“Mariasia’s Crossing” is an attempt to document the remarkable experience of my great grandmother — known as Mariasia in Russia but later called Minnie — as she led her five young daughters more than halfway around the world in the midst of the global turmoil of World War I and the Russian Revolution. While most Jewish immigrants passed through Ellis Island in New York and other East Coast ports during the so-called “second crossing” of the late 19th and early 20th century, the story of what happened to families that were separated as a result of the war and had to blaze a new, more grueling path to America has been largely untold. Their trip took them in the opposite direction: across two continents and the Pacific Ocean to ports on the West Coast of the U.S., where many still had to travel across the country to reunite with their families in New York.

6 comments on “About

  1. Phyllis Greer says:

    Just beautifully written and with information that I had never heard before!
    In what present-day country is the town in which Mariasia was born?
    I’m still searching for some more photos.

  2. nsgreer says:

    “Potzib” — Pochëp in Russian and Potchep in Yiddish — is in present-day Russia, 256 miles southwest of Moscow.

  3. Terry Foor-Pessin says:

    You have done what I have dreamed of doing, and chronicled your relatives’ remarkable journey from Russia eastward! My grandmother, Tilly Maron, was 16 when she left Bobruisk, in what is now Belarus, to join her family in America. She also traveled the same route you describe, but few family members knew the details, and all of them are gone now. I would love to find evidence of her arrival in America–where did most immigrants crossing from Japan come through when they got to America? Any suggestions on where to check for passenger lists?

    • nsgreer says:

      Hi Terry — thanks for the comment! During the war years, immigrants primarily entered through ports on the West Coast — Seattle, San Francisco and others. Not sure if those passenger lists are available online now, but they weren’t at the time I was doing research. I spent a lot of time looking through microfilm at the National Archives without any luck because I didn’t know the exact month/year of their arrival. My biggest break came when I used the HIAS Immigrant Record Search service. It took 9 months or so, but they were able to find my family with just the names, age and date ranges. Once I knew the exact date of their arrival, I was able to uncover a lot more information. It seems likely that if your grandmother traveled the same route as my family she would have been assisted by HIAS so I would try that. Other resources that have been especially helpful are jewishgen.org (free), ancestry.com (monthly/annual subscription required to access most records), Yivo Institute and of course the National Archives. I hope this is helpful and wish you lots of luck in your research!

  4. Kathy Kaplan says:

    I would like to request permission to use information and illustrations from this wonderful blog for a PowerPoint presentation that I am creating for our JCC Life Long Learning program. I am presenting a series called “Sojourns and Synagogues” about Jewish life in various countries I have visited, including Eastern Russia, Siberia, and Japan. I have included in my presentation research about the history of the Yokohoma Jewish community, and your great-grandmother’s amazing story would be wonderful to include. I would be very happy to guide my audience to your blog by including it in my PowerPoint and by listing it on the written “Further Reading” handout that I make for each presentation. Thank you so much for your wonderful research, and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • nsgreer says:

      Thanks for the kind words about my blog. You are welcome to use the info in your presentation along with the reference.

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