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

Facebook's auto-translate showed a post in my feed talking about the Jewish community of Losinovka (then Russian Empire; now Losinivka, Ukraine)--and right in the first paragraph was a mention of my Tolchinsky family!  There was also a rough drawing of the shul (synagogue).

Google Translate gave a much better translation of the posting.  The following is what I learned about the Jewish community of Losinovka, thanks to being a member of a local Facebook group:

In pre-revolutionary times, Losynivka was among the places where Jews were allowed to live. As of 1904, 170 people of Jewish nationality lived in Losynivka in 29 families, of which 15 owners had shops, 1 owner owned 3 ½ des. land in Monastyryshche parish, and 12 souls had no property. The well-known Tolchinsky family owned a threshing machine and an oil mill.

The main occupation of the Jewish population was petty trade, buying bread, tobacco, and livestock. The tobacco trade was in the hands of the monopolists and did not depend on small Jewish dealers, but more on large manufacturers.

Usury in Losinovka was almost non-existent due to the fact that the Nizhyn City Bank provided a loan of up to several thousand rubles to anyone. Due to such a facilitated means of using credit, it was not profitable for Jews to provide the population with money at high interest rates. It used to be the case when the wealthier used the services of the poor peasantry under the guise of a loan and kept most of their fellow villagers in bondage.

Regarding the trade in bread and cattle, the ability to be satisfied with a small income, put the Jews out of competition. And the population owed this, because the Jews did not chase after a large salary and mostly paid for the highest price. The peasants were very responsible for the sale, it was estimated in advance that the Jews would not abuse it. And only when they do not wait for the best buyers are sold to Jews.

Losynivtsi was not against the neighborhood with Jews. The townspeople even decided to petition for those Jews who settled in Losynivka illegally and had to leave.

In the photo: the facade of the Jewish prayer house in Losynivka.

So join your towns' or districts' Facebook groups.  If nothing else, you can track the local kale and cow market.  But you also may strike genealogical gold. 

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  1. Is there an easy way to find a Russian/Ukrainian Facebook group for a town we're interested in. E.g. Lukashivka or Tetiyev?

    1. Search with the Ukrainian spelling of the town. I searched Facebook for Тетіїв, narrowed it down to "Groups," and then translated the results. One that looks promising is наше місто Тетіїв. Look at the other groups too, and then do the same for your other towns.