Sarah Unobskey with sons Arthur, William, and Charles, Calais, ca. 1930
Item 102730 info
Maine Historical Society
Maine was home to a handful of Jews during colonial times. Jews arrived in far greater numbers beginning in the 1870s, although Maine attracted only a tiny fraction of the two million Jewish immigrants who fled Eastern Europe from 1881–1924. The Unobskey family came from Snovsk, Russia (now Ukraine) and settled in downeast Maine.
Sarah Unobskey (1878-1935) persuaded her husband, Joseph, to leave Russia in 1903, rather than have him drafted into the Russo-Japanese war. He left Sarah and their two sons, arrived at Ellis Island, and began working in the fur industry in Boston. His sales region was Washington County, Maine, and like other Jewish immigrants before him, Joseph started his career as a peddler, traveling from farm to farm, and selling goods.
Joseph sent money back to Russia for two years, facilitating immigration for multiple family members. In 1905, Sarah and their sons, Arthur and William, joined Joseph, and the family settled in Eastport. They had another son, Charles. Sarah’s grandson, Sidney noted, “Sarah liked Eastport. Its climate and look reminded her of home. Even better…they could buy land here, something not allowed Jews in Russia.”
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