Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Schreibmans of Pinsk - Thirteen Families or One?

Some of the 13 separate Schreibman Trees visualised in MacFamilyTree's Interactive Tree
Benjamin and Andrew go back to Pinchas Schreibman, b c1740; I go back to Movsha Schreibman, also b c1740. The two families are separate lines as far back as we know them, and both are recorded in Pinsk (Belarus) throughout most of the 200 years up to WW2. The name Schreibman is occupational, signifying 'scribe', and both families have traditions of Torah scribes, teachers, and similar. Are Pinchas and Movsha connected? Unfortunately, we can't tell. Every so often I have a big push on Schreibman research, and I did again a couple of months ago. I reckon I have found some 13 separate Schreibman lines, all from Pinsk or other towns in the region such as Kobryn or Lubishev, none of which I can connect to any of the others. As an example, there are what appear to be 3 different men called Chaim, all b c1840 to different fathers. Are their fathers connected, brothers even? We can't tell. One of the problems is that we don't know when the name Schreibman was first adopted by these families as an inheritable surname. The earliest documentation I have for my line is the 1816 Revision List, which has: Hirsh Schreibman, son of Movsha, aged 50. So Hirsh was b 1766. What we cannot deduce from this is that the family was known as Schreibman when Hirsh was born. So although I refer to my 4g-g'father as 'Movsha Schreibman', I don't actually have any evidence he was ever called that. The date of adoption of the surname is important, because this is an occupational name. Anyone could be a shoemaker, or a tailor, or a scribe. You might be from a family of shoemakers, tailors or scribes, but you didn't have to be. So when the time came to assign surnames, any old scribe could become a Schreibman. You didn't necessarily have to be related to any other Schreibmans. On the other hand, some occupational names were in use as family surnames long before the Russian Empire obliged Jews to use them. Was 'Schreibman' an early surname? It might help if we knew what regulations were in force governing the adoption of surnames at the relevant time in this part of the Russian Empire. My understanding is that in Congress Poland it was the rule that any particular surname could only be used by one family in any given town, and this certainly seems to be the case in several Polish towns I have looked at. In Belarus, on the other hand, I have the same problem with my Ilyutovich family from Lida as I have here with the Schreibmans of Pinsk. My own family is identifiable in the 1816 Revision List, and I can claim almost all the Ilyutoviches in that list as members of it. However in each succeeding List throughout the 19C, new Ilyutovich groups turn up that seem to have no connection to the original family. I believe the name originates from the given name Eliyahu, so Ilyutovich signifies 'son of Eliyahu'. Was there one Eliyahu in the 18th Century, who had loads of sons, all bar one of which went into hiding in 1816 so they didn't appear in the List, and whose sons and grandsons in turn gradually surfaced, a few at a time, over the next 100 years? Are they all connected, or was there something in the air around Lida that led them all to choose the same surname? Back to the Schreibmans. I have a DNA match with Andrew, but it's not very strong, and as 6th Cousin at closest according to the paper trail we wouldn't expect it to be. The matching segments we share (9cM and 10cM) don't line up at the moment with any other possible Schreibman matches I have. So, this too is inconclusive. So are the Schreibmans of Pinsk all connected? I'd love to find evidence that they are, but unfortunately I don't think I've found it yet.

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