Sunday, November 22, 2020

How I Discovered My Family's Request to Move in 1853--With Ancestors Pre-1776

A few weeks ago, I posted a copy of the 1850 revision list (Russian Empire Census) for my Lefand family, with the head of household my born-in-1776 6th great grandfather.  Since the revision listed his patronymic (father's name), I likely hae my family back to the 1750s or earlier, which for Russian Empire Jews is huge.

This revision supposedly no longer exists for Nezhin.  So how did I find it?

j-roots Search Results

Sunday, November 15, 2020

How I Discovered My Cousin was a Victim of Stalin's Purges

Have you used one of the post powerful genealogy resources, Google?  Well, you should.  And don't just search in English, search in the language that was used by your family.

My Lefand family lived in Nezhin and some surrounding villages, so I periodically search (and have some automated searches running as well--you can set up alerts here) to look for things like Лефанд Нежин (Russian for Lefand Nezhin).  and I got a new hit that led me to a really sad story about a relative.  And a photo of him as well.

Isai Lefand Death Certificate

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Nezhin Family Lists

FamilySearch has images of many records from my ancestral town of Nezhin (and, in fact, for most of the former Chernigov Guberniya).  I've already made an index to Nezhin metrical records that are available online, but there are also various Jewish family lists (usually for taxation purposes,  essentially censuses) available online.

The FamilySearch catalog lists what years the records supposedly are from, but some are actually from years other than what is in the catalog.  These records cover both the town of Nezhin as well as multiple small villages in Nezhin Uezd (district)

Marienhoff Family in 1888 (and this is only the first page of their entry); my gg grandmother is the 17-year-old

If you have family from Nezhin Uezd (district), you can browse through these lists online.  No, they are not in English.  But they're structured, so if you know what your family's surname looks like in Russian, you can look for it in the records.  You will need a (free) familysearch.org account to see the images.

Here is what is available:

Nezhin District Family Lists

1882 list
hereCatalog says 1882 (but is wrong)
1882 list continued
hereContinuation of above
1882 again       
hereMuch duplication of the above, but some new families too
1888
here-
1904 listhereCatalog says 1882 (but is wrong)
1909 list
hereCatalog says 1906 (but is wrong)

If you know of other online Nezhin resources, please let me know in the comments!

And if you want to know if there are similar resources on FamilySearch for your own towns, here is a tutorial on how to see what they have for a particular town/area.

Happy hunting!

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Sunday, November 1, 2020

The 1850 Revision (Census) That Didn't Exist. Spoiler Alert--It Does (For My Family)

My grandfather's father's family came from what's now Nizhyn, Ukraine (then Nezhin, Russian Empire) and some small surrounding villages. Nezhin Uezd (district) has tons of great records available online, thanks to FamilySearch; I even did a post cataloging the Jewish metrical (vital) records available online for Nezhin here.  With some small gaps, metrical records are available online from the 1850s through the Russian Revolution.  And the Chernigov Archive has some metrical records back into the 1840s.

There is less available census-wise, though.  FamilySearch does have family and tax lists from the 1880s and early 1900s that have been helpful.  But it seems that the revision lists of the 1850s, 1830s and earlier are just missing, at least for Nezhin's Jewish community, which has been a source of frustration.  (Miriam Weiner's site does list some available revisions, but they are not full and only are catch-ups on a few households.)  It seemed that my Lefand family had been in the area for quite a while; my 6th great grandfather died there in the early 1850s.  I was pretty sure that all of the Lefands in the area were his descendants, but with the records I had, I couldn't quite figure out how they all connected.  Wouldn't it have been nice to have a revision list from the 1850s to help me connect that?  Well, look what I've got!

Lefand Family 1850 Revision / Left Page - males

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Magic of Local Facebook Groups - My "Well-Known" Tolchinskys!

I belong to multiple local Facebook groups for my family's ancestral towns.  These aren't genealogy groups; they're groups used for the day-to-day sharing that the current inhabitants do.  Much of what is posted isn't of that much interest to me (people selling produce, livestock, and complaining about the state of the roads, etc.).  But every so often there's a gem.  And recently there was one.

A Magical Facebook Post

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

My Grandmother's Holocaust Testimony - Via JewishGen

When I was in college, my grandmother was interviewed by Steven Spielberg's project (hosted by the USC Shoah Foundation) talking about her life and Holocaust experiences.  She got copies of the 11 VHS tapes that her story filled, and I summarized her life based on that testimony here.  And now I can easily find her testimony--and others who were related or lived in the same towns, and learn about their experiences via JewishGen.

Snippet from JewishGen's Summary of Sonia Diamond's Shoah Foundation Interview

Sunday, September 13, 2020

A Letter from the Past

My family has few old letters.  But a few weeks ago, I got an email from my uncle with a scan of a letter, followed soon after with the original.  He said that he had it from HIS uncle, my great uncle Izzy Joshowitz.

I could see my great-great grandparents' names (Ruchel and Shmuel Moshe) as well as some other family members who I knew--so there was promise of some great genealogical information, but my Yiddish wasn't good enough to translate.

But after I posted it on the incredible Genealogical Translations group, Géraldine Tsiporah Trom was kind enough to translate.

The Letter