Street and Business Guides to
Lyakhovichi and its surrounding communities
Using Lyakhovichi City Directories
by Deborah Glassman, copyright 2007
There are several different kinds of published materials that are brought together under the umbrella heading of "city directories." They include street directories that list every resident of a block; business directories that report specific businesses in an entire community; trade directories that provide credit information on businesses in a region; postal and telephone directories that provide lists of households registered to receive mail or telephone service; and others. Historical researchers can use these materials more effectively by recognizing the particular assets and flaws of each type as well as by participating in collaborative efforts to better identify the resources available.
Business directories for Lyakhovichi allow you to see a specific set of commercial operations in a "snapshot" taken the year the directory was compiled. They show you the form of personal name by which the merchant was known to his customers and colleagues. They can give you an idea of the business environment in which he/she functioned – how many competitors, how far away from the competition, and what kind of services were described. If two directories cover a time period a few years apart, you may be able to identify when a business was started, changed, or transfered to a family member. Lyakhovichi business directories do not list every business owner, a wide variety of businesses were excluded. Non-included enterprises included itinerant peddlers, operators of market stands, providers of personal services, and many businesses that operated from a front room of a residence. If the subject of your research was a tailor, or she bought and resold produce from a stand, or was a salesman who called on customers in their homes, you will not find them in the directories created in the Russian Empire (before 1918). If your family included teachers, pharmacists in hospitals, small scale truckers or mechanics, you may not find them in the directories of Poland (1920-1939) either. In neither of these periods will you find your relatives if they operated without a fixed place of business, if they were retired, or if they were not the primary operator of the business. Lyakhovichi's business directories, unlike street or telephone directories, are not a good source of data on when a newcomer first arrived in the community, but they do work as a way to gather information on when a business last shows up in the records. Unfortunately there seems to be a fairly substantial carry over of names from one year to the next regardless of change of circumstance. We find people who we know emigrated in 1928 still appearing in the 1930 collation and for at least one man, we find him in three subsequent directories to the year of his death. Still, this may reflect a business continuing to be operated by other family members and an address tied to a family residence rather than a business. For more details, see the specific list of Business Directories from which we share images and extracted information, below.
Telephone Directories listed every house and business with a telephone, alphabetically by the name of the head of household or business owner. The numbers of individuals with their own telephones increased dramatically in the 1920s, and by the 1930s was fairly universal in Lyakhovichi even if not in the smallest outlying towns. Just as importantly, small businesses that would not show up in business directories, owned phones in this time period, which can be found under the business name or that of the householder. The telephone directory thus becomes the first directory available from non-government sources, to all of the heads of households in Lyakhovichi. If we can locate a few from different years, we will start to be able to analyze the creation of separate households, the effects of movement in and out of the town in the 1920s-30s, and more. The telephone company that covered Lyakhovichi and Baranovichi was PAST, which stood for Polska Akcyjna Spólka Telefoniczna which was a joint stock company largely controlled by Cedergren, an ancestor company of Ericsson of Sweden. The 1939 Warsaw Directory from this firm shows a hub and switching station in Baranowicze. We are actively looking for telephone directories that include the towns immediately around Baranowicze from this firm from anytime between 1920 and 1939. Can you help?
Trade Directories listed certain types of business along with appropriate credit information. An English publisher, Eyre of London, published a series they called "Russian Year Books" annually from 1911-1915, having collected the last information in 1914 before World War I began. It lists banks, insurance companies, shipping agents, and a great deal more in its first more than 700 page book, working down to around 400 pages the last year. Minsk gubernia is well represented, and I have identified a copy from which to extract information for the next update. Eyre Spotswood Russian Year Book 1911 - available at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Credit bureaus; Chambers of Trade and Commerce; and industry-specific publications published materials on the health and activity of the commercial sphere in Russia; in the Russian Empire's "northwest provinces'' and Minsk gubernia; in the Novogrodek powiat of the new nation of Poland; and more. The 1923 Directory listed below, was published by an organization that provided informational services to banks, insurance underwriters, and foreign merchants. They called themselves the "Trade Intelligence Bureau of Poland-Danzig" and advertised that it could provide from its files, information on "any business in Poland." Perhaps someone who studies business or economics, will be able to steer us to records of this firm or to similar companies. Maybe someone will know of records of the groups this publication distinguished as "Chambers of Commerce," "Chambers of Trade." "Chambers of Agriculture," etc. Those organizations supplied services and information to their members and to their customers. The majority of the companies that they would have known about, would not have been Jewish businesses but we must have had a presence. The large number of Jewish businesses that might be included would have included few from Novogrodski powiat, but those that made it into the files may have illuminated others. We continue to seek out specific materials that would include Lyakhovichi and would like your help at identifying them. These are not all of the directories that covered businesses and residents in this community, but they are the total of what we have so far located. Others will turn up in bookstores, on ebay, and in the storage sheds of people you visit abroad. More will be posted online as libraries and archives avail themselves of digitizing services and Search Engine utilization. Our website's information includes extractions made by the webmaster from the following directories (working backwards through the Twentieth Century): The Poland and Danzig Directories (more properly titled "Księga Adresowa Polski (Wraz z w.m. Gdańskiem) dla Handlu, Przemysłu, Rzemiosł i Rolnictwa") of 1930, 1929, 1928, and 1927-1926. The Poland and Danzig Directory of 1923, which did not have a listing for individual towns in Novogrodski powiat, was examined to determine if any Lyakhovichi firm had a national presence. The five year run of Lyakhovichi business directories gives us a unique opportunity to correlate these records with other sources that our individual researchers can bring to our research effort. We offer the images as well as the extracted information on these pages.
These books have been located, digitized, translated, and indexed or accessed at great effort by very diligent people working as volunteers for different organizations, Logan Kleinwaks created a Search Engine for Online Historical Directories in which he uses optical character recognition software to search a series of wonderful resources, including the 1926/1927 edition of the Polish-Danzig directory located online at Digital Library of Wielkopolska on 2626 pages. While I decided to take a fresh look at Lyakhovichi in these directories using the images as our source, I still have to salute the the hard work of Ellen Sadove Renck who indexed for the benefit of JewishGen at large, the 1929 Directory’s 15,000 name Nowogródzkie powiat. The JRI of Poland, hosted on JewishGen.org, has made that same directory available in digitized images and in a database of towns.
A review of directories from different years gives you a much more in depth look at the lives of your ancestors. For instance, the 305 people who were listed as businessmen in 1929 (excluding nine more listed as landowners) are interesting in their own right but also as a look at a business community that had numbered just 134 people in 1926 (again excluding the six landowners of that year.) One hundred and seventy people were newly engaged in commerce, artisanry, and professional occupations, in 1929 that had not been recorded just three years earlier.
Some of the reasons can be traced to demographics. Lyakhovichi had lost a tremendous piece of its population in emigration to the United States between 1890 and 1910. A whole generation of people in their twenties and thirties had left their small town and it looked for a long time as if it would not recover. But the population of what is now Belarus was recovering in the 1920s and 1930s, and young people who had come of age as World War I was beginning, in-progress, or just ended, did not have the outlet of emigration to the United States. Some would still leave and head to Eretz Israel, Mexico, Argentina, and Cuba, but many were determined to make a life for themselves in modern Poland.
There were five new bakeries, four new cafes, and a restaurant in Lyakhovichi in just the three years between the publishing of the 1926 and the 1929 Directories. There were no cattle-traders or horse-traders in 1926 but in 1929 Jews had started eight different businesses in these fields and most in the form of partnerships or companies. Two butchers' names disappear but the total number went up; a capmaker is exchanged one-for-one with a newcomer. Some businesses had been expanded: one kitchenware purveyor is gone but a man formerly listed just under tinware is now listed under kitchenware, as well. There are two new doctors though the one there previously has gone; there are dentists where there were none before. We don't yet know the dynamics that caused fabric manufacturers to jump from 6 to 19, perhaps we will find that factories have been started in this time period. Service businesses like groceries seem to have grown immensely: 52 separate grocers are listed in 1929 where there were 19 in 1926; while artisans whose trade required training, stayed relatively constant -the numbers of shoemakers were eleven in 1929, ten in 1926.
Not all of the books are equal in coverage. The value of the 1926 through 1930 Poland-Danzig Directories is that they have detailed listings by each of Poland's eleven powiats, including the one for Nowogrodek where Lyakhovichi was positioned. See the growth between the 130+ in "Lachowicze" miasteczko and gmina (community and larger community) from the 1926 directory and the 300+ recorded for those same miasteczko and gmina in 1929. The additional years of 1927, 1928, and 1930 ,that we have since added, show the climb continued steadily. The earliest years of the worldwide Depression showed more businesses not less, as families put more members to work in small businesses to make ends meet. The 1923 Poland-Danzig Directory lacks severely in comparison to every subsequent year, it is a business directory, but not divided by powiats, so a company has to have a national presence to make it into the publication. It was designed for a national and international market so 1923 was printed in five languages (Polish, French, German, English, Ukrainian, and Russian). So far, its greatest value to Lyakhovichi research has been its nice map that includes Lyakovichi and the local transportation routes, which appears on our "Maps" page. But as an overall commercial directory on the national level, no Lyakhovichi or even Baranovichi, businesses seem to make it into its listing, though I will continue searching.
You saw that we mentioned books from the Russian period, the Russian Year Books of 1911-1915. Economic libraries might be able to shed some light on the kinds of information that was published in this time period and still available. In the United States, in the 1890s through 1910s, there was a flourishing business in credit information about merchants of all kinds - fruit and produce buyers; jewelers; contractors; et al. There are credit directories for towns all over the United States, which gave a clear picture of most businessmen in the town. Sioux City Iowa, that magnet of townsmen from the Kopyl area including our Lyakhovichi, still has a Dun-and-Bradstreet's-predecessor report from 1902 and 1920, for example. Perhaps we will find similar items in the Russian Empire.
Providing "modern business information" was the thought behind the "Vsia Rossia" -the All Russian Directories - printed in Russia from at least 1895. The 1903 and 1911 entries for Lyakhovichi from the All Russian Directories were extracted by the Lyakhovichi special interest group and donated to Jewishgen sometime back. This material, on microfilm at the Library of Congress and in book form at a very few libraries, needs to be re-examined. First, we would like to post the actual page images, especially as the deterioration of the microfilm has led to some legibility issues. More eyes on the problem could get more good ideas into play and some specific questions could be resolved. Why, for instance, are there zero tobacco sellers in Lyakhovichi's businesses in 1911 and 29 in nearby Baranovichi? Why do twenty plus grocery keepers in Baranovichi get listed with a second business of tobacco sales and five get listed with a secondary business of flour sales but Lyakhovichi grocery owners are not noted with secondary enterprises? But even our two business directories, eight years apart, have some special value being in reasonable time proximity to each other. There are some businesses that may have transferred from one family member to another - we have three pharmacies in 1903, six in 1911. Two of the three pharmacies are owned by people with the same surname as in 1903 but a different first name. One of the new pharmacies is operated by a woman, - did she buy from a previous owner, start a new business among five competitors, or inherit from the third person who owned one in 1903? Baranovichi, while a large substantial settlement in 1911, is virtually non-existent in 1903. Its name does not appear except as the township for Novo Mysh. We find three business owners being described as "of Novo Mysh in Baranovichi." But in 1911, we find some who were in Lyakhovichi in 1903, operating in Baranovichi in 1911. We have at least one enterprising miller, Yosef Busel, operating flour mills in both towns that year. Towns that are later described as dependents of Baranovichi like Gorodysche have a large number of their own businesses in this time period, while Baranovichi is still getting its feet under itself.See the "catalog" tab for the list of businesses in Lyakhovichi and surrounding towns.
See the "Directory - Poland 1926-1929" tab in the Complete Lyakhovichi Records Catalog for the list of businesses in Lyakhovichi and surrounding towns.
Then look at a very different kind of source on Lyakhovichi Businesses before World War I. The Lyakhovichi Yizkor book is not simply a remembrance of those who were murdered by the Nazis, but a look at the world of the Jews of Lyakhovichi, which was lost in the terror. Many of the people writing about the small town in which they first lived, were writing about a place they last saw decades previous. One of the writers, Avrom Lev, wrote a nostalgic look at the town of Lyakhovichi. He found it easiest to describe in the terms of a "walking tour." The format, which was clearly a memorial to the many individuals he had cherished in his youth, became a kind of cross between a travel guide, a street directory, and a tribute to individuals who, for good and bad, filled his memories of Lyakhovichi. Dr. Neville Lamdan created a moving translation which you will see at A Walk through my Devastated Shtetl.
Dr. Lamdan went on to create an index of the over 220 people named by name or nickname in his important contribution to the translation of Lyakhovichi's Yizkor book. That index can be found at the end of his translation. It lists all of the people named, with and without surnames, and the index alone, is a great new asset for researchers.
The list below was created separately by the webmaster for a different purpose - it is a look at the town by street and house description and the business or residence of the occupant. Additional surnames that were able to be identified were attached to some who had been referred to by Avrom Lev, only with nicknames. Many people named in the article are not named here because they do not have an occupation or residence in the town (like children who moved away: people named only as love interests; and those whose place in the author's memory was earned by fashion, zeal of prayer, or ability to swim). Read the article for an unforgettable glimpse of our town's life, because the list below has had that life squeezed out of it to get a simple street and business directory from what was an articulate and moving memoir.
A Street Guide to Lyakhovichi Businesses and Residences Pre WWI
By street in their order geographically
extracted from A Walk through my Devastated Shtetl
See the Complete Lyakhovichi Records Catalog for all the directories.
Lyakhovichi's street of stone buildings "Market Square"showing the solid masonry buildings of: Abram Yankel Kaplan, Nehama Raisel's Inn (owned by Nehama Raisel and Itsche Cohen/Kagan), and a building owned by legal advocate Israel Mishkofsky, which on its first floor held the government-owned Liquor Store, Monopol.
Market Square's Stone Buildings at far end where it intersects with this block of wooden structures. The large stone warehouse at the far end of this unpaved street is the Kantorovich-Bogin building on Market Square. It was split by its owners Yosef Bogin and Leibe Kantorovich. Bogin used his side for a flour Warehouse as he had connections with the largest flour companies in Russia; Kantorovich used his for his business and to house the Stoliner Hasidic congregation
Lyakhovichi Residential Neighborhood called the Rampart (or the Wall) a neighborhood for established merchants' "fine residences" - we find the Ditkovskys who had a leather business, Shlomo Rivkin described as "the wealthy manufacturer", Asher the watchmaker and Miller "the Polish chemist," on this block and their homes are surrounded by orchards.
Go to the Complete Lyakhovichi Records Catalog for the extracted names in the following categories:
1926-1930 All Lyakhovichi Names in those Directories
1929 only - 1800 Extracted Names of Residents of Lyakhovichi and Baranovichi's dependent towns- inc. 1100 from Baranovichi itself; then Darewo, Derewna, Horodyszcze, Krzywoszyn, Lipsk, Litwa, Łotwa Mala, Łotwa Wielko, Luki, Luki Wielkie, Niedźwiadka Wielka, Niedzwiedzica, Nowa Mysz, Nowa Wieś, Podlesie, Podlisiejki, Podstarzynki, Poloneczka, Załuże (in Lyakhovichi not Stołpce)
1903 and 1911 Vsia Rossia 206 Extracted Names of Lyakhovichi, Baranovichi, Gorodysche and Novo Mysh
Novo Mysh was 3 miles from Baranovichi and in 1897, Jews were more than half the 3,000 person population. When Baranovichi's train connections made it the largest town in the area, two thirds of Novo Mysh Jews migrated to Baranovichi. In the 1903 directory, the few listings for Baranovichi township, are actually for Novo Mysh which was in the township. Gorodysche was as far from Baranovichi as Lyakhovichi was from Baranovichi, continuing in a straight line northwest. But its almost 2,000 Jews in 1900, had long used Lyakhovichi as its main resource for brides and jobs. When the railroad hub in Baranovichi was built, Baranovichi became Gorodische's job center but the intermarriage from all of the communities is evident in the family names in each of the towns. I would like to find if there are separate entries from Medvedichi in this time period also, just seven miles south of Lyakhovichi it had a community of over 200 Jews in 1900.
Pre WWI Businesses and Residents in Lyakhovichi, by Street
A street by street listing of those whose businesses or residences were noted in the moving memoir A Walk through my Devastated Shtetl created in the 1950s and remembering those who lived in Lyakhovichi prior to WWI.
The 1926 Poland-Danzig Directory
This image does not appear in the Polish Danzig Directory. It was created by taking several images in the 1926 directory, related to Lyakhovichi and creatively recombining them, for more information content, in a single view. Copyright 2005, Deborah Glassman.
Maps created in the investigation of Lyakhovichi property records in the Minsk Archives
City Directories of Lyakhovichi and its surrounding communities:
Listings in the 1929 Directory for Lyakhovichi, Baranovichi, and closely connected nearby townsExtracted from the Original Page Images by Deborah G. Glassman
A Portion of Novogrodek powiat road map for 1928, showing communities immediately around Lyakhovichi
City Directories of Lyakhovichi, 1926-1930
Extracted from the Original Page Images by Deborah G. Glassman
Five years of Directories in which the small city and township (mestcheko and gmina) of Lachowicze, Poland appears, have been extracted here. It is difficult to tell how accurately such a publication reported the coming and going of various businesses, what does it mean if a year after a subject has emigrated, his business is still reported with him as proprietor? What does it mean two and three years later? One year variance could mean that the data was collected in one year and reported for the following year's publication date, as in the case of many American directories. A two and three year difference might mean that a relative was continuing to operate the business: a wife, brother, or parent of the emigrant, might have continued to report such a business under the emigrant's name. You can help us evaluate the raw data. If a relative of yours is named here, and you know a fact that would impact the reporting - a date of death that precedes the directory listing; an emigration date that you know was a full year or more previous to the directory listing; or you know that a business was in full swing long prior to the reporting; let us know. We will create a page where we report such finds and that data will help us evaluate the other information provided.
Trade and Professional Directories of Lyakhovichi and its surrounding communities:
Listings under lekarz (midwives) in the 1938 edition Urzędowy spis
See the Complete Lyakhovichi Records Catalog for listings of Directories of Lyakhovichi - Trade and Professional. Currently includes information about Lyakhovichi and Baranovichi midwives in the Polish period and Jewish physicians who died in the Holocaust.
This list shows midwives who were registered members of their profession in 1938. Each was a member of the Midwives Association headquartered in Warsaw. The only one actual resident in Lyakhovichi was the first one listed, Masha Tabachnik, but there were also at least eight other Jewish women registered in the town of Baranovichi. When there are two surnames hyphenated, the first is the maiden name. I have listed both surnames separately in the index and I have also provided the male English form of the surname when such usage is more commonly seen - i.e. There is a listing for Minia Turecka-Kwintman and I post this also under Kwintman her married name, and under Turetsky the common form of her maiden name. Whenever an alternate name is offered, I clearly state how it appears in the register.
From Urzędowy spis, 1938:
KURCHIN, Chaim, practiced in Lachowicze near Baranowicze
CHODOSZ, Izaak, practiced in Horodyszcze near Baranowicze
KARELITZKI, Morduch practiced in Byten near Slonim SINICKI, Gabriel practiced in Wolna near Baranowicze
TETZ, Sochor, practiced in Baranowicze
ZUBIELEWICKA, Basia practiced in Krzywoszyn, nr Baranowicze and also mentioned in a Vilna memoir of just before and during WWII-
PEROVSKI, Alyosha of Vilna, practiced in Lachowicze nr Baranowicze.
Falstein, Louis. The Martyrdom of Jewish Physicians in Poland. Studies by Leon Wulman and Joseph Tenenbaum. Research and documentation by Leopold Lazarowitz and Simon Malowist. (New York: Published for Medical Alliance-Association of Jewish Physicians from Poland, by Exposition Press, 1964
The list in the catalog is not from a directory. It is a memorial book compiled by physicians who had emigrated to the United States from Poland, in memory of their colleagues who perished during the Holocaust. But as it is trade specific, and organized by the towns in which the doctors served, we are putting it here. The catalog to which I further refer you gives the birth year and graduation year and details about the deaths of the individuals that appear in the book. None are listed as serving in Lyakhovichi, but many of these Baranovichers are themselves from Lyakhovichi including Busel, Budowla, Gavza and Shenitzki. Because of time constraints of the update, the table was constructed for easy integration into the index and the page on which this information appears (the one you are reading now) appears as the final column in the table.
Membership Organization with strong Lechovicher Participation
By Deborah Glassman, copyright 2009
(For the Jewish Colonial Trust Bondholders with Lyakhovichi Ties, see the JCT directory in the Complete Lyakhovichi Records Catalog.)
One of the great things about working on a website like the Lyakhovichi shtetl site is that an amazing amount of new material is being regularly added to the internet. Sometimes you find one piece of data for which you have long been searching; sometimes you uncover a type of data that starts you looking for comparable material in other venues. This page is about the second kind.
As the July 2009 update was being prepared I found the online search list for stockholders of the Jewish Colonial Trust published by Bank Leumi as it looks for folks carrying those shares issued at the beginning of the 20th century. This effort to support land purchase and building efforts in Eretz Israel appealed to a wide variety of Jews – religious Zionists, social Zionists, and all of the many strains of the time, could get behind, buying land and building infrastructure, in the Jewish homeland.
Jewish Colonial Trust Newspaper Notice
This image is from an 1899 page in the New York Times describing the progress the Jewish Colonial Trust was making in gathering bondholders, over 100,000 by the date of the article. The organization is often misidentified with a group that did not begin operations until the 1920s. Many of the members on these lists date from the period before 1914 and Lyakovichi and Baranovichi are here called by their names under the Russian government, Liachovichi and Baranowitz not Lachowicze and Baranowicze as they would have been in the 1920s.
Obviously the database contains many more people and demonstrably many more Lechovichers, but I will need you to search for your family members or those who you know were landsleit to your kinsmen. I cannot tell looking at a list of Louisville, Kentucky Jews, which were from our town – but you can. I cannot tell looking at a list of Canadian Jews settled all around the Windsor Ontario area who were from Lyakhovichi and its dependent villages, but you can. Additionally, because so many Baranovichers had Lyakhovichi ties, I included all from that city without proof of a Lechovicher connection. Similarly, Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia, welcomed a tremendous settlement from Lyakhovichi but also made Jews from Kopyl, Nesvizh, and the entire Minsk and Novogroduk regions feel at home – I think the majority listed here have Lyakhovichi ties, but I may have listed some from the surrounding region. I happily passed it off to my colleague Henry Neugass who so ably creates the Kletsk shtetl site, when he wishes to host it there. Gorodische, similarly, is sometimes a dependent town of Baranovichi, with strong ties to that community.
Poalei Zion in Lyakhovichi
This is an article for which we are actively gathering material but if you have already written or gathered research material for such an article and would like to write it, we would strongly encourage it. There is a guide to the Russian Archival material on the Poalei Zion in the USSR published as "Poalei Zion organizations in the USSR, 1917-1928" by IDC Publishers, 2005.
The Bund in Lyakhovichi
This is an article for which we are actively gathering material but if you have already written or gathered research material for such an article and would like to write it, we would strongly encourage it. There is a guide to the Russian Archival material he Russian State Archives of Social and Political History (RGASPI), Moscow. Fond 271 which states that the identity cards and questionnaires related to the Baranovichi area membership are in the archives.
HaShomer Hatzair, Bais Yakov & ORT
There were groups that joined in the 1890s-1910s in the effort to build a new state in Eretz Israel. Religious Zionists, social Zionists, and all of the many different organizations and groups supporting a Jewish homeland, joined in the effort of buying land and building infrastructure, in the Jewish homeland, owned at the beginning of the period, by the Ottoman Empire.
Some resided in the communities of Sydney and Sydney Mines, Nova Scotia - a community that brought together many former members of the Lyakhovichi community who sought the mostly rural, small town life that they had in Lyakhovichi, rather than the big cities of the Americas. It also holds scattered names that are known from other sources to be identified with Lyakhovichi but we will need you to help gather this data. I also have gathered the names of Jews from surrounding communities in today's Belarus, but will publish only those you help me tie to Lyakhovichi. Gorodische which was closely aligned with Baranovichi and Kletsk which while a totally independent community, had hundreds of families with strong Lyakhovichi ties, are the two exceptions.