Caryn Adler <idigfamily@...>
I have recently received a report >from a paid
researcher containing detailed information about my
Jewish ancestors in Bohemia in the 18th and 19th
centuries (see names and localities at the end of this
posting). While this information is both exciting and
gratifying, it generates more questions. Below are
excerpts >from the report, followed by the questions it
raises about the life that my ancestors led. I hope
that recipients of this message can help provide
additional insight into the life and livelihood of my
1. Early census records (1724) indicate that my
ancestors made their living by "peddling small
items--kitchen utensils, textiles like handkerchiefs
and kerchiefs . . ."
Questions: How did the peddlers acquire these items?
Did they make them? What are some examples of
"kitchen utensils"? What other items may have been
peddled?Is the life of a Jewish peddler in 1720s
Bohemia be comparable to the life of a peddler in the
US during the same time period?
2. " . . . and on collecting of waste paper and
Questions: How did the peddler collect these
items--did he go door-to-door asking for them? Would
they be found along the road as discarded items? Did
he do his peddling just to families in the Jewish
community, or did he peddle to non-Jews as well? What
was paper used for and why was it wasted? What was
the wasted paper used for once it was collected--was
it sold elsewhere? "Recycled"? The same questions
apply to "old rags"--what were they originally used
for, that is, were old rags originally pieces of
clothing that had just worn out? What were the old
rags used for once collected? Did the wives of the
peddlers use someone else's cast-offs to make their
3. Later (1750s), " . . . peddling with animal skins
Questions: How did the peddlers acquire these skins
and feathers? What types of animals provided the
skins and feathers? Were the peddlers
hunters/trappers also, or did hunters bring their
animal carcasses to the peddlers for "processing",
allowing the peddlers to keep the non-usable remnants?
4. " . . . living was mostly still based on peddling
with small items, including this time, also used
cloths and wool . . . "
Questions: Wool? Did the peddlers raise sheep? If
not, how did they come by it? Was the wool that they
peddled "raw", or carded and ready to make into cloth?
5. "In the community were also tanners (ADLER),
glasers, and butchers" . . . (1793 census)
Questions: Again, how did the tanners obtain the
hides? There appears to be a division of labor:
tanners and butchers. Would non-Jews do business with
the Jews? How were the Jews paid--money? Barter for
goods or services?
6. (1841) "ADLER family members owned partly or
completely 5 of the 16 houses in the village . . ."
Questions: Were the Jews allowed to own property? If
so, was it desirable land, or just the land that
non-Jews didn't want? Was the life of a Jewish farmer
or businessman (i.e., peddler) comparable to a non-Jew
in the same occupation? How did my ancestors come to
own a house, being very poor? Were the Jews allotted
a certain piece of property which was then divided
among all of the Jewish families in the village? Was
the life of a farmer in Bohemia in the 1840s similar
to the life of a farmer in the US during the same time
period? What would the home of a poor Jewish family
have been like in the 1840s (I know these particular
homes were constructed of timber)? Would they have
been allowed to use stone if they so-desired? How was
the home constructed, i.e., did the community all
pitch in, or was it each man for himself?
7. "In 1850 . . . Arnoltov community, there were 288
inhabitants, 127 [of them] Jewish . . ."
Did the Jews inter-mingle with non-Jews? Were Jews
persecuted in any way, or discriminated against?
8. "In 1846 . . . existence of the farm was important
for the Jewish living because of the products of the
farm (feathers, leather, wool, corn, etc.) were mostly
handled by the Jewish peddlers . . ."
Question: Was farming communal?
9. "In the 19 and 20th centuries, agriculture was not
enough to feed the village's inhabitants, so they
commuted to local factories . . . "
Question: Was this (the commute to local factories)
true of the entire community, or just the
sub-community of Jews? Was the lacking agriculture
only a problem that the Jews faced, or did it effect
the non-Jewish community as well?
Question (unrelated to above excerpts): When did the
rail system become developed in Bohemia?
Thanks in advance to anyone who is able to help answer
I will defer to the Moderator for assistance in
determining whether replies should be posted to the
group as a whole, or to me privately.
Kalamazoo, MI USA
researching ADLER (Arnitzgrun, Pochlovice, Kynsperk)
MODERATOR NOTE: Please note that replies should be directed off-list to
Caryn, unless they are of general interest and/or pertinent
to our geographical areas.