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Ada Green: Discovering Relationships Between Families

Copyright © March 2006, All Rights Reserved


Ada Green traced two branches of the GRUSHKA family of Krakes, Lithuania, using 20th century tombstones and 19th century family lists and death records, to the 1816 Krakes revision list. There are two GRUSHKA families on the 1816 list: Zelik, son of Leyba, and Girsha Orel, son of Nosel.  She used the 1784 Grand Duchy list for Krakes to discover the relationship between these  two lines of the GRUSHKA family – her own family and a branch who settled in South Africa. 

Family of Girsh Orel, son of Nosel: 1935 tombstones g 1874 family lists g 1863 death records g 1816 revision list

Even in the absence of vital records for the first half of the 19th century, the tombstones of Krakes-born Solomon Nathan GRUSKIN in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and his Krakes-born uncle, 100-year-old Elias Nathan GRUSHKIN in New York, which contained the Hebrew names of their respective fathers, enabled Ada to trace their ancestral line to the 1816 Krakes Revision list.                                                                                                          

Solomon's tombstone reads in Hebrew, Shloma Natan, son of Yehuda Leib; in English, Solomon Nathan Gruskin, died 3 September 1935, age 80, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Solomon Nathan is also found on the 1874 Krakes family list as Shlioma Nosel, son of Leyb, age 20. 

A death certificate from the Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius for Solomon's father reads, "Leiba, son of Girsh Grushki, from Krakes, died on 8 January 1863 when he was 41 years old" (right).

Leiba's father was identified as Girsh Orel, son of Nosel, on the 1816 Krakes revision list.                 







Solomon's uncle, Elias Nathan Grushkin died in Brooklyn, N.Y., on September 4, 1935, age 100. His Hebrew name was Eliyahu Nachum ben Tzvi Hirsch. He appears on the 1874 Krakes family list as Eliash Nokhum, son of Girsh, age 36. Eliash's father is Girsh Orel, son of Nosel on the 1816 Krakes revision list.  So the tombstone in South Africa and the tombstone in New York both lead to the same ancestor, Girsh Orel, in 1816.          

Ada advises: “20th century tombstones of Jewish emigrants who were born in the first half of the 19th century should not be discounted as a source for tracing ancestry, either in the absence of vital records, or to supplement and confirm existing records.” 


Family of Zelik, son of Leyba: 1891 death record g 1816 revision list

Ada used death records from the Lithuanian State Historical Archives in Vilnius for three of Zelik’s sons to identify Zelik on the 1816 revision list.   


One of these death records, for her great great grandfather (left) reads "David son of Zelik GRUSHKA from Krakes Jewish Community died in Krakes on 30 May 1891 when he was 74 years old. He died of old age."









1816 Krakes Revision List

Reg. #


Given Name







Head of Household

















Girsha Orel

Head of Household









The  1816 Krakes revision list shows Ada’s great-great-great- grandfather as the head of household for family #2: Zelik GRUSHKA, son of Leyba age 25. Girsha Orel GRUSHKA son of Nosel, age 28 (born in 1788) also appears as the head of family #11.

Ada then needed to discover the relationship between these two GRUSHKA families.  Since Zelik and Girsha Orel were close in age, she determined that  their fathers, Leyba and Nosel, were also of the same generation.

On the 1784 Grand Duchy of Lithuania census list, line 52 shows Nosel son of David, his wife (z=zona) and two daughters and a brother Leyba and his wife (2 males, 4 females).   So the two heads of household on the 1816 list, Zelik and Girsha Orel, were first cousins and their fathers, found on the 1784 list, were brothers! 

 1784 Krakes Grand Duchy List for Kieydany Kahal, Miasteczko (village) Kroki

Finding Nosel and Leyba's father, David, on this list, takes us back another generation.  We know that Girsha Orel was born in 1788. We can estimate that his father, Nosel was born 25 years earlier, in 1763. We can also estimate that Nosel's father, David was born 25 years earlier, around 1736.

This is an example of how a GDL census list with even minimal information (in this case, lacking given names of children and wives) can resolve genealogical puzzles.

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