Notes for ABRAHAM "AVRAM" NATHAN BLEICHER:
Son of Solomon Wolf and Broina/Broyna (?) Carmel
Last Name: Also found as Belcher (1910 Census).
Born: 1859 in Leningrad, Russia.
Died: September 18, 1918. Killed in an ammunitions factory explosion in or near New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Buried: Poile Zedek Cemetery, New Brunswick, Middlesex County, New Jersey.
April 20, 1910 - 59 Manhattan Avenue, Block A, Ward 16, Supervisor's District 2, Enumeration District 345, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.
June 1, 1915 - 185 Varet Street, Block 4, Assembly District 19, Election District 1, Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.
April 20, 1910 - Merchant Chickens.
June 1, 1915 - Poultry Dealer.
June 1, 1915 - Alien.
Married: Luba "Lena" Goldman Unknown in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Abraham, or Avram Nathan, was born a Carmel. Jewish families were allowed to keep one son at home, the others had to go into the Czar's army. To avoid this harsh sentence as a second son, an adoption into a German family was arranged and he took their name -- Bleicher. Some of his children and further descendants have thus adopted the original family name of Carmel or Carmell.
According to Stephen Carmel, the reason for the name change was not to avoid the army, but rather because Abraham (or perhaps another brother, and Abraham followed suit?) was a political writer and changed his name to Bleicher (the name of a cousin) to avoid the repercussions of this work.
A third version, probably the correct one, comes from an article Sonia Bleicher Lewis wrote for The Jewish Press in 1978:
"In 1901 and 1902, the rumblings of war was the cause of the great exodus to America. My mother insisted that father take the two eldest boys who were now of age for conscription and try to get across the border into Germany. There, mother had an uncle who had passports made in his name. They were to be his son and his two grandchildren...."
When the family was reunited in America it was Lena's wish that the family keep the name of her uncle in Germany to honor his kindness to them. Thus Abraham and his descendants became Bleichers. All, that is, except the oldest son, Ben Carmell, who went against his mother's wishes and kept the old name.