Thursday, August 18, 2011

Re-viewing Documents

The word, "reviewing" literally means "seeing again."

A while back I contacted the local Moolah Shrine Temple for any information they had on my Great Grandfather, Herman Feinstein's membership.  (The Moolah Temple is a masonic organization)  They sent me the application he filled out in 1927.

One piece of information on the document stood out: his birthplace.  This was the first document I found which narrowed down the origin of this branch of the family to anything smaller than "Russia."  Neither Herman's Social Security Application, nor his father's naturalization document, had been more specific than that.

However, a search for shtetls with names close to Alexandria in the Russian Empire at JewishGen yielded nine.  And I had some cause to be suspicious, since my limited understanding of Masonic organizations suggest they incorporate Egyptian symbolism, so my great grandfather could have creatively selected a town in Russia with an Egyptian counterpart.

The document was sent to me via email, and I downloaded it to a documents folder when I received it; I even emailed a cousin interested in the origin of Herman's mother's family about the contents, but I forgot completely about it.


I was on Ancestry this week searching on the name of Herman's father - Selig Dudelsack. (Selig changed the family surname to Feinstein.) And I viewed again the Hamburg Passenger Manifest.  There, in the column "Bisheriger Wohnort" (Former Residence) it said "Wolinsky, Russland."

How did I miss that?  The document is in German, and I suspect I focused mainly on the information I could readily read, like the names, and date.  I had the English arrival manifest from Castle Garden. So I went into my email to contact my cousin with this information, and searched for the last email I sent him.  And I rediscovered the document above.  One of the 9 Alexandrias is in the Volhynia district, aka Wolyn, aka Wolinskie.

I then re-viewed the Hamburg manifest of Selig's brother, Judal (Julius).  It said Scitomir (Zhytomyr), which I quickly learned is a major city in Volhynia, about 250 km west of what is currently known as Oleksandriia. Near the eastern boundary of Volhynia, it's actually close to Kiev.  (The balloon on the map below is Oleksandriia.) 

This is of note, since one relative recalls being told Herman was born in Kiev.  The family immigrated when Herman was age 4-5.  It's possible the family lived in both towns during those years. Herman could have also still been creative with his choice of birthplaces on the Moolah Shrine Temple petition.  However, research at JewishGen shows there was a family of Dudelzaks in the Aleksandriiya Yizkor book. (The Yizkor Books are memorial books for those who were murdered in the Holocaust.)

 I don't know if they're related, but some of the names match names in my tree, which raises the odds.  (Though some names are common enough, perhaps not by much.)  "Shmuel" (Samuel) matches the name of Selig's father.  And on the passenger manifest, the name for Herman's brother who was known as "Ben" in America, looks a lot like "Berl."  I thought it was sloppy handwriting, but 'Berel/Beryl' as a Hebrew name isn't completely unheard of.

Also, according to Familysearch, I may also have a lead on some potential cousins who made it to America:

Srul (age 17) and Schmarje (age 45) Dudelzak arrived at Ellis Island in March of 1906, and their last residence was Alexandrie.   (However, it doesn't state specifically Alexandrie, Volhynia.  It could be one of the other 8 towns.)

1 comment:

Susan Clark said...

Tantalizing information, to say the least. And a good object lesson. I've found the Hamburg lists the most helpful of all the immigration lists. Perhaps it was because the Eastern European names were more familiar than they were to U.S. immigration officials, but the spelling is much closer to the original spelling.