Lithuania SIG #Lithuania Re: Kaunas District Wills Questions #lithuania

Prof. G. L. Esterson <jerry@...>

Connie Fisher Newhan posted to the LitvakSig Mailing List as follows:

"As a contributor to Litvak SI Kaunas uyezd (district) group I have been
sent several excel files. On one, I found a Court Inheritance File on an
index for Kaunas District Wills 1872-1883 for that lists Abram Itsik FELDMAN,
son of Movsha, as the executor of a will for Shlioma LEYKOVICH (LIKOVICH) d
1879, in the town of Seredzius, Kaunas Uyezd, Kaunas District. Also listed
as an executor is David Itsik EYLBERG, son of Meyer.

"There are also the names of the person who drew the will and three witnesses,
each >from different nearby towns. I am not sure if Shlioma LEYKOVICH is male
or female. I looked on the GNDB and there are 35 entries, 12 are female names,
23 are male names.

"How likely is it that Abram Itsik FELDMAN and David Itsik EYLBERG as
executors of the will are related to the decedent Shlimona LEYKOVICH?

"How likely is it that LEYKOVICH was a woman leaving a will? Did women have
wills or only men?

"Is there any significance to the fact that the three witnesses were all
from different towns?
"I believe Abram Itsik FELDMAN may be a brother of my ggm and wonder if
these other names may be related based on Feldman's being an executor to
the will."

Shlioma is a Yiddish name for a male that also has the Hebrew name
Shlomo. I suspect that the reason the poster could not decide whether the
person was a male or a female is because the search method used with the
Given Names Data Base for Lithuania had a misleading approach. If I
interpret the searcher's 35 "hits" correctly, the search method was
Daitch-Mokotoff Soundex search, rather than Global Plain Text search, and
the search name used was SHLIOMA.

I tried this approach and did indeed find 35 hits, a mixture of both male
and female names. But in fact, of these hits, only six actually have the
name Shlioma or Shliome (which is actually the same name), and of these
only one is the rather unusual female Yiddish name Shliome -- the other
five are all names for males, and are linked to the Hebrew name
SHLOMO. The other 29 hits were for Hebrew names like Meshulam (M), Sara
(F), Shalom (M), Sima (F), Tsipora (F), Paya (F), Zelda (F), Zelma (F), and
Zlata (F) -- none of which contained any name remotely resembling the
search name Shlioma/Shliome.

D-M Soundex search is well-known to lead to finding a number of false
positives (what it suggests as a "hit", but which in reality is not a
correct hit at all). This is because many quite different names have the
same Soundex number representation.

The *correct* hits can be obtained by using variants of the Global Text
search approach. If one uses the full name at hand (Shlioma), then one
will find only the female name Shlioma. But if one searches for only the
*first syllable* of the name (i.e., using Shliom*, where * means *any*
further letters), then one will find all six of the hits mentioned above,
mostly connected with Shlomo.

In general, when using Global Text search (not only for given names, but
for surnames also), it is best to try this first-syllable approach, and
sometimes a first-two-syllables approach. For given names, the first
syllable of the name nearly always comes very close to exactly finding the
right name -- in other words, the first syllable of a given name almost
exactly defines the full given name -- and very seldom introduces false
positives as does D-M Soundex search. Of course, if the GNDB user is
thinking in terms of a transliteration scheme >from
Hebrew/Yiddish-to-English which differs >from that used in the GNDBs, then
this will introduce problems which can be solved only by trying several
different variants of search words.

In the case presented by Connie, the correct answer is "any and all of the
variants of the Hebrew name Shlomo" (one of which is Shlioma/Shliome).

Professor G. L. Esterson, Ra'anana, Israel

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