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I was surprised to find my my great grandparents on the manifest with a different surname. Then I searched the name on JewishGen for Lithuanian records and found them in multiple birth & death records. It seems they adopted a new name on arrival.
"It is no easy thing for a family to get a passport. If for any reason the birth of any child has not been properly entered upon the records of the community, and this happens quite frequently in the case of females, or if by accident an official has omitted a name in the records that he prepares from time to time, or there is a member of the family eligible to military duty, or perchance one of the family who has died would, if alive, be eligible to such duty and his name has not been stricken from the records, there ensue complications that involve expense and loss of time." (Philip Cowen, Philip. “Immigration from Russia”, 1906 report to U.S. Commissioner General of Immigration, NARA Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Some young men were able to obtain another man’s military papers in order to get an exit permit; (b) some emigrants used permits that had been forged or altered (usually by a shipping company agent) by adding an unrelated person to a family’s permit, using that family’s last name; (c) occasionally a family was able to use the permit of another family who had changed their mind about leaving after obtaining a permit, and so crossed the border under someone else’s name; and (d) those unable or unwilling to obtain even fraudulent documents avoided the border guards by leaving the train on the Russian side of the border and being smuggled through the forest.
In a family named Charny from Kavarskas, Lithuania, there are ship manifests and NY and US census records showing the apparent emigration of one branch of the family to NYC, including parents and several offspring, yet a Charny family with the same given names of not only the parents but all the children also appears in Lithuanian records, such as Internal Passport Applications, at times they were shown to be living in the US. The only explanation that has occurred to me is that the true Charny family remained had obtained exit permits yet chose to remain behind and was able to sell its permits to another family with children of the appropriate sex and age. A shipping company agent might have been employed in finding a suitable family to sell or buy the exit permits. These agents kept close eyes on which of the families in their sales area might or might not be interested in emigrating.
Once a Russian exit permit was obtained, remaining documentation including train tickets and ship tickets had to be issued in the same name. and the list that showed the immigrants names to US immigrant officials was prepared by the shipping company officers, so the name on the purchased, forged, or altered visa became the name under which the immigrant entered the US.
A number of families in Lithuania claimed descent from R. Isaac Luria, the Ari. Over 40 years ago I discussed this with early genealogist Shmuel Gorr, and he told me that he was able to trace one of these families (that of Rabbi Moshe Meshel Luria of Krakenova) back to the Maharshal, with no direct connection to the Ari. Of course there has been much conjecture of the relationship between the Ari and the Maharshal, but I am not aware of any clear answer on that.
Thanks for bringing this up, Perry. I have wondered the same for years, and still don't have a good explanation for the name changes.
In my case, multiple family members traveled from Lithuania to the US in the 1880s after apparently buying papers that allowed them to change their surnames. So my questions:
* What kind of documents did someone need to leave Lithuania in the late 1800s? * Who was able to get these documents? And why was it apparently so hard for people to procure documents in their own name? *What happened to the sellers of these documents? Without papers, were they stuck in their home towns for the rest of their lives?
JoAnne Goldberg - Menlo Park, California; GEDmatch M131535
Three years ago, someone in this group graciously sent me the attached Polish document, possibly a census record or a military conscription record for a Chaim Ber KNISBACHER of Kolomyja. At the time, I could not connect to it and simply filed it away. But just the other day some of my family "stumbled upon" this Stolperstein for a Chaim KNISBACHER in Bremen, Germany:
I subsequently found a second Stolperstein from Bremen for what was likely his wife, Donja KNISBACHER, b. 1898.
In the above Polish document what I can read is as follows and need help with what I can't read as indicated:
1. Birth date: 15 January, 1896.
2. Parents: Ettie Knisbacher
3. Profession: Merchant
4. Religion: Jewish
5. Parents' residence or location of profession? (Is that correct?): Can't read the handwriting
6. Notes at bottom: can't read
On the right hand side
7. Education: 1907 [when Chaim Ber was 11 years old] but can't read more than that
8. Date: 31 May 1939 [significantly, still before the Nazi invasion on Sept 1, 1939]
9. Height: 163 cm. [64 inches=5 feet 4 inches]
10. Chest girth? 85/78 cm. Not sure what that means
11. Weight: 54 kg = 119 pounds
12. Doctors' evaluation? Can't read
13. Conscription committee? Can't read
Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated! This man Chaim Ber, from Kolomyja, is apparently connected to both the "Vienna branch" of my family and to Saul ben Meir, b. 1881 Kolomea KNISBACHER, the husband and cousin of my father's aunt Frieda, both of whom came to the US from Austria-Hungary in 1907. [We still do not know the exact nature of the cousinship.]
Sharing Data on Genealogical Websites: Uses and Abuses
Speaker: Henry Blumberg
VIRTUAL MEETING: View from home
Wednesday, 26 May 2021, 7:30 p.m. ET.
In an age of burgeoning technology, genealogists have concerns that relate to genealogy websites, their uses and possible abuses. These include issues of privacy, user agreements, facial recognition, data mining, ownership of data, sharing DNA information with testing companies, surveillance capitalism, and genealogical manipulation and fraud.
Henry Blumberg is a barrister in Toronto. He is on the Board of JGS Toronto, has served three terms as convener of the Latvia SIG, and two terms on the Board of Governors of JewishGen. He has presented at twelve IAJGS conferences and was a speaker in Riga at the “Names and Fates Project” in June 2008, as well as at International Conferences on “Jews in a Changing World” in 2011 and in 2014. To register, please go to
Please keep the acknowledgement email when you receive it as it contains your personalized link to join the Zoom meeting.
To our guests, consider joining our membership for only $40.00 per year by Clicking Here or consider a donation by Clicking Here to assist us in continuing our mission providing a forum for the exchange of genealogical knowledge and information. (Canadians receive a CRA tax receipt.)
The traveler and her son are in rows 1 and 2 Esther married in Slutsk, Belarus and was living there when first her husband (who is confirmed to have been born in Slutsk) left I had thought it was Slutsk but Yuri DOrn of JHRG did not find the family there (they did find her husband)
It is likely that the place here is somewhere in Belarus, in Minsk G. Possibilities are Minsk itself, G/Hlusk, Babruysk
Asking for a friend (really!). He got this from JRI Poland. He believes the middle entry (name= Eisig) may be his maternal grandfather. Neither of us can translate the column headings and certainly not the cursive writing. Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!
My great-grandfather, born Mordkhel Eliash Shores, emigrated from Kovno to America in 1898 under the name “Jossel Flink” (the name on the ship’s manifest and referenced in his naturalization records). There are several theories as to why he might have sailed under this name: (1) he used another person’s passport to leave Lithuania; (2) he used a ticket for the ship that was issued under the name Jossel Flink; (3) he was escaping some kind of danger; etc. On the ship’s manifest, he indicated that he would be joining his “cousin” Sam Shores in Chicago, but Sam was actually his brother. In March, I sent in an application to the United States Citzenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) on the offhand chance that his file includes a letter or affidavit explaining the name discrepancy (the Declaration of Intention and Petition do not contain any explanation). I have not received a response yet, and based on the posts of many people who have gone through this process, do not expect to get a response anytime soon. Does anyone have any other suggestions as to how I might find some evidence as to why he used an assume name, which he had never used in Lithuania and immediately ditched when he arrived in America? -- Perry M. Shorris
This was taken at the Wolpe studio (name embossed bottom right), probably around 1920. It was in the collection of Minnie Burns (Bernstein), one of the Swirsky/Swersky sisters. Minnie lived in London, but her sisters were Jane Rabie, Esther Sheina (Sophie) Singer, Rivka (Becky) Pogrund, daughters of BenZion and Rocha Zippa Swirsky, all of whom lived in South Africa. Can anyone suggest who Rose might be ? Thanks, Yehoshua
Ancestry Library Edition, through its distributor ProQuest, has announced that Ancestry Library edition availability has been extended remotely with libraries with Ancestry subscriptions through September 30, 2021. Remote access will continue to be evaluated. This is for both Canada and the United States. I have no knowledge at this time if other libraries in other countries also have this access.
Individuals need to have a library card and check with their local library to determine if they have an Ancestry subscription. If your local library does not have an Ancestry subscription seek other libraries near to you.
Since you know that your grandfather arrived in 1913, I assume that you have already reviewed his passenger manifest and have noticed that, although his birth place and last residence was Cherson, his father ( Isaac) was living in a place which I read as Ponkrawkewce.
Online Jewish genealogy resources to be focus of Jewish Genealogical Society talk on 23 May 2021
Eli Rabinowitz, a board member of the IAJGS who lives in Australia and is from South Africa, will speak on “Journeys from Shtetl to Shtetl” for the Sunday, 23 May 2021, virtual meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois. His live streaming presentation will begin at a special time: 7:30 pm CST.
8:30 pm ES 5:30 pm WST
Monday 24 May 2021: 10:30 am Sydney, 8:30 am Perth, 3:30 am Israel, 2:30 am South Africa, 1:30 am UK
In his presentation, Rabinowitz will explain how to trace our past and plot our future, using 88 KehilaLinks, over 800 WordPress blog entries, Facebook posts, and other social media. He will also discuss heritage travels in the actual and virtual worlds.
In his talk, Eli will describe special events including commemorations and reunions of descendants. “An important activity is to visit a local school—either physically or online, to engage with students, especially in towns where a few buildings with Jewish symbols, or cemeteries that often contain illegible matsevot, are the only tangible memories of a once thriving community,” he said.
It is also important that family histories should be documented and shared at the same time as the special events, Eli said.
Examples of such recent ceremonies were the Bielski partisans’ descendants’ reunion in Naliboki and Navahrudak, Belarus; the new memorial for victims of the massacre that took place near Birzai, Lithuania; and the groundbreaking ceremony for the Lost Shtetl Museum in Šeduva, Lithuania.
Eli Rabinowitzwas born in Cape Town, South Africa, and has lived in Perth, Australia, since 1986. He has researched his family’s genealogy and associated Jewish cultural history for over 30 years. Eli has travelled extensively, writing about Jewish life, travel, and education on his website, Tangential Travel and Jewish Life (http://elirab.me). He writes and manages dozens of JewishGen KehilaLinks and more than 750 WordPress blog posts. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy. Eli has lectured internationally at educational institutions, commemorative events, at IAJGS and other conferences, and online.
He is a board member of the IAJGS—The International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies, an independent non-profit umbrella organization that coordinates an annual conference of 84 Jewish genealogical societies worldwide.
Eli also advises on Litvak and Polish heritage tours.
He writes and manages 88 KehilaLinks—Jewish websites for JewishGen.org, the world’s largest Jewish genealogical organization, with a database of 500,000 followers. His KehilaLinks include sites in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus, Germany, Russia, China, Mauritius, Mozambique, South Africa and Australia.
The Jewish Genealogical Societyof Illinois is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping members collect, preserve, and perpetuate the records and history of their ancestors. JGSI is a resource for the worldwide Jewish community to research their Chicago-area roots. The JGSI motto is “Members Helping Members Since 1981.” The group has more than 300 members and is affiliated with the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies.