Category Archives: Fingerbren

FINGERBRENs in the 1784 Lithuanian Records

Some data from the 1784 Poll Tax of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania recently was released on-line. This was (effectively) a census of the entire population of the Duchy.  While very interesting, there are three major drawbacks for Jewish Genealogy:

  1. The date is prior to the forced adoption of Jewish surnames in the Napoleonic reforms of the early 19th century. Thus, we have only the given name and, in most cases, their father’s given name.
  2. While the census includes all the members of the household and their relation, it does not provide ages nor professions, which might help more clearly identify them.
  3. In many cases, the next set of available records is 30-50 years later. So we’re talking a difference of at least a full generation, and sometimes two, when trying to match individuals.

Nonetheless, I may have found my own direct paternal family in the records for Stakliskis, Lithuania.

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Elkhanon Leib Fingerbren, a.k.a. John Smith (1870-1958), and family

To the best of my knowledge, the first branch of my paternal side to arrive in the United States was that of Elkhanon Leib FINGERBREN, who took the very generic name of John Smith in this country. It’s impossible to know if this name was chosen simply to “fit in” in his new land, or if it was a play on words, given that the FINGERBRENs had been blacksmiths for several generations prior. Continue reading

Iudel Fingerbren (1852 – c. 1910)

Iudel FINGERBREN was my great-great-grandfather.  We don’t know a lot about him, but he is most notable for having changed the family name to ADELSON.

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