Question on ages #lithuania

David W. Perle

Hi! I'm "new in town." (I just joined this group earlier today and this
is my first post.)

Given how consistently inconsistent I've found records to be of ancestors'
years of birth (i.e. one U.S. census record for an individual not
agreeing with another record or two for that person, then them not
matching the ages given on their passenger-list entries when immigrating,
and so on), I'm taking it for granted that you all have experienced the
However, researching a pair of great-grandparents who immigrated to the
U.S. >from Kovno, the inconsistencies seem to be larger.

I thought I would post here to see if there's any Kovno/Lithuania-specific
reason why their ages may have been recorded as being older there than they
were considered to be after coming to the U.S. For example, would there be
any reason why they would lie about the ages, tacking on a few extra years
in Lithuania?

To show what I mean, take my great-grandfather Nathan ARONOWSKY (known as
Zusman Nakhman, or varied spellings, in Lithuania). The exact date of
birth on his 1932 death certificate was recorded as April 15, 1880, and his
headstone is chiseled with "1880" as his year of birth. However, the birth
certificates of his two children born in the United States each indicate
birth around 1878, as does the family's naturalization certificate.
But then I have Lithuanian records (I havent seen the originals; I'm
going by whats been typed into the database) >from 1898, 1900, and
1904 each showing his year of birth as around 1876. (I realize
that's not that far off >from the three U.S. records that I have indicating
1878.It's just so odd that they differ so much >from the year on his death
certificate and headstone, though! Could the family have not known his
actual age all those years? Each birthday, they celebrated the wrong new
age? Or might he have not ever cared to acknowledge his birthday)

Next, consider my great-grandmother Ida/Chaya Aronowsky. Her
death certificate and headstone each say that she was born in 1879. The
1940 census indicates either 1878 or 1879, but the 1920 census (more neatly
applying stats as of January 1 that year) indicates 1878. Those
records barely disagree with each other and so aren't too interesting,
BUT: her and Nathan's Lithuanian marriage record plus her passenger-list
entry when coming to the U.S. each indicate that she was born in 1874! The
family's naturalization certificate indicates birth in 1876. (The marriage
record shows that he was 24 and she was 26, so it's hard to imagine that
they'd have to lie about being older than they were, as if 20-year-olds
would be permitted to marry in 1900)


David Perle
Washington, DC

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