The Fialkov Family of Pinsk

Friedel Fialkov

Actually, there were many Fialkov families in what is now Pinsk, Belarus, and they are likely not all related. The family tree as far as we know (so far) goes back to Israel HaCohain and Freidel Fialkov. There is no known photograph of Israel, but Micha Netser, a Fialkov cousin and keeper of Fialco family trees, sent me this photo of Freidel.

Micha sent me a database with over 1,400 names of Fialkov descendants, and I'm still going through it, fixing spellings, adding to the database, etc., so the family tree on this site will keep growing as I get it all in. It's a lot of work!

Israel and Freidel had at least 11 children.

Sara Malka aka Sarah Mildred

Yetta and Barnett Pomerantz Sara Malka married Yechiel (or Jacob) Silverman and had 8 children. These included Yente (or Yette) who married Pesach Berl (or Barnett) Pomerantz. This beautiful photo of Yette and Barnett in Pinsk circa 1894 was sent to me by Jackie Jones, their granddaughter.

Baruch aka Benjamin

Benjamin was born in 1855 and immigrated to the US in 1884 with his wife Sarah, born in 1860. It's interesting to note that they had a daughter Minnie who was born in 1884, but did not travel with them to America. She came to America in 1887. We don't know for certain as yet who brought her to America as a three year old, but I have a theory, which I'll explain shortly. Benjamin and Sarah settled in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Marcus Fialco

Yehoshua Mordechai HaCohain aka Marcus

Yehoshua Mordechai was born in 1862 and immigrated in 1887. Almost immediately, he appears to have sent to Pinsk for permission to bring his intended to Cincinnati to be married. Marc Fialco very kindly sent me a document contract which is the legal document asking her father for permission to marry. Interestingly, the father's name is Yaakov, son of Israel HaCohain Fialkov. He was, in fact, Marcus' brother. Marcus was arranging to marry his niece.

Here is the text, kindly translated by Micha Netser.

With Good Luck will grow in a fertile garden, and the Good Lord will keep them together. He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and will get Good Will from the Good Lord. The One who tells the End at the Beginning, he will give a good name and descendants following the conditions and agreement as discussed and summarized between the two sides: On the one side the Honorable groom Mr. Yehoshua Mordekhay Fialkov for himself. And on the other side the Honorable Mr. Ya'akov, son of Israel Fialkov HaCohen, on behalf of his daughter, the Honorable virgin bride Chashe, God will watch her.

The above mentioned Honorable groom Mr. Yehoshua Mordekhay Fialkov will marry, with a good luck, the above mentioned Honorable virgin Chashe in a Huppa and Blessings according to the Laws of Moshe and Israel and they will neither hide nor conceal anything from each other, but will customarily share equally their possessions.

The above mentioned Honorable groom is committed to supply the above mentioned bride with Shabbat, Holidays and everyday clothing, and to take her from her birth town of Pinsk, the Region of Minsk in Russia, and bring her to the town of Cincinnati in America, at his own expenses.

The above mentioned bride's father, Mr. Ya'akov, son of Israel, is committed to customarily supply the bed linen for his daughter Miss Chashe.

The wedding will take place, at God's Will, with Good Luck, at a congratulated hour, on the time limited the above mentioned groom and bride at the arrival of above mentioned to the bride to town of Cincinnati, town of residence of the above mentioned groom.

All the above has been carried out with the frankly full agreement between sides, without witnesses and formalities, signed by the above mentioned groom and the above mentioned bride's father Ya'akov, son of Israel Fialkov, Sunday, 5 Mar-Heshvan 5688 (October 23 1887) here in Pinsk And everything is valid and confirm.

Chasha Fialco

Chasha aka Anna/Annie/Hannah/Hattie

So Yaakov signed the document and his daughter Chasha emigrated in 1887. It's my theory that Chasha brought over her soon-to-be niece Minnie, daughter of Benjamin and Sarah. Marcus could have, but I think it's more likely in those days to entrust a 3 year old to a woman rather than a man. On the other hand, Chasha was only 16. Hopefully I'll find the ship manifests for all of them at some point, and then we'll know for sure.

By 1890, both Benjamin and Marcus were set up in Cincinnati with their own tailor shops. The 1890/1891 city directories list Marcus Fialkow at 443 Vine and Benjamin at the southwest corner 6th and Broadway.

What's In a Name?

This is a good time to talk about the name Fialco. Even within our family, it has been spelled Fialco, Fialcow, Fialkow -- and sometime between 1910 and 1920, Benjamin and his wife and children became Falk. In reading the Hebrew version of the name, it's also possible to spell it beginning with a "P", as the Hebrew letter "fay" can be translated as either one, so you'll also see Pialkov and all sorts of variants, and they come from the same name.

I was unaware, until I started doing some of this research, that we had these spelling variations within the family. I asked my Aunt Mildred what she remembered about that and she said she remembered her mother (Freda Fialco Dumes) telling her that she used to be taunted at school by people calling her Fial-cow (pronouncing it like the animal) so she started spelling it like Fialco. I'm not sure it's true, but it's a good story. :-)