Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Searching for Family Roots/Stories, The Spiegelman's of Nasielsk*, Poland

When I was young, I'd been curious about family stories, family roots, but nobody ever really talked to me about them. My father's father had passed away before I was born, and in the 1950's it seemed that everyone had their eyes on the future, rather than the past. On my mother's side she had no aunts, uncles or cousins. My father had been involved with many of his cousins, and the David Spiegelman Family Circle got together periodically. We even had picnics in Kissena Park, Queens throughout the 1950s, which I always enjoyed attending.

The other day I got an email from second, or whatever distance, cousin with photos of our mutual great-grandparents' gravestones.

A careful reading of the gravestones gave me a bit of "surprising" information.

Years ago I had been told, or given the impression, that my paternal Grandfather, Harry Tzvi Hersh Spiegelman had been named for his grandfather Tzvi Hersh, and that name had been given to male family members for a long time. So, as far as I knew, my late brother was:
Tzvi Hersh ben (son of) Alexander Ziskind ben Tzvi Hersh ben David Yosef ben Tzvi Hersh Spiegelman
To strengthen this story is an additional one about a cousin of my grandfather, who had been given the same name, but changed his last name to "Spears," possibly with different spelling. This Harry Tzvi Hersh Spears had been a movie producer in the early days of Hollywood, according to family legend.

My great-grandfather's grave David Yosef ben Alexander Ziskind

However the truth is engraved in stone, at the grave of my great-grandfather. It's written here that he had been:
David Yosef ben Alexander Ziskind
That means that the Tzvi Hersh ancestor was further back, maybe Alexander Ziskind's father. My father's Hebrew (Jewish) name was Alexander Ziskind, who had been his great-grandfather, and my brother's real name was probably:
Tzvi Hersh ben (son of) Alexander Ziskind ben Tzvi Hersh ben David Yosef ben Alexander Ziskind ben Tzvi Hersh Spiegelman
Not all of my Spiegelman cousins are involved in this effort to research our family, but enough of us to make it very exciting.

*My branch of the Spiegelman clan seems to have left Nasielsk, Poland in the very early 20th century, well before the Nazis invaded. My great-grandparents both died in New York. From what we know now, not even cousins remained in Nasielsk, and Glenn Kurtz who has taken on the project of researching, repairing and conserving the history of Jewish Life in Nasielsk has found no record of donations from my family after World War Two.

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