Torgovitsa – Hammer Family

Some of my cousins traveled here but I haven’t heard their stories yet!


Torhovytsia, Targowica, Torgovitsa, Trovits, Targowitz, Targovica, Targoviste, Targowitza, Tarovitz, Truvitz—in eastern Ukraine, west of Kiev—is the ancestral home of the Hammer (Gomehr) family.

Berel Hammer

BerelHammerBerelHammer0001This is my great-grandfather Berel Hammer. He was a Hebrew teacher and a grocer in Newark, NJ. Like all the Hammers, he was from Torgovitsa, Ukraine.

100th Anniversary! Grandpa Morris’s Arrival in America June 19th!

This is the Passenger Manifest for the S.S. Ryndam departing June 8, 1912 from Rotterdam, Holland and arriving June 19, 1912 in NY.  Click below to see detailed images.

Left-hand page of the Manifest showing “Moische London,” age 19, traveling alone to New York. His occupation is “cheesemaker” and he is from Poneweis, Russia.  His closest relative is his father Meyer London, also of Poneweis, G. Kovno (Kovno Guberniya, or province).  See the “Localities” page re: Panevežys, Lithuania.

Right-hand page of the Manifest showing Grandpa had a ticket which was paid by his brother.  He is in possession of $25, and is going to join his brother “P. London” at 226 E. 6th St., New York, NY. This is oldest brother Phillip London (Pesach).  Finally, Grandpa’s place of birth is Laba, a small railroad station west of Panevežys.

Ben Schwartz

Benjamin Schwartz was born Dec 1890 in Volochisk, Ukraine, and came to the U.S. with his family in 1892 at the age of 2.  He was naturalized June 5, 1917 and enlisted in the U.S. Army several months later, February 24, 1918.

Ben served as a PFC in the 312th Infantry, 78th Division, Co. B, based in Ft. Dix, NJ.  The 78th was famously known as the “Lightning Division” and “Newark’s Own.”

The 312th returning home to Newark, NJ

The 312th served heroically in the battles of St. Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne and Lorraine in 1918.  The Argonne was the unit’s victory — at a cost of 900 men, while 2200 returned home.

Inset detail about the unit

Ben was wounded in action when he was gassed in battle. Relatives report he was always sick after that, and died young (1941) due to complications from that experience. He was discharged May 31, 1919.

He married Frances Talkowsky November 15, 1925 in Newark, NJ.

He and Frances had 2 sons, Jerry and Edward.  Jerry served in the Army from 1946-47.  Edward served two Army tours, his first from 1951-1955, then from 1969-1972 during the Vietnam era.  His death date seems to coincide with his Army discharge date.