Saturday, August 1, 2009

"Where am I from in Eastern Europe?"

I posted the following in a new discussion on and thought it was appropriate to copy here...

My first cousin Melanie Klein asked me this today. I thought others might be interested in a summary so I told her I'd post the answer here. For Melanie and me, the answer is the same for the branch tracing back from our fathers (they are brothers). For some of you, the information below may only cover part of your ancestry. If I have reasonable confirmation of the location of a birth, marriage, death I will enter the information in that person’s Geni profile.

First, our paternal grandparents Irene and Harvey were both born in the US.

Irene's family…Ukraine, maybe Poland:
Father Louis Lutsky, born Eliezer Lutzkiy in Lysyanka, Ukraine (south of Kiev). His older brother Nathan also listed Lysyanka as his place of birth. Their father Solomon (Zaide) lists Kiev as his place of birth. Kiev is a city and gubernia (province) so when someone says they are from Kiev, that's like me saying I live near Atlanta or, to a foreigner, I might say I live in Georgia. I hired a researcher in Ukraine and she is not finding a birth record for Solomon (borm late 1860s) in either the city of Kiev or the town of Lysyanka. She did find 2 other Lutskiy birth records in Lysyanka from the 1850s that I'm waiting for copies. There are some references to the Lutskys being from the town of Zwenigorodka, Ukraine but again, no birth, marriage, death records in the mid-1800s to prove a history there. I'm on the trail of Lutski cousins in Canada and also in the UK (spelled Ludski/Ludzki there). Louis’s mother is Rebecca/Rivka Kantorovich. I’m at a dead end researching this name in the same regions. Rebecca’s mother was Rachel. Rachel’s maiden name was Lutsky…yes, Solomon and Rebecca were first cousins! This explains a lot . Solomon had a brother Joseph, the father of the famous Dr. Sol, my dad’s family doctor when he was growing up. Their father was Benjamin. The name Lutsky probably originates from the town of Lutsk, Ukraine (formerly Luck, Poland).

Mother Lena Belinsky, born Lea Belinki also in Lysyanka, Ukraine. This means that Louis and Lena knew each other before coming to the US. The Lysyanka tie is confirmed with records of her brother Louis/Leib Belinsky. Her father was Abraham Belinki and mother was Ethel Gelfand(?). Again, my Ukraine researcher is not finding a history of any Belinki families in Lysyanka. I have a hunch though. Abraham had a sister Elka who married Benjamin Hochfeld. When Elka died in 1946, Benjamin reported her place of birth as Poland, not the generic “Russia”. This didn’t click with me until a few weeks ago when I connected with someone in the Hochfeld family, Laura Thompson (her tree is merged with ours now). I started searching for Belinki records in Poland and I think I might have found her family in the town of Suwalki, Poland under the name Berlinki. I’m waiting to hear back from Laura Thompson on a couple of questions. These records are easy to get from the Family History Library. I’m hoping it is Poland because the research is easier. In addition to making the Hochfeld connection here in the US, 3 years ago I connected with the family of Lena’s brother Solomon, also here in the US, and the family of her sister Sara now living in Israel (since mid-1990s…moved as part of the mass exodus from the former Soviet Union). I’ve already met one of the Israeli cousins and her fiancĂ© and I’m going to Israel in January 2010 for their wedding.

Harvey’s family…Poland, maybe Lithuania:
Father Abraham Klein listed Kovno (now Kaunas) Lithuania as his last place of residence when he departed from Hamburg, Germany in 1896, headed for America. I don’t know where he was born. I found records for his much older brother Barnett Klein who was listing Austria as his place of birth. Klein is a common name so I haven’t been able to find any clues yet.

Mother Sara Zejburski was born in Lomza, Poland. I have the 1897 Russian census record for her family and I received copies of her birth record, the birth records of her siblings and her father (all of whom came to the US), as well as other birth, marriage, death records for the Zejburski family. Zejburski became Zebofsky in the US. I connected with one of Sara’s nephews on Facebook but he hasn’t shown much interest in taking it further (not yet anyway). Sara’s father was Abram and her mother was Chana. I don’t have a maiden name for Chana yet. According to the 1897 Russian census she was born in the nearby town of Nowograd but I haven’t found the birth record yet.

Not really a summary for some people…for me, this wasn’t a novel so it looks like a summary to me.

Melanie – I haven’t done any research on your mother’s family. If you’re interested, I can help or get you started. If anyone in our family says we’re from “Russia”, that's not modern day Russia, only the generic term that applies to any of a dozen countries.


Al Wierzba said...

Nice summary! My name is Al Wierzba and I am hosting the upcoming edition of Carnival of Central and Eastern Genealogy that is focusing on roadblocks and breakthroughs. More info here:

I was wondering if you'd like to submit an article?

Best Regards,

Sharon said...

Thanks Al. I didn't know this was out there. I submitted a post about my ZEBURSKI family from Lomza. Do you have any other contributors with Jewish ancestry? That's not too big a deal I guess...most research is the same regardless.

Al Wierzba said...

Hi Sharon,

thanks for the submission. If your family ancestry is from Central or Eastern Europe than you qualify for the Carnival.

Best Regards,