Tulbowitzes of Rezhitsa

Big News! Proof that Tulbowitz family of Rostov originated in Rezhitsa, Latvia

Please read the back and forth between myself and geneology investigator Maxim Mill who has been looking into the roots of the Tulbowitz family who were identified to Tanya and I during our trip to Rostov as "Rezhitsa meshanye (small merchants from Rezhitsa).

On 12/24/07, Belarus wrote:
Dear Walter,

I have checked Rechitsa and Rezhitsa beginning and mid of 19th century records.
In Rechitsa there is not even close to Tulbowitz last name was found.
In 1811 Rezhitsa revision list just one family with this last name was found, in 1850 lists 2 Tulbowitz families were found.
Minsk historical archive only has Rezhitsa records prior to 1858 year. The latest records are being kept in Riga (Latvia) historical archive.


Walter Ruby wrote:

First, many thanks for your efforts and for clarifying that there are records of Tulbowitzes from Rezhitsa, but not in Rechitsa. We are very excited to hear that you located some Tulbowitzes in Rezhitsa at exactly the right point in history (the first half of the 19th Century). First, can you explain to us exactly where Rezhitsa is today? Is it in Russia or Belarus? I understand it is near Vitebsk, but I have been unsuccessful in finding it on the map. What is the population today and what would have the approximate population been in 1850? Was it a mainly Jewish town in those days? Did it have any distinctive features? I see on the Internet that there is also a Rezhitsa (now called Rezekne) in Latvia. Could our Tulbowitzes have been from there as opposed to the Rezhitsa near Vitebsk?

We are obviously most interested in the first names of people in the Tulbowitz families from Rezhitsa that you found both from 1811 and 1850. As I believe I informed you previously, we know that Solomon Tulbowitz (1845-1918) (my great-great grandfather) and his wife Sophie (1846-1928) moved to Rostov-on-Don and are listed in records there from the 1870's as "Rezhitskee Meshanye". We know from their gravestone in Albany, N.Y. that Solomon's father was named Pesach and Sophie's father was named Meir. Do any of these names appear in your records? Do any other first names appear?

We understand from everything we have learned that the family name Tulbowitz was quite unusual. Do you have any idea of the origins of the name? Given that Solomon and Sophie are identified in the Rostov records as having been from Rezhitsa and given that you have found two Tulbowitz families from there in 1850, is it a safe deduction that we are descended from one of those families?

Please give my warm regards to Yuri Dorn and tell him I will be in touch with him shortly. Again all the members of the Ruby family all very much thank you for your efforts on our behalf.

Best Wishes and S'Novim Godum,

Walter Ruby

On 12/26/07, Belarus wrote:

Hello Walter,

Current name of Rezhitsa is Rezekne, which is in Latvia, not in Belarus. This town was renamed twice: in 1915 and in 1946. Today it's population is close to 38,000 residents.
In 1808 Rezhitsa's population was 754, from them 536 residents were Jewish. This place had only one street. In 1852 overall population was 3,615, from them Jewish population was 2,303.
Prior to 1939 there were 6 active synagogues, 2 Jewish schools, and 1 Talmud Tora.
In 1939 population was 10,795, from them 6,478 were Jews.

In 1850 Rezhitsa census there is a record:
Tulbowitch Peisach son of Gavriel, 32 years old
His wife Sora, daughter of Meir, 28 years old
Their son Sholom-Aharon, 5 years old

I only made this note, because I thought that it might be the perfect match.
I have forwarded your regards to Yuri, now he asked me to send you his.

Best regards,

From: Walter Ruby
Date: Dec 26, 2007 8:34 PM
Subject: Re: Belarus research
To: Belarus

Maxim, Thats it--you are right. Its the perfect match. Shlomo was also Shalom-Aron; forgot to mention it in last e-mail. Is there any way of knowing when Shalom-Aron and wife Sophie moved to Rostov? Could their parents possibly have accompanied them? Also, how far back can we take the family? Do we have birth dates of Peisach and his father Gavriel or other family members? Anything on professions, military service, etc? We are enormously grateful for this information...


Walter Ruby

Walter Ruby to Dan, joanne, eruby
show details 8:36 pm (41 minutes ago)

Dan, Jo, Gene--check out message from Maxim below!!!! Pretty amazing stuff....

Amazing stuff indeed! We now know the town in Latvia from which the our great-great grandfather Shalom-Aron Tulbowitz and his wife Sophie set out for distant Rostov, probably in the late 1860's or early 1870's. We dont know if Peisach Tulbowitz or any of the older generation went with them as well, though we found no mention of them in the Rostoc records, as we did of Shalom-Aron, Sophie and two of their children, Gavriel (b. 1878), no doubt named for his great-grandfather, Gavriel, now our farthest back ancestor (great-great-great-great grandfather) and Isai (d 1879, aged 3). Why did young Shalom-Aron and Sophie move to Rostov...One would assume for the far greater economic opportunities; as we know Rostov was a booming port town and thus a good place to open a tavern. Byut why did they go so far and not to Riga, Kiev, Moscow, St. Petersburg? Well, the last two were clearly closed to Jews in 1870, and I am guessing that was true of Riga and Kiev as well, though need to confirm that, Odessa was likely open but nearly as far away as Rostov...I suspect Maxim and Yuri Dorn, the chief Jewish geneologist in Belarus, will be able to help us with some of this conjecture.

So here are Shalom-Aron and Sophie moving to Rostov full of hopes and ambitions around 187o and then pulling up stakes and follwoing their daughter daughter Raizl (Rose) and her new husband Abraham Bloch to America 20 years later. Why? Here we have some pretty strong conjecture that having had Rose kidnapped as a small girl and having to pay ransom to get her back and then having the province being placed in the hands of the Cossack military brigade in 1887 by order of the Czar, was more than the Tulbowitzs wanted to put up with--especially if you factor in a small pogrom in Rostov in 1883 begun after a drunken peasant refused to pay his bill to a Jewish innkeeper (if it wasnt the Tulbowitzes, it must have been someone they knew). So Sophie leaves Russia for America together with newlywed Rose and Abe in 1890 and then Shalom-Aron follows with another other child Eduard 3-4 years later--once Abe, Rose and Sophie--have moved up to Albany. (there was supposed to be another child of Shalom-Aron and Sophie alive in 1900 but we dont have a record of him/her? Could it have been Gavriel, born in 1878 in Rostov?

Anyway, what a life for Shalom-Aron and Sophie moving from one side of the Russian Empire to the other early in adulthood and then 20 years later pulling up stakes again and following their children to the Goldenye Medina, all the time searching for a place that they and their children could live in peace and security and have some prospects of economic success as well. We know they had already achieved a good bit of that in Rostov with the tavern, and Rose grew up as a modern girl who loved Russian culture and loved Rostov. It must have been a bitter pill when they deduced that all of that effort had been in vain and there simply was no safe future for Jews in Russia. As an old lady, Rose always told Sandy Brenner that Rostov was the most beautiful city in the world...Its strange for me too having made three trips to the city and having come to relate to Rostov as one of our ancestral lodestones to find out that the family was only there about 20 years (considerably less than I have lived in New York) and that the Tulbowitzes were really Litvaks whose hometown was only a couple of hundred miles away from the origins of the Spektor-Rabinowites in eastern Belarus and later Kovno (Kaunas), Lithuania. Lena Lincoff's--our great-grandmother on the other side of Dad's family--and Walter Ruby's mother presumably is descended from the town of Likuva in northern Lithuania, maybe 100 miles from Rezhitsa (Rezekne) in Latvia. And, of course, as we know, the roots of our mother Helga's family is nearby East Prussia and likely before that, the Minsk area of Belarus. So what we have is a whole lot of Litvaks from all the sides...

Wow a lot to assimilate but an enormous sense of exaltation to have taken the two families, Spektor-Rabinowitzes and Tulbowitzes, back several generations before what Stan was able to tell us about them before he died. We have brought to light much that had seemed completely obscured in the mists of time. A collective pat on the back to all of us and also to my partner, Tatyana, without whose formidable translation skills and acting as a wonderful resource to help me understand many of the cultural and historical facets of this, we would never have made the great progress we have...Next up, The Rubys: The Book.

The younger generation moved to Rostov, but the elder Tulbowitzes stayed in Latvia

More 120 year old news about the Tulbowitz clan from the Minsk archives sent to me today by archivist extrordinaire Maxim Mill:

Hello Walter,
I have looked at the 1886 list of Vitebsk guberniya business owners (it has preserved only partially) and found following record:
"Peisach son of Gavriel Tulbowitz 68 years old listed with Rezhitza Jewish Community small retailer."
It means that Solomon's father continue living in Rezhitza after his son moved to Rostov.
Exact dates of birth of Tulbowitz family members we will not be able to determine, only their year (that's how records used to be taken)
The earliest Rezhitsa records I've seen in the archive are in the bad condition and go as far back as 1806.

I can imagine the reproachful letters from Peisach and Sora to Shalom-Aron and Sophie:
It was bad enough when you got the meshuganah idea to abandon us to move to far-off Rostov--to go live among the Cossacks. Nu, that came out really well, didn't it? But now in our declining years, you decide to move to the end of the world...to America. Pure madness! But maybe you can take us along with you? No, you dont need to be weighed down by alterkakas (old folks)...But it breaks our hearts we will probably never see you again...But still, you are right, get the kinderlach out of Russia before the next pogrom...May God protect you on your long journey...

Something like that. Sunrise, sunset and all the rest...

Rezekne Family List turns up trove of Tulbowitz kin

Walt, I just looked again at the 1900 U.S. census record for Solomon and Sophie (and Edward) Tulbowitz, and noticed a couple of interesting things. First, the census includes information for "Mother of how many children" and "Number of those children still living." In Sophie's record, the responses are 5 and 3. Second, Solomon and Sophie are both listed as having been married 34 years.

That's a lot of years. Since they were 52 and 49, respectively, at the time of the census, they would have been 18 and 15 at the time of their marriage. I don't remember what we know of exactly when and why they left Rezhitsa. Can you remind me?

On the number of children, I have Rose, Gavriel, Edward and Yitzhak (who died young). That's four, not five. I'm not sure where my information is from, but I have both Gavriel and Edward with a birthday in September 1876. Were they twins? Also, little Yitzhak (Isai) is 3 years, 5 months at the time of his death in August 1879, which does not compute. There are some mysteries there.

Twyla got me started on this today trying to talk up a trip to the Baltics in September. Intriguing idea. She'll have been in Finland with Kate, so maybe I would meet her in Riga and try to take in a circle from Rezhitsa to Kovno to Königsberg.

Anyway, that's what got me looking up Rezekne information today and I surprised myself with what I turned up. I'm not sure why I hadn't found the Tulbowitz stuff before. I guess because I hadn't searched the Latvian SIG. By the way, the info that came from Maxim on Tulbowitz in the all Russia census is also in Jewish Gen, but I have a hard time matching those names with the ones from the Rezekne Family List that I sent earlier.

My working theory is that our ancestor Sholom Ahron Tulbowitz' father Gavriel had a brother Leiba. The two brothers had sizable families that accounted for most but not necessarily all the Tulbowitz population of Rezhitsa.

On Gavriel's side, there were four sons (information is less available about daughters)-- Peisach, Salman, Eliasch (the eldest) and Abram. Peisach married Sara (not Sora?) and had Sholom Ahron, apparently an only child or at least only son. (From there, in our direct lineage, Sholom Ahron married Schifra Ita, also known as Sophie and later Bubbie, and they had Rose Ratner nee Tulbowitz as the first of their five children.)

Piesach's three brothers produced a total of five other sons and at least five grandchildren. Thanks to the Rezekne Family List, I have complete birth dates and spouse names for all of them. Same for Leiba's three sons and their offspring. One reason that branch is interesting is that two of the names Manzik (or possibly Manzin) Tulbowitz (son of Mowscha son of Leiba) and his wife Beila are also on another list of people in Riga with travel documents in 1900.

So that establishes that other Tulbowitz relatives of ours made the journey to America, and presumably accounts for the number of Tulbowitz sightings in places like Bayonne NJ and Wilmington DE. Not all came to the U.S.--a Sergio Tulbowitz is a musician and Marcelo Tulbowitz a professor, both in Montevideo.

The Jewish history of Rezekne is pretty well documented and memorialized, and there is an archivist who seems to be the major expert. He also does videos about Jewish historical subjects. Here is the catalog.

Katz name derivation

Oh boy, I have a lot to catch up on here. I visited the Mormon Family Research Center in Oakland, where I met Jeremy Frankel, the president of the SF Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society. More on that, and what I learned about ordering LDS records, in an upcoming post.

Also, I connected online with Dave Howard, who is the leading researching about the Jewish community in Rezekne. His FamRoots.org and HorwitzFam.org sites are a treasure trove of information. I will be posting highlights and links to the most relevant stuff in an upcoming post.

For now, I thought I would post this excerpt from Alexander Beider's Dictionary of Jewish Surnames From the Russian Empire. Howard has a few small parts of the work available to view on his Horwitz site. Here is a section dealing with the surname Katz.

Since it is hard to read, I will summarize. Katz originates from the name Kohen, which means priest in Hebrew, possibly the same as Goan. Kats or Katz is an acronym for Kohen Tsadek (Kohen of righteousness). The name was common throughout the Russian Empire. Of course, our great-grandmother was Bette Katz, the wife of Julius Wolgemuth of Koenigsberg.

By the way, Beider has another volume on Jewish surnames in Galicia, which are likely to contain informative entries for Ringel and Kaufler. The books are published by Avotainu and are very expensive. I will be looking for where I can find them in a library.


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