The first thing I found was his marriage record. He married Ester SOLOMON on 19 Nov 1889 in Vilijampole. He was 41 (so born in 1848) and she was 28 (so born in 1861). His father’s name is given as Srol Itsko and hers as Shlomo. The most interesting part of that record is a note that both of them were divorced.
The revision lists fill in even more. For example, the 1891 revision list has Shimkha FEYNSHTEYN as the head of household and indicates he was born in 1848 and that his father’s name was Izrael. His wife is Ester Malka (who is 40, so born in 1851), which matches what great-uncle Nachum put as Shokher’s mother’s name on the Yad Vashem record. And not only are his sons Shokher and Itsko there, but so is his daughter, Rokhe. From the 1899 revision, I now also know that Shokher was born in 1876, Itsko was born in 1874, and Rakhel (note alternate spelling) in 1880. Note the discrepancy in Ester Malka’s age, however. I suspect the marriage record was misread when being transcribed for the index, though I still need to obtain it to check.
There is even more confusion on dates in the list of internal passports and applications, by the way, which has a 1925 record that shows Shimkho born in 1854 and Ester Malka born in 1858.
Even more confusion comes from an 1881 marriage record for Simkha FAINSHTIN to Rokhel Leia SCHUSTER. That shows the groom’s father’s name as Izrael / Benjamin and Benjamin is what Nachum wrote for Shokher’s father’s name on that Yad Vashem record. Could that be Shimkha’s first marriage? The problem is that this Simcha was born in 1851 and is listed as being from Khatyn (in Belarus). So it seems unlikely. A more likely situation is that Shimkha is actually a nickname for Shimon. In that case, there are birth records from Viliampole (where we know my FAINSHTEIN family owned property) that indicate that his first marriage was to someone named Chana. They had a daughter, Bashe, in Villiampole on 30 May 1872 and another, Sora Gitel, in 1874. Another possible daughter, Peshe Royza died on 28 Jun 1881 of consumption at age 12 (so born in 1869), but I think she might be the daughter of a cousin, Shimon Yekel. I should note that all of this is from searching for FAINSHTEINs from Josvainiai. That’s a small enough town (Jewish population 534 in 1897) that is seems very likely that all the FAINSHTEINs are related. And, in fact, I can match up the names I find in the revision lists reasonably well.
Having created enough confusion with Shimkha FAINSHTEIN, let’s go back a generation to his father, Izrael Itsyk (or Izrael Itsko or Srol Itsko, depending on which of the records you are looking at). From the revision lists of various years, I can identify him as born in 1826 and that his father was Girsh. He was married to Meriasha Godes (sometimes spelled Mariasha Iodes), who was born in 1828 and their children were:
Eliash, born 1846
Shimkha (possibly short for Shimon), born 1848
Peshe Reiza, born 1853 (That’s why I think the Pesha Royza above is a cousin, not Shimkha’s daughter. As you will see below, I know the one who was Shimkha’s sister was still alive in 1869)
Khana Sore, born 1856
Rivke, born 1860
Meyer Zelman, born 1864 or 1866
I also found that Izrael Itsyk died in Kaunas on 21 Jul 1910 of old age (at 81) which would put him as born in 1829, which is close enough. He was a tailor but also owned real estate on Borkovskaya Street in Vilijampole. A particularly intriguing record is from the revision list of 1852. At that time, he was registered with his uncle, Leyb EDIDI in Kedainiai, which was the district town near Josvainiai. Leyb’s father is named Movsha and there are 3 females in the household. I should note that, despite the uncle / nephew relationship, they appear to be the same age. It appears that Leyb moved around a bit in jobs. In 1847 he wanted to be a farmer on state land in Josvainiai, Vosbuciai, or Grasva, but there is an 1849 tax record showing him as an innkeeper in Kedainiai. I haven’t found the connection between the EDIDI and FAINSHTEIN families yet, aside from both being from Josvainiai, but a lot of the earlier revision lists just show the number of women in a family without listing their names.
I also found a likely death record in Vilijampole for Mariasha on 19 Feb 1901 at age 72 from paralysis. I don’t know anything about her family from other sources, but this gives her father as Yankel / Yakov. I’d put the confidence on this matching her as medium-high based on the age and location.
Let’s take their children in order of how much I know about them. I’ve already written about Shimkha’s descendants, which is the line that leads (via Shokher through Dvoira Etel) to my father.
- Meyer Zalman disappears from the records after the revision list of 1887.
- Khana Sora married Yankel Mordkhel MERKEL on 2 Mar 1874. He was from Vilijampiole, born in 1855, and his father was Shmuel Itsko. They had a son named Shimon Borukh, born 10 November 1875. I haven’t found more on them yet.
- Peshe Raiza married Khaim SELBKY on 15 Jan 1871. He was from Babtai, born in 1851, and his father was Mishel. I found a death record for her (of cancer at age 72), from 10 June 1932, which gives her married name as MISHELSKI, which would be her husband’s patronymic. Again, note the ambiguity in the age / birthdate. There is even further date ambiguity in a 1920 internal passport application that shows her as 62 in 1920. Those records, using the patronymic, provided a breakthrough to finding him (Khaim died on 8 Jul 1926 at the age of 75 of something that is shown as "sponditis") and their children, all born in Vilijampole:
Abram Shlomo MISHELSKY, born 24 December 1872
Bashe Gitel MISHELSKY, born 24 December 1872 (yes, twins). She married Mordkhai FRANK on 14 Feb 1892. His father was Srol (presumably Israel) and he was from Deguciai
Yosel Yankel MISHELSKY, born 22 August 1878. He married Beilia VIDOKLER on 1 Jan 1908 in Jonava. She was born in 1881, her father was Itsek-Iankel and she was from Jonava. Based on the internal passport records, they had a daughter named Ester, born in 1912.
Khaya Leye MASELSKI, born 10 November 1882.
I suspect further information on this branch may be lurking out there, but I am pleased with the progress so far.
- Eliash married Freide Dvoire, born in 1852, whose father was Mordkhel. Their children were:
Bashe, born 9 June 1872 in Vilijampole
Leah, born 1874
Yankel Iosel, born 1879
Rivka, born 1881
Ita, born 15 May 1882 in Kaunas
There is a 1919 revision list record for an Eliya FAINSHTEIN in Ukmerge which may also be him. It gives an age of 75, making an 1844 birthdate, but that is within the margin of error. If this record is him, it implies that Freide Dvoire died and he remarried, to a woman named Paya KAN (who was only 30, so born in 1889) and had a daughter named Mariasha Khode, born in 1914. I have medium confidence in this, since it would make sense to name a daughter born late in life after his late mother. This Mariasha Khode was widowed and remarried in 1935 to a man named Mausha STEPANAVICH, a widowed painter, born in Bucharest in 1894. There is a related internal passport record which gives his name as Eliya, his age as 80 in 1920, his wife as Paya KAGAN (and her birthdate as 1885), and their children as Mariyasha (born in 1913), Israel (born in 1919), Khasia (born in 1923), and Gershon (born in 1926).
The other intriguing thing about this branch of the family is that I can’t find any revision list records or vital records for them (other than the paragraph above) after 1887. So I think it is possible they emigrated.
- Rivka is interesting. She married Movshe Girsh BRENER on 16 October 1879, when she was 20. His father was David and they were from Vilkija. They had several children, all born in Vilijampole:
Yankel Iosel (or Yakov Josef), born 10 Aug 1880
Yakov Mordekhay / Yankel Mordkhel born 18 Sep 1882
Shmuel, born June 1885, died 21 Dec 1885, at age of 0.5, of whooping cough
Khaya Duse, 3 Jun 1887
Yoel born 30 Jan 1892
Dobre on 20 Jan 1895
David Zelman on 9 Aug 1897
Tuviy on 14 Aug 1899
What makes the BRENER family interesting? Well, they actually came to America and ended up in the Pacific Northwest (Seattle and Portland). I’m now in touch with one of the descendants of that branch of the family. It seems to be a fairly large branch of the family, too. Yay for newly found cousins!
I actually have information another 2 generations back on the FAINSHTEIN side, but this has been long enough, so let’s save it for another entry.