Congratulations & best wishes in your 90th year,
We're here to toast you loud and clear.
You're a man of integrity, dignity and pride,
You're refined and charming when we look inside.
With your taste in clothes you should be in "Who's Who,"
Bill Blass and Givenchy could learn from you.
You're King of the Cha Cha in Miami Beach,
Arthur Murray & Fred Astaire you could surely teach.
Your jokes are funny and make us roar,
Even tho we have heard them before.
So - enjoy your birthday - have health aplenty,
We want to celebrate with you until you are

So, I needed 18 years...

I always listen to my mother-in law.  She said: "Please take as long as necessary to have it done." So, I took a little more than 18 years to print this poem and "permanent-ize" for all the family to enjoy. This week I decided that I would try to share a little bit about Jacob Meisler's life.  First, I will share what I know to be facts, then a bit of what might be urban legend, and close with some photos and documents for all to enjoy.

Just the facts...

  1. Jacob (Jakob) was born September 22, 1891
  2. His parents were Perle(Pescha) Bochner (nee) and Aaron (Euron) Meisler
  3. Jacob was born in Delatyn - Delatyn is a village in the foothills of the Carpathian mountains. It lies along the Pruth River within Eastern Galicia. Before World War I it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; between the World Wars, Poland, after World War II, the U.S.S.R, and today, Ukraine. Delatyn was home to a vibrant Jewish community until the Fall of 1941.
  4. Jacob had seven (7) siblings: Chaim Laib, Zigmund (Zelig or Sigmund), Chai Ester, Max (Mendel), Lena, Yette, and Alte. 
  5. Aaron, Jacob's father, was a tailor. 
  6. Aaron died in 1914, just before the family was forced to leave Delatyn.
  7. Jacob immigrated to the United States in 1909.
  8. Jacob set sail from Rotterdam, Holland, on July 31, 1909. He sailed on the S.S. Ryndam. He was listed on the manifest as Jankel Meisler, Austrian, Hebrew, from Belatyn, Austria, 18 years old, single. His next of kin was listed as Aron Meisler. His occupation was listed as tailor. He was held for "special inspection" because he "squints".  He had 25 dollars and he told the inspectors he was going to live with Isaac Strum at 150 12th Street, New York, NY.(Isaac was married to Lena Meisler - Jacob's sister). He arrived at Ellis Island on August 10, 1909.
  9. Jacob's mother, Pesche/Pescha/Pesie, died in New York City November 9, 1937. According to her headstone, she was 80 years old. So that means she was born around 1857.
  10. Jacob married Rose Drucker (nee)
  11. Jacob and Rose had three children: Bertha (10/28/1912), Estelle (03/17/1914- 02/03/2006) and Sidney (05/22/1916 - 08/16/1995)
  12. On June 5, 1917, Jacob registered for the United States draft. According to his registration he was living at 734 E 9th Street, New York, NY. He was employed as an operator for Singer which was located at 6-8 E 27th St. He is married with three children. He is described as short and stout. He claimed exemption from the draft because of his stomach and right eye. In answer to the question, "has person lost arm, leg, hand, foot, eye or both eyes or is he otherwise disabled (specify)?" he answered "right eye."
  13. On June 18, 1920, Jacob Meisler became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States. He was 28 years old, 5 foot 5 inches tall, living at 341 Crimmins Avenue, Bronx, New York, with his wife Rose and three children. 
  14. According to the 1930 Census, taken on April 22, 1930, Jacob and Rose Meisler lived at 823 East 147th Street, Bronx, NY. They lived there with Bertha, Estelle and Sidney. Their monthly rent was $60. Jacob's occupation is listed as a tailor and Bertha's occupation is listed as a bookkeeper. The census indicates that they had a radio set!
  15. In 1933 Jacob Meisler owned a car; this is according to a photo provided by Bertha.
  16. On March 5, 1938, Bertha Meisler married Julius Helfand, D.D.S.
  17. In 1942, Jacob Meisler again registered for the US draft. His registration reports his address as 111 West 167th Street, Bronx, NY. His employer is listed as Casual Sportswear 224 West 35th Street, New York, NY. 
  18. Jacob and Rose Meisler enjoyed eight grandchildren: Dennis Helfand, Harvey Helfand, Vivian Helfand, Stephen Goldberg, Beverly Goldberg, Phyllis Meisler, Myrna Meisler, and Sheri (Sherry Jane)Meisler.
  19. Jacob and Rose's grandchildren are now parents and grandparents, as well.  
  20. In 1947 the following Meislers served as "officers" of the Meisler Family Circle: Jacob Meisler (President), Sigmund Meisler (Vice-President), Max Meisler (Vice-President), C. Esther Holtz, and Lena Strum. 
  21. Jacob and Rose Meisler bought a two family home at 1559 Pelham Parkway North, Bronx, NY
  22. Jacob and Rose resided on the first level of the home at 1559 Pelham Parkway N, and Estelle (Stella) Meisler Goldberg and Benjamin Goldberg resided in the top level home with their children Stephen and Beverly. 
  23. Jacob and Rose loved to dance. 
  24. After Rose's passing, Jacob often would spend the winter months in Miami Beach, FL. 
  25. On September 22, 1978, Jacob celebrated his 87th birthday at the home of his grand-nephew Robert Stuckleman (grandson of Zigmund (Sigmund or Zelig) Meisler).
  26. On September 23, 1978, Jacob Meisler danced at our wedding which took place at Robert and Tina Stuckelman's home. In attendance were: Mildred Meisler Stuckelman, Bertha Meisler Helfand, Estelle Meisler Goldberg, Benjamin Goldberg, Sidney Meisler, Rosalie Meisler (nee Steiner), Vivian Rubin (nee Helfand), Marc Rubin, Stephen Goldberg, Mark Stuckelman, Nona Stuckelman, Joseph Stuckelman and Sylvia Drucker.
  27. Jacob spent the summer of 1981 and 1982 with us in West Covina, CA.  He watched Aaron learn to swim and met Johnny Carson (got his autograph) on a return flight to New York City!
  28. December 1982, Dennis and I visited Poppy in Miami Beach, FL. During this trip we met Jack and Rose Holtz. Jack was the son of Jacob's sister, Chai Ester (married to Israel Holz).
  29. From 1985-1989, we visited Poppy where he lived at the Ambassador Manor, Long Beach, NY.
  30. On March 23, 1989, Jacob Meisler passed away, just shy of his 98th birthday.
  31. Both Jacob and Rose Meisler (nee Drucker) are at rest at Beth El Cemetery in Paramus, NJ.
 Some urban legends (items I have not been able to prove)...
  1. I was told a few times that Jacob's father, Aaron, designed military uniforms for Franz Joseph I of Austro-Hungarian Empire. 
  2. I have been told that Poppy is known in New York City fashion industry as the designer of the woman's Eisenhower jacket.
Photos and documents...

Over the years I have managed to gather copies or original photos and documents. I know that so many of you must have great photos of your own family that include part of the Jacob Meisler history. I hope that this little project will inspire you to send me the digital copies and I will add them to this post.  One more thing, you should know that of Jacob's seven (7) siblings, two died young and before marrying. According to Bertha (Birdie), Chaim Laib died at two years of age and Yette died in Delatyn at the age of 22 of tuberculosis. 

It has been my honor to have met descendants of Jacob Meisler, Chai Esther Meisler, Zelig (Zigmund/Sigmund) Meisler and Mendel (Max) Meisler.

Finally, a quote from Carl Sandburg...
"A camera testament, a drama of the grand canyon of humanity, an epic woven of fun, mystery and holiness - here is the Family of Man!"
Enjoy the journey (click on any photo to enlarge) and please add your own memories in the comments!
Jacob Meisler's passport verifies year of birth 1891 and immigration year 1909
Jacob Meisler's United States Draft Registration 1917
Jacob Meisler's Certificate of Naturalization June 18, 1920
Jacob Meisler's Family Listed in the US 1930 Census
Standing L-R: Estelle Meisler, Jacob Meisler, Rose Meisler and seated L-R Bertha Meisler & Sidney Meisler - Year unknown
Selig Meisler, Sol Strum, Jennie Singer Meisler, Bertha Meisler, Rose Meisler, Estelle Meisler, Ben Triebwasser and Jacob Meisler 1933
Selig Meisler, Jennie Singer Meisler, Rose Drucker Meisler and Estelle Meisler 1933

Meisler Family Gathering Includes Julius Helfand, Bertha Helfand, Benjamin Goldberg, Estelle Goldberg, Rose Meisler and Jacob Meisler (front right) - year unknown
Jacob Meisler's 1942 US Draft Registration

January 16, 1955- Dennis Helfand's Bar Mitzvah. L-R standing Harvey Helfand, Benjamin Goldberg, Jacob Meisler, Julius Helfand, Dennis Helfand, Sidney Meisler, Phyllis Meisler,. L - R sitting Estelle Goldberg, Rose Meisler, Bertha Helfand, Rosalie Meisler, Myrna Meisler. L-R Floor sitting Stephen Goldberg and Vivian Helfand
September 23, 1978: L-R Back Row Robert Stuckelman, Tina Stuckelman, Sidney Meisler, Dennis Helfand, Stephen Goldberg, Benjamin Goldberg, Vivian Rubin, Sylvia Drucker, Marc Rubin; L-R Front Row Nona Stuckelman, Rosalie Meisler, Mildred Meisler Stuckelman, Joseph Stuckelman, Bertha Helfand, Estelle Goldberg, Jacob Meisler, and Mark Stuckelman.  The Stuckelmans are Zelig Meisler's descendants.
L- R Bertha Meisler Helfand, Jacob Meisler, Judith Eagen Helfand, Dennis Helfand September 23, 1978.
Dennis Helfand, Aaron Helfand and Jacob Meisler- Summer 1981 California
 This is a letter written by Jack Meisler to Dennis and Judy. He wrote this to send me Birdie's poem for his 90th Birthday Party. Notice he says to give regards to the Stuckelman Family.
Jacob Meisler, Aaron Helfand and Dennis Helfand - Three generations Summer 1982 California
Summer 1982 L-R standing Jacob Meisler and George Meisler, L-R seated Belle Fertel Meisler, Judy Helfand, Aaron Helfand and Mildred Meisler Stuckelman. George and Mildred's father was Zelig Meisler, brother of Jacob.
Bertha Helfand, Dennis Helfand, Jacob Meisler, Daniel Helfand and Aaron Helfand. Four Generations September 1985.

Summer 1987 New Hampshire - L-R Back Row: Dennis Helfand, Judy Helfand, Richard Meisler, Joshua Meisler, Daniel Meisler. L-R Front Row: Aaron Helfand, Daniel Helfand, Miriam Meisler. Richard and his sons Joshua and Daniel are the grandson and great-grandsons of Mendel (Max) Meisler. (Max is in the photo at the top of this article).
Aaron and Daniel Helfand, Jacob Meisler's great-grandsons - March 1989.
Some of Jacob Meisler and Zelig Meisler's grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Beverly Goldberg standing in background. L-R Seated: Mark Stuckelman, Phyllis Levine, Myrna Korman, Renee Ponder, Nona Stuckelman and Robert Stuckelman.  Tucson, AZ October 8, 2010.

L-R: Jared Rubin, Douglas Rubin (Jacob's great grandsons), Jen Bender Rubin, Vivian Rubin(Jacob's grand-daughter) and Marc Rubin. August 7, 2011.

Bertha Meisler Helfand visiting with her great granddaughter, Meredith Yates. August 8, 2011.

September 2015 Dennis Eugene Helfand visited his Great Grandmother Pesie Meisler's grave. Jacob's mother died November 9, 1937, and she is buried in Baron Hersch Cemetery on Staten Island, NY.

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Judy Helfand said...

I have heard from a few relatives regarding this post. Beverly Roberts (Estelle Meisler's daughter) wanted to let everyone know that there used to be some confusion about Grandpa's birth date. For a number of years they celebrated it on September 15, until it was confirmed to be September 22.

Also, Doug Rubin (Bertha Meisler's grandson) wrote to say that he remember Grandma' poem "A Toast to Papa". He said it hung on the wall of her Bronx apartment.

You will notice that I updated the "facts" section to include information about how/when he arrived at Ellis Island on August 10, 1909.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting and hopefully you will get some of the 'family' to stop by and enjoy.

I have done some genealogy research, primarily on the direct Dorman line. I have them in North Carolina in 1790 but haven't made the connection across the pond yet.

One interesting note, my grandmother was born in 1898 in North Florida and lived until 2001; she had the distinction to live in 3 different centuries which I thought was pretty cool.

Judy Helfand said...

Hi Bill,
Thanks for stopping by to read this. I have heard from family members via email, telephone and that has been fun. I would like them to comment here, just so we have a running record. But, oh well...

So interesting about your family history...neither side of my family or my husband's were here before the mid-late 1800s. Most came in the early 1900s. And of course finding information is very difficult because of all the different spellings of one's names.

On my side, I never met my grandparents, so I don't even have memories to jog. But it is fun. I am thinking of putting something together on my maternal grandfather.

Thanks again.

Richard Meisler said...

I am going to respond fully before too long. But I was just skimming the photos, honored to find one of me and my family with Judy, Dennis and the kids in New Hampshire. But the reason I am leaving this comment now is that I noticed the picture of Bertha and her great-granddaughter. I had to read the caption, because I was sure I was seeing not Bertha, but the person we knew as Tante Chai Esther, a member of Uncle Jack's generation. The resemblance is uncanny.

Anonymous said...

Great job, Judy!

I learned things about Grandpa (Jake) I didn't know. This is a really great family history and a strong foundation on which to build. What would we do without you??

Vivian Helfand Rubin

Judy Helfand said...

So much fun to hear from Richard Meisler (Max Meisler's grandson) and Vivian (Jacob Meisler's granddaughter and my sister-in-law). This project gets better and better.


Betsy Cross said...

Hi Judy!
Stan Faryna linked me to this post via Twitter. I love what you've done. Do you use It looks like you must.
If not, you are welcome to use mine. Just email me. I have free downloadable charts (18x24)that you can use to copy info and mail out to relatives, too.

Judy Helfand said...

Hi Betsy,
Nice to meet you. I do use, but I have really only just begun. I do have an account and there is a lot of information to be found. The only problem is second guessing how someone's name might have been misspelled!

Thanks for stopping by.

Judy Helfand said...

I had a reader that had trouble leaving a comment. So he asked me to publish it for him.

Stan writes:
I was wondering if you know my friend @BetsyKCross (her twitter handle)? She has a deeply moving passion for genealogy. Her blog is

Bertha's toast to her papa is a wonderful, touching lead in to the story of Jacob Meisler.

Best regards,

Stan Faryna

I just visited Betsy's site. It is wonderful. I subscribed. Thanks for sharing my post with her.


Judy Helfand said...

Just found a letter written by Jack Meisler. He wrote it in late 1981 to Dennis and me enclosing the Birdie's poem "A Toast to Papa". I have added it to this post so that it is available for all to see.


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