Mlyniv, Ukraine

"Mlinov", "Mlynov", "Mlynow", "Mlenow", "Mlynów" [Pol], מלינוב [Heb] ,

Lat:50° 512390', Long: 25° 607000'



The Search for Mlinov/מלינוב and Mervits


A collage of Mlinov ancestor photos I have gathered from descendants in Baltimore


This site is a tribute to our ancestors from Mlinov (and the nearby townlet of Muravica), both those who left and those who stayed behind, and to their stories and memories which I endeavor to capture here. There are many variations in the transliterated spelling of these village names in the records, as custom officials and immigrants themselves tried to render the Yiddish pronunciation into English. I prefer "Mlinov" and "Mervits" but there are many other acceptable variations.


When my parents passed away, I took down the family photos of my father's family from the wall and realized I did not know very much about the persons in those photos. My father's parents, who were first cousins, were both from Mlinov and I set off to learn more about them and the place from which they hailed. Now six years later, I have reached out to as many Mlinov (and Mervits) descendants as I could find and I have pulled together what I have learned about Mlinov and the people who once lived there. What I learned, among other things, is that nearly every family married every other family in Mlinov and that as a result many if not all of us are related. Mlinov thus was not simply a small shtetl; it was, for all intents and purposes, an extended family.

If you are a Mlinov or Mervits descendant and would like to share your family's story, network, join the Mlinov-Mervits descendants roster, or Facebook group, please contact Howard Schwartz.


Mlinov was a small village or shetl off the beaten tracks in Western Russia and later Poland. It became part of Russia and the Pale of Settlement after the second Partition of Poland (1792–1795) when Russia acquired vast parts of Poland. This was the first time Russia had a substantial Jewish population under its control and the result would be an ongoing struggle in Russia to define how this unusual population should be governed. The struggle to define a policy for the Jews comprises the history of Russian Jews in the 19th and early 20th century. [1]


Images of Mlinov

Great Synagogue Photo courtesy of Audrey Goldseker Polt; others drawn the Mlinov-Muravica Memorial Book [2]

According to two online sources, there were 690 Jews in Mlinov in 1900 and they constituted 60.8% of the population. These sources, however, do not provide the basis of their statements and thus have to be used with caution.[3] The Mlinov-Muravica Memorial book, which was published in 1970, cites earlier sources indicating that in 1885 there were were 62 houses, and 203 inhabitants, 38% of whom were Jewish. According to another source cited, Mlinov had a Jewish population of 209 in 1847 and in 1897, there were 1,105 people in Mlynv, 672 of whom were Jewish. I have not yet been able to independently verify these figures in other sources.[4]

Most of what we know about Mlinov and Mervits, from family histories and memories, refers to people from the period between 1850s-1940s and comes from a later date; the Mlinov-Muravica memorial book, for example, which contains many recollections of Mlinov or Mervits families, [5] was published in 1970 and thus represents memories after WWII when the atrocities of the Nazis had come to light and been understood. Before the 1850s, we do not have many recorded memories or information that I have found so far about Jews who were living here and few Jews were left after the Nazi occupation. This site is a tribute to both the families and their descendants from this place.



Mlinov is located today in what is now Western Ukraine and spelled "Mlyniv." In the second partition of Poland (1792–1795), Mlinov became part of Russia where it remained until WWI. Mlinov was close to the Eastern Front during WWI and switched hands multiple times in the civil war following WWI before becoming part of Poland. Mlinov remained part of Poland until WWII. You can view Mlyniv today via Google Maps or Mapquest.

Mlyniv, Ukraine today on the map.

The largest cities near Mlinov are Dubno, Rivne (Rovno) and Lutsk. Mlinov is located between the towns of Dubno and Lutsk. It is about 9 miles northwest of Dubno and 21 miles southeast of Lutsk. Mlinov is also just 50 km southeast of Rivne (or Rowno as it was called in Yiddish). The small townlet of Mervits was just one mile NNW of Mlinov.

Dubno is mentioned in the memoire of Clara Fram as the larger town her mother, Pesse, visited when shopping for nice things for the holiday and the place her father disembarked from the train on his trips to and from America in the 1890s. Solomon Mandelkern spent time studying in Dubno after leaving Mlinov when he was 14 in about 1860. According to the census of 1897, Dubno had a population of 13,785, including 5,608 Jews. The main sources of income for the Jewish community in Dubno were trading and industrial occupations. There were 902 artisans, 147 day-laborers, 27 factory and workshop employees, and 6 families cultivating land. The town had a Jewish hospital and several chederim (Jewish schools). [5]

Towns near Mlinov and Mervits.

Lutsk is also mentioned in the Demb family story as a place where Samuel Roskes, the husband of Mollie Demb, the youngest Demb daughter, was born and where their first son was born. We don’t know how Mollie Demb and Samuel Roskes met each other but the marriage suggests the kind of local mobility that was possible at the time. In 1802, there were 1,297 Jews in the town; by 1847, there were 5,010 (60% of the population); and in 1897, there were 9,468 (60% of the population).[6]

To the west and south about 25 miles, you can see Berestechko, which is where Gulza, the oldest daughter of David and Pesse (Demb) Rivitz, settled with her husband, Leizor Mazuryk (later Louis Mazer in Baltimore). In her memoire, Clara Fram has childhood memories visiting her older sister in Berestechko as a young girl and recalls how she passed through Brestechko with her mother, grandmother and two sisters on their immigration to the Baltimore in late 1908. The community numbered 1,927 in 1847, 2,251 in 1897 (45% of the total population), and 2,210 in 1931 (total population 6,514). [7]

Novohrad-Volynskyi (sometimes “Novograd” in immigration records) is about 100 miles to the east. Records indicate Mlinov-born Motel Demb (Max Deming), his brother Simha Gruber and Simha's two sons, Nathan and Samuel, were living here for a time and this might have been the city to which some of the Mlinov population was evacuated during WWI. At the start of the 20th century, 10,000 Jews or 50% of the population, lived in the town. In 1919, the Pogroms in Ukraine reached Novohrad-Volynskyi, and the troops of Symon Petliura murdered 1,000 Jews.[8]

Volodymyr Volynskyi, called "Ludmir" in Yiddish, is 70 miles west of Mlinov. Ludmir was the town where the well-to-do Moshe Gruber from Mlinov headed to find a suitable husband for his daughter Rivkah Gruber when she turned 11 and was of marrying age. He brought back a fifteen-year-old named Israel Jacob (“Yisrael Yaakov”) Demb.

It is possible that Moshe Gruber was drawn to Ludmir because of its reputation as a Hasidic center. When the founder of the Karliner Hasidic dynasty, Rabbi Shelomoh ha-Levi (murdered in 1792), settled in Ludmir in 1786, the town became an important Hasidic center. The “Maiden of Ludmir,” Khane-Rokhl Werbermacher (~1806–~1888), a local woman known for her righteousness and wisdom, also became a popular Hasidic leader; numerous Hasidim gathered in her bet midrash. After she moved to Jerusalem in 1861, her bet midrash was occupied by the Rakhmistrov Hasidim. The Jewish population of Ludmir grew thanks to its status as a trade and crafts center located close to the border. Some 1,849 Jews were registered in the city in 1799; rising to 3,930 in 1847; and reaching 5,869 (about 60% of the population) in 1897.[9]



[1] A very detailed, and I found helpful, summary of Russian policy towards the Jews, which gives the nuances of changes under each Tzar, can be found in Antony Polonsky, The Jews in Poland and Russia. Vols. 1 and 2. The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. Oxford, 2010. These volumes give an understanding of the variability and complexity of the evolving policies and their motivations.

[2] Audrey Goldseker Polt, a descendant of the Goldseker Family, provided this clear photo of the "Great Synagogue" in Mlinov. The others are from the digital version of theThe Mlinov-Muravica Memorial Book (translated title for original Sefer Mlynow-Marvits Ed. J. Sigelman, Haifa:1970. Published in Hebrew and Yiddish by former Residents of Mlinov-Muravica in Israel. A digital version of the original can be viewed online in several websites including the NY Public Library and the Yiddish Book Center. A number of the stories have been partially translated in English by descendants of the Schwartz family were subsequently edited and published by David Sokolsky in 2018 as the Mlinov-Muravica Memorial Book (English Translation) and now available on Amazon.

[3] Two websites record that the population of Mlinov was about 690 Jews in 1897-1900 but neither give the source of their information. See JewishGen and a website on Shetl history. There was a Russian census in 1897 and it is possible these statistics derive from that census, but that is uncertain. The citations from the Memorial Book are from pages 10 and 11 of the original and cite a Polish Encyclopedia from 1885 and the Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. 12, written in Russian. For the translation of those pages, see Sokolsky, Mlinov-Muravica, p. 3-4.

David Sokolsky also cites statistics on the population of Mlinov in his book on Liba Tesler's escape from the Holocaust, Monument: One Woman's Courageous Escape from the Holocaust, 2017, 15. David writes that when Liba was born in 1912 there were 670 Jews in Mlinov comprising 60% of the population and that by 1931 the number of Jews had grown to 900. In an email to me, David indicated that when he was first researching the book in the 1970's he found these numbers in a 1910 World Almanac. I have not yet been able to verify this source.

[5] See "Dubno" in Wikipedia.

[6]See "Lutsk" in Yivo Encyclopedia.

[7]See "Berestechko" in Yivo Encyclopedia.

[8] See "Novohrad-Volynskyi" in Wikipedia.

[9]See "Volodymyr Volynskyi" in Yivo Encyclopedia.


Compiled by Howard I. Schwartz
Updated:October 2019
Copyright © 2019 Howard I. Schwartz

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