This is ongoing research and as new material is found, it will be included.
The families of my four grandparents are as follows: father’s father – Simons; father’s mother – Nagli; mother’s father – Zielinski; mother’s mother – Richardson.
At about the beginning of the 20th century, the entire immediate members of the Simons and Richardson families came over to England from Eastern Europe. as did many of the members of the Nagli family. The 4th family was the Zielinskis and it was only my grandfather who came came to England. The remainder of his family remained in Poland and were murdered in the Holocaust.
I have written a book entitled “The Zielinski Family of Przedecz” TO VIEW and there is also a chapter entitled “Amongst the six million” which gives the background to this book and this chapter appears in the 4th volume of my autobiography. TO VIEW Both these items appear on my website. I shall now write about what I have learned from my genealogical research on the families of my other three grandparents.
The family of my maternal grandmother lived for at least several generations in Golina, which is situated about 12 kilometres north-west of Konin in Poland. Golina achieved town status in 1330. About one hundred years later there were Jews living there, but it was in the second half of the 18th century that the Jewish population began to grow. It is reported that in 1900 out of a total population of 4,909, there were 2.177 Jews. The Jewish community in Golina came to a tragic end with the Holocaust.
I obtained the information on the names of my grandmother’s ascendants from tombstones, what my grandmother had told me – she died when I was 14 years old, and from Polish records described below and reproduced under the documents section of this chapter. All these sources tally with each other.
My grandmother’s father’s name was Mortke (Mordechai), and her mother’s name was Soie. Soie was born in 1842, her maiden being Sztyller. Mortke and Soie were married in 1862 in Golina. The name of Mortke’s father was Yaakov. Soie’s father’s name was Abram (Avraham) and her mother was Sore (Sarah). Abram (aged 25) and Sore (aged 22) were married in Golina in 1838. The date and time of Sore’s death was after the second Seder was finished (the year is unknown to me) and, as I recollect, my grandmother would each year light a Yahrzeit candle for her. Sore’s maiden name was Bozak, her father’s name Szmul (Shmuel) and her mother’s name was Perel. My grandmother even recollected that the name of her maternal great grandmother was Perel. Abram’s father’s name was Maier (Meir) and his mother’s name Soie – presumably Soie Sztyller was named after her.
The name of my maternal grandmother at birth was Hinda Reichert. When she arrived in England from Golina in 1898, it would seem the immigration clerk “made” her first name Annie and her surname was anglicized to Richards (and later Richardson). Her official English name remained as Annie all her life.
My grandmother came over to England with her cousin Surah-Leah and they settled in an apartment in Parfet Street off the Commercial Road in the East End of London. An aunt of mine, one of my grandmother’s daughters, once told me that that the purpose of my grandmother coming over with her cousin, was to get her cousin settled in England, and she was then going to return to Poland. However, as my aunt related to me, whilst my grandmother was in England, half of her town in Poland, Golina, burned down and since the fire was on a Sunday, the Christians in Golina would not put out the fire. (The “Pinkas Hakehilot” however states that the big fire in Golina was in 1895, which was three years before my grandmother and her cousin came to England, thus putting in serious question what my aunt related to me.) My grandmother therefore remained in England and during the course of the following years her family arrived in England, although not all together.
The members of my grandmother’s family who arrived in England were her father Mordechai, her mother Soie, her brothers Nechemiah (Hyman) and Jacob, and her sisters Zlata (Celia) and Mirel. With the exception of Mirel, all her brothers and sisters lived until they were in their 70s, which was a good life span in those days. Mirel however died on 15 September 1923, Sahbbat Shuva, aged just 36. She is buried in Edmonton Federation Cemetery, (plot P-25). She was already a widow when she died. She had married in the summer of 1920 a widower Coppel (Jacob) Bernstein, and about nine months later on 29 April 1921 Coppel died of consumption aged 52 and is also buried in Edmonton Federation Cemetery, (plot K-12). I understand that Mirel had contracted consumption from her husband and just over two years later she died.
After all the family had arrived in England, the house in Parfet Street was too small for them to live in and they moved to a house in Fenton Street, which was just a short distance away. It was whilst living at Fenton Street that my mother and her two sisters were born. About the end of 1913, the family moved to a better house in the East End, which, unusual for that area, had a large garden. Its address was 21 West Arbour Street. It was just some months later that my mother’s only brother was born.
I understand that just five months after her father Mordechai arrived, he died. The date of his death was 7 September 1903 and he was aged 61. He is buried in Edmonton Cemetery in London (plot B-2), a cemetery belonging to the Federation Synagogues of London. In order to pay for the tombstone, which then cost five pounds (quite a sum in those days), the family saved up their pennies. (When I visited that area of the cemetery, I saw a number of graves without tombstones – the families could obviously not afford to pay for them.) On the tombstone was a poem with each line beginning with the letters of his name. This poem had been written by his son Jacob, who in the 1920s went on Aliyah with his family. His name in English appears on his tombstone as “Marks Richards” – someone had “anglicised” his name.
Today, one usually has the name put also on the back of a tombstone so that a person looking for the tombstone from the opposite direction can easily find it. This was not the case when Mordechai died. However when I visited his grave in about the 1960s, I saw that his name had been painted on the back of the tombstone. My uncle who accompanied me to the grave told me that he had painted on the name before the Second World War. When he did so, someone had to look out that no-one was in sight, since obviously it was strictly forbidden for anyone to just go and paint on tombstones!
My grandmother would relate to me stories about Mordechai’s father, who she told me died when Mordechai was eight years old. He would regularly fast and there was an occasion each year when he fasted for four days in a row (daytime fasts!). These 4 days were erev Rosh Hashanah, the two days of Rosh Hashanah (there are opinions who allow one to fast on Rosh Hashanah), and Tzom Gedaliah, He would also fast on every Yom Kippur Katan, which occurs at the end of all but 4 months during the year. On one Yom Kippur Katan he was ill and he was told not to fast.
My grandmother was a seamstress and when she arrived in England, she worked in one of the many “sweatshops” in the area. There people were expected to work on Shabbat as well, and sadly many succumbed. But not my grandmother. On Friday afternoon she would get up and leave and not return until the beginning of the following week. She was very soon fired for doing this. So she bought her own Singer sewing machine – (I even remember this machine about fifty years later and it was still working) – and she did better financially working independently. The reward for observing Shabbat.
Censuses were taken every ten years in England from 1801 onwards. They are strictly confidential for 100 years. Thus the results of the 1901 census have only recently been made public and they have been put on the Internet. My grandmother should have appeared on it. I therefore made a search using all the possible combinations of her name. Her surname was then Reichart, although it was at first very likely in England, Richards (as per her father’s tombstone). Later it became Richardson. I even looked under both Hinda and Annie. However none of these variations appear on the census results. Very likely she didn’t fill up a census form. I believe she can be fined for that – with compound interest it would be astronomical today!
Her mother Soie died on 31 July 1913, aged 71, and is also buried in Edmonton Federation Cemetery. (plot L-12) In those days one did not reserve graves and so she is not buried adjacent to her husband. Probably because of the lack of knowledge of the English language, the English name written on her tombstone is “Sarah” and not “Soie” and as I shall now show that this error even appeared in the cemetery records.
It was about the summer of 2005 that it became important to know how to write the name “Soie” in Hebrew letters. Her granddaughter Sylvia Richardson, whose Hebrew name was Soie had just died and the family needed to know how this unusual name was spelled. I had remembered when I had visited her grave in Edmonton cemetery in the early 1960s that this name as written on her tombstone had “alephs” or “ayins” or both but I could not remember exactly. I also recollected that in English the tombstone gave her name as “Sarah Richardson.” The name Sarah was incorrect, since I knew that her mother’s name was Sarah.
I telephoned Edmonton cemetery and asked what Hebrew spelling was in their records. The person who answered that he could not read Hebrew – he was probably a non-Jewish caretaker – but said I should telephone a little later on. When I did this they immediately answered that according to their records it was “Sarah bat Avraham.” I immediately told them that it was not “Sarah” and that the name Soie appeared in Hebrew on the tombstone. They were extremely obliging and straight away went to look at the tombstone. When I telephoned again they told me it was “samech – aleph – yud – ayin.” I informed Monty Richardson, Sylvia’s brother, who said he would inform the tombstone people.
Now to return to my genealogy research. I decided to look on the Internet which 19th century records for Golina still survive. The Polish State Archives have put on the Internet the basic indices of records in their various archives throughout Poland. There are extant vital records for Golina ranging from 1826 to about 1870 in the Pozan archives. All (or at least many) of these records have been microfilmed by the Mormons. The “Jewish Records Indexing – Poland” (JRI) has gone through these records name by name and put on the internet details for each entry, which include surname, first name, father’s name, mother’s name and the number of the Mormon film on which they are to be found.
Fortunately, Bet Hatefutzot in Tel-Aviv has made copies of many of these Mormon microfilms, and photocopies for just 5 shekels a page can be ordered from them, instead of paying a much higher price to JRI.
I searched the indices of JRI and found the marriage records for Mordechai Raychert and Soie Sztyller, the birth records for Soie and the marriage record for her parents. [Incidentally, a birth record for Soie’s husband Mordechai was not listed. I understand that often boys were not registered in order to prevent army problems when they grew up.] I then looked up Bet Hatefutzot indices and saw that they had made copies of these records. I accordingly ordered them via their Internet site and a few days later received them by registered post. I don’t know why by registered post. The 15 shekels I paid for these three records was almost all taken up by the postal charge!
These records are written in Polish in the “Napoleonic style” but with some of the signatures in Hebrew. These Hebrew signatures included Mordechai Raychert and his father-in-law Avraham Sztyller. I sent copies of these three documents to various relatives who might have been interested in them.
I should mention that from the indices of the Golina entries, I saw that there were a number of members of the Sztyller family with the name Soie and I also found there the names Hinda and Avraham. Amongst the records for the Raychert family, the names Mortke (Mordechai), Hemia (Nechemiah), Jacub (Jacob) are found.
It was about fifty years ago that my mother’s cousin Monty Richardson discovered that a family tree which included the Richrdsons had been prepared (I believe by a Justin Richardson). Monty gave me a photocopy of it. I studied it but was unable to link up this family tree with my branch of the Richardson family. I accordingly write to my Uncle Jacob in Israel and asked him if could link it up with our branch. My uncle was very happy that I was researching the genealogy of the family, but he was unable to supply the link.
I could however see that there was a name which was also in my branch of the family. This name was “Chemya” (which is short for Nechemiah). It also stated that Newman Richardson, the miller of Golina died in about 1850 at the age of 40 from lifting a heavy sack of flour. In fact there were a number of cases of hernia in my branch of the Richardsons and one of them said jokingly when looking at this family tree, “this was the first hernia in the family!”
From a very early age I was interested in my family's genealogy. My paternal grandfather Eliezer (Lewis) Simons, (who died when I was just 10 years old) had informed me that his grandfather Yoel went to live in Eretz Israel at about the same time as his descendants came to England. This was the period of what is commonly called the “First Aliyah” (although there were Aliyot to Eretz Israel throughout all the preceding generations). It is reported that whereas most Jews from Eastern Europe at that period went to the United States or Western Europe, there were a few who went to Eretz Israel.
Since my conversation with my grandfather took place well over half a century ago, I obviously cannot remember the exact details. It is possible that he said that Yoel went to Jerusalem which was likely since Jerusalem then had the largest Jewish community in Eretz Israel. My grandfather also told me that Yoel had gone blind and went into an old age home or home for the blind. On the occasion of my grandfather’s wedding in 1901, he had received a telegram from him. .
He obviously, therefore died after 1901 – but when? My grandfather had seven sons in a row, the last being born towards the end of 1913 and he was called Yoel, obviously after his grandfather. Does this mean that his grandfather Yoel had died only after the sixth son had been born towards the end of 1911? Maybe my grandfather only heard about the death of Yoel years after the event. Then, there were not the communications of today. .
I cannot recollect my grandfather mentioning Yoel’s wife. Did his wife go with him to Eretz Israel or was he already a widower? .
Whilst sitting Shiva for my father in February 1975, my father’s brother Harry who had made a study of the family genealogy gave me a page containing the “Simons Family Tree Male Issue” which he had researched. Included in it, he wrote that his father’s father was called (Julius) Alta Moshe and he had a brother called Aaron. Aaron had a son called Yoel who died in Israel 1901. The name of Julius’ and Aaron’s father was Yoel and he was from Belz, Kishinev. Yoel’s father was P.F. also from Belz, Kishinev. He also wrote some notes on this Family Tree: Lewis [my grandfather] born 1879. Alta Moshe born 1848 (approx). Yoel born 1827 (approx), Fishel Frome born 1808 (approx). All research up to Yoel 1827 correct. P.F. 1808 hearsay not yet proven. .
I feel that there are some errors in this family tree prepared by my uncle. Yoel, (the father of Julius and Aaron) died only after 1901. Therefore Aaron would not have called his son by the name of his father whilst he was still alive. It was Yoel (the father of Julius and Aaron) who died in Israel soon after 1901. The family tree states that Yoel’s father was P.F. – Fishel Frome. There was indeed a distinguished ancestor who was always referred to as “Fatta Fishel”. As my grandfather once told me, it was his grandfather Yoel’s brother-in-law who was this “Fatta Fishel” and whose name was Efraim Fishel. This is confirmed by the fact that the word “Fatta” is the Yiddish for “uncle” and as we can indeed see, he was an uncle. Incidentally, there were three members of the family named after this “Fatta Fishel” – my father, my grandfather’s brother, and my father’s cousin. .
Yoel was buried in Israel, and I first assumed that it was on the Mount of Olives Cemetery. Therefore, at about the beginning of the 1980s I made some inquiries with some of the various burial societies in Jerusalem, and at a later date with the Blind Home in Jerusalem which was established in 1901, to try and find out more information about him, but without success. A difficulty I had at the time was that I did not know, what surname was used by the family in Russia – at that time I felt sure that it was not Simons but some Russianised form of Simons! In order to locate his grave, it was highly desirable to know what his surname was, and in addition, the name of his father which always appears on a tombstone inscription and the date of his death. Furthermore it was possible that he had a name in addition to Yoel. .
The last point was the easiest to verify. On the tombstone of his son who is buried in Edmonton Federation Cemetery appears the name of his father. I therefore in May 1984 wrote a letter to the secretary of the Federation of Synagogues:
“I am trying to trace the grave of my great great grandfather Mr. Yoel Simons who is buried on the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem and would be grateful if you could please assist me. “His son is buried in your Edmonton Cemetery. His Hebrew name is Alta Moshe Ze’ev and his English name is Julius SIMONS. He died in the 1920s (I think about 1923). The inscription on his tombstone should contain the FULL Hebrew name of his father Yoel. I would therefore be very grateful if you could let me have the inscription on his tombstone.” .
A few weeks later I received a reply:
“Our records show that Mr. Julius Simons, who died 22 June 1923 – 8 Tammuz 5683, is buried at our Cemetery at Edmonton (Reference No. C.1752, indication P.20.33) and his name as shown on the tombstone was אלטר משה זאב ב"ר יואל [Alta Moshe Zeev ben Reb Yoel].” .
At a later date, I consulted with a cousin of my wife, who is an expert in genealogy and he suggested that I try and find the naturalisation papers of the members of the Simons family who came to England. I accordingly searched the indices of the National Archives of England under Naturalisation papers and found entries for a “Lewis Simons” and a “Philip Frank Simons” which were the names of my paternal grandfather and his brother respectively. Since “Simons” is not such an uncommon name, I decided that since with “Philip Frank” there were two identical names, it was most likely to be my great uncle and I would thus put in an enquiry regarding this entry. .
I wrote to the National Archives: “Can you please let me have the surname of Mr. Philip Frank Simons (my great uncle) as it was in Russia, and the town in Russia he came from. I require these details in order to locate the grave of my great great grandfather (the grandfather of Mr. Philip Frank Simons) for a memorial ceremony.” .
A few weeks later I received a reply by e-mail, informing me that his surname appeared as “Simons,” his father’s name “Julius Simons” his mother’s name “Golda Simons nee Perrel” and that he was born in “Beltz, Bessarabia in Russia.” [Incidentally his tombstone incorrectly gives the name of his father as Yoel - it would seem that someone mixed up the name “Julius” with “Joel”!] .
I still felt a bit doubtful that the surname in Russia was “Simons.” In addition I knew that an error had crept in concerning his mother’s name. The family knew that Perrel (or more accurately Pearl) was her second forename and not her maiden name. I therefore wrote a further letter to the National Archives explaining my doubts and asking them to give me the information appearing on the Naturalisation papers of Lewis Simons. In reply they wrote that his original name was Simons, his mother was Golda Pearl Simons nee Friedmann and that he was born in Beltz, Bessarabia. .
A telephonic inquiry made at a later date to Edmonton Federation Cemetery asking them what the name of Golda Pearl Simons’ father was – it is written on her tombstone. The answer I received was Aharon. .
In the mid-1970s I had heard that the Simons family had come from Belz, and I had assumed that maybe they were Belzer Chassidim. On receiving the reply from the National Archives, I asked on “Wikipedia” for certain information on Belz in Bessarabia (today Moldova). I was told I had made a mistake and that Belz was in Ukraine. I investigated the matter and found that there were two Belz – one in Ukraine and one in Moldova. (The Belz Chassidim came from the one in Ukraine). The official name of the one in Moldova is Beltsy (or Balti in Romanian). .
I then began a search on the Internet regarding Beltsy. I found that the Moldova National Archives had many vital and other records on Beltsy mainly from the 19th century and that someone had stated that the Mormons had recently photocopied them. I also found that the Greensboro Jewish Federation in North Carolina was twinned with the Jewish community of Beltsy (which before the First World War numbered over 10,000 Jews). .
In mid-February 2006 I telephoned them and spoke to Alina Spaudling, the person in charge of this twinning. In my conversation I asked about the photocopying of the Beltsy Jewish records by the Mormons, but they knew nothing about them. I immediately made a detailed search on the Internet and found that the Mormons had indeed microfilmed the vital Jewish records from Beltsy, that an index of the microfilms appeared on the Internet (but this did not include the actual entries of names in the microfilms), and that there was a Mormon library in Greensboro, about 3 miles away from the Jewish Federation. I sent all this information by fax to the Jewish Federation, which they were very pleased to receive. .
Alina passed on my query on “what the Russianized form of the name ‘Simons’ might have been,” to Vicky Michaeli who lives in Jerusalem and is the Regional Program Manager for Moldova. Vicky passed on my query to her “team in Moldova” and then wrote to me “that to improve our chances for finding information” could I supply certain further details such as “what period are we talking about?” and information about my grandmother such as where did she come from and what was her name. .
I immediately sent them the information which I knew and this was immediately passed on to Moldova .
A week or so later, Vicky telephoned me and told me that the people in Beltsy had made investigations. They had found a family called Simon, which they thought was probably my family since they could find no other surname similar to Simons. They also found various graves of the Simon family in the Beltsy cemetery which were all since the 1960s. Some of the family had immigrated to Israel but my attempts to locate them by telephoning the various people in Israel whose name is ‘Simon’ or ‘Simons’ have as yet been unsuccessful. I can say however that whether or not this Simon family is my family, it can be seen that the name of my family could easily have been Simons a century ago in Beltsy. [However, as we shall see below, this was found to be not the case.] .
Nearly five years later, towards the end of 2010, I resumed my research on this branch of the family. I telephoned the Greensboro Jewish Federation and was told that Alina no longer worked there and that Deborah Kintzing dealt with Beltzy. I suggested to her that it would be a good idea if we could put the Mormon’s 12 reels of microfilms containing the records of the Jewish Community of Beltzy onto a DVD. Deborah very much liked this idea. .
My further research showed that the Mormon’s were in fact looking for volunteers to digitalise their enormous microfilm collection, and in a telephone call to Deborah a few weeks later I suggested that their Federation could offer to do so with these 12 reels. She said she would look for a volunteer and a couple of weeks later, she told me that she had found one. There is nothing further to report on this line. .
The parents of my Simons grandfather (as well as many other relatives on both my father’s and mother’s sides) are buried in Edmonton Jewish cemetery (in London) which is one of the Federation of Synagogue’s cemeteries. Therefore, at the beginning of 2011, I asked Gary Nelson (whom I had been in contact with for a number of years since a branch of both our families came from Przedecz and we found ourselves to be distant relatives) if he ever visited Edmonton cemetery he could take some photographs of the relevant tombstones. He replied that he went on rare occasions and on the next occasion he would photograph the graves I requested. .
It was nearly two years later that he was there and he took 6 photographs of Golda Perel’s grave. [Location: Block V, Row 45, Grave 12]. He also informed me that the Federation had on record her last address: 53 Maplin Street, Bow, London E3. He also tried to photograph the grave of Julius [Location: Block P, Row 20, Grave 33] but the photograph did not come out. He sent me 6 photographs of Golda’s tombstone. However there was “some sort of shadow over part of it making it impossible to read some of the words. One of the words covered is her father’s name, which as you know is important for genealogical research.” A few weeks later Gary again went to Edmonton cemetery and took a number of photographs of both Julius’ and Golda’s tombstones (as well as many other photographs of other branches of my family). He sent me all these photographs by e-mail. After all these years these two tombstones were not in a good condition and some of the letters were hard to read. .
Both the names of Julius and Golda Perel can be found on the 1911 British census (although not on the 1901 census even though they were almost certainly in Britain at that period). There they are stated as living in Spitalfields in the East End of London, and their place of birth Bessarabia Russia; Julius’ age is given as 56 and his occupation as a “Teacher of Hebrew” and Golda’s age is given as 50 and no occupation is given, .
There were no further developments until towards the end of 2014. It was then that I discovered that JewishGen had gone through the Mormon microfilms for this area. I went to their website and fed in the name “Simons” but got no results. I then suddenly remembered that my father had once told me that the surname was “Shmoyshman”. I fed in this name and lo and behold I received translated into English, the birth record for my paternal grandfather Eliezer (Lewis), and his brother Fishel (Philip) and another brother Aharon who very likely died when he was young. [The Hebrew name of my father’s brother Harry was Aharon, and he is very possibly named after his uncle Aharon.] Since the birth records for Beltsy only for a few odd years were extant, there were no records of other births of my grandfather’s siblings. JewishGen had also brought out translated into English, from the Mormon microfilms, Jewish entries from the various Russian Revision lists (censuses) from the mid-19th century. From these lists, I was able to go back to six generations of my family. There were seven relevant records – four from the Russian Revision lists and three from the birth records. .
I wanted photocopies of the appropriate frames from the Mormon microfilms and I saw from the internet that one could order photocopies free of change but that they were closing that photocopying department about a week later. I therefore immediately put in a request for such photocopies but they informed me that they were on the internet. After some searching I found that those appertaining to the Russian Revision Lists were on the internet and I managed to find the appropriate pages and download them. However I could not find the birth records and I duly informed the Mormons. They claimed that they were on the internet and on searching I found that only the Church birth records (but not the Jewish ones) were on the internet. After an exchange of e-mails with the Mormons, they finally sent me by e-mail the three birth records I required. .
The entries on the left hand side of the Jewish birth register were in Russian and the right hand side was in Hebrew. The entries included the names of the father and mother of the newborn, the maiden name of the mother and also the names of the two grandfathers. For my grandfather: father and paternal grandfather – Moshe Ze’ev the son of Yoel Shmoyshman; mother and maternal grandfather – Golda Perel the daughter of Aharon Fridman. It also states that the father Moshe Ze’ev came from Telenesht (which is about 50 kilometres south east of Beltzy). .
There were the dates of birth both on the JULIAN calendar and on the Jewish calendar. [the Gregorian calendar was only adopted in Russia in 1918.] For boys, the date of the Brit Milah is also given. For my grandfather the dates given for his birth were 10 June 1879 on the Julian calendar [this was 22 June on the Gregorian calendar] and 1 Tammuz 5639 on the Jewish calendar, and the date seven days later for his Brit was also given. .
On just the Hebrew side of the birth entry is given the name or names of the Mohel – often there were more than one Mohel – presumably they divided the various stages of the Milah between the Mohelim. For my grandfather, they were Abram Shkolnik and Aron Dov Kolpochnan. .
From the microfilms of the Mormons, in addition to learning that the family name was Shmoyshman, they gave a wealth of information which I had not known previously. From the Revision Lists which were made by the Russians in 1848 and 1854, I was able to go back several generations. JewishGen had extracted the Jewish entries from these Revision Lists and translated them into English, and one is able to search them by the family surnames. .
I learned that my great grandfather Moshe Ze’ev (name appearing as Moshe Volf in the Revision List – Volf is Yiddish for Ze’ev) was born in Teleneshty in 1852. His father Yoel was born in 1817 in Teleneshty and he was listed as “Middle class” in this Revision List. Yoel’s wife was called Khaya (Chaya) and was born in 1817. They also had two daughters Shendlya born in 1840 and Sura born in 1846. .
Yoel’s father was Moyshe Volf who was born in Teleneshty in 1785 and died in May 1848, and was listed as “Middle class”. His second wife was called Basya and she was born in 1790. Moyshe Volf’s children (in addition to Yoel), were: a son Srul, born 1827, who was listed in the Revision List as “Middle class”; a son Berko, born 1829; a daughter Enya, born 1839. Srul’s wife was called Sura and she was born in 1828. Srul’s son was called Shmul and he was born in 1849. Srul’s mother was Basya, and from this we can see that Moyshe Volf’s second marriage was before 1826/7. Berko left Teleneshty in 1852 and was listed in the Revision List as being “on a run”, possibly to avoid be put in the army. .
Abram was the father of Moyshe Volf. .
It was also at about that period that I learned that Hillel Horovitz, a resident of Hebron, was in charge of the various cemeteries in Jerusalem. I asked him whether he could check out whether Yoel was buried in the Mount of Olives cemetery. By this time from the Mormon records, I had further details regarding the family of Yoel and I sent to Hillel the following information: Yoel’s full name, names of his father, mother (or step mother), and wife, his city, and the year of his birth. Hillel asked me if I knew which cemetery and I answered that I assumed it was the Mount of Olives. Hillel made a search and informed me that he did not find Yoel’s burial record in either the Ashkanaz (Perushim) list or the Chassidim list. I was left with having to look at the records of other cities, for example, Hebron, Tiberius, Safed, etc. .
Shmoyshman (Simons) family in Russian Revision Lists
Shmoyshman (Simons) family in Russian Revision Lists
translated into English by JewishGen
Shmoyshman (Simons) family in Bessarabia Birth Records
Shmoyshman (Simons) family in Bessarabia Birth Records
translated into English by JewishGen
Julius and Golda Perel Simons entries in England and Wales Census for 1911
Death and burial records of Julius and Golda Perel Simons
Tombstone of Alta Moshe Ze'ev (Julius) Simons in Edmonton Jewish Cemetery in London
Tombstone of Golda Perel Simons in Edmonton Jewish Cemetery in London
The branch of my family which I originally knew least about was that of my paternal grandmother, Ethel Nagli. She died when I was just 6 years old and I never met anyone from her family. I recollect my father telling me that her mother died when she was just 2 years old and her father remarried.
In a book on the early history of Mount Scopus College in Melbourne Australia is a photograph which includes Harold Nagley, who was its vice-principal. His name also appears in an Old Carmeli book as a vice-President of the Association. I had once heard that he was some relative, but did not know how. Towards the end of 2005, I looked up in the Internet if there was a Nagley living in Melbourne and I indeed found one, Professor P. Nagli.
I then telephoned him and asked whether it was the family of Harold Nagley and received the answer that he was his late father. He informed me that the family had come from Riga in the 1890s. I then asked whether he knew the relationship between Harold and my family. He did not know the answer but told me to contact his relation Philippa Bloom in Leeds who had made a study of the family genealogy. I did this but she was not able to give me an answer.
I did not do any further research on the Naglis until the end of 2010. At that period I looked up on the internet the death record of my grandmother who had died in 1949 on “FreeBMD” and learned she was aged 70 at her death. This would make the year of her birth 1878/79. However, from her marriage registration she was 20 when she married in 1901, thus making her year of birth 1880/81.
Also, at the same period, I discovered that Latvia had put its vital records – Raduraksti - up to about the year 1905 on the Internet. They came under the headings of “Census 1897”, “Church Books” and “Revision Lists”. At first looking at these headings, I thought there would be no Jewish records amongst them. However I soon discovered that “Church Books” was not just Christian records but covered the various religion separately, with one of them being “Jews” and this was then subdivided into cities. There were records for births, marriages, divorces and deaths. On one side of each page was the entry in the national language and on the other side of each page the translation into Hebrew.
Unfortunately, for Riga, the city I then understood my grandmother to have been born in, the birth records for 1879 were missing. One can communicate via the Internet with the authorities in Latvia and tell them of any errors. I did this and they replied “Thank you. We will check it and amend”. Since after about a month, nothing had moved in this matter, I sent them a further communication and they replied “it takes time”. Up to now nothing seems to have been done in this matter.
Meanwhile I looked through the Jewish birth registers for 1878, 1880 and 1881 – (and there were indeed a lot of births!) - but did not find any record of my grandmother’s birth.
At the same period I contacted the United Synagogue Burial Society to get a photograph of my grandmother’s tombstone. Due the snowy weather and the end of the year (2010) holidays – (even many Jewish organisations on on holiday then!), it took a few weeks until I received the photograph. From it I could confirm my grandmother’s Hebrew name, that of her father’s, and the age of her death which was given as 70.
My grandmother had an elder brother called Solomon Nagli. From the “Jewish Chronicle” archives I had learned of the date of his death and the age he died. From this information, I tried to find his birth registration in the Latvian records, but without success.
The internet also gives the Naturalisation Records of the British authorities and from it, I learned that Solomon Nagli had taken out British citizenship in 1905 and the number of his naturalisation file. Via the Internet I put in an order for a photocopy of the file. The postage was about twice as much as the actual photocopying!
The file comprised 10 pages and I got most of the information I was looking for from just one of these pages. It stated that he was a subject of Russia and had been born in Razitsia which is in the district of Vitopsk on an unspecified day in May 1873. The names of his parents were given as Hyman Nagli and Freidy Nagli and both of them were subjects of Russia. From another page in this file it can be seen that the date of his first address in England is listed as July 1898.
The first question is how much of this information is relevant to my grandmother, who was Solomon’s younger sister. My grandmother’s father’s Hebrew name was Chaim Dov, which would correspond with Hyman, and Freidy was almost certainly her mother. (As stated earlier, when my grandmother was two years old her mother died and her father remarried.) It is possible that the Nagli family had moved to a different city in Latvia between the time Solomon and my grandmother were born. Although Solomon presumably arrived in England in 1898, it does not necessarily mean that the whole family arrived together. One of her brothers obviously remained in Eastern Europe since I heard that he had been shot by the Bolshevists. Whether or not the father and stepmother came came to England, I have no information. A sister called Alice did come.
However the first thing which I noticed from these naturalisation papers was that the place of birth was not given as Riga as I had been led to believe as the city where the family came from. I looked for Razitsia on the Internet and in an atlas, but without success. I then submitted a question to Wikipedia Reference Disk – Miscellaneous: “According to his British naturalisation papers dated 1905, a relative of mine was born in Razitsia in the district of Vitopsk in May 1873 and was a subject of Russia. Can any user please tell me the location of Razitsia? Thank you.” Two users debated the answer to my question. First it was suggested that Vitopsk was Vitebsk. Two suggestions were made for Razitsia. On was Rositsa which is in Belarus and the second suggestion was Rezekne in Latvia which was called Rezhitsa in Russian and was in the Vitebsk province. Since some members of the Nagli extended family came from Latvia, it would seem that Rezekne, which is in Latvia, is more likely the place of origin of my branch of the Nagli family.
The extant vital records (births, marriages and deaths) of Rezekne are far from complete. Numerous files are missing. From what is still extant, I tried to find members of my immediate family but without success. However I did find some records of a different branch of the Nagli family. In the Hebrew side of these records the name clearly appears as ðàâìé.
However, “JewishGen” has studied and catalogued numerous archival Jewish records from Rezekne and have brought out a list of Jewish residents there as at January 1898 entitled “Rezekne Family Lists”. Amongst these lists there are several families with the name Nagli – they are almost certainly different branches of the same Nagli family, which was a very large family.
In this list appears the name Nagla, Haim Berka. This list always writes the name as Nagla and as we can see from above, names which appear in Nagla in this list are in the Hebrew text ðàâìé. Also we can see from this list that Berka is the way they spelled Beyr. Beyr is the Yiddish for Dov. We know from my grandmother’s tombstone that her father was Haim Dov. It should be noted that the original Latvian list was written in the Russian Cyrillic script and was transliterated and this could thus cause small changes in the spelling of the names.
There are further strong indications that this Haim Berka Nagli was my great grandfather. This “JewishGen” list give Hana Nagla as Haim’s second wife. We know that his first wife died about two years after my grandmother was born and Haim married again. Furthermore his age is given in this list as 51, which would reasonably correspond with his expected age in about 1896.
The list gives other details of Haim’s family. The name of his second wife was Hana and she was 47 years old in 1896. Haim’s father was called Getzel and was 88 years old in 1896. It also states “died’ – his death registration does not appear in the vital records for Rezekne for 1896 or 1897, those for 1898 are not extant; it is possible that he died in another town and it would thus appear in their vital records. Getzel’s father was called Itzik. Getzel’s wife was called Elka and she was 83 in 1896.
Haim had a brother called Morduch who was 49 years old in 1896 and he was married to Esther, who was 48 years old in 1896. He had another brother called Josel, aged 43 in 1896, who was married to Zipora also aged 43 in 1896. Zipora’s father was called Hirsch.
Only one of Haim’s children is given in this list. He is Itzik Wulf aged 31 in 1896. His age could possibly have been inflated to avoid the Russian army. He was married to Perka, aged 26 in 1896, whose father’s name was Raphal. Haim’s children who were unmarried at the time are not mentioned, but it is stated that the database consists mainly of adult members of the community.
There is a further list compiled by “JewishGen” entitled the “All Russia 1897 Census”. It gives the name Nagla, Haim Behr (this time correctly spelled Behr!). It specifically gives the name of his father as Getzel, a fact not specifically stated in the “Rezekne Family List”, although implied. His age is given as 50, which is in an almost agreement with the “Rezekne Family List”. It adds that his profession was a painter, was born in Rezekne and lived at Pozharnava 16-1.
It then goes on to state that his wife was Esther. This is obviously a mistake since Esther was married to Haim’s brother Morduch.
It cannot be excluded that this Haim Behr Nagla was in fact from a different branch of the family and happened to have the same name. If that were to be the case, where in the list is my great grandfather Haim Behr?! It is possible that by 1896 he had moved elsewhere in Latvia or had already died, but in view of the facts brought earlier, in particular to his age and of having a second wife, it is not very likely.