Re: Vilna vs. Lida #lithuania

Irene Newhouse

While reference to the original entry [vs transcription] resolved a
family's origin as Lida rather than Vilna city, this is a good time to
remind people that if you come >from a small town, the further >from home
you are, the more likely you are to refer either to the nearest large city
as your place of origin, or to the region >from which you come, rather than
the specific town.

To bring it close to home, I grew up in Boonville NY (township) and
now live in Hawaii. When people ask me where I'm from, I say "upstate
NY". I add "upstate" because I've learned that if I just say NY, people
invariably assume New York City. A whole 'nother world, because I grew
up on a dairy farm, 20+ miles >from the nearest movie theater & 7 miles
from the nearest village. So you see what I mean.
In the Russian Empire, the unit of government roughly equivalent to a
state in the US or a province in Canada was the guberniya. Guberniyas
had the same name as their capital city. So if someone >from Lida told
people in the US he/she was >from Vilna, it might mean either the guberniya,
or the city, because Vilna was the closest big city to Lida as well.

Nowdays, when nearly everyone has excellent maps at their fingertips via
the internet, it's hard to remember that I had to wait until I got to
college & consult the map room in the library there to get hold of a map,
for the first time in my life, that was detailed enough to include Lida.

This is the world in which our immigrant ancestors told people they came
from Vilna. A more specific reference would have involved an extended
conversation, and as one of my cousins put it, "They were too busy trying
to be Americans".

Irene Newhouse
Kihei HI

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