Subject: Did individuals ever use names other than their own in Lithuania #lithuania #names


Cathy Miller
 

Question
I have heard that occasionally individuals in Lithuania used names other than their own for various reasons e.g. avoiding conscription. Is there any truth in this? -Is this a fact that can be relied on? 
Background
Isaac, my grandfather, was born in Panevezys, Lithuania in 1892 (Itsik Leib VITEN, son of Tsalel and Elka Mera BLOKH). His parents were divorced and both remarried. As far as the family are aware there were only 2 sons born of this marriage, and that is consistent with my research (on JewishGen databases). 

Isaac's father Tsalel remarried and from my research he and his second wife Rokhel had 3 sons (none called Isaac) and a daughter 
Isaac's mother Elka also remarried but died in 1898 when he was about 6 years old. 
In about 1900 his maternal uncle took him and his older brother to South Africa. We understand that he never returned to Lithuania (nor do we think he would have had the financial resources to do that). I have a document that shows him in South Africa in November 1922In 1923 Isaac married my grandmother in South Africa.

My dilemma comes about because I have found 2 records in the Lithuanian records dated 1922 that appear to be my grandfather, apparently in Lithuania at a time when we believe he was in South Africa. In both records the name and date of birth are the same as my grandfathers.

The first is dated 20 January 1922 - an application for an internal passport (made in Panevezys, his given names, surname, date and place of birth are identical; but his father's name is given as Leib, which seems unlikely and does not appear anywhere else)

The second is dated 28 April 1922 - a marriage. Once again the name is identical (though translation differs a bit - it is recorded as Izaak/Izoakas Leiba). Date of birth and father's name are also correct, but Tsalel's second wife Rokhel is listed as his mother, when in fact she was his stepmother, who he had not seen since the age of about 8, for over 20 years (as far as we know).

As I see it there are only 3 possible conclusions. 
Firstly that my grandfather did have a first marriage, whether by returning to Lithuania (most unlikely) or in absentia (if such things were possible)
Secondly that the family allowed someone else to use his name for reasons I cannot even begin to imagine
Thirdly that this individual is not my grandfather - however I have done extensive research and DNA matching of a number of branches and this seems very unlikely - this is the only piece of the jigsaw that does not fit.

Appreciate any insights, thank you-

Cathy Miller, New Zealand
cathymillernz@...


Laurence Broun
 

Regarding the second option, name changes are not uncommon. My grandfather's name was Sharff, but changed it to Broun after he survived a shipwreck coming to America. We understand it was tradition to change your name in recognition of G-d performing such a miracle, or alternately, to prevent the evil eye from finding you again. (Bruun was the name of a Swedish sailor on the same lifeboat; Broun is the Scottish spelling as the survivors were brought to Stornoway. 

We have other cousins who took names of deceased friends or cousins to avoid military service in the Tsar's army. 

Larry (Itzik Leib) Broun
Washington, DC | USA
e-mail: Laurencebroun@...


Cathy Miller
 

Thank you

Interesting to know that the practice using deceased peoples names is true (in the case of your cousins) - in this case my grandfather was not deceased but perhaps because he was on the other side of the world it was safe to use his name in Lithuania
--
Cathy Miller, New Zealand
cathymillernz@...


Michele Lock
 

In a case like this, where there is conflicting or unexpected information in the Jewishgen records, it would be helpful to get copies of the original images, especially the 1922 internal passport application and for the 1922 marriage in Lithuania. Both might have more information than in the transcribed Jewishgen records; it is possible that the passport application may have a photo, that would be useful for you to see, especially if you have a photo of your grandfather as a young man.

Now, the following is conjecture on my part - perhaps the father Tsalel decided that once the original Isaak Leib left Lithuania with a maternal relative, that a son from the second marriage could now take this name, especially if 'Isaak Leib' was given in memory of a paternal relative. The other son may have taken on the birth year of the original Isaak Leib as well. 

There is one other possibility, for the Isaak Leib in the passport application giving his father's name as Leib - this may be a paternal first cousin of the original Isaak Leib, who was also named Isaak Leib, both boys in honor of a recently deceased grandfather. In my own family, I have a great granduncle named Charles Louis Lavine, who had two first cousins also named Charles Louis Lavine, and all of them living in the early 1900s in Trenton NJ. They were each named for their paternal grandfather Betzalel Eliezer Levin. No one then thought anything of this, though to us this is truly odd (and maddening for doing genealogy research).
--
Michele Lock

Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock and Kalon/Kolon in Zagare/Joniskis/Gruzdziai, Lithuania
Lak/Lok/Liak/Lock in Plunge/Telsiai in Lithuania
Rabinowitz in Papile, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia
Trisinsky/Trushinsky/Sturisky and Leybman in Dotnuva, Lithuania
Olitsky in Alytus, Suwalki, Poland/Lithuania
Gutman/Goodman in Czestochowa, Poland
Lavine/Lev/Lew in Trenton, New Jersey and Lida/Vilna gub., Belarus


R Jaffer
 

My husband's g grandfather, c1857 - 1938, took the name of another living man to avoid the draft. He married in Cekiske in 1880 as Shlomo Levin b Movsha from Sirvintos. Shlomo's father had died in Sirvintos in 1867 at the age of 50 of typhus. Presumably, Shlomo or his family needed the money, so he sold his identity. Below is the list of children born to Shlomo Levin, and at the bottom is my husband's grandmother born to the man who was really Yeheskel Gordon, son of Mordecai and Chaya Riva. We inherited a tree with those names and my husband, his cousins, and his father all had the middle name Gordon to keep the surname alive.


Shlomo Levin used the name Samuel Levin when he moved to New York. We don't know if he was really Yecheskel Shmuel, or if he assumed the name of his grandfather who had died in 1868.  However, he didn't want to be buried under the name of Samuel Levin. While the surname Levin is on the headstone instead of his birth surname Gordon, his given name was changed to Charles S., and his Hebrew name is Yechetskl son of Mordecai.

We were never able to find Mordecai and Chaya Rive Gordon and son Yecheskel in any records, in part, because we didn't know where the family had lived. It wasn't until my husband had a very strong DNA match to two Gordon siblings whose g grandfather had emigrated from Odessa that I was eventually able to find their death records in Odessa. Both death records said Mordecai and Chaya Riva were registered in Moletai. Knowing that, I am pretty certain that I have found Mordecai and Chaya in two revision lists, but no sons were listed, only a daughter Ester who was three years old in both 1851 and 1858. I suspect that in both lists the daughter was a son dressed as girl. I don't know how they hid their sons when they were too old to pass as a girl. The first Ester was probably Solomon born c.1849 who emigrated from Odessa, and the second Esther was either another brother, possibly a Yusel I saw in Odessa records, or Yecheskel supposedly born 1857.  Unfortunately, Solomon, his mother Chaya Riva, and possible brother Yusel are not in the extant 1897 Odessa Census.

So yes, stories about men avoiding the draft via false papers are true, and in the case above, for three or more years both men were living in Lithuania, but not the same area.

Roberta Jaffer
robertajaffer@....


Cathy Miller
 

Thank you Roberta - this seems to be conclusive evidence that people did take each others names at least in the 1800s. What a challenge for you to find the records! I had heard of the practice of selling names but did wonder whether this was a myth. Do you know if this still happened in the interwar period?
--
Cathy Miller, New Zealand
cathymillernz@...


Cathy Miller
 

Thanks for your input and suggestions Michele. Very much appreciated. Have you any advice regarding how to go about getting copies of the original records? I do have photos of my grandfather around the time he married. 

The person Isaak Leib is recorded as marrying in Lithuania was Rivka daughter of Isaac.



I did wonder whether Tsalel's oldest son Yosel from the second marriage might have taken the name on for the purposes of marriage and leaving the country. He came out to SA in about 1929 where the family knew him under his own name  (Yosel/Joseph) and his wife was Rebecca. On a gravestone which might be hers she is Rebecca in English, and the Hebrew translates as Rivka daughter of Avraham. So this theory is only possible if Rivka's father Isaak was also Avraham or I have the incorrect gravestone.

The surname is not a very common name and it appears that all the VITENs are related. I work collaboratively on this tree with 2 others (one is Gilda Kurtzman) and we have extensive records for other branches - there does not seem to be another Isaac Leib VITEN and there is only one Betsalel VITEN in the Jewish Gen databases - notwithstanding the challenging repeated use of some other names in this family in this case we did not find repeated usage of Isaac or Tsalel. 
--
Cathy Miller, New Zealand
cathymillernz@...


carol lipson
 

My father’s family lived in Belarus, near Gomel, but they considered themselves Litvaks. For one or two generations before my father, who was born in 1910, the family name was Litvinov. It became Litwin in Canada. When she was in her 90’s, my father’s sister told me the name wasn’t really Litvinov, but Lifshitz; it had been changed by a great great (another great?) grandfather to avoid the draft. Funny thing — by the time she told me, I was long married to a Lifshitz whose family came from Minsk District, in a town between Minsk and Pinsk, in Belarus; they changed their name in Canada to Lipson. I had no idea I had married into a family whose name was the same as my family’s original name.

Carol Litwin Lipson


Janet Reagan
 

My great-grandfather and his brothers took surnames of their wives’ families so that each would appear to be the only son of a Jewish family to avoid conscription in the Tsar’s army. 
(Yurkanski was my great-grandfather)

Janet Goldstein Reagan
Birmingham , Alabama
--
Janet


Sue Brundage
 

Hello,

My grandmother Leja Kvas and her siblings were born in Moletai to Movsha and Slova Kvas. Iosel Gordon performed the Bris of my Great Uncle Zelman Kvas in 1893. Another bris of a Kvas in Moletai was performed by a Khaym Ayzik, son of Abram Gordon, in 1854. If you input Kvas and Moletai into JewishGen or LitvakSig, you will be able to see these listings.
Might this be your Gordon family?

In the US, our family listed our name as Quass instead of Kvas or Kwas.

Researching KVAS, MINDLIN, and MALATSKY in Moletai, Vidzy and Druja, (Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus) and GINSBURG in Druja, and in Chernigov.

Susan Ginsburg Brundage


Cathy Miller
 

Responding to my own question which may be of interest to others. I watched a recent zoom meeting on LItvaksig and one of the participants mentioned that there were what he called fictitious marriages in Lithuania. He had come across one recently when looking into the records on behalf of a family he knew well. When he mentioned the finding to the family they were aware of the fictitious marriage. He pointed out that our ancestors did what was necessary to enable them to for example leave the country, mov e around and so on. This seems to lend some credence to my notion that the marriage in my grandfathers name may have been a fictitious one.
--
Cathy Miller, New Zealand
cathymillernz@...


Sarah L Meyer
 

The family story is that my great grandfather Fishel the son of Joseph Perchik bought the surname Meyer to avoid Czarist conscription.  What we do know is that he came to the US in 1884 under the name Fishel Meyer and the Meyer surname (some branches of the family added an "s') and he and the family are enumerated in various US censuses with the surname Meyer.  His wife also came over with the Meyer surname in 1887.
--
Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
ANK(I)ER, BIGOS, KARMELEK, PERLSTADT, STOKFISZ, SZPIL(T)BAUM, Poland
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania
https://www.sarahsgenies.com


Jules Levin
 

I wonder who was selling "Meyer" in Russia.   Was there a whole market in names??  No one had to buy a name to start using it.  The Russians, thank hashem, were not that efficient.  Bobbe mayse.

Jules Levin 

On 12/19/21 7:51 AM, Sarah L Meyer wrote:
The family story is that my great grandfather Fishel the son of Joseph Perchik bought the surname Meyer to avoid Czarist conscription.  What we do know is that he came to the US in 1884 under the name Fishel Meyer and the Meyer surname (some branches of the family added an "s') and he and the family are enumerated in various US censuses with the surname Meyer.  His wife also came over with the Meyer surname in 1887.
--
Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
ANK(I)ER, BIGOS, KARMELEK, PERLSTADT, STOKFISZ, SZPIL(T)BAUM, Poland
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania
https://www.sarahsgenies.com