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Persistence pays off

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Often people apply to Blitz Information Center - BLITZ with very little initial information about their relatives. During the Preliminary Search, we try to find the family using various directories published in the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire (before 1917). This helps us build a base on which to research more specific family information. However, when incorrect information is supplied, perhaps a miscommunicated family legend, incorrect name transliteration, or even exaggeration, the search becomes more difficult. In these cases we end up spending time working with sources which may not contain specific information about these persons. This research work can often become more productive with the persistence of the client and creative sourcing by BLITZ researchers.

The following is an example of precious genealogy information being located due to the persistence of both the client and Blitz. Initially, this client was able to inform us of the following: his grandfather was born in the province of Mogilev, his family was well-to-do and supposedly noble, he was a lawyer, then served in the White Army. His wife originated from a prosperous family (perhaps noble) from the Vologda province. Their daughter was born in the city of Lebowia of the same province. The names, surnames (rather common) and a few vital dates were provided as well. Although this was a lot of initial information, it lead to a lot of dead ends.

Based on this information we started this search by selecting files in the Russian State Historic Archives concerning the registration of noble families with given surnames as well as files concerning landownership. After finding the appropriate files, we briefly looked through their documents but did not find any information about the persons being searched. We checked the indexes of service lists of persons serving in the Ministry of Interior Affairs and participants of the White Movement with no luck. A search throughout directories listing persons who were engaged in civil service, homeowners, landowners, students of different Universities offering a judicial education was unsuccessful as well.

Thanks to the patience of our client, who did not want to stop this search, Blitz broadened its research to other sources. While looking through the voter lists of the province of Mogilev we found that the residents of this province with relevant surnames had mostly Jewish given names. However, this did not correspond to the version about the family nobility since Jews were excluded from Nobility. In addition, the name and patronymic of the person we were searching for was Russian not Jewish. We asked our client about this. He did not know the religion of his great-grandfather but remembered that he liked to wear a small black cap on his head. We supposed that the cap was the traditional Jewish yarmulke and suggested to our client that we pursue some potential Jewish sources.

From this search angle, a large and rich family history was uncovered. Although Blitz did not uncover information about the client’s grandmother, it turned out that the grandfather worked as a qualified lathe operator and participated in revolutionary activity for which he was arrested and exiled to Vologda. At that time he had a Jewish name and a patronymic. In exile he married the grandmother of our client, who was Orthodox. He then changed his religion to allow for this marriage, which allowed him to then migrate from Russia to America. His petition was granted and he was baptized and received an Orthodox name and patronymic which corresponded to the initial information provided.

In this case, persistence paid off. The initial information indicating that his Russian name and patronymic lead to dead ends. By following “clues” from the voters lists and the great-grandfather’s yarmulke, we were able to find information on our client’s Jewish family history.

Names searched during this study:
Primary Male Surnames searched were: Rosin, Rozin.
Primary Maiden Surname searched: Chemodonova.
Secondary Maiden Surname (not documented): Meerovna

For more information or to take on a search with Blitz, please contact
Elena Tsvetkova rublitz@gmail.com or
Kristin Nute enute@igc.org
If you are researching any of these surnames, we will forward your correspondence to our client to see if there is family connection.

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