Tag Archives: ancestral town

Notes for the town of Zagórze

Improved notes for Polish towns

I mentioned back in August when I added more towns to the B&F Compendium of Jewish Genealogy (Over two hundred new Polish towns added to the compendium) that I had also turned on notes for towns. I had actually added some simple notes to many towns as I had added them last year, but never made them visible on the site.

With the new towns, which were predominately from the areas of Poland that had belonged to Germany before WWII, I found myself adding notes pointing that out and wanted the notes to be seen. In August that was the primary use of Notes, but there were other Notes, such as pointing out the previous name of a town, or explaining that the town name was very common in Poland.

Around the same time I turned on notes, Phyllis Kramer, VP of Education at JewishGen, commented on my page on Żmigród requesting that I differentiate between it and Nowy Żmigród. It turns out Nowy Żmigród before 1946 was also known simply as Żmigród. Adding to this confusion, many people find their town in the Compendium by going to the Alphabetical List of Polish Cities, and that list doesn’t show which region a town is in, and can be confusing if there are two towns with the same name.

At the time I added notes for Żmigród and Nowy Żmigród saying simply not to confuse them, but it started me thinking if there was more I could do for those situations where people were likely to get confused.

I spent a considerable amount of time going through all the notes I had created, and making sure if it referenced another town, that that other town had a corresponding note as well. I then added links to notes, so you can immediately link to another town if it is mentioned in a note.

Here’s an example of the former town of Zagórze, which has been part of Sosnowiec since 1975:

Notes for the town of Zagórze
Notes for the town of Zagórze circled in red

You’ll notice the note is shown below the town name and province, and above the map. I’ve circled it in red just to be clear. The note points out that this town no longer exists, that it is now part of Sosnowiec, and provides a link directly to the page about Sosnowiec.

Here’s another example, the city of Kraków, which lists the former towns of Podgórze and Kazimierz:

Note for Krakow
Note for Krakow

In case you’re wondering, the reason there are separate pages for these towns, even though they no longer exist, is that people may only know their relative came from one of these non-existent towns. Also, many of these now-non-existent towns have very specific genealogy resources online, and having the resources for Podgórze be separate from those of Kraków can be very useful for finding the right information.

Over 300 towns now have notes, many of them with links to other related towns. Thank you to Phyllis Kramer for her simple comment which led me to improve the notes for towns. If you visit a town page in the Compendium and think a clarifying note would be useful, please write a comment on the town page, or send me a message. It’s worth pointing out as well that I recently added another 150 or so towns to the site (in addition to the 200 added in August), so there are now over 1350 towns in the Compendium. These are towns that exist in what is today Poland – there are no pages for towns that are currently in other countries, even if they were once part of Poland. The new towns were added to help facilitate a new feature I will be adding to the site. More on that soon…

If you have other suggestions for improving the site, please send me a message, or add it to the How can this site be improved? page so others can discuss your proposed improvements.

Tarnów and Thüer (Thier)

Inspired by Edie Jarolim’s post Tarnow Calling in her great Freud’s Butcher blog, I’ve decided to share this document I discovered in a family album. The document is from a factory owned by a relative of mine in Tarnów, Poland. From the fill-in date portion, it seems the document is from the 1910s

The factory’s owner, Jacob Thüer (I knew the name as Thier, but my surname also had an umlaut at one point), was a brother of my great-grandmother Sala Thier Trauring, who I knew as a young child.

Jacob Thier Tarnow_0001

Jacob Thüer shows up in the Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims’ Names (spelled as Thier, although shown the alternate spelling Thuer as well) with a Page of Testimony (PoT), filed by his daughter. The daughter, Klara Linger, lists herself as living in Sydney, Australia. She says her father died in 1943, presumably murdered by the Nazis.

Oddly, in the transcription of the PoT on the site, the name of the town of last residence is given as Ulicz, Poland. The problem is that there no Ulicz, Poland. Taking a closer look at the original scanned PoT, it’s clear the town listed is actually Tarnów, Poland, and the town was mis-transcribed (from what appears to be a neighborhood or street address before the town name). This is a good example of why you should always view the original scan of a Page of Testimony. If you find a mistake like this, Yad Vashem has a form to submit corrections (which I’ve done in this case).

In addition to the submitter Klara Linger, two other children of Jakob Thier are listed – Samuel and Rudolph Thier. It appears they were all living in Sydney, Australia at the time the PoT was filed, although that is not listed. I don’t know these descendants, but if you know these families from Australia, let me know.

Win a Free Trip to Your Family’s Homeland

I don’t post a lot of commercial links in my blog, except if it is to an offer for a discount I think would benefit my readers. I’m making an exception here, because, well, I think its pretty cool. Many people who research their own genealogy would love to go visit the countries where their families came from, but cannot afford to do so. However, if someone paid for your trip, you’d probably go, right?

The TV show Who Do You Think You Are? is coming back for a third season this week, and Ancestry.com (who is a sponsor of the show) is launching a sweepstakes offering free trips to three winners to go back to their ancestral homelands and uncover their family’s histories. United States residents only, sorry to my many readers in other countries. They value this prize at $10,000 for each winner. The prize includes a trip for two to the winner’s homeland, hotels and $2,000 cash, a six-month World Explorer membership to Ancestry.com and an Ancestry.com  DNA test. No mention of any professional help when you get to your ancestral homeland – that would have been a nice touch…

One thing I need to say. Six months, really? Sorry, as much as I like the idea of the trip, what’s with the six month membership? You’re giving away a $10,000 prize and you can’t spring for a full year membership which costs you nothing? They don’t even offer six month subscriptions on their web site – a year costs $300/year and a month-to-month subscription costs $35/month.

In addition, 20 other people will win six-month World Explorer subscriptions. I guess that’s valued at $150? ($149.70 according to the rules I just looked at…)

Anyways, to enter the contest, you can click on the image below. I think you need to sign up for a free Ancestry.com account, which means they can e-mail you, etc. as part of the deal, but it doesn’t cost any money to enter.

Oh, and if you win, I expect a write-up of your trip to post here on this blog. That’s fair, right?


More on Landsmanshaftn

A few weeks ago I wrote about Landsmanshaftn, the mutual-aid societies that Jewish immigrants around the turn of the century set up with members of their original communities overseas, and their role in securing cemetery sections for their members.

I mentioned in the article that I had asked the American Jewish Historical Society (AJHS) if they could send me the articles of incorporation for the:

Independent First Odessa Sick & Benevolent Association

Shortly after I wrote that article, I received a response from the AJHS with the articles of incorporation for the:

First Independent Benevolent Society of the City of Odessa

Now those names are very similar, but not exactly the same. Indeed both of those names show up in the list of Articles of Incorporation that were microfilmed by the AJHS. The following is a list of 20 different Landsmanshaftn that were connected to Odessa in the AJHS list:

1 First Odessa Aid Society
2 Erster Odessa Unterstuetzungs Verein
3 Independent First Odessa Sick Benevolent Association
4 Erster Independent Odessar Unterstuzung Verein
5 First Independent Benevolent Society of the City of Odessa
6 The First Independent Congregation of Odessa
7 Congregation Sarei Tfiloh Anshei Odessa
8 Odessa Realty Company
9 Odessaer Mutual Aid Association
10 Odessar Relief Fund Association
11 Odessa Friends Association
12 United Odesser Benevolent Association
13 Young Men of Odessa
14 Odesser Young Friends
15 Progressive Odesser Ladies Sick and Benevolent Association
16 Independent Progressive Ladies of Odessa Sick and Benevolent Association
17 Jacob Moogerfeld Progressive Ladies of Odessa Sick and Benevolent Association
18 Odessa Organization
19 First Odesser Ladies Aid Society
20 Bessarabia and Odessa Relief Association

You’ll note that the 3rd and 5th organizations in the list are the one I requested and the one I was sent. At first I thought it was a simple mistake. Both files were in the same box according to the list online, and I figured it was just that the archivist grabbed the wrong file. The truth was a bit more complex. It was the wrong file, but it was the correct organization. The reason this is possible is that the file I was not sent originally was simply a change-of-name document for the organization. The original articles of incorporation was filed in 1891 under the name:

Independent First Odessa Sick & Benevolent Association

and in 1931 that organization’s name was changed to:

First Independent Benevolent Society of the City of Odessa

Name Change Document from 1931

The cemetery section and its grand entrance was obviously set up before the name change in 1931. In the original document from 1891, it lists the directors of the organization at the time of incorporation:

Directors of the Independent First Odessa Sick & Benevolent Assoc. in 1891

That shows (as best I can interpret):

David Silberman President
Samuel Kreiman Vice President
Solomon Rosenstein First(?) Secretary
Abraham Mandel Recording Secretary
Morris Belphord Treasurer
Abraham Frank Trustee
Harris Goldeman Trustee
Isidor Chertok Trustee
Leon Perless Marshall

Interestingly those names don’t correspond to the names on the arch at the entrance to the cemetery section, so it would seem the leaders of the Landsmanshaft were different by the time the cemetery section was dedicated. In this document the addresses of the directors were not listed, but some of these documents (such as the 1902 incorporation document I received earlier for a different landsmanshaft) contain the address and signature of each director. It’s possible the address requirement came later than 1891 (and before 1902).

One of the more important points to notice is how many Landsmanshaftn are in the AJHS list just for Odessa. There are 20 organizations, and those are just Landsmanshaftn which were incorporated in New York City. Of course Odessa is a large city that had a large Jewish population before WWII, but it gives you an idea of how many possible routes you can pursue to find out about immigrants from your ancestral town (which may provide you information on your ancestor from that town, or at least shed light on their experiences when they arrived in their new country) that are not the normal vital records, newspapers, etc. routes.

Also, if you know where you ancestor was from, but not where they were buried, seeking out a Landsmanshaft organization from their hometown and figuring out where they owned cemetery sections may help you find your ancestor’s grave location.

Can’t figure out what the real name of a town is?

Towards work on a future post, I’m looking for people who have found a name of a town in their research that they haven’t been able to identify.

For example, I found the town name Tazscharwitz in naturalization papers (shown in my article Finding Information on US Immigrants). It took me a long time, and help from professional genealogist and IAJGS President Michael Goldstein, to figure out it was Tyszowce. By the way, for those of you who live in Israel, Michael is speaking on July 13th in Raanana, giving his amazing ‘Breaking Through Brick Walls’ lecture which I highly recommend (more info on the IGS calendar).

In an attempt to help people decipher town names, I’d like some examples to work with so I can show possible ways to determine what the real town is for those who can’t figure it out.

So if you have such a name, either e-mail me or post it in the comments to this post. Include the following information:

  • Spelling of town name as you have it
  • Source of the town name (naturalization papers, military records, just overheard, etc…)
  • List of people who you know (or think) lived in the town, and when (include significant dates like birth dates)
  • Any other information that might be helpful. In my case I had heard the town was ‘near the Bug river’ and even though the Bug river marks the entire border between Poland and Ukraine, that was still useful information.

So send me the towns you’re looking for, and I will see what I can do to figure them out and the results will show up in a future article.