First, I wonder if anyone can direct me to a good source of information
regarding military conscription in Courland. I am curious about the
fact that three of my great-grandfather's older brothers left Courland
before their 18th birthday supposedly to avoid conscription, while my
great-grandfather and his closest brother each remained in Courland well
into their twenties, without doing military service. The older sons
came to the U.S. in the 1880's, while my great grandfather waited until
1899, and his brother until 1902. How would they have avoided being
drafted? In the case of other relatives of the same generation (born
1860's, 1870's), several seem to have avoided service and gotten a
university education. Was this possible? Basically, I'm having trouble
reconciling the stories and image of terrible conscription policies with
the fact that so many of my family seem to have avoided military service
altogether. I'm also curious about how long the service was for those
who were drafted. I've read about the horrible "25-year" service, but
that doesn't seem to be the case for those I have records of.
Second, I just found an interesting book - "Jews in Michigan", by Judith
Levin Cantor, Michigan State University Press, ca.2001. (Available on
Amazon) It mentions the significant migration of Kurland Jews to the
Saginaw/Bay City area and the lumber industry. I'm wondering if anyone
knows of any other articles available about the Kurlanders in Michigan.
I also have an article about the Peddlers of Bay City >from Michigan
Jewish History, June 1985, but that's all I've been able to find.
Any help finding additional information will be very much appreciated!
Betsy Thal Gephart
Researching Kurland families: THAL, KRAMER, SCHATZ, LEVY, GITELSON,