50°39' N, 30°53' E
Miles SE of Vitebsk, 21 miles ENE of Orsha
1812 map showing Rossasna
in relationship to Vitebsk, Orsha, Dubrovno and Gorki
Rossasna, Babrova and Dubrovno are circled.
View of the layout of the
was a very tiny shtetl in the Vitebsk district. The Dnieper
river and one of its tributaries, the Rossassenka, flows near or
through the town. The section of the Dnieper river between
Dubrovno and Rossasna used to be known as a fisherman's
paradise, but today that is questionable due to polluted runoff
from local farms.
part of Kopys district, Mogilev province
1861-1922: part of Gorki district, Mogilev province
part of Dubrovno district, Vitebsk province
In August 1813, it was along the path of Napoleon's army as he
advanced towards Russian forces located in Smolensk. According
to the 1897 Russian census, the total population was 1060, of
whom 327 were Jews. In the 1920s, 28 Jewish families lived
there. During WWII, the Germans captured the town in July
1941. There is a mass grave just outside of Rossasna,
where almost 200 local Jews were killed. The few remaining
Jews were taken to the nearby town of Lyady on 2 Apr 1942, where
they were murdered along with the local Jews.
MISCELLANEOUS RECORDS FROM
Jewish Religious Personnel in the Russian Empire 1853-1854 lists
Movsha BESKIN, Izrael GUREVICH and Abram GUREVICH.
JewishGen Belarus Deaths database lists one entry for Movsha
Aron BIELKIN, son of Esel, died 16 May 1893, age 55, of
VaShem Database has 147 entries for the town of
Rossasna. Surnames include: ARONOV, BELKIN, DUBROVSKY,
GABAY, GORBOCHEV, KISEL, KISELIER, MAGANET/MOGANET,
MENDELEV/MENDILEV, MOZES, MUDRYKAMER, POLINA, RYVKIN, SHALYUTIN,
SIRKIN, SMOTKIN, SOKOLINSKI, SYRKIN, and VAISMAN.
The USVYATSKY family (family
of the webmaster):
(Yankel) USVYATSKY was a near-mythic figure to me when I was a
child. He was my grandfather's grandfather, and everything
I knew about him came from my grandfather's tale of the sole
time they met, when Ya'acov went to Odessa on his honeymoon with
his 3rd wife. My grandfather described Ya'acov as an elderly man
(he was probably close to 85 at the time), who had married a
"much younger" woman (she was probably around 65), but who
walked "as straight as a 40 year old", with red hair (a family
trait), and a red face and neck. My grandfather described
him as wearing a black robe and a twisted rope belt, so I
surmised Ya'acov was either Orthodox or Chassidic.
I was able to commission research in Belarus. It was
successful beyond my wildest dreams, and a summary follows.
USVYATSKY was probably born in the shtetl of Usvyat in 1817, son
of Chaim Dovid USVYATSKY. Yankel married first Feyga
RAITZYN (b. 1816). The 1845 list of Jewish families living
in villages of Kopys uezd show Yankel and Feyga living in the
town of Bobrovo with their children in the home of Feyga's
parents Shimon (b. 1793) and Ita Riva (b. 1794). Shimon
owned a house, and was a cattle dealer. Yankel and Feyga's
children were Beylya (b. 1836), Itzko Iser (b. 1839), Leyba (b.
1841), and Meriyam (b. 1844). By 1852, Yankel, a petty
bourgeouis, was living in Rosasna with his family and an
additional daughter Reizel (b. 1846). By 1858, Yankel was
living with his second wife Bashe (b. 1828) and their children
Riklya (b. 1851), Peysakh-Dovid (b. 1853), and Feyga (b.
1856). It is presumed that Yankel's first wife was
deceased, as his youngest daughter appears to be named for
her. In 1865, Yankel was listed as renting a Korchma (inn)
from the landowner Philip ARTISHEVSKY.
On 17 May
1868, three Chrisitian residents of Rosasna submitted a
complaint to the office of the Mogilev governor stating that
Yankel USVYATSKY sold diluted vodka and expired groceries from
his korchma. The Chief of Police of Gorki investigated the
complaint, interviewing the three complainants as well as Yankel
and two other residents of Rosasna. Based on the results of the
investigation, it was concluded that the purpose of the
complaint was to strip Yankel of his business license and not
pay a debt accumulated over 6 months for the purchase of vodka
and groceries. Each complainant was fined 1 rouble for
In 1869, Yankel was able
to purchase the korchma he had been renting for the prior 14
years, and in 1872, he applied for and received permission for
the korchma, located on Dubrovinsky St., to also function as a
post office. By 1874, Yankel was residing in a house on
Orshanskaya Street. His son, Leyba, resided nearby on the
same street with his wife and children in the home of his father
in law Itzka SHUSTER.
received a license to sell vodka in 1875 at auction. The
other 3 people who received licenses were also Jews.
A fire broke out in
Rosasna in 1877, damaging Yankel's home, which was not
insured. The damage was estimated at 25 roubles.
and 1884, Yankel and his sons Chaim, Leyba, Peysakh-Dovid and
Shmuilo were all listed on the Gorky draft list. Chaim,
who was living in Dubrovno, had grounds to be discharged from
military service. Chaim and Shmuilo were described as
illiterate. Apparently Shmuilo appealed the draft, as it
was ruled that he didn't have grounds for postponing military
service, and he was drafted on 7 Sep 1884.
Leyba and Peysakh-Dovid were listed as members of the synagogue
in Rosasna who participated in the election of the synagogue's
Board members in 1885. Also in 1885, Yankel's house was
described on a property tax list. It was a wooden house
with a shingled roof and a wooden shed with an estimated value
of 80 roubles. Yankel paid annual property taxes of 1 rouble and
the house was insured for 120 roubles. Leyba owned a
similar house, valued at 60 roubles and paid 85 kopecks property
tax. Leyba's home was not insured. Yankel's korchma was
located on Dubrovinskaya Street, was a wooden house with a
shingled roof, two wooden sheds and one brick barn, valued at
100 roubles and insured for 150 roubles. The annual property tax
was 1 rouble.
and his third wife Ginda Leya left Rosasna in 1903, according to
the register of outgoing documents. Both were listed as
staying current on taxes, with no criminal history. It
would have been at this time that they traveled to Odessa to
visit the three daughters of him and his second wife living
there, including my great-grandmother Beila, her husband and
their son, my grandpa Ben, who was about 8 years old at the
time. It is unknown where Yankel and Ginda Leya went after
their visit to Odessa.
Leyba's son Benyamin (b. 1873) also left Rosasna, according to
the register of outgoing documents, for an unknown
destination. Leyba's older son Chaim (b. 1865) owned a
grocery and tobacco store, located in his home, as of 1911, and
the license was renewed until 5 Jan 1913. The fee for the
license renewal was 1 rouble, 50 kopecks.
records I have of the family date from the WWI era, in July and
September of 1915. In July, the supplemental draft listed
the sons of Peysakh-Dovid: Movsha (age 19), Kalman (age 35,
married), Elya (age 33, living in Dubrovno) and Borukh-Itzko
(age 28, married). In September, Simcha (age 22), the son
of Chaim, was listed as missing near the town of Smorgon.
It is presumed that he died at this time.
told by my researcher that there was the possibility for
additional research. Hopefully this will be realized in
the not-too-distant future!
Jewish tavern scene in the Pale,
lithograph, ca. 1840. Many Jews traditionally
a living by innkeeping, despite government efforts to
move Jews out of this occupation.
The KUZNETSOFF and LAPATUCHIN families:
Please contact Terri FRIEDMAN
(missterri41 at yahoo dot com) if you have any information about
anyone with these surnames. They were her grandparents,
and were from Rossasna and Lyady.
Jewish Life Before and During the Holocaust edited by
Shmuel Spector, Geoffrey Wigoder Napoleon:
A History of the Art of War: From the Beginning of the
Peninsular War to the End of the RussianCampaign with a
Detailed Account of the Napoleonic Wars by Theodore
Ayrault Dodge in 4 volumes, 1907