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 Chaiken Family of Nezhin
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 Geffen Family of Vilkomir
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Our ancestors immigrated to many places. Some to Canada, a few to China, a great many to Israel, South Africa and England, and the majority to America. Those immigrating to South Africa usually went through England.

Today, there are many Geffens living in Canada, England, Israel, and South Africa as well as the United States.

The Voyage To America
Our ancestors came to America during the peak immigration years between 1880 and 1924.

Despite the emotional pain of leaving family friends and home, these travelers hoped that their life in America would somehow be better.

They walked, used horsedrawn carriages and traveled by trains to reach the harbors where the steamships departed for America.

Before boarding their ships steerage class passengers had to take an antiseptic bath, have their baggage fumigated and be examined by steamship company doctors.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s the cost of steerage class passage was approximately $25.00 for each passenger.

Second cabin passage was $50.00 for an adult and $25.00 for a child. Second cabin passage meant private staterooms and exemption from the intense scrutiny upon arriving in New York.

One of the earliest Geffens to arrive was Abraham David Geffen and his wife Anna Leventhal. They arrived at the port of New York on February 5, 1884 aboard the SS India.

Where They Lived
In many ways life was quite different from the villages in Lithuania, but in many ways quite the same. It was a clustered life, divided into sections by nationality.

The living conditions were crowded and not always clean. Families of five and six lived in one or two rooms.

Probably 75% of our Geffen immigrants settled in the New York area, specifically in Brooklyn in the early years. Later the families branched out to many other areas of the United States.

However, records show that a very early immigrant, Isaac Geffen, born 1865, immigrated in 1885 and settled and raised his family in Sioux City, Iowa. Also, Isaac brought his parents, Aryeh Tzvi, born 1831 in Vilkomir, and Feiga Shrifra Geffen to Sioux City.

My own great uncle, Joseph Geffen, born 1868 in Vilkomir immigrated in 1890 and settled in the town of Shandakin, New York. Later my great grandmother Toiba and her husband joined him there.

Life was not easy for the immigrants. They toiled and worked hard and many times lived in not the best of conditions.

We should all be very proud of our ancestors. Without their hard work, we not all have become what we are today.
Some areas where Geffens have and are living now

Atlanta, GA, Baltimore, MD, Boca Raton, FL, Boston, MA, Brentwood, CA ,Brisbane, Australia, Bronx, NY, Brooklyn, NY, Broomall, PA, Buffalo, NY, Calgary, Canada, Capetown, SA, Charleston, SC, Chicago, IL, Claremont, CA, Cleveland, OH, Colorado Springs, CO,Concord, MA, Dallas, TX, Delray, FL, Denver, CO, Detroit, MI, Dorchester, MA, Edmonton, Canada, Ellensburgh, WA, Encino, CA, Forest Hills, NY, Geneva, Switzerland, Grapevine, TX, Hartford, CT, Hollywood, FL, Honesdale, PA, Isle of Man, England, Johannesburg, SA, Key Biscayne, FL, Kovno, Lithuania, Lake Worth, FL, Leeds, England, Lindenhurst, NY, Livingston, NJ, London, England, Los Angeles, CA, Melbourne, Australia, Miami, FL, Mililani, HI, Minneapolis, MN, Montreal, Canada, Needham, MA, New Hope, PA, New Orleans, LA, New Rochelle, NY, New York, NY, Newark, NJ, Newton, MA, Norfolk, VA, Oakland, CA, Okemos, MI, Omaha, NB, Paris, France, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Plainfield, NY, Plandome Manor, NY, Portland, OR, Powell, TN, Red Deer Alberta, Canada, Richmond, VA, Roosevelt Island, NY, Roslyn, NY, San Francisco, CA, San Mateo, CA, Santa Barbara, CA, Savannah, GA, St. Louis, MO, Scranton, PA, South Africa, Southbury, CT, Southport, CT, South Miami, FL, Sussex, England, Switzerland, Sydney, Australia, Tel Aviv, Israel, Toronto, Canada, Tulsa, OK, Upton, CA, Utica, NY, Ventura, CA, Vero Beach, FL, Washington, DC, Waterbury, CT, Wellesley, MA, Westport, CT, Winnipeg, Canada, Winston Salem, NC, Yardley, PA,Yoder, CO
#1...The Train station in Bremen, Germany where many of our ancestors departed from.
#2..Lazer Geffen, his wife Chana Berman and their children in South Africa, 1917.
#3..SS India on which Abraham David and Anna Geffen arrived at the Port of New York
#4..S.S. Polonia on which Isaac Geffen immigrated to America on and then settled in Sioux City, Iowa.
#5..The tombstones of Aryeh Tzvi and Feiga Shifra Geffen, in Sioux City, Iowa. We believe Aryeh to be the oldest of the immigrants to America. He was born in 1831, the grandson of Barouch Geffen and great grandson of David Geffen b.c.1758.
In 1906, Lazer Geffen, my great uncle, left Vilkomir for South Africa. His wife Chana remained in Vilkomir with their children while Lazer began work as a butcher in Johannesburg.

During the years while she was alone in Vilkomir, Chana ran an inn on the river.
In 1911, Lazer became a naturalized citizen of South Africa.

In 1914, Chana and her children immigrated to South Africa stopping in London at the Poor Jews Temporary Shelter. Many of the family live in South Africa today.

We believe this immigration story is typical of many who went to South Africa.