JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen A bogus death record #general

alan rems <aprems37@...>

In June, an announcement was made by David Fox that Jewish vital records
from certain towns in Lida have become available >from the Mormons for
particular years. As they included 1899 death records for Rozhanka, the year
my gggrandfather Yankef Peretz Vendrovsky died in that shtetl, I hastened to
order the filmstrip. With its small Jewish population of about 550 people,
Rozhanka did not have many deaths in 1899 and a Vendrovsky death record was
quickly found. However, instead of showing the deceased to be 80 year old
Yankef Peretz, the death record claimed it was 14 year old Yisroel ben Shmul
who had died. Yisroel ben Shmul was Yankef Peretz' grandson and very much
alive. He arrived in America >from Grodno in 1904, and died tragically in
1913 in an event that was front page news in the Forward.

Presumably, the family used the occasion of the grandfather's death to kill
off the young man (on paper) and shield him >from conscription in later
years. As noted, Yisroel removed to Grodno before coming to America, and
this may have been necessary to maintain the subterfuge. What seems most
remarkable is that they were able to pull off the stratagem in such a small
shtetl. As a venerable rabbi who probably lived all his life in Rozhanka,
whose home doubled as a woolen mill that was one of the few industrial
enterprises in the shtetl,Yankef Peretz was surely one of the best known
people in town. It would seem that the action taken would have required the
knowing compliance of the witnesses as well as of the officials who recorded
the event in the separate Russian and Yiddish language portions of the

Have any other Genners encountered this sort of thing in death records? It
is presumed that the recording of a false death could only be attempted when
a real death occurred. Why?

Alan Rems
Centreville, Va

Researching: Vendrovsky in Rozhanka, Lida u. and Remz/Rems in Piesk,
Wolkovysk u., Belarus

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