Before I went on retreat, I completed a ten-week course in Jewish genealogy that the Center for Jewish History offered. For the final class I had to do a slide show presentation about a relative. I chose my maternal great grandfather – Max Smolensky who lived from 1871 to 1923.
According to my grandaunt Anna, her grandfather, Max’s father, Moishe Yisrael was married twice and had a total of sixteen children. Max’s mother was Hester Lipschitz. I found out the names of my great great grandparents during the class when I found Max’s death certificate.
Max or Mendel was a bit of a rake – a player – so, first they married him off to Adda Lipschitz who may have been his cousin. After Mendel and Adda had two children; my grandfather, Eli or Albert and my great-aunt, Anna, the elders were still concerned. They decided to ship the family off to America.
For my project I focused on trying to determine where my ancestral town, named Prilucki, was located. Was it in Belarus or Ukraine? Another family story is that the Smolenskys founded the town.
Many of the documents I have point toward Ukraine. One of the most compelling is the 1919 application for a grave for Benjamin, Albert’s and my grandmother, Celia’s first child. It states that the father Elias (Albert) was born in Poltava which is a city in Ukraine.
The competing documentation for Belarus is the fact that my Aunt Anna’s naturalization papers state she was born in Homel or Gomel which is part of Belarus.
I learned a lot in the class, found some new documents, and started organizing my material. There is much more I would like to find out about my ancestors. I also hope to come up with a definitive answer to where Prilucki was located in the early twentieth century when my relatives immigrated.
My next blog post will be on August 18. After that, i will post again on September 1. Have a great rest of summer!