Welcome to the 2021
(covid-19, stay at home) edition of the website, with more images,
many more relations, several extra charts, and other treats
(including a powerful search tool).
This site presents the genealogy of the Proschansky (Прощанский, Proschansky, Proshansky, Proschan) family of Turets, a small village in what is now Karelichy District of Hrodna Province, Belarus, about 90 km southwest of the capital city of Minsk. It also includes other families of Turets and Mir, as well as my maternal ancestors from the region of Andrezejewo in Poland and Kaunas in the Latvian-Lithuanian borderland.
Turets is halfway between the towns of Karelichy and Mir (home of the famous Mir Yeshiva between 1815 and 1939). When my great-great-grandfather Leib Proschansky was born at the end of the 18th century, Turets had just passed from being part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita) to being part of the Russian Empire. When my grandfather Israel Proschansky was born in 1877, Turets remained Russian territory, part of Novogrudok District, Minsk Province. From around 1920 until the Second World War it was known as Turzec, in Stolpce District of Nowogródek Province, Poland. From 1944 until 1991 it was part of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, and now the Republic of Belarus.
Sometime in the 1870s, it seems the Proschanskys resettled in the larger town of Mir (see Reeva Kimble’s wonderful website on Mir), and in 1893 the first Proschansky emigrated from Mir to the U.S., Gershon (1865-1937). A year or two before, Gershon’s older sister Mariatcha had immigrated to Paris with her husband Rabbi Moise Chaim Elia Berman and infant son David. Gershon settled in Philadelphia, where he was soon joined by his wife Malke (Molly), who was his first cousin and a Proschansky even before marrying him. In the first decade of the 20th century, half of the population of Mir immigrated to the U.S., including almost all of the Proschanskys. Apart from the Philadelphia branch – many of whom took the name “Perry” – several Proschanskys settled in the Lower East Side of New York, including my grandfather Israel. The children of Gershon and Israel’s sister Ester and her husband Leib Gordon settled in Camaguey, Cuba, before coming to the U.S. A few family members immigrated to British Palestine before the Second World War, with only a few remaining behind in Mir.
In a decade of genealogical research, I've only ever encountered one person named Proschan, Proshan, Proschansky or Proshansky who wasn't somehow a member of our family (not to be confused, of course, with the unrelated Prushanskys).
If you're a descendant of Leib Proschansky of Turets, get in touch.
Rabinovich, Rubinowitz, Rabinovitch
My grandfather Israel's mother was Chana Rubinowitz (spelling according to his marriage certificate), who was in turn the daughter of Moshe Faiveshker Rabinovich and a first wife of unknown name. Moshe remarried, and there are Rabinovitch descendants of his son Yehoshua Heshel (who was born a full 50 years after Chana was).
According to family lore, the first person to take the Proschansky surname (Leib?) was a brother to several other men who took the Garkavy surname, in the early 19th century when Jewish residents of the Russian empire were first allowed to take surnames. Confirmation - if any - rests in the archives in Minsk, but there was clearly a close connection between the families, both in Turets and Mir and in New York.
My great-uncle Harris Proschan married Mina Harkavy, and Harkavys were identified as the US contacts in a number of Proschansky immigration documents. So the site includes an incomplete genealogy of the descendants of Moshe of Turets, the first Garkavy. The site also includes large numbers of Harkavys who settled in the U.S. but cannot be connected reliably to old-country Garkavys for lack of confirming evidence. If you happen to be a Garkavy/Harkavy descendant and can help me reconnect some of these orphaned branches, please get in touch.
My grandmother Rose Gelman Proschansky was born a Gilimowsky (variously spelled Gil'imowski, Gilmofsky, Gelmovsky, Gelman, Gilman, Gilmore, etc.), from Mir. She married my grandfather Israel in New York, but the families doubtless knew each other in the old country. There are other marriages between Proschanskys and Gilimowskys, but we still don’t know exactly where my grandmother fit into the Gilimowsky clan. There are also some interesting links between Gilimowsky, Pollack, Kessler, and Harkavy families, and doubtless more to be confirmed if only we had the documents.
Leftins (Lewtons) and Slomskis
The site also includes the genealogy for my mother’s maternal ancestors, the Leftin family of Andrzejewo (in Yiddish, Janczewo), in Lomza Province of Poland, and the Slomski family, from Wysokie Mazowieckie, also in Lomza. When the Leftins immigrated to the U.S. (Newport, KY and St. Louis, MO), they were all living in Janczewo. If you're a Leftin (Lefton) descendant, let me know where you fit it. The Slomskis have a large branch in Argentina, descendants of Minnie Slomski and Schepsal Wengrowicz. The Lewton family married early into the Sznejer family of nearby Ostrow Mazowiecka.
Sachars, Sandlers and Plotniks
My mother’s paternal ancestors were Sachars (later, Harris) and Sandlers from the Latvian-Lithuanian borderland, formerly Courland. My grandfather, Henry Louis Harris, was born Henoch Leib Sachar in the town of Vecumnieki (Neugut), present-day Latvia; his parents were from the villages of Vabalninkas and Birzai, Panevezys, Kaunas, Lithuania. When Henry came to the U.S. as an infant of one year’s age, he and his mother were initially refused entry at Philadelphia because of an ostensible eye ailment of his mother. Their appeal, deportation, and return as illegal aliens via Canada (under different names!) is all documented in immigration records. And then there was that little matter of Henry's failed citizenship application, when he proudly told the immigration judge that he earned his living as a bookie.
Names were rendered differently when Romanizing the Cyrillic alphabet, but are given here in the form in which they appear in the reference documents (okay, not always, but usually). For people who immigrated to the U.S. or western Europe and adopted a standardized Romanized name, that is (usually) used here as the primary name entry. Similarly those who shortened or changed their names are typically identified primarily with their names at death, not their names at birth. Alternate names and maiden/married names are searchable as well.
Over time, borders changed even if towns did not move. As a general practice, place names are standardized to those of the late-19th, early-20th centuries, before the First World War. A robust place index categorizes Eastern European locations by gubernia (province) rather than modern-day country. Within the U.S., the place index is categorized by state.
Who did I leave out?
People alive or assumed to be alive are not shown here, in order to protect their privacy. If you’re a family member and have information on any members, living or dead, please let me know. My address is frank.proschan [@] yahoo.com. I’m especially eager to know more about family names Gilmofsky, Pollack, Sagalowich, Lande, Berman and Gordon of Mir or thereabouts. There are also many names included here that are parents and grandparents of spouses, or siblings or children, but the person connecting them remains alive and thus they appear for now to be disconnected.
Maps, more photos and documents…