Sunday, January 12, 2020

Movement Between Russian Empire Towns

Many people assume that Jews in the Russian Empire lived in the same village for generations.  While sometimes that was the case, often it wasn't.  As an example, we can look at my own Zubkis family to see their movement, generation by generation.  And this is only what I've found so far!  (I'll be posting something similar for Hungarian Jews, so stay tuned!)
Places Within Modern-Day Ukraine Zubkis Descendants Lived

The oldest document I have on my Zubkis family was from 1795.  At that point, my 5th great grandfather Berko Zubkis/Zyubkis was living in Uman with his wife and children.  (They were living there until at least 1811.)
Zyubkis Family, 1795, Uman
But even within a generation, those children had scattered.  I haven't located all of them yet, but I've documented sons of Berko living in five different towns, all in and west of Uman.
Towns where Berko Zubkis' Sons Lived

Besides Uman, Berko had sons living in Haysin, Kuna (my branch!), Bratslav, and Kleban.  So within one generation, the Zubkis family was already starting to scatter.  And it continued.
Towns where Berko Zubkis' Grandchildren Lived
Another generation on, there were grandchildren living as far as what is now Soroca, Moldova.  (Plus there's one grandson who emigrated to Pittsburgh.)

Skipping to Berko's great-great grandchildren, they moved as well.  In addition to spreading within America (there were great-great grandchildren documented in Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and New York), they also spread more within the Russian Empire:
Towns where Berko Zubkis' Great-Great Grandchildren Lived
Berko had great-great grandchildren living as far west as Shargorod.  My branch, which had earlier been in Kuna, made it to Shpykiv.  And there are likely other branches in other towns, where I haven't (yet) found documents.

The next generation, Berko's ggg grandchildren, made it as far east as what is now Kursk, Russia, and continued spreading within Ukraine and America.  But the Holocaust put an end to that internal European migration.

I've also found Zubkis families in towns nearby, but some I haven't (yet) connected to Berko's children.  But based on naming patterns, I'm pretty sure I'll eventually find a connection.
Some Locations of Berko Zubkis Descendants (black are probable locations, not yet definitively proven).  And more (like Kursk, Odessa and America) which are beyond this map

So while it's unquestioned that there were families who lived in the same town for generations, don't discount that your family--or branches of your family--moved quite a bit over the years.  This can impact where records for your family are kept and the types of records that are available.

Have you seen this for your own family?

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  1. Excellent observation, Lara. I've been surprised when searching for records finds some family in a town during certain years, but not other years. When they later show up in a nearby town, the conclusion must be that they are moving around more than we thought they would.

  2. I've tried to find where my ancestors were living before they moved into the towns they left for America. No luck so far.

  3. the reasons for this were economics and politics, the ban on land ownership turned them into eternal tenants and forced them to relocate.

  4. Yes, for my mother’s mother’s family they were living in E. Galicia (esp. Brody and Rawa Ruska), Mogilev-Podolsk,and several towns in Bessarabia. My great-grandmother had kids in more than one place but not in a chronology I would have guessed. She was from a huge family spread all over E. Galicia.

  5. Typed in my last name on a whim and stumbled onto your genealogy blog. I've never met a Zubkis who isn't related to me, so I'm going to guess there's a connection somewhere down the line. If it would be helpful in building out your genealogy chart, I would be happy to provide whatever additional details I have on Zubkis movements through eastern europe and beyond, although I don't know all that much.

    1. I’d love to be in touch! Please email me at laradiamond at gmail dot com

  6. Lara, Shoel ber son of Shaya Zubkis is listed in Shpikov family list from 1894. His name appears right before the brother of my 3rd great grandfather Chaim Gersh Tkach. I am matching several of your family members on 23andMe, as well as Lefand family on Ancestry. If you'd like to contact me, I am in Tracing the Tribe group on Facebook.

    1. You don't give me your last name... :)

      The Lefands are actually not from this area; they lived in Chernigov Guberniya.