04 October 2010
My maternal great-grandmother - Riva bat Tsalel BANK - had relatives in Kaunas (known as Kovno back then) city and surrounding shtetls, as well as close family (most went to South Africa) in Kedainiai (Kedain). Tsalel's family lived in Petrniskey, Kovno gubernia, a community listed in the Black Book of Destroyed Communities.
While we know numerous bits of information linking the family groups, such as Riva's younger brother Chatzkel marrying Traina Leah, daughter of Tsalel's brother Gedalia of Kedain, and Traina Leah's contacts with her South African siblings, we are still missing much information.
When LitvakSIG announced the completion of the Kaunas Family List project, with 18 files (23,000 lines of data) added to the Kaunas Family List, I checked to see what was there. View the surname list here to see several files, disovering two BANKs in one file and 18 in another.
In the actual Excel spreadsheets of records, I discovered additional details for future research. As genealogists know, tiny details often lead to much larger discoveries, and the 18-name file provided clues to Taurage as well as Gaure (Rasainiai uyezd).
The KFL list is important as information recorded came from various documents presented to authorities. It includes former shtetls of residence, details of extended families and confirms family details of moving to Kaunas or moving elsewhere. This may well solve some mysteries of history for some researchers looking for their Lithuanian roots in the area.
While LitvakSIG finds the information, it is the group's supporters and contributors who make it possible to hire translators and make the data accessible. Thanks to those who contributed, the project was completed in less than two years and researchers like myself have more to see.
Readers with ancestors in the Kaunas area should consider contributing to the Kaunas District Research Group for access to this important data. The minimum qualifying contribution is US$100, which provides access to the data which will not appear on the All-Lithuania Database for another year. All funds raised go towards translating more vital records for Kaunas , Vilijampole and tax lists for Kaunas district shtetls.
LitvakSIG is an independent nonprofit membership organization, with its All Lithuania Database and Daily Discussion Group hosted by JewishGen.
Kaunas District Research Group coordinator Dorothy Leivers is stepping down, and Ralph Salinger (Kibbutz Kfar Ruppin, Israel) is taking over. Well-known for his work on Jewish cemeteries in Vilkaviskis and Kalvarija, he's been researching his family for some 25 years, tracing them back to western Poland in 1732.