Looking for FILITS descendants (family from Raseiniai/Siluva, Lithuania) #unitedkingdom #lithuania #southafrica

Adam Turner

I am trying to track down descendants of a family that I am increasingly confident was my ggg-grandmother's (born ~1845): that of the FILITS family, which appears to have been based in Siluva around the mid-19th century.

The records in the LitvakSIG database that I've turned up suggest that least some of the males in this family moved to the larger nearby town of Raseiniai and in at least some cases, the capital of Kaunas. A few may have ended up in Vilnius. 

So far, I know relatively little about this family:

  • The number of people with this surname in the database appears to be quite small. Virtually all the records in the database I've found so far seem to be for people who can all be traced back to a single progenitor: Shlomo Filits, son of Kasriel, born ~1770 to 1775, maybe. Most of the records appear to be for people in the family of Shlomo's older son, Yosef (born ~1808).
  • In some of the records, members of this family appear to have had their surnames transcribed as FELT, FELS, or FELSH.
  • There are currently only two records for anyone in this family in the database after the year 1900.
  • Searching more broadly, there is one person in the JGFF who listed "Filits" as a surname - but that family evidently was in Zhitomir, Ukraine, not Lithuania.
  • Nobody with any of these spellings who came from Lithuania appears to be in Yad Vashem's database of Shoah victims.
  • I have looked a bit, but so far have turned up no manifests or other US immigration documents from people with this surname. Nor do there seem to be any manifests for people with this surname in the South African Jewish Rootsbank database.
  • The one immigrant I have found so far who I suspect is most likely in this family is Mamie Cohen Levinson (b. ~1873), whose record of her second marriage to a Joseph Zimmerman appears to list her mother as a Kreine Filits. (I have a fairly significant DNA match to Mamie's great-granddaughter.) Mamie's father was evidently a "Philip Cohen" - perhaps named Feivel. It appears that Mamie married her first husband Harry Levinson in the US in 1891.
So my very loose guesses are that:

1) a very high percentage of people in this family might have emigrated from Lithuania prior to 1905, and quite possibly many of them left as early as the 1880s.
2) they may have gone to other countries than the US, and wherever they went, they might have changed their surname, possibly to something radically different from "Filits".
3) perhaps some changed their surname even before immigrating.

If you know of anyone who had this surname, or came from this part of Lithuania and may have changed their surname (perhaps to "Phillips"?) I would be interested in hearing from you!

Adam Turner
San Francisco, California

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