Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names


Jules Levin asked:
Do Italian-Americans, Greek-Americans,
German-Americans, Polish-Americans, etc, etc., have the same stories of
name changing?
Oh, yes. In spades. _Everyone_ believes it, totally without regard to specific origins. I've heard the "name changed at Ellis Island" myth from Italians, Hungarians, Jews, Catholics, whites, blacks, and everyone in between.

It's enough for a family story to include the phrases "name change" and "Ellis Island" for people to jump straight to the myth. Even if the family story is specifically that the name _wasn't_ changed at Ellis Island, what the genealogical neophyte comes away with is the exact opposite. Confirmation bias, I think it's called.

Julia Szent-Györgyi
/\ /\

Early 1900s Jewish Family With Their Dog #general

Carl Kaplan

I recently connected with a 2nd cousin, and she sent me a picture from around 1905 (taken in New York or still in Russia) of her grandfather, his wife, and their first four children. One of the children is holding a dog. Being a dog lover, I was surprised, as I didn't think that at that time it was common for Jewish families, either in Minsk or New York, to have a dog, and especially to put it in a family portrait. I am curious if others have seen this. The family was definitely not affluent. I have a few studio photos of my grandfather, and have been told his outfit was borrowed from the photographer. Could they have borrowed a dog for the photo? I am very curious.

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Sherri Bobish

Hello fellow 'genners,

Has a study ever been conducted as to the percentage of immigrants to the U.S. that did, or did not, at some point make the personal choice to alter their surname?

None of my four immigrant grandparents, who all came through Ellis Island, changed their surnames. 

I don't believe that names were changed at the point of immigration.

However, some immigrants did choose, at some point in their lives, to alter their surnames to varying degrees.

Coming to America meant being able to re-invent oneself.  Sometimes part of that personal journey was the voluntary choice of changing the first and/or surname.


Sherri Bobish
Princeton, NJ

Re: Geni and Family Search #general

Max Heffler

I have found educated guesses, noted as such, to be extremely valuable is breaking through brick walls.


From: main@... [mailto:main@...] On Behalf Of Jx. Gx. via
Sent: Saturday, June 27, 2020 1:49 PM
To: main@...
Subject: Re: [] Geni and Family Search #general


ALWAYS build your family history using primary sources such as census records, birth, marriage, death records, wills, and if your are fortunate to have living relatives interview them.  Actually, do the interviews first or at least at the same time you are doing the paper trail.  Remember, your elderly relatives won't be around forever to ask questions. The primary documents aren't perfect, but you can iron out most difference by comparing and contrasting these sources.  Only then when you are on solid ground or in the event you hit brick wall, look at family trees posted by other people.  But don't take their postings as fact. I've seen some really careless work. Search out their sources for yourself and apply the same critical analysis that you use when doing your own research.

Jeffrey Gee


Web sites I manage - Personal home page, Greater Houston Jewish Genealogical Society, Woodside Civic Club, Skala, Ukraine KehilalLink, Joniskelis, Lithuania KehilaLink, and pet volunteer project - Yizkor book project:

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

C Chaykin

Amazing. No sooner than the "community" discards the canard that immigration officials changes people's names, another canard that name changes were effected by HIAS officials. Wow. That is even more imaginative and less plausible. 

Here's what happened, again and again: immigrants adopted new names, willingly and deliberately. The reasons for doing so varied – some names were in foreign alphabets (e.g. Cyrillic), some name spellings were not pronounced properly in English (e.g., Romanian -vici  suffix sounds like "English' -witz), some names were deemed too long to be practical, etc., etc., etc. But no reason was needed to use a new spelling or a new name. And in many (most?) instances, no government official or other representative was required to sanction the name change. Google the history of name changes in the U.S., and that is what you will find.

It was also possible to effect a name change at the time of naturalization, but again, this was done willingly and deliberately by the person being naturalized. 

Were mistakes made, in misspellings, or later imputed to bad handwriting? Sure, but again, I believe these errors did not become "memorialized" unless the immigrant adopted the mistakes or misspellings, willingly and deliberately.

BTW HIAS is still around, and available for inquiries. Good luck chasing down this new theory.

Re: Yiddish or Hebrew name for IDA #belarus #names

Alexander Sharon

My mother in law Ida was Idalia

Re: Heitler #general


Looking for last name Heitler.
I have a maternal great-grandmother named Heitler; I've traced her grandfather and great-grandfather to Sikátor in Veszprém county, Hungary in the early 1800s. (They redrew the county lines and it's now in Győr-Moson-Sopron county.) They were Roman Catholic, but the village was majority Lutheran. (The Ottomans depopulated the village in the 1500s and it was re-settled in the early 1700s, mostly from various places in Germany, as far as I can tell.)

As you doubtless know, you can't do genealogy based on just surnames. Many people who are completely unrelated can have the same surname, while most of your closest relatives are likely to have a different surname.

Julia Szent-Györgyi
/\ /\


Lemberski Evelyne


I I would like to know the members of the family below have a family link with my great grandparents Zelman KAMIENIECKI born in KOBRYN in 1872 and his wife Chaya Khaya Zora Sora Haïa (I do not know her maiden name and I would like to know), my grandfather born on 22/10/1898 in brest litowsk
Here is the family:
Simon Lazare Schimon FRIDMAN OU FRIEDMAN born in 1870
Chaïa Hinda Haya SAKNOVITZKI SAKHNOVITZKI born in 1872
and their children
Jacques FRIEDMAN FRIDMAN born June 4, 1901 in Brest
Malka Marcelle FRIEDMAN FRIDMAN born December 10, 1908 in brest
Philippe FRIEDMAN FRIDMAN born November 19, 1898 in Brest
Léa FRIEDMAN FRIDMAN born in October 1895 in Brest

Besides, is there a link with Zelda FRYDMAN FRIEDMANN born in 1899 in Brest Litowsk whose father was Anchel FRYDMAN FRIEDMANN with the above family please?

Saint Maurice

Re: Yiddish or Hebrew name for IDA #belarus #names





The Hebrew equivalent for Ida  may be  Ada (or Adah) which means jewel or adornment.

Shalom, Malka Chosnek

Re: Geni and Family Search #general

Jx. Gx.

ALWAYS build your family history using primary sources such as census records, birth, marriage, death records, wills, and if your are fortunate to have living relatives interview them.  Actually, do the interviews first or at least at the same time you are doing the paper trail.  Remember, your elderly relatives won't be around forever to ask questions. The primary documents aren't perfect, but you can iron out most difference by comparing and contrasting these sources.  Only then when you are on solid ground or in the event you hit brick wall, look at family trees posted by other people.  But don't take their postings as fact. I've seen some really careless work. Search out their sources for yourself and apply the same critical analysis that you use when doing your own research.

Jeffrey Gee

Re: Name Changes on Passenger Lists #general

Ada Glustein

To the best of my understanding, the original passenger lists were drawn up and handwritten by the pursers of the ship.  And I agree totally that they wrote down the names as heard by them.  In my own family's case, arriving in Canada on a ship that left from Antwerop, Belgium, I found my family's surname was written as "Gluckstein", perhaps a name familiar to the purser, at least moreso than Glustein.  The name originally was pronounced "Gluzshtein" (gluz-shteyn).  The children's first names also had the same "sound"; you could tell how they got to the name that was written, but not all the names were correct.  My own father's name was Israel, whose mother likely called him "S'ruel".  On the passenger list, he is marked as "Samuel", similar to what the purser must have heard.  Once in Canada, and as far as naturalization went, the spelling was as the family chose in Canada, and as recorded on the census and in the city directories, at first, Glushtein, and in later years, Glustein.  It's an evolutionary story!

Ada Glustein,
Vancouver, BC.

Searching:  GLUSTEIN (Kammenaya Krinitsa, Uman, Ukraine), PLETZEL (Ternovka, Ukraine)

Re: Pronunciation question - "G" Russian vs. Belarusian #russia #belarus

Dr.Josef ASH

Russian has NO sound "H" or Hebrew ה and NO letter for it.
in foreign words Rissian changes it to G (Г) like in Gematoma, Gemoglobin.
Sometimes it dissapears (as in hystory - История)
in belarussian language Г sounds as fricative sound so it is closer to h and, may be, it is easyer to sign english h or hebrew-yiddish ה (as in הערץ) by belarussian Г.
practically, if you know him as Herts (hart in Yiddish), call him Herts.

Re: Pronunciation question - "G" Russian vs. Belarusian #russia #belarus

Carole Shaw

There is no real H sound in Russian, and possibly in Byelorussian, as we know it in English/German.  What comes close is the sound Kh in Russian (pronounced like the German ch) and represented by the Cyrillic letter X but it is usually not used to represent the English H.  Instead the Cyrillic Г – hard G – is used.  Thus Herman becomes German (hard G), Harry becomes Gari and Hertz would become Gertz etc.


Interestingly, other Slavonic languages, e.g. Czech, have many words beginning with H where one would find a G sound in Russian. Thus the recent threads on JewishGen re Horodok/Gorodok.  In some regions of Russia, i.e. in the south, the local dialect replaces the hard initial Russian G with an H sound.  Pop group (groopa) becomes hroopa.  G, Kh and H phonetically are produced close by in the mouth.  G is a voiced velar plosive. Kh sound is a voiceless velar fricative. H is a voiceless glottal fricative.


Carole Shaw, London UK
SCHNEIDER: Kamanets Podolsk, Ukraine & Libava/ Libau/Liepaja, Latvia
KLUGMAN, GOLDSCHMID (plus variations), BRAUER: Libava/Libau/Liepaja, Latvia & Johannesburg
SAMSON, BLIK: Amsterdam, Zandvoort, Holland


ZANDGRUNDT (plus variations), SANDGROUND: Warsaw, London and beyond

JACOBOVITCH/JACKSON: Staszow, Poland & London

KOSKOVITCH/KENTON: Staszow, Poland & London

Re: "His name was changed at Ellis Island" #names

Peter Cohen

Thank you, Bob for injecting some sanity...In case it was not obvious, my original post stipulated from the outset that it was not a government official that changed anyone's name. What I am saying is that the stories are too widespread for all of them to be completely without some basis. The only other alternative is a widespread deliberate lie from parents to children. I am attempting to deconstruct the immigrant experience beyond their interaction with actual officials, to find out what might have led to stories of being instructed to use a different name.  The example someone posted about being advised to change their name by people at their synagogue is a perfectly plausible example of a voluntary name change. However, it does not address the widespread incidence of stories that include the phrases "he asked my name" and "he wrote down_____".  Since there is no evidence that the US government actually gave immigrants any documents to take with them, it was certainly not a government official who "wrote down" the new name.

Someone contacted me implying that it could not have been HIAS because HIAS did not establish an office at Ellis Island until 1905.  Checking, I learned the following:
HIAS was established in 1881.
"HIAS established a bureau on Ellis Island in 1904 providing translation services, guiding immigrants through medical screenings, arguing before the Boards of Special Inquiry to prevent deportations, and obtaining bonds to guarantee employable status. We lent some the $25 landing fee and sold railroad tickets at reduced rates to those headed for other cities."
So, not only was HIAS operating during the entire period of name change stories, beginning in 1904, it seems like they were actually embedded in the immigration process inside the Ellis Island facility (as opposed to meeting people outside the hall, as I had imagined.)  IF HIAS people were the ones who were telling immigrants to use a different name, and IF they were actually doing it inside the Great Hall, it is easy to see why an unsophisticated immigrant could mistakenly think that someone with authority was changing their name.

Again, these are only theories. I am not planting a stake and insisting this is what happened.  Something in writing may yet surface where a volunteer recorded their role in these name changes, but so far, none are known. I think it is well established that no one with government authority changed anyone's name. But to simply fold one's arms and insist that every name change was done at the instigation of the immigrant does not pass the sniff test.  Where there's smoke there's fire.

Re: Seeking information on Samuel Gluck #hungary #usa

Sherri Bobish

Hi Bob,

I suggest starting your search by locating Samuel on U.S. census records.
You can use to look at census, and many other databases.

I believe I found Sam GLUCK on the 1900 census living in Missouri with wife Fanney, children Rosa and Frank.  You will find much more info when you look at the census page through the above site.

U.S. federal census are done every ten years (note that 1890 census was mostly destroyed.)

Some states did their own census, often in the middle of the decade, i.e. NY State did a 1905, etc.

Good luck in your search,

Sherri Bobish
Princeton, NJ

Searching: RATOWSKY / CHAIMSON (Ariogala / Ragola, Lith.)
WALTZMAN / WALZMAN (Ustrzyki Dolne / Istryker, Pol.)
LEVY (Tyrawa Woloska, Pol.)
LEFFENFELD / LEFENFELD (Daliowa/ Posada Jasliska, Pol.)
BOJDA (Tarnobrzeg, Pol.)
SOKALSKY / SOLON FINGER(MAN) (Grodek, Bialystok, Pol.)

Re: Sea Gate, Brooklyn #usa

Deborah Blinder

The Forward published an interesting article a couple of days ago about Coney Island history, including Seagate, from the perspective of Jewish immigrants:
Deborah Blankenberg (JewishGen ID #613395)
Lodi, CA
Researching BLOCH/BLOCK (Germany to New York, Colombia and Missouri), BLINDER (Kishinev to New York via Poland? and Paris), KUSHER/KUSZER (Lodz vicinity to New York via Paris), GOLDSCHMIDT (Germany)

BAUNSTEIN/Austria,,1900;s #usa #general #austria-czech

Ilan Leibowitz


Looking for cousins(Baunstein( of my grandmother Rebecca Feld who passed away in New Jersey in 1958. The Baunsteins were Butchers(MAX)? in Newark, New Jersey in the 1950's-1960;s!.My Mothers maiden name was Ruth Feld. Rebecca also had a daughter Sadie(From her first marriage) COHEN.. there were other cousins by the name of Ritzher(Approx)


Thank You


Ilan Leibowitz


Re: Name Changes on Passenger Lists #general


I am aware of at least three name changes in my family.  None happened at Ellis Island.  My maternal grandparents changed the spelling of their last names as did their extended family, probably around 1930.  My father and his brothers Anglicized their last name, presumably because it was easier for customers, but perhaps also due to discrimination against Jews. However, we moved to a small Southern town where we "knew everybody" so everyone knew we were Jewish.
Barbara Sloan
Conway, SC

Re: Registration towns in Hungary #hungary


The one that says Biri appears to be a district/archive copy: (Film # 007951969 image 139 of 470)

See image 134 for the "title page" marked _másolat_ "copy". The entries are chronological on each page, but there are date overlaps between pages (with different entries), which is why I think this is a centralized copy.

The one that says Czilli appears to be a different copy, possibly kept locally: (Film # 007948087 image 144 of 294)

See image 137 for the "title page".

Neither one appears to be original, so there's no telling which name is correct for the bride. Both her father's and the groom's occupation is _korcsmáros_ (modernly _kocsmáros_) "taverner, innkeeper"; it's interesting that the JewishGen indexer of the Biri version used two different translations for the same word.

Dvorzsák's gazetteer ( indicates that Alsózsolcza's Jewish residents were recorded in Heő-Csaba (Hejőcsaba, now absorbed into the city of Miskolc). Miskolc of course had its own Jewish congregation.
"Szent-András" is possibly Hernádszentandrás in Abauj-Torna county, which is about 20 miles upstream from Miskolc on the Hernád river. Dvorzsák ( says Jewish residents were recorded in Szántó (Abaújszántó), while the 1892 gazetteer ( says Szikszó. (I'm wondering if the latter is a misprint: starts with Sz-, ends with -ó, in the same county...)

Julia Szent-Györgyi

Heitler #general


Looking for last name Heitler. #general

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