1805 Tavern Owners

Complete Lyakhovichi Records Catalog (Google Docs Spreadsheet)

Jewish Tavern Keepers Registering in Lyakhovichi in 1805
contributed by the Lyakhovichi Research Groupforeword by Dr. Neville Lamdan, copyright 2000

This is an unusual list of 50 or so Jewish tavern keepers in the Novogrudok "povet" (district in Polish) of the Minsk Gubernya who, in accordance with Russian law (1795), were seeking to register themselves and their family groups as "petty bourgeois" ("meshchane" in Russian) in the nearby town of Lyakhovichi ("Lechovich" in Yiddish). It is not immediately clear why such a list should have been put together late in 1805.

According to the notes, almost 90% of the Jews on the list fall into three broad categories:

  • 18 were born in the Lyakhovichi area and had returned to it after a certain absence;
  • 16 had come in recent years to live in the area from outside;
  • 19 were registered for some reason in the "Kahal" (Jewish community) List of the small town of Stvolovichi, 15 1/2 miles to the north-west of Lyakhovichi and were seeking to re-register (of these, 7 had been born in Lyakhovichi).

In December 1804, Jews had been required by law to adopt permanent surnames, but by the time this list was prepared most had still not done so. Except for three families (Busel, Epshten & Epshtel), all the rest identified themselves - or were identified by the Russian officials - by the use of patronyms (based on their fathers' names) or toponyms (based on their places of origin) as "surnames". So, for example, 8 are called "Lyakhovitski".

Only five of the 33 separate "surnames" on the list (Busel, Epshten, Epshtel, Berkovich and Snovsky) appear in the 1816-19 Revision (Census) Lists for Lyakhovichi. This seems to imply that, in the decade after 1805, the 28 bearers of the other names on the list went off and adopted different surnames of their own for permanent use (= good insight to name formation).

As a result, the "surnames" on the list are probably misleading. Given names look reliable.

Most of the family groups are small, suggesting that parents managed to keep many of their children off the lists (perhaps to avoid taxes, as conscription of Jews only began in 1827).

Ages given, especially the more advanced, often may really be approximations. Only 27 of the 250 or so people on the list are shown as 50 years old and above, which may say something about life expectancy at the time.

Most of the Jews were born in the Novogrudok "povet" or in the nearby districts of Slutsk and Slonim. Exceptionally, one had been born in Pinsk, about 65 miles south. Their taverns were located in seven "parafiya's" (sub-districts) within a radius of about 10 miles from Lyakhivichi.

Most of the villages mentioned were tiny and several may have been hamlets at best. The number of Jewish taverns, especially in such isolated places, seems remarkable.

Very little personal information is offered. Two Jews are specifically recorded as distillers ("liquor makers"), perhaps beyond being tavern keepers. Another couple are laborers.

The region had been part of Poland until 1795 and thus the land and villages belonged to Polish nobles, petty aristocracy and country squires, whose names are meticulously recorded. Some land belonged to the Church (mainly Polish Roman Catholic), including a Seminary in Vilna, about 125 miles away.

Polish terms and administrative divisions were still in use. This was soon to change to Russian.

Neville Lamdan,
Vatican, December 2000.

The first two pages of the 1805 Registry (high-resolution version)

Notes for the records of the "Registry of Meschanin Lyakhovichi Taverners List 1805"
Introduction, Design, and Indices, by Deborah Glassman, copyright 2007

All indices on this page are ©Deborah Glassman 2007 and may not be reproduced in whole or part without her written permission.

This original nineteenth century document is a list whose internal content has been identified as a registry of those seeking to operate taverns in the Lyakhovichi area and to be registered as townsmen with the status of “meschanin Lyakhovichi.” Most often translated as "petit bourgeois", meschanin was a recognized economic status with privileges in Imperial Russia. The manuscript reports events happening as late as November 1805 and so was completed after that date. There are 234 Jews named in this document; 52 were primary applicants, 3 were Jews named in descriptive text, the remainder were family of the primary applicants including 2 servants.

Families were ordered in the document under the name of the actual applicant for the privilege. Further handling of the data has suggested some reasons that some families were recorded following others,

A householder applying to be registered as “meschanin” was required to list all those resident in their home and this included grown children and the spouses and children of those grown children. There were many reasons (see note in Neville Lamdan's article in the center of this page) to not include people who would be eligible, but the analysis presented here, simply informs us of those who were reported present. The actual document specifies the relation of wife, son, daughter, and son-in-law. A householder with grown children might have other people in the house whose relation would be given in terms of their relation to that grown child. For clarity in this document, the further relation to the householder was added by the webmaster. For example, in the first listing: Shmoyla son of Yankel is the head of household and there are thirteen other people included in this family unit. A son Binka is specified in the original record to be Shmoyla’s son. A woman named Sora is listed as “Binka’s wife.” The webmaster has reported it as “Shmoyla’s son, Binka’s wife.” I have included actual pages from the registry so you can examine the original and rely on the language and handwriting interpretation skills of your own experts.

The "Family Name" applied to the household, as pointed out in Dr. Lamdan’s article, was clearly in flux at this point in time. Very few of the names reported here were still in use in the 1816 and 1819 Revision Lists though there are more individuals who clearly show up both here and in those next-decade documents. However, the names do offer some interesting insights.

There are twelve or thirteen separate families where the Family Name is in the form of a patronymic but it is not the patronymic of the head of household. (The discrepancy is because one might be a location-based name, or toponym, rather than a patronymic.) Running through the permutations of the list, it was an interesting finding that these specific names were all owned by long time Lyakhovichi residents and one native of nearby Mysh.

  • Berko son of Itsko ABRAMOVICH (from Lyakhovichi )
  • Leiba son of Nokhem BERKOVICH (from Lyakhovichi)
  • Gabriel son of Manus BERKOVICH (from Lyakhovichi)
  • Girsh son of Nokhem BERKOVICH (from Lyakhovichi)
  • Mishel son of Berka MESHELOVICH (from Mysh)
  • Gershon son of Izroel NEKHEMI (from Lyakhovichi)
  • Peisakh son of Izroel PESAKHOVICH (Lyakhovichi native)
  • Ovsey son of Aser PESAKHOVICH (Lyakhovichi native)
  • Volf son of Leiba SHAKHNOVICH (from Lyakhovichi)
  • Matys son of Shander SHIMONOVICH (Lyakhovichi native)
  • Shimon son of Shander SHIMONOVICH (Lyakhovichi native)
  • Itsko son of Leiba YANKELOVICH (Lyakhovichi native)
  • Yosel son of Leiba YOSELOVSKY – could be a toponym also (Lyakhovichi native)

Another group of applicants are referred to with family names that reflect a recent residence – DAREVSKY of Darevo, SNOVSKY of Snov, VEDZMYANYUK of Vedzma, et al. But there are 8 households whose “family names” may reflect older migrations, as the town name does not appear in their recent or upcoming residences.

  • Shloma son of David CHERNIKOVSKY
  • Zelman son of Leiba DEMBINETS (Dembin is a local village in which another applicant was seeking residence )
  • Girsh son of David FOLVARKOVICH
  • Itsa son of Shaya GOLDAVITSKY
  • Girsh son of Leizer KHVEDZYAK – this one is a harder call. There is another applicant called "Sholom son of Leizer", from the same hometown of Sakunova as Girsh son of Leizer, who was seeking permission to live in Khvedzyaki village. So both men may have been part of a single family with ties to that community. But the finding validates the use of these surnames to learn more about individual families.
  • Evel son of Sholom SVOYATITSKY
  • Yosel son of Itsko VOLKHOVSKY
  • Berko son of Orel ZVEDZITSKI

Seven families use the toponym, LYAKHOVITSKY or LACHOVITSKY, which would seem to be counter-intuitive to our understanding of name formation. A person usually has to have moved away from a town to be called by its name as an identifier. Moishe of Lechovich is not very descriptive in a town where everybody could be called “of Lechovich.” But formatting the information has again provided the resolution to the problem. Six of the seven holders were men who had lived in Lyakhovichi and then moved away. Each is cited with the year of their move and how long they have been back. Only one, who appears to be an estate laborer in the nearby modern community of Medevedichi (then Nedzvediki) does not have Lyakhovichi antecedents cited, but a pattern is clearly established for these others. That last man's listing is somewhat abbreviated and may have also been that of a Lyakhovichi native who moved away. So the names may have come into usage when they were men from Lyakhovichi in other towns.

  • Girsh son of Yosel LYAKHOVITSKY (Lyakhovichi native who left in 1794 and lived in Tsirin kahal)
  • Itsko son of Abram LYAKHOVITSKY (Lyakhovichi native who was living in other village from 1799)
  • Itsko son of Moshe LYAKHOVITSKY (Long time Lyakhovichi resident who was in pre-1803 revision lists, left in 1803)
  • Ovsey son of Perets LYAKHOVITSKY (Lyakhovichi resident, in revision lists, arrived here 1802)
  • Aryia son of Ovsey LYAKHOVITSKY (Lyakhovichi resident, in revision lists, arrived here 1801)
  • Shlyoma son of Khaim LYAKHOVITSKY (Lyakhovichi resident, in revision lists, moved away and returned here 1804)
  • Mowsha son of Girsh (Resident on estate Nedzvediki, no Lyakhovichi connection cited)

The requested residences (where the applicant desired to live and the name of the approving landlord) have been standardized in format so they can be searched as were the past residences and the previous kahal in which the applicant was registered. Many of the entries specify that the person was previously listed in the kahal of a particular town. I have also noted if it specifies that they were recorded in the revision lists of that place. The translator put the note that the jurisdiction “parafiya” we find, means volost. Though the note was provided in each instance, I am replacing it here with this single note. Volost, in turn, was a later Russian administrative unit for a “township” which united several villages jurisdictionally.

This list includes in its index, three Jews named in the body of the report who were not applicants or their families. They were cited as the current employer or residence of different applicants, so we find “Evelovich, a Jew”, Aron Leibovich a Jew, and Gershon Borukhovich, a Jew.

We need your help. Where are the records of Stvolovichi kahal? When the Jewish community of Lyakhovichi responded to the crises of the dissolution of the Polish/Lithuanian state in the 1790s by taking up residence in Stvolovichi, what were their incentives? What attracted them to return? What portion of the community followed that path both in their departure and return?