|Outside the Pale
Minnie Uberstine's husband, Louis Henkin, was born in Russia to parents
who lived in the Pale of Settlement, the large area the Russian Empire designated on the
eastern border of what had been Poland and the western border of Russia. There
opportunities for Jews were non-existent. But Louis had an uncle who had served in
the Russian Army, and so his uncle was permitted to live outside the Pale, said Louis'
daughter, Trina Henkin Herman.
"His uncle took my father to live with him in Riga," Trina
said. Riga is Russia's port on the Baltic, the northern edge of Russia, and the
harbor is "frozen solid from December to February." The town was founded in
1201, was Polish during that country's heyday in the 1500's, was Swedish for a time
following the Reformation, but has been mostly Russian since its takeover in 1710 by Peter
"Riga was called Paris on the Baltic," Trina said. "The old town with
its narrow cobbled streets, lined with gabled dwellings...has retained much of its
medieval character," said an encyclopedia published in 1967. And so Louis
Henkin had a good education before coming to America.
'The other Henkins'
Louis did not come through Ellis Island; he came through Baltimore,
said Trina, who added that he had two brothers, Mutah (for Morris or Moses) and Avram (for
Abraham), who also settled in Ohio. They were much more observant than Louis, and
they referred to his family as the "other" Henkins, according to Trina.
'Yankee Doodle Dandy in a hurry'
The first work that Louis did in America was as a tailor, and later
on, he was able to open a grocery store in Cleveland. He had married an
American girl, which made him a citizen, Trina pointed out, and he adopted American ways.
"He was a Yankee Doodle Dandy in a hurry," said Trina. The grocery
store, she said, "was open on Saturdays."