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Rootsweb Groups and a Translation of the Green/Brave Photo Reverse

Reverse of "Mother of Abraham Green or Rose Brave- name unknown."
Reverse of “Mother of Abraham Green or Rose Brave- name unknown.”

Back in the days before the internet, genealogists wrote to each other with a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) enclosed in hopes of a reply to their questions. The early days of the internet and genealogy found all sorts of lists and groups that specialized in various topics, including names, places, and nationalities- a big research-enhancing improvement. Genealogists freely shared their information and helped each other, even when making a copy meant going to the library to use their rare copy machine and sending a thick package through the mail. (I actually remember hand-writing Pedigree Charts and Family Group Sheets to share when there were no copiers around or my allowance didn’t stretch for expensive copies.) Now we can scan and send from our own home or share electronic copies of whole trees. We can get answers about far-away places or people within seconds, but there are definitely reasons for the old groups and lists to still exist and be used.

A prime example is the photograph I have had for 30+ years (reverse above) and never thought about getting it translated- well, I did think about it but it just seemed impossible- where to start? I didn’t know the language as there were non-English characters, and the area where that family lived had been under Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and even German control at various times. (See my post That Place Thursday- Witebsk… for more about learning of the place the portrait was taken.) I assumed the writing was basically an advertisement for the photography studio, but was still curious to know what it said. Then I remembered the helpful groups…

There are two big groups of ‘listers’ that I have used often in the past- Rootsweb, now owned by Ancestry.com but promised to always be free, and The USGenWeb Project.

A search of groups still active through Rootsweb was somewhat frustrating- so many have not had many posts in the last five years or so. I was lucky enough to find Poland- Roots at http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/index?list=poland-roots

I joined the list, posted a query, and got fast replies to post my image somewhere on the web- such attachments are not allowed on some groups, plus suggestions on how to determine the language. (See http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/POLAND-ROOTS/2014-01/1389228929)

It was determined by kind listmembers that the language was Russian Cyrillic, and a book to translate it was also suggested. Not being very good with languages other than English, the thought was daunting. And then a wonderful lister posted the following translation (posted here with his permission):

Honored with deep gratitude
for photographic work
by His Imperial Highness the Grand Duke
Vladimir Aleksandrovich

The Photography Studio
of Hershevich (or Gershevich, as g and h are the same letter in Russian)

in Vitebsk
Zamkovaja Street in d. Cytrynko (a nieghborhood? the abbreviation d. that might stand for that)

in Smolensk
Troitsk. Road in d. Shchekotova (a neighborhood?)

 

Wow! No earth-shattering revelations that will help my family research, but it is amazing, after all these years, to know what the back of that photo says. And I learned all this in less than 24 hours and from the comfort of my home!

I urge you to give these groups a try- and again, if you have already used them long ago. The group posts can be searched or browsed in their archives, or you may subscribe to the list and get messages individually or as a digest. Many of these groups, such as the PAALLEGH group for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, are very active and undertake large projects such as gleaning death notices out of local papers. Sometimes the email addresses from very old posts are still active, or you can do a search on the person’s name through Google, Facebook, etc., and find someone researching your family lines. sometimes adding a query will get a dormant list up and running again. And if you have any kind of specialized knowledge on a topic, please help share your expertise with others through these lists.

As always, just because it is on the internet doesn’t make it true- I ALWAYS look at this information as secondary or further-down-the-line research, and use it as clues for me to verify. I have found some very good researchers and cousins this way (and sadly, some sketchy ‘facts’), and at times my family tree has had exponential growth because of the sharing with another kind researcher.

As they say, what’s old is new again.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/POLAND-ROOTS/2014-01/1389298190

2) rootsweb.ancestry.com

3) http://usgenweb.org

Please contact us if you would like a higher resolution image.

Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

Those Places Thursday- Witebsk, Belarus and The Mother of Abraham Green or Rose (Brave) Green

Mother of Abraham Green or Rose Brave- name unknown.
Mother of Abraham Green or Rose Brave- name unknown.

One of the cardinal rules of genealogy should be, “Go back and look at everything again. Do it again. And again.” People mention it but we don’t always want to do it- we would rather do the exciting searching and find the big, new, ta-da!

I really should know better, and I really should revisit families every few years. I also really should have learned my lesson after searching for a maiden name for years, and then finding it later in handwritten notes taken while talking with older family members long ago. Oh well, the thrill of discovery was so sweet- at least until I realized I already had that information and could have been researching something else instead.

The above photo is a prime example of why one should revisit data after they have learned more, or just when time has passed and one can see things with a fresh eye. I have had a copy of this image for 30+ years, and occasionally thought about trying to have someone translate the reverse of the photo but didn’t know where I could get that done. Today I was looking at a scan of a family history album that a dear aunt put together, and it hit me- look up the word on the right– “Witebsk”- it is probably a place. Sure enough, it is. And it may have just told us where that branch of the family lived before immigration to the United States.

(Note: Family oral history and the death certificate of Rose Brave state she was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, which is 285 miles from Witebsk; Abraham was also born in Kaunas per oral history/their daughter.)

Mother of Abraham Green or Rose Brave- name unknown.
Reverse of Mother of Abraham Green or Rose Brave- name unknown.

The woman in the photo is probably the mother of either Abraham Green, or his wife, Rose (Brave) Green’s, mother. See my previous post for more information about Abraham Green and Rose Braef: http://heritageramblings.net/2014/01/07/wedding-wednesday-abraham-green-and-rose-braef-or-rose-brave If she is Rose’s mother, her first name may have been Sarah.

The portrait of the woman we suspect was Abraham or Rose’s mother was taken in Witebsk.

Vitebsk Map
Vitebsk Map

Witebsk is the Polish spelling for Vitebsk, one of the oldest Slavonic cities found in the northeastern section of what is today Belarus. It is strategically located at the Zapadnaya Dvina and the Vitba Rivers, and is a crossroad to many trade routes. It had been a part of Lithuania but became a part of Belarus and the Russian Empire in 1772. In 1812, Napoleon battled Russian armies near the walls of Vitebsk- Abraham and Rose’s parents or grandparents may have witnessed those battles.

Map of Europe with Belarus in green. Wikimedia Commons.
Map of Modern Europe with Belarus in green. Wikimedia Commons.

Witebsk and Belarus were centers of European Jewry for much of the 1800s, although the Russian Czars repressed the local Polish culture, and that of the Jews, during that time in a campaign of Russification. By the 1897 Russian Census, about 52% of the Vitebsk population of 65,900 were Jewish ( 34,400 persons). This large percentage of Jews persisted in the region until World War II. Sadly, in 1944 when the city was liberated from the German occupation, only about 118 of the city’s 138,000 inhabitants remained in the city; most of the Jews (possibly 16,000) had been moved to the Vitebsk Ghetto and then massacred in October 1941, possibly including some Green and Braef cousins. Other citizens had been put into concentration or work camps, died during the occupation, etc.

Abraham and Rose chose to emigrate in the mid-1880s, thankfully before the World Wars- was it the draw of freedom of religion, language, speech, assembly, etc. in America that made them undertake such an arduous plan? Was it a poor economy in Witebsk? Was it the parental hope of making life better for their children? Maybe all these played into the tough decision to leave family and friends and move to America.

Vitebsk Town Hall, built 1775. Wikimedia Commons,  GNU Free Documentation License.
Vitebsk Town Hall, built 1775. Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License.

The town hall, above, would have been regularly seen by Rose and Abraham as they traveled throughout the city, as would be the Catholic churches below.

Painting by Józef Peszka, Viciebsk,_Rynak._Віцебск,_Рынак_(J._Pieška,_XIX).
Painting by Józef Peszka, Viciebsk,_Rynak._Віцебск,_Рынак_(J._Pieška,_XIX).

 

Marc Chagall (1887-1985), the Jewish artist, is one of the Vitebsk region’s most famous sons.

Today, Vitebsk is a cultural, industrial, and economic center in the region. With over 350,000 residents,  over one-fifth of the region’s industrial output is contributed by Vitebsk, concentrating in mechanical engineering, metal- and wood-working, light and food industries. Science and education are well represented. It is still a crossroads with connections via rail, air, and automobile transport.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Wikipedia entries and Wikimedia images for Belarus, Vitebsk, Vitebsk Ghetto, Marc Chagall: wikipedia.org.

2) Vitebsk City Executive Committee Offical Site: http://www.vitebsk.gov.by/en/region/history

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images.

Copyright 2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 

 

Wedding Wednesday- Abraham Green and Rose Braef (or Rose Brave)

Abraham Green and Rose Braef- Wedding Picture?
Abraham Green and Rose Braef- Wedding Picture?

Green Family (Click to go to family tree.)

Abraham Green (or possibly Abraham Gren) was born in 1866 in Grincasek, Kovnau, Russia, per family oral history, including that of his still-sharp-in-her-90s-daughter Mary C. Green. He and Rose Brave (or Rose Braef) were married about 1884 in Lithuania. The newlyweds decided shortly after that he would emigrate to the United States- how difficult that must have been! The family tells the story that Abraham came to America by himself and established a business as a tailor, then sent for Rose and their daughter Ann, who was just 1 year old by that time. Stelle was born on board ship during migration, and Rose’s mother made the trip as well. We don’t know if she accompanied Rose, had come earlier with Abraham to care for him before Rose arrived, or came on her own, but my thought is that she probably came with her pregnant daughter to care for her as well as her very young grandchild on the long and difficult voyage.

Abraham Green, c 1920s?
Abraham Green, c 1920s?

Abraham had a tailor shop in St. Louis, Missouri, and made very fine suits- it was said that no one in the family could afford an Abraham Green suit! Sadly his business floundered as many others did during the Great Depression, and he passed away on 02 Jul 1931 in St. Louis, Missouri.

Rose (Brave) Green, c1930s?
Rose (Brave) Green, c1930s?

Rose Brave- or ‘Braef’ per her death certificate and family oral tradition- was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, on 15 May 1866. The oral tradition is that her father disappeared somewhere in Europe- perhaps a victim of Russian pogroms? Rose’s mother was elderly and died soon after her immigration to the United States. Rose lived until 03 Jan 1936, when she died at her home in St. Louis, Missouri. She and Abraham have side-by-side stones at Mt. Olive Hebrew Cemetery, now United Hebrew Cemetery, in University City, St. Louis, Missouri.

Headstone of Abraham M. Green 1866-1931 Mt. Olive Hebrew Cemetery, now United Hebrew Cemetery, University City, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Image used with kind permission of FAG photographer.
Headstone of Abraham M. Green 1866-1931
Mt. Olive Hebrew Cemetery, now United Hebrew Cemetery, University City, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Image used with kind permission of FAG photographer.
Headstone of Rose Brave Green 1866-1936,  Mt. Olive Hebrew Cemetery, now United Hebrew Cemetery, University City, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Image used with kind permission of FAG photographer.
Headstone of Rose Brave Green 1866-1936,
Mt. Olive Hebrew Cemetery, now United Hebrew Cemetery, University City, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Image used with kind permission of FAG photographer. 

 

Family headstone of Abraham M. Green and Rose Brave Green. Mt. Olive Hebrew Cemetery, now United Hebrew Cemetery, University City, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Image used with kind permission of FAG photographer.
Family headstone of Abraham M. Green and Rose Brave Green.
Mt. Olive Hebrew Cemetery, now United Hebrew Cemetery, University City, St. Louis, Missouri, USA. Image used with kind permission of FAG photographer.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Family oral history.

2) Findagrave.com for Abraham Green (Memorial #6008372) and Rose (Brave) Green (Memorial #35697089)

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images.

Copyright 2014 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 

 

 

 

 

Five Family Photos for Friday- A Green Family Photo Album

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series A Green Family Photo Album
A Green Family Photo Album- Page 1
A Green Family Photo Album- Page 1. Rose Brave Green  is the woman in the upper right, and younger woman at the bottom left is Bess Dorothy (Green) Broida.

 

A Green Family Photo Album- Page 2
A Green Family Photo Album- Page 2
A Green Family Photo Album- Page 3. Gertrude Broida is sitting in the front, and her mother, Bess Dorothy (Green) Broida, may be the woman in the back.
A Green Family Photo Album- Page 3. Gertrude Broida is sitting in the front of the picture on the right, and her mother, Bess Dorothy (Green) Broida, may be the woman in the back.
A Green Family Photo Album- Page 5. Woman at bottom left may be the mother of Abraham Green.
A Green Family Photo Album- Page 5. Woman at bottom left may be the mother of Abraham Green.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Photo album owned by the author.

2) Family oral history plus comparison to known family photos.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images.

Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.

 

Five Family Photos for Friday- A Green Family Photo Album

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series A Green Family Photo Album
Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.22.
Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.22.

Very old family photo albums are such delights to find, but so maddening too! Usually people are not labeled in the photos, and seldom are dates or places noted- after all, the person who made the album already knew all that information that we now so desperately seek.  So it is up to the family historian to try to decipher the clues found in these albums.

Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.17.
Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.17. [Click on image to enlarge.]
This album is chock-full of pictures of many different people, which was typical for the time,  probably the very early 1900s. Happily, we recognized one of the person in the photos as Bess Dorothy (Green) Broida. Bess was born in 1891 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Abraham M. Green and Rose Brave. Bessie married Phillip Edwin Broida in 1910. On page 17, she may be the young girl in the oval portrait just to the bottom left of the center circle; we have positively identified her at an older age in other photos in the album. Using some detective work, we have been able to determine the names of a few of the others. (More on those folks in another post.)

Following are some photo album pages of people we would like to know more about. Please contact us if you can help identify any of these persons.

Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.31.
Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.31.
Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.33.
Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.33.
Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.34.
Unknown people in a photo album probably owned by Bess Dorothy Green, p.34.

 

Notes, Sources, and References:

1) Green family photo album.

2) Family oral history.

 

Please contact us if you would like higher resolution images.

Copyright 2013 by Heritage Ramblings Blog and pmm.