Monday, October 31, 2022

Amanuensis Monday: 1804 Origin of the Kruvand Surname

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. 

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

Below I transcribe an article found in The Historical Jewish Press archives at the National Library of Israel.

Print Date: 29 October 2022. Source: Page 9, Indiana Jewish Post & Opinion, 15 October 1976 *** "Historical Jewish Press", The National Library of Israel and Tel Aviv University

Your Name

Dear Mr. Pearlroth: I would like to know the meaning of, and whatever information you can give me on the following: KROOVAND - Father born in Lithuania. Very sincerely, William H. Kroovand.

Kroovand is a family name of geographical origin. It is derived from the name of the district of Kruwonda located near Kovno in Lithuania. Kroovand is apparently an anglicized version of the geographical name. The district contained no villages or towns. It embraced 15 landed estates belonging to 15 land owning families. Your ancestor who adopted the name in 1804 was probably an employee of one of those landowners. 


1) Norbert Pearlroth (1893-1983) was the primary researcher for Ripley's Believe it or Not, 1923-1975, and wrote the weekly Your Name column for the Jewish Post of New York, researching origins of Jewish surnames.

2) William H. Kroovand (1915-1987) was my second cousin twice removed. His father, Clarence, was indeed born in Lithuania in 1885 according to my records. The ancestor who adopted the surname in 1804 was either my 4rh great grandfather, Me'er Kruvand, who we only know was born before 1790, or his father, whose name we do not know.

3) I wondered as to Pearlroth's source for the surname adoption in 1804, as well as the information on the number of estates. Pearlroth seems to imply the 15 estates existed around the time of the surname adoption. Though this is not clear. My ancestors left in the 1880s.

The 1804 date turns out to almost certainly be based on Czar Alexander I's Edict of 1804, which

required all Jews living in the Pale of Settlement (the territory where Jews were permitted to live in the Russian Empire, encompassing modern Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova) to adopt permanent surnames.

Using the spelling of the town Pearlroth uses, which appears to be a Polish spelling, I found a source for the 15 landowners: Słownik geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego i innych krajów słowiańskich. T. 4, Warszawa : nakł. Filipa Sulimierskiego i Władysława Walewskiego, 1880-1914 (Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic countries. T. 4, Warsaw: nakł. Filip Sulimierski and Władysław Walewski, 1880-1914)

Computer translation of 2 entries:
  • Kruwonda, n. , the left tributary of the Łazdona, which flows into Dubissa, near her sink with the Nemunas. 
  • Kruwondy, the area of ​​gentry, on the riverside Kruwonda, poviat, Kaunas, parish Czekiszki, it has a wooden chapel, 15 owners, a loamy, fertile ground
This may actually have been Pearlroth’s source, as bios say he knew multiple languages. If Polish was one of them, this is a likely book to be on his shelf if he’s going to write this weekly column. It's still not clear what year(s) the 15 owners references, but it seems to suggest it was true in the 1880s when my ancestors left. This adds to some information I learned about the town a few years ago.