The earliest known ancestors of the Vancouver's Nemetz family were Avrum and Surah Nemetz. The name is the Russian word for "German" and in the 19th Century when surnames became mandatory, the family apparently used "Nemetz" and "Deutsch" (Yiddish for "German") interchangeably.
It is not known if the family originated in Germany, but by the 1800s, a small village near Odessa, called Svatatroiske (formerly Volochonsk and now Troickoe), was their home. Their community was a Jewish "shtetl". Avrum and Surah may have had at least two children.
Schmiel (1821-1916), the oldest brother settled in Bogopaul, had eight sons, five daughters who came to America. Dudie (David) (1830-1892) remained in Svatatroiske. David Nemetz, with his wife Leah, had eight children and it is the story of their descendents that we have. The youngest of whom was Abraham.
Abraham (Avrum) Nemetz was born in 1865. He married Toby (Tuba) Pollock, and they had nine children. Often referred to as Avrum "Kostuf" or Avrum the butcher, Abraham was well respected and delivered meat to a nearby hospital. He was also a merchant who traded in wheat. Abraham and Tuba lived a comfortable life in Svatatroiske, belonging to the upper class merchants' shul. They lived in a beautiful home with lilac and fruit trees, they had a housekeeper and kept farm animals, pheasants and peacocks. The Rabbi and Schohet lived next door and life was good - until 1917.
The problems began - stampeding horses, broken windows, people being dragged through the streets. With violence increasing and a shortage of food, they felt unprotected and afraid. The oldest sons had already left the village and had emigrated to Canada, but many family members remained. Toby Nemetz became ill and the family moved to the neighbours across the street. A gypsy fortune teller came one day and said to the youngest child, Nadia (Esther), "If you give me a piece of bread, I will tell your fortune." So Nadia took her across the street to see her mother. The Gypsy woman told Toby Nemetz they were going to leave. A blonde man would come to get them and they would go across water. Toby felt she would not live to see America but the Gypsy woman insisted she would recover well enough to travel, although her husband Abraham would not live long after he arrived.
Several months later a blonde man, acting as an agent, arrived saying he had come to take them to Poland where a family member would be waiting to take them across the ocean. They arrived in Canada September 3, 1922 aboard the RMS Antonia, docking at Halifax.
Making their way to Vancouver they joined the other members of the family where they remained until their death. Abraham died in 1927, five years after he arrived in Canada, leaving Toby as the matriarch of one of the most interesting families of early Vancouver.
Abraham and Tuba (Toby) Nemetz had nine children, 23 grandchildren, and 42 great-grandchildren:
· Charlie (1888-1973) – married Annie Levson; had three sons: Harry, Hymie and Arnold.
· Samuel (1890-1952) – married Rebecca Burich; had two sons: Nathan and Herman.
· David (1893-1981) – married Rose Baru; had no children.
· Sarah (1893-1957) – married Bernard Victor; had three children: Morris, Judith and Rose.
· Harry (1897-1991) – married Ann Karasov; had three children: Milton, Phyliss and Alvin.
· Chava (1900-1988) – married Abrasha Wosk; had three children: Esther, Saul (Sonny) and Rosalie.
· William (1903-1992) – married Florence Toban, then Sylvia Davis; had four children: Arnold, Gloria, Deborah and Ted.
· Leo (1906-1985) – married Bessie Perlman; had three children: Harold, Ada and Jerry.
· Esther (1909-2006) – married Ben Dayson; had two children: Philip and Shirley.
Most of the Nemetz grandchildren and great-grandchildren continue to live in Vancouver.