If you’re reading this, you’re probably a descendant of Nacham Lebe Hatkoff and Merke Leh Paikin or you married one of those descendants. This web site shows the first 6 generations who lived in America. If you’re in the 4th, 5th, or 6th generation, you may never have heard of these surnames, but most people in the first three generations knew one another well, having grown up in the Albany/Schenectady region of New York State.  This web site charts what is known of their history and of the family tree (see the links above called “tree” and “cards” to find your name and your branch of the family. Send any additions or corrections to Merle Bruno.

The Hatkoff (Xатков = Hatkov) family came from Russia and landed in Boston early in the twentieth century—around 1910. The first generation represented in this family tree was  the couple Merke Leh (Bubbe) and Nacham Lebe (Zaida).  Nachem never made it to the U.S., but Merke came over in 1912 with Peshe and Anna and Peshe’s husband Harry Abramson after a son-in-law, Meyer Goodkin, had preceded them in 1910, and the others followed (not in one group). Meyer Goodkin sent for his wife Minnie (and others), and they came through Boston. Charles is said to have come through Canada and then walked to New York! If you have other information about immigration, please let me know.

In Russia, the Hatkov brothers were carpenters and masons.  When they, along with their first cousin Sam Minkov, got established in America, they bought property and started families in Albany, New York.  Charlie and Harry were carpenters, Abe was a mason, and Sam Minkoff was the bookkeeper. According to Georgie Paul, Sam Minkoff was actually a Hatkoff—son of Nachem Lebe’s brother, but his name got changed during the immigration process, although he could have been the son of Nachem Lebe’s sister if she married a Minkoff.

The Sorkins are related to us through Sam Minkoff’s sisters, Minnie and Fritzie. Minnie married a Sorkin and they had two sons, Ruby and Irving, If anyone reading this knows more about this connection with the Sorkins, please let me know.

The next generation all grew up in Albany and Schenectady.  One big group of first cousins (I think mostly Charlie’s and Peshe’s children) who were about the same age range, walked to school together in Schenectady, forming family ties that lasted for generations.  It is said that the older boys protected the younger children, but it’s not clear whether there were anti-Semetic threats that the family feared or if this was just general family concerns about younger children being on their own.

The Hatkoff boys built numerous large brick apartment buildings in Albany.  The first was the Eagle Street Apartments, then one on Morton Avenue near Lincoln Park and then the Mayflower Apartments near Albany Medical School off of New Scotland Avenue. They followed this by building private homes that each lived in off of Academy Road and continued with other projects such as two more large apartment complexes on Allen Street and one at 305 New Scotland Avenue. Family members lived in all these apartments (along with other tenants), and I think each was owned or at least managed by one of the Hatkoff brothers.

Leon Hatkoff (one of Charles’s sons) renovated a Victorian house on Allen Street into five apartments that Leon hatkoff and Anne Abramson Bruno’s families lived in along with 3 other non-Hatkoff families who provided constant informal baby sitters for Susie, Merle, and Bob. Consequently, the generation of Hatkoffs born in America, spent much of their young lives playing with and being watched over by their grandparents, aunts and uncles, first and second cousins, and neighbors and friends who considered themselves part of the extended family.

The daughters of Merke Leh and Nachem Lebe--Minnie, Peshe, and Anna--weren’t involved in the building business, and they married men who had other businesses. Harry Abramson (known to all as “Harry the Barber”) had a barbershop in Schenectady—complete with a twirling red and white barber pole outside.  Behind the shop he had a well-equipped woodworking shop where he built toys for his grandchildren—and probably sold some as well.

I’m collecting little bits of information about the personalities and lives of this first generation of six siblings. Charles (known as Charlie) Hatkoff, who was well liked by all and a born leader, was viewed as the head of this large family, and he loved to dance and laugh and spend time with family.  He was the life of the party at many annual family events held at Totem Lodge Resort on Burden Lake.  They also spent time at camps at Nassau Lake.

Anna Hatkoff Paul was said to be a great dancer, although in later life she was quite heavy and sedentary and it was hard for later generations to imagine her as a frivolous dancer.  According to Nate Paul and Harold Hatkoff, Peshe Hatkoff Abramson was a “women’s libber,” in Russia and was quite vocal about women’s rights. Harry was a very friendly and jovial man who liked his schnapps. He also was an observant Orthodox jew, forming part of a minion of the Orthodox shul in Schenectady and had many friends.  If anyone has other stories about any of these original six siblings or their children or additions and corrections about what I’ve written here, please let me know.

Putting together a history that goes back a century is hard now that Merke Leh and Nachem Labe’s children are all dead, and this history includes nothing about ancestors in Russia. so if anyone who reads this has additional information or corrections about time, place, names and spelling, or if you have stories to add, please pass this information on to me (Merle Bruno).