Kleins in Hungary #hungary

Dan Rottenberg

I'm trying to delve further into the origins of my maternal ancestors in Hungary— no easy task, since so many of them were named Klein.

Benzion Kaganoff, in A Dictionary of Jewish Names and Their History, p. 24, says that when Jews were ordered to take family names in Hungary in 1787, some communities simply divided Jews into four groups by appearance and gave them one of four appropriate names: Gross (big), Klein (small), Schwartz (dark), and Weiss (fair). To judge from the profusion of Klein names in the Miskolc community records, Miskolc may have been one one such city.

My g-g-grandfather Morris David Klein (1812-1873) married another Klein named Lena (1814-1889). They were living in Miskolc at least as early as 1856. Two of their four children also married spouses named Klein. I was told years ago that none of these spouses were related to each other. But I wonder.

Morris died in Miskolc in 1873 and his widow and  children all emigrated to America by 1880. I'm trying to figure out where Morris and Lena came from before they arrived in Miskolc. I have traced other relatives of theirs (named Deutsch, Burger, and Spielberger) back to the early 19th Century in villages to the north like Szalonna, Meszes, Perkupa, and Zsarno (now Zarnov, Slovakia). My Kleins probably lived in some of those villages as well. I've found many Kleins in these villages (not to mention in Miskolc) who might plausibly  be my Kleins, but no way to say for sure because the Klein name is so common. (Incidentally, all of these relatives had moved from their villages to Miskolc by 1880.)

It has been suggested to me that DNA might be the best solution for distinguishing "my" Kleins from other Kleins. But I'm uncertain as to how to proceed with such a strategy. Any thoughts or suggestions on this score would be much appreciated.
Dan Rottenberg
Philadelphia PA USA


My Klein ancestors came from Skrzyszów, near Tarnów. My great grandfather, Harris Klein, came to England in the 1890s. His brother Izak (Isidor) Klein, emigrated to New York in about 1888, almost certainly with his father, Natan Klein (my great great grandfather).

As you say, Klein is a very common name. Have you done a DNA test?
Ruth Bramley