Sunday, July 14, 2013

Shimon Tolchinsky - Ancestor Deep Dive

Shimon Tolchinsky was my great-great-great grandfather; I'm descended from his son Hillel.  Shimon Tolchinsky was born about 1842 to Naftali-Hirsh Tolchinsky, probably in Lubny, Ukraine.  I do not (yet) know his mother's name.  Shimon was registered in Luben (modern-day Lubny, Poltava, Ukraine), and the first record I have found of him was in 1867 as a 25-year-old widower getting remarried in Nezhin, Chernigov, Ukraine; his new wife was a divorcee, 22-year-old Risia-Frayda Mechansky.  As my great-great grandfather Hillel was born in 1866 (according to early records; in the US he gave his year of birth as 1869), Hillel's mother would have been Shimon's first wife; however the Nezhin records do not record her death.  As Hillel was consistent in naming his birthplace as "Luben," probably his mother died there.  Hillel's death certificate listed his mother as "Helen," and Hillel's sister Helen's hebrew name was Chaya, so likely Shimon's first wife was Chaya.
Marriage record for Hillel Tolchinsky and Risia-Frayda Mechansky, 1867

Based on Nezhin birth records, Shimon & Risia-Frayda had at least one child together, Ber (born 1873).  Based on other records, they had at least two other children as well:  Hirsh (born about 1869) and Yocheved (born about 1874, later married to Shimon Shastik).

Nezhin 1882 Poll Tax Census, Tolchinsky Family, left page
Going through more Nezhin microfilm (yay Family History Library!) and with a little bit of Russian guesswork, I came across the Tolchinsky family in the Poll Tax Census of 1882.

Shimon was 41 years old and was married to Frayda, aged 40; Shimon is a member of the middle class, and his father's name is given as Naftulya-Gersh.  The family was living in Losinovka, a village just to the south of Nezhin.

Their children are listed as:

  • Son Meir Yuda, 18 [Unclear if he was the son of Shimon or Risia-Frayda]
  • Son Gilya, 16 [This is Hillel; the Russian alphabet has no 'H' sound, so 'G' is substituted]
  • Son Gersh, 14 [This is Hersh]
  • Son Berko, 9 [Ber]
  • Daughter Ekheviya, 12 [Yocheved]

The census states that the family is registered in the society of petty bourgeois (middle class), town of Luben (Lubny), Poltava Gubernia.
Nezhin 1882 Poll Tax Census, Tolchinsky Family, right page
The record continues to say that an [internal] passport was issued for half a year by Luben
Bourgeois society on January 12, 1882,  #13.  Members of the family are not listed in passport from 1870.  He also does not own property.  Shimon is a "Counterman" in estate rented by Polonsky--unclear what exactly that entailed, but he was gainfully employed doing something!  (If anyone can understand Russian and can help with Shimon's actual job, I'd appreciate a comment!)

Hillel had a son Shimon in 1894 (and another in 1895 after the first one died as an infant); Hirsh had a son Shimon in 1896; Berel had one in 1910.  In addition, Risia-Frayda is a widow living with Hirsh, Hillel, and their families in the 1902 Poll Tax Census.  So Simon died at some point between 1882 and 1894; I have not yet found a record of his death.


  1. Yay Family History Library. I don't know how we would do Eastern European research without those microfilms. Even if you have to borrow them from the FHL, they can provide such great information! And the fact that some are digitized on the FamilySearch website - even better!

  2. Lara, o that picture "Nezhin 1882 Poll Tax Census, Tolchinsky Family, left page" I see name of Shimon like "Shimon-Naftulya" with hyphen and patronim "Gershow".

    1. In the Hebrew (across several documents), it's very clear that the father was Naftali-Hirsch.

  3. occupation of Shimon is a steward(counterman) in the estate rented of Polonsky .

  4. Surname SHASTIK is strange, perhaps is SHOSTAK. You can see couple SHOSTAK from Nezhin on jewishgen .

    1882 y.
    #68.Bogdanovschina (Maslowschina) , Nezhin county. Simon Naftaly Gershowich Tolchinsky 41 y.o., his vifr Freida 41 y.o.,sons Meer Yuda 18 y.o,Gila 16,Gersh 14,Berka 9, daughther Erepha 12 y.o. Petty bourgues of Lubny, Poltava.Reside from 1870.Dont have properties.Clerk in estate rented by Polonsky

    1. Thanks; I've found that one as well. It seems to be the same information as the version I posted above, just in a different handwriting.

    Gersh Simonov Tolchinsky & Ruchla Solomonovna Gelfgat 1894

    1. Thanks, but I have this as well. No need to look through these records, as I have already done it, record by record, several times.