My grandfather Sol Goldstein told me that he came from Terespol (in Yiddish, Terespolieh), in eastern Poland directly across the Bug River from Brest Litovsk. Before the Brest Fortress was built in 1855, Terespol was on the other side of the river; at that point it was relocated to its current location.
As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been able to identify the families of Sol’s mother, Yachet Rozensumen in Terespol; so far, they include the Rozensumen, Herszenfeld and Goldsztern families. The occupations vary, but include traders, market stall operators, day laborer and “speculant,” which seems to be a derogatory term meaning “financial speculator” or “black marketeer.” A very high percentage of our ancestors are so described; this being a derogatory term, I wonder whether this is always an accurate description of their occupation. Sol Goldstein’s father Berko, who Sol said was a “tallis macher” (i.e., he made prayer shawls) is described in his children’s birth registrations as a ‘”weaver,” which fits with making prayer shawls.
Some of the men who married into the family came from Mezrich, Posad Pishchats or Brest.
Metrical (birth, marriage, death) records from eastern Poland are very accessible (through the records that the LDS church has microfilmed, the Polish State Archives, JRI-Poland, to name a few) and written in a narrative that provide a wealth of information. As a result, over years of research I’ve been able to identify a respectable number of documents that I’m sure are ours, and some that could be.
The Jewish men are routinely referred to as being a “starozakon,” which means a pious Jew, in Polish. This does not necessarily mean that they were pious, it seems to have been a catch-all word for “Jew.”
Although these are official documents, they are not without errors and inconsistencies, as we see with the US documents of our immigrant ancestors and even of their children. Thus Hindy becomes Hinda, Berko becomes Berek or Berl, Rifky becomes Rivky or Rivli. So you can’t look at just one part of a document or word, one needs corroborating and matching evidence, such as parents’ names, locations and dates, to conclude that someone is who you think they are or, indeed, part of our family.
THE MOST PRODUCTIVE RESEARCH LINE TO DATE
The line that has been the most productive, in terms of finding relevant documents, has been that of Yocheved “Yachet” Rozensumen Goldstein, Sol Goldstein’s mother and my great-grandmother. Through the good offices of the local Latter Day Saints Family History Center in Madison, which is literally down the street from our house (how lucky was that?!?), I was able to find her 1849 birth registration. Because she was the only Yachet/Yocheved/Yetta I found within the right age range, I was pretty sure this was the right person; subsequent documents have confirmed this. This gave me the names of her parents and from there I found their 1829 marriage registration, giving me their parents’ names, along with other interesting information. More recently I have used the Polish State Archives through JewishGen.org’s JRI-Poland service (Jewish Records Indexing).