Are there (death) Records or Anouncements of Polish Jews in the Russian Army circa 1880? #poland #russia

Barry Clarke

My Polish great-grandfather was in the Russian army and died or was killed around the time his son (my grandfather) was born, so 1880 to 1883. Nobody knows his first name nor am I certain how he spelt his last name. My father believes it was Steiglitz or Stieglitz or similar. A Pole suggested it may have been Sztyglic or similar. We don't know where he was from. We maybe can assume Jedwabne (Poland) as that is where his wife's brother was born in 1870 and therefore may have been the family home town. There is also the possibility (because of a photo and a questionable document) that it was Warsaw.

I would be prepared to search all the spellings of the last name in both Jedwabne and Warsaw if anyone can tell/guide me precisely how/where to search, be it death records, military records, newspaper announcements etc. OR maybe a recommendation of a Pole who could search for me. One person has advised me that there were no records of Jews who served in the Russian military, only officers.


Barry Clarke
From Croydon, Edgware and Hove UK but now living in Sarasota, Florida

Jill Whitehead

Hi Barry,

Jedwabne is in Lomza Gubernia adjacent to Suwalki Gubernia in NE Poland. Both these were and are border gubernias, in the 19th century being the border with East Prussia (Konigsberg).  The area was frequently overrun by Prussians/Germans and Russians etc. in various land grabs or wars e.g. the late 18th century partitions of Poland, Napoleon in the early 19th century, and then the Tsar.

Jews fought the Tsar in two uprisings in the 1830's and 1860's, but Jews were not always on the same side, partly because of enforced conscription into the Tsar's army. Most of my family came to UK in the 1860's from this area to escape conscription into the Tsar's army but also because of famine in the Baltic area.

However, in one of my lines (the Brins later Browns of Edinburgh), the teenage and younger children were sent away because, according to strong family stories which I cannot verify, their father was a Captain in the Tsar's army and was allegedly given land for his troubles. There is little evidence or documentation of any of this, or BMD records for some towns in this area, because of the constant wars.

Many records were destroyed in WW1 and WW2 for certain towns (not all) when this area became the German front line, and Jedwabne was later the site of an infamous massacre by the Germans in WW2. 

You mention Warsaw. One of the children of the Captain in the Tsar's army escaped via Warsaw when she married her husband there (he came from Grodno), a fact confirmed via her children's Scottish birth certificates which give the place of her marriage as Warsaw (and her first child was born there too). Her three male brothers and one cousin's birth places were all given as Vishtinetz, then a town in Suwalki gubernia, in their naturalisation certificates. This town is now Vistytis in Lithuania following border changes in 1919 after WW1 Peace Settlement. 

It does help to learn about the history and georgreaphy of your ancestral area. You should note that there are older records for Jebwadne on JRI Poland website, and there may be some on Litvak SIG. You need to search to find out what there is here.

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK