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Vladimir’s unknown sister, app. 1910

Sister of Vladimir

Sister of Vladimir

This is in all probability the sister of Vladimir M. Weintraube.

The picture is taken with the same background used in the picture of Vladimir and his brother. In handwriting underneith the picture is says “Papa’s sister”. We assume my grandmother wrote this.

We know absolutely nothing about her.

From various sources we must assume that Vladimir had 12 siblings: 2 brothers and 10 sisters. 3 of the siblings died. We know for a fact that Vladimir’s mother was Mikhail’s second wife, and that they most likely had 9 children together. This means that Mikhail had 4 children with his first wife.

We have no information about Mikhail’s first wife or the children.

We have no information about Mikhail’s second wife, apart from her name being Elena Nikolaeva. We do not know the names of the siblings either. All we have is the picture of Vladimir and what me must assume is his brother, and this picture that seems to be his sister.

It seems likely that more pictures must have been taken that day. If they took one of Vladimir and his brother, and one of a sister, then why not of the other siblings? And perhaps even the parents?

Does these pictures even exist today? Who would have them? The descendants of Vladimir’s other siblings?

Is it even imaginable that somebody in the world somewhere would stumble over the picture of Vladimir and his sister and recognize the background as the same background found in their old family photos? Oh, what a crazy thought. Nevertheless one could always hope, which is why I choose to publicize the pictures.

Although we know nothing of the sister, the picture still tells us something; She has her brother’s eyes, she seems gentle, refined and sophisticated. Her coat is tastefully fashionable, and from what I can see, from around  1910.

We’ve always known that Vladimir once was a wealthy man, but we didn’t know for sure if his parents were. I think it’s safe to say they must have been, judging from this picture. Her coat is the kind you would only wear when you dress up, which means the family would attend dinners, theater and the like. She also wears the coat well – it is not wearing her, meaning she is accostumed of wearing such clothes.

Vladimir was trilingual (German, French and Russian), so I gather his sister would have been too. I wonder if she was just as well educated as her brother? Did she marry a man of her own station? Did she move far away?

I wonder if I shall ever find out more about her.


Konstantinovska Church, Константиновская церковь – finding a church

Vladimir Mikhailovich Weintraube, living in Khotyn, was baptized january 7, 1885 in Konstantinovska church, located in a village in the Kishinev jurisdiction.

This information on Vladimir’s birth certificate has given me some headache.

Khotyn and Kishinev are 294 km apart. Todays travel time is calculated to 4 1/2 hours. In 1889 it would have taken considerably longer in horse carriage on poorer roads. Why on earth would Elena and Mikhail travel this long distance with an infant only a couple of weeks old? That does not make sense at all. Especially not since Khotyn did have an orthodox church, and a fine one too, as it seems.

I decided to search the entire Bessarabia for a Konstantinovska church. I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant that the church was in Kishinev jurisdiction. Am not sure if jurisdiction is the correct word either. When searching various databases, I have found both birth-, marriage- and death certificates on people from Khotyn in Kishinev archives, so I figured this means Kishinev somehow covered the entire Bessarabia – no matter how odd that really sounds.

I found zero churches named Konstantinovska.

My father then suggested that “Konstantinovska” could also mean “the church situated in Konstantinovka”. All right, then, I widened my search for a city named Konstantinovka.

It wasn’t easy, but after a while I did manage to find one mentioned on JewishEncyclopedia. Not really a city, but a colony, located in Khotyn county (so that would fit), although in the far southern end, 153 km away (so not really fitting that great after all).

Konstantinovka was one of seventeen colonies founded by jews between 1836 and 1854 when Alexander II decided to grant land ownership rights to Jews on uninhabited lands. In 1854 16 families lived in Konstantinovka – none of them named Weintraube. In 1890 and 1893 three children were born with the name Vaintrub – all Jewish, and from poor families.

Could it be that my Weintraube family would have family ties in Konstantinovka, and for that reason choose to have their son babtized there? Why else travel the distance?
It seems highly unlikely. First off, I have seen no evidence of a Jewish connection in my family so far. Secondly, it’s madness to think an orthodox church would be located in a small Jewish colony.

Konstantinovka colony was a dead end.

What now…?

I went back to search for the church, and my stubborness payed off. I found a peculiar link, and ultimately ended up on a page of the Family History Library Catalog. I have spend a lot of time trying to figure out that page; In Russian it did say “Konstantinovska church”, but the english text was rather confusing:

“Orthodox Church records (births, marriages, deaths) for the Konstantinovskai︠a︡ Church of Visternicheny, Kishinev, Bessarabia, later Visterniceniĭ (Lăpuşna) (aka Rişcanouca), Romania; now Visternicheny, Moldova. Text in Russian.”

Ok, so I tried searching for Visternicheny, but google only send me to a trainstation in Chisinau! What on earth?

Then I remembered a friend of mine who speaks a bit of Romanian, which resembles Moldavian. I asked him to google for me as the Konstantinovska church might be mentioned on Moldavian websites.

To cut a long story short, he did find something. And after spending hours of reading the peculiar language of Moldavian google translate nonsense, I found out the following;

Visterniceni is a village not far from Kishinev. In 1777 Constantin Riscinau decided to build a church on the hill in the village, and had the 6 bells cast in Russia. In 1950 the church was closed by the Russians, but it later re-opened. Symbolically the church is sometimes called “Riscanovca”, but it’s name is “Constantin si Elena”.

Today the Visterniceni village is completely absorbed by Chisinau.

Much more information is to be found, but google translate makes it quite hard to read.

Ok then…. It seems there is no doubt: The Konstantinovska church Vladimir was baptized in, has to be the Constantin si Elena church located in Chisinau.

The best part of it is that church records from the years 1881-1889 is actually to be found online! These are excactly the years I need in order to find Vladimir and some of his siblings. Down side is that they are in Russian or Moldavian – which I don’t speak. And since it’s microfilm, I can’t use google translate. Quite a challenge! I have not been able to even locate the church in the microfilm yet (there are many churches), but since this is too good to let go, I shall find a solution somehow.

Biserica Constantin si Elena

The obstacle of identifying city of birth

This is a close up of Olympiadas EWZ document which contains the birth places of 3 of my family members. Unfortunately the print is so bad that I have not been able to identify the names. And part of the document I can’t identify at all.

EWZ 1920 stor1

The words I cannot identify I have written in red:

Name of parents                                 born   in                        ???                ???

Father:    Karnampi                             ?       ?tarij ?ubos?ry    unreadable  unreadable

Mother: Katharine (born) Lewizky      ?        Ischnowez

Husband: Valdemar

born 26.12.84 in Chotin/Bessarabia

Father: Michael                                      ?            Ka?towitz       ?r.k

Mother: Helen (born) Neckel                ?             ?                                          Ismail?

It is immensely frustrating being so close to such vital information, and then not being able to identify them.

It seems to me that Michael’s (Mikhail) birth place can only be one of two places; Kattowitz in Poland, or Kastowitz in Czechoslovakia. Since both places have once been part of the Hapsburg Empire (Austria), and Mikhail allegedly was an Austrian citizen by birth, I cannot rule either of them out.

It should be relatively easy to track him down, now that I only have two city names, one should think. Negative… Poland does have a whole lot of church records available now, but you need to know which parish – unless you wish to dedicate a few years to dive into churchbooks.

Kastowitz doesn’t even seems to exist anymore. I have only managed to find one single reference to Kastowitz, and that is in a publication from 1822, which shortly mentions Kastowitz as a small village in the Prachin circle, know for it’s cattle market twice a year.

Either Mikhail is from Kattowitz or Kastowitz it would mean a lot of detective work in order to find him, so the task of doing this with two places, knowing at least one of them will turn out blanc, is a bit overwhelming.

Truth is, I can’t even trust that Mikhail is born in Ka?towitz. It’s clear that my family lied to the Germans several times – one of them is shown here: Mikhail’s wife was named Elena Nikolaeva, but here she is listed as Helene Neckel (they most likely did this in order to get enough percentages for the Ayran approval).

However, I cannot find a good reason why they would lie about Ka?towitz. If they intended to lie about his birth place, they would most likely have chosen a city in Austria or Germany.

Olympiadas father, Karnampi, lived and died in Bessarabia, and was most likely born in Ukraine, but I have not been able to find any city that resembles the letters written here  ?tarij ?ubos?ry . The same goes for her mother, although it is possible to read a city name: Ischnowez

The matter is complicated because this is the Germans trying to write Russian names – in German. I realize it should be possible to track down the cities by following the phonetic sound, but since I don’t speak Russian, I have no idea how they would be spelled. Unless I am that lucky that somebody are able to identify the names for me, I don’t think I shall be able to find them. This also means that I will not be able to trace those two people any further.

And on a note – I am not so sure Karnampi’s wife’s name really was Katharine Lewizky either… And I don’t understand what the word “Ismail” written at the end of the line means…

On the good side – because there certainly is one of those too – I have finally been able to confirm without a doubt that Vladimir was born in Khotyn, Bessarabia. When I first started out, I had no idea which of the 4 different Khotyn’s he came from, so at least this insecurity has been crossed off the list! Secondly I also have the name of Olympiada’s father – Karnampi. We have seen this name before in other documents, but were a bit uncertain about it. It’s a rare name, I’ve been told. An old name that nobody uses anymore.

Vladimir Mikhailovich Weintraube + brother. Which army?

Vladimir Mikhailovich and brother

These two handsome fellows (or should I say distinguished gentlemen?) are my great grandfather, Vladimir Mikhailovich (right) and his brother (unknown name).

It seems the picture is taken at their private home.

I do not know when the picture is taken, but it must have been before 1914.

They were presumably Austrian citizen, although born in Khotyn, Bessarabia, and I suspect this is where the picture is taken.

I know Vladimir fought in the Austrian Army 1914-1916 on the Eastern Front, and that he became a prisoner of war in 1916 in Kiev. That is all I know.

What does the picture reveal?

The brother is wearing a uniform, so it seems he too must have been fighting in WW1. Was it in the Austrian Army? What does the uniform tell? Which army, which rang?

I wonder if he survived he war.

Although Vladimir is wearing ordinary clothes, his hat is similar to his brother’s – apart from the emblem. What does this mean? Had Vladimir joined the army? Why, then, was he not wearing the rest of the uniform?

I am sure the brother’s uniform will be able to give some information. I just need to find them first.

Is it possible the picture might have been taken just before the brothers went off to war?

It confuses me that Vladimir seems to have a cane in his hand. Did he need a cane for support, or was it a common attire among the distinguished? It has to be the latter – why else did he fight in the war?

I have been wondering about how he could fight in the war 1914-16 and at the same time marry in 1915 in Kishinev (Chisinau, Moldavia). It is far away from Kiev (400 km). Was it normal to get leave of absence? Especially since I’ve read that the Austrian Army lost 1 million soldiers on the East Front. It seems they would have needed them all.

I am wondering about the ring on Vladimir’s left hand. Is that an engagement ring, a wedding ring, or simply a piece of jewellery? Didn’t standard forbid wearing a ring on that finger unless married?

I cannot tell if the brother is wearing glasses, but it seems something is there

Lots of questions to find anwers to

Pictures of the forefathers

In my family’s possession is a few old pictures, presumably all of our ancestors, but time has erased the knowledge of who, and when. It utterly frustrates me. Why didn’t I ask about them when my grandmother was still alive? Why didn’t somebody make notes of who they were?

When I was young I didn’t pay much attention to them as these black and white photos didn’t really bear any meaning to me. But now… now they mean everything. Since we have so little information about my family, any clue becomes important, and pictures can offer som very important clues.

Not to mention the fascination of staring at your forefathers and see how their genes were passed on to you.

These pictures does bear meaning – if you allow them to. They are family, your flesh and blood. Their history and their steps in life are what ultimately meant the creation of you.

Once you commence in genealogy you begin to understand what a true gem these old pictures are…

I shall be posting the pictures here. It is my wild hope that somebody trying to trace down their ancestors might recognize some of the persons in the pictures

Once we were Austrians

We have always believed that my great grandfather, Vladimir, was of Austrian decent, but so far nothing in my search has been able to provide me with any links.

Until I received the EWZ records.

It turns out that Mikhail, Vladimir’s father, was not born in Khotyn, Bessarabia, but an entirely different place. Unfortunately the ink has faded, so I am not able to read if the name is Kastowitz or Kattowitz – most unfortunate as both are city names.

Kastowitz is a small town of Bohemia, in the circle of Prachin, known for its cattle market twice a year 1). Unfortunately it doesn’t seem as if this small town still exists today. I can only find one reference to it (a book published in 1819). The area used to be part of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy, and today it is part of the Czech Republic.

Kattowitz (Katowice) is located in the southern Poland. It was part of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy until 1742, and gained city status under Preussian ruling in 1865. Today it is a rapidly growing city and emerging metropolis 2).

Both places had a fair amount of German inhabitants.

Most importantly right now, is the information from the EWZ records that Mikhail’s son, Vladimir, was an Austrian citizen. With all probability Mikhail would be so too.

This also makes Kastowich, Bohemia, the most likely birthplace. But enough of that for now.

These information helps us to find other answers;

Since Mikhail was not born in Khotyn, Bessarabia, the probability of him being related to Jewish Mekhel and his two brothers in Khotyn is very slim.

In other words, nothing points at Mikhail being Jewish at this moment.

We can also establish that Mikhail indeed did emigrate and landed in Khotyn some time between 1859 and 1884 (the time between the Revision list and Vladimir’s birth). This certainly narrows things down.

And takes my search in a complete new direction. I shall now head for Austria…

On a note, it has also been established that Mikhail’s father’s name was Michael. Now, this is from a German document, so it bears the German spelling. Mikhail lived in Bessarabia and bore the Russian spelling. But which of the spellings are the correct ones?

Perhaps there was a reason as to why they chose names that both have a German and a Russian version…



EWZ documents received!

Christmas has come early this year!

It was a funny coincidence – I was just thinking to myself how much longer I was supposed to wait for the documents to arrive, as I looked out the window and saw the postman drive up. I think my excitement must have made his day 🙂

Although it has been a long wait for the impatient soul, it really only took about 6 weeks, which is not bad at all.

About 2 weeks ago the payment went through – only 80 dollars. It had me worried as I was told the price would be 175 dollars for the 50 frames. Hopefully this didn’t mean I would get fewer frames!

Unfortunately this is excactly what it meant…

As soon as I get the CD out of the packing I see the little sticker saying “Best copy available. Some images are unreadable”. I am not so sure I actually did remember to breathe until I managed to open the files and see just how bad it was.

Out of the 50 frames I have only received 23. And two of them are papers on two unknown persons which have been misplaced. So I only have 21.

I am quite sad about that. But, hey, I still have 21 documents, and that is definitely better than nothing!

The thrill does cool down some as I go through the 21 pages. Most of the pages are not in very good condition and the ink has faded, some places even missing. On top of it, most of the handwriting is very hard to read in itself. Adding to that – of course – is that everything is in German. No surprise there, I knew it would be, but all in all it is quite a challenge to be able to dechifre these documents.

Well, what is better than a good challenge? I am not discouraged, only impatient to learn what the documents say, so with my German dictionary and my father’s magnifying glass I go to work!


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