Re: Question on ages #lithuania

Ernest Fine

Perfectly normal! And yes, we've all experienced the same. Even including
incorrect gravestone dates. For example, I've never found reliable birth
information for a great-Aunt who died about twenty years ago - so the birth
date on her gravestone is the best we could approximate.

Part of the reason is that our ancestors weren't as concerned about dates
the way we are. And another reason is that they might not know, and are
simply giving the census taker their best guess - which would vary from
time-to-time. And a third reason is that these are people who did not
generally have happy experiences with government functionaries in tsarist
Russia - so they would give misleading answers - perhaps to hide the birth
of a son, for example. (This is my theory; Howard M. - what do you think?)

These seem like very good questions to ask at the next JGSGW meeting,
conveniently scheduled for next Sunday, Oct. 13; see!

Ernie Fine

-----Original Message-----
From: David W. Perle []
Sent: Sunday, October 06, 2013 4:40 AM
To: LitvakSIG
Subject: [litvaksig] Question on ages

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 same.
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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