Moishe Zavelsky, the son
of Ilya and the brother of Eliezar, was believed to be what
the family legend calls "The first Zavelsky Soldier"
Click here for
the legend of the first Zavelsky soldier
According to our documentation we believe that this first
soldier was Moishe Zavelsky, brother of Eliezar and son of
Ilya, and that Moishe entered the army from Glukhov.
Moishe was born circa 1826 in Glukhov and entered the army
from there. Moishe moved south with his army unit to Azov,
a town in the south of Russia, and he stayed there when his
service was over. It is known that he also was a tailor in
his free time and after his service. Moishe had three sons,
Kusil, Mark and Elais. It is our belief that his first two
sons, Kusil and Mark were born to Moishe and his first wife.
It appears most probable that Moishe's first wife died circa
1865. Moishe returned to Glukhov where his third son Elais
was born to Moishe's second wife.
We have tried to obtain documentation from Baku, but have
not succeeded. The information on the children of Moishe below,
has been provided by his descendants.
Kusil Zavelsky born about 1850
Kusil was born in Azov located in the southern part of Russia.
At some time during his childhood, the family moved to Baku.
He married Chava and they had eight children: Yakov, born
1876, Anna, born 1878, Esfir (Esther), born 1880, Zakhar,
born 1883, Klara, born 1886, Ilya, born 1889, Alexander, born
1891 and Abram, born 1893.
All of the children were born in Temir Klechmore, Russia.
According to one of his granddaughter's, Tamara Mozes, "the
city of Temir Klechmore at one time had a large and wealthy
Jewish community. Kusil bought a business there (a cinema),
but it failed and he moved back to Baku."
Mark Zavelsky born about
We know very little about Mark (whose name was probably Mendel,
other than he had seven children: Bunya, Manya, Sonya, Raya,
Milya, Mina, Lasar.
Elias Zavelsky born
Elias was born in Glukhov, but over the years also lived in
Riga, Latvia and Ryazan, Russia. According to his granddaughter,
Lenore Marwil, "Eli sang. He was an entertainer in a
small traveling circus or theater company. He also was a clothes
cutter or a designer."
He married Taube Ritch and they had four children: Aaron,
Clara, Anna and Abraham. Taube and the four children all immigrated
to America. Again, according to Lenore, "My father Aaron
brought over his father Elias, in the early 1900s. He did
not like it here, so he returned to Russia. That was the last
he saw of him. I don't know what happened to him after he
returned to Russia."
Aaron Zavelle born April 15, 1889 in Ryazan, Russia
Aaron arrived in the USA on July 29, 1904 at the age of 15.
From the records we have seen, it appears that Aaron immigrated
with his mother and his sister Clara and that they went to
relatives of his mother in Philadelphia. His other sister
and brother followed at a later date.
Aaron lived in Chicago from 1909 to 1913 and married Celia
Herman there in 1912. They moved back to Philadelphia where
twins were born April 30, 1913. Only their daughter Angelina
At the time of his marriage, Aaron was a law student. When
he filed his petition for naturalization shortly thereafter,
he listed his occupation as a teacher. He also officially
changed his name from Zavelsky to Zavelle at the time of his
petition. Aaron's wife Celia died in 1917.
Aaron married Esther Zaverucha in Philadelphia in 1922 and
in 1924 their daughter Lenore was born.
Lenore Zavelle Marwil..."My father had a school in Philadelphia
teach English to the foreign born. My mother was a student
there and that is how they met. My mother was a widow when
they met. Her husband had been killed in the war in Russia.
She had a son in Russia named Alexander who she left with
her mother when she came to America. After she married my
father, she brought her son over and my father adopted him."
Aaron and Esther remained in Philadelphia where they raised
their three children. Aaron opened three college bookstores.
Well known to anyone in the Philadelphia area was the Zavelle
Book Store at the University of Pennsylvania. There was also
stores in Princeton and Cape May. Aaron died in 1955 in his
home in Wyncote, Pa.
Clara, Anna and Abraham Zavelsky
We know very little of Clara, Anna and Abraham Zavelle, except
that they all immigrated to Philadelphia, married and raised
families. Abraham changed his name to Zangwell.