My daughter and I fulfilled our dream and traveled to Lithuania this summer, arriving in Jonava on the very day they were celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the town.
We arrived with only a pre-1914 hand-drawn map of the town and a warning that it had been changed from a quiet village community to an industrial town. We immediately recognised the old Post Office, now the Museum and were shown the Anniversary Exhibition of old maps, photographs and artefacts. Especially charming were the projects written by local schoolchildren - one in English! Many of the younger generation speak excellent English.
We expected an ugly grey town with the chemical works ruining the river
bank, but it wasn’t like that at all. The main street of shops was
rather plain, and there were many blocks of Soviet-style apartments, but
they were all well landscaped in grass and trees. We drove round
side streets with little wooden houses each with its vegetable garden and
fruit trees, identified a disused Synagogue, and then found the
Cemetery. The stones have been replaced in neat rows in a
wonderfully peaceful wild flower meadow on the original site on top of a
small hill with lovely views over sports fields and river. A great
deal of loving work had gone into reconstructing this place, for which we
felt most grateful. Unfortunately we could not read any of the
inscriptions, but if enough of us club together we might find
someone to read and record the names. We also found the Holocaust
Memorial to the 2100 who were shot, in a quiet spot deep in the woods. It
was a wonderful visit, better than we could possibly have hoped.
Even if we didn’t know the exact address, we knew we had walked where once
my grandparents had walked.
The Kaunus Archives had done some splendid research and were able to tell us which village my grandmother had come from, so we then went to Seredzius, a tiny village on the river. We explored the Old Towns in Vilnius and Kaunus and tried to visualise them at the end of the last century. If you can possibly get there - go! It’s a lovely country, kind helpful people, delicious cheap food.
From the information in the Revision Lists and Archives’ research we have constructed our NOVIKHOVICH (Jonava) and PRESS (Seredzius) family trees back to c.1765. They include marriages to SHAPIRO, KHAIET, BELTER, GIRSHOVICH, EDILOWITCH, SIRKIN (Kedainiai), POLLACK, EDLAVITCH, PIERSON, KENNEDY, SEGAL, WALDENSTEIN, LOMAN, FRISHMANN, WEINER, KARABELNICK, HADASEAL, SUDARSKI, BLENHARSKI, SHPRINTSA, SESITSKI, BORAN, in the period 1820-1890. If you are researching any of these in that period I would be happy to send our tree, please contact me at <email@example.com>.
Any information on the NOVIKHOVICH family would be very welcome, and especially any information on the POGROMANSKY family who adopted some of the children in 1863 when my g.grandfather was killed.
November 10, 2000
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