Family Lore #general


This forum receives occasional messages relating family lore stories. 
The name was changed at Ellis Island has long been debunked. The one
about ancestors having to get married at Ellis Island before they were
allowed to enter is true. I found the records to prove at least one
instance.  The one about an immigrant ancestor who purchased a ticket
from another person, and had to change his name to the name on the
ticket sounds plausible, but is there anyone who has ever found proof?
And, why would  at least some of these ancestors not go back to their
real names once they were admitted.  The story would still be the same.

David Rosen
Boston, MA

R Jaffer

My husband's great grandfather immigrated between 1881 and 1884 with false identity to avoid 25-year conscription into Czar's army. He married in Cekiske, Lithuania using the false ID in Jan 1881. He never changed his name after arrival in NY, but insisted that his matzevah have his correct Hebrew name with the assumed English name. His real surname was given to many descendants as a middle name. After finding a very strong DNA match to two siblings carrying the original surname, I was able to learn that the parents of this immigrant had moved to and died in Odessa. Family records we inherited listing the given names of the gg grandparents matched those who died in Odessa, so we can prove the family lore that some debunked. The death records listed the town in Lithuania where they were registered. Without the DNA match, I could never have found the evidence to prove the lore was truth. I think some immigrants were afraid that they might be found by Russia if they assumed their original name.

Roberta Jaffer

Rodney Eisfelder

Roberta said:
    My husband's great grandfather immigrated between 1881 and 1884 with false identity to avoid 25-year conscription into Czar's army.

actually, your relative avoided 25-year conscription by being born when was. 25 year conscription was real, but only existed for a short period starting in 1827. By the mid 1830s, the period of conscription was reduced to 15 years, after the Crimean war it was 6 years. But as the period of conscription reduced, the percentage of the population conscripted increased.

One excellent source for understanding the complicated history of Jews in the Russian army is the book "Jews in the Russian Army 1827-1917: Drafted into Modernity" by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern

Rodney Eisfelder
Melbourne, Australia

Sarah L Meyer

I had a family that immigrated to the US using my mother's maiden name, which is very, very rare.  And I thought I knew how they were related to me.  BUT, their descendants not only said that they bought the tickets and their name was always something else.  We went around and around about this, until I learned that the oldest child on the manifest was born in England, with their original surname.  They did change the name back to their original name once they naturalized.
Sarah L Meyer
Georgetown TX
BIRGARDOVSKY, EDELBERG, HITE (CHAIT), PERCHIK Russia (southern Ukraine) and some Latvia or Lithuania