While we have the Frankel family tree on Geni, it's not that easy to navigate for casual user family members. I plan to use this project to document the various households that are in the Revision Lists and show how they are related to one another and to us, their descendants.
There are some mysteries, such as how two other Frankel families who are cousins and married into my branch of the family are actually related. Looking at the patterns of given names, which I will document in this project, we can probably form a good hypothesis as to their relationship.
Also, we are starting to gather DNA information for the family which we can link to from the project. The DNA data may help us either find lost branches of the Ratnycia and Merkine family or link them with other Frankel trees and with their ancestors ultimately.
Search for Our Lost Frankel Ancestors and Cousins
My branch are descendants of Yosel (Yosef, Joseph) Frankel who married Chava Margolis of Przerosl, Suwalki, Poland (then Lithuania) in about 1853. We knew nothing about his origins, other than that he had Frankel relatives whose descendants married their cousins, his grandchildren Charles of Peoria and Charlottesville and Rebecca of Philadelphia. So we had Yosel Frankel, Rosa Frankel (Charles' wife), and Leo Charles Frankel (Rebecca's husband) with no family tree. The story of how I searched for and found Yosel's origins is told here and here. We now have a Frankel family tree going back at least to the mid 1700s and I hypothesize that there was a Tsalko Frankel born in the early 1700s.
In the meantime, another family in the United States, our Frankel cousins, the Franklins, were also searching for information about their origins. They built a Frankel tree on Geni, based on records from Trakai which they helped fund the translation of, and they found me online, looking for Frankels from Merkine (Meretch, Merecz) and directed me to Ratnycia and the Trakai records. We started comparing given names across our families, and I looked at the birth dates of the Ratnycia family and eventually we confirmed a lovely, complex hypothesis based on irrefutable DNA evidence.
Eight of us Frankels have our results from Family Finder and we match on a long segment on Chromosome 1, where none of the other Family Finder matches overlaps, so this is definitive proof of a shared ancestry.
Two Frankel males have also done the Y-DNA test and are in the same haplogroup (Haplogroup G). We hope to further refine these results.
One of the interesting facts about the men who are in the small group with the Frankel men is that one is Portuguese and several are Georgian. Because the Margolis family who married my branch of the Frankel family are connected with Bakalerzewo and Ladzijai by marriage at least, I have let my imagination wander as to whether either the Margolis or Frankel families could be of Sephardic origin.
Lo and behold, besides matching a Portuguese man, there are several interesting anecdotes cited in the Rashba Family article (below).
"...Anecdotal evidence of Sephardic families living in Ashkenazic lands has persisted in published narratives and family lore. A. Zebulun Berebitches wrote an article about a Polish shtetl, Rotnica, for the Yiddish-language encyclopedia LITE in which he stated, 'My family was known by a nickname, the Lampidusan, and remembrance that we were from Lampidusa, a small island somewhere in Italy ... 36,37"
"In the same encyclopedia another article, on Jewish land ownership in the Suwalki area, refers to "Prado," the estate of the Frankel family, which was also the name of a prominent Spanish and Portuguese family.38 It may also be that the estate was so named as prado is the Spanish word for meadow. Similar stories are not uncommon among Polish-Lithuanian Jews and have been told to succeeding generations of such families as Atlas,39 Sabludowsky,40 Bejm,41 Protigal,42 and Zeman.43 While colorful and informative, anecdotal evidence does not constitute genealogical proof, per se..."
Family Tree of Our Frankel Ancestors
- Efroim Frankel (Frenkel) c. 1746, father of Hirsh, Leiba (Leib, Lev), and Meir.
- Meir Frankel born c. 1748 or c. 1765 depending upon Revision List seems to have been unmarried or perhaps not? Listed as deceased in a household headed by Mordechai Romanov age 25 with two Rosanski brothers in Revision List in 1834.
- Hirsh Frankel born c. 1762 - children were Tsalko, Aron, Zorakh Faivish, Berko Leiba, Yosel, and Schlomo. His wife was Dina ( ) Frankel. Hirsh is the ancestor of the Franklin branch.
- Leib Frankel born c. 1771 - children were: Tsalko, David, and Yosel (Yosef). His wife was Chana ( ) Frankel. Leib is the ancestor of the Przerosl, Illinois, Iowa, Philadelphia Frankel branch.
Given Names that Repeat
Efroim (Ephraim, Frank)
- Efroim b.c. 1812, son of Schlomo, son of Hirsh b.c. 1762, son of Efroim
- Efroim b.c. 1825, son of David, son of Leiba b.c. 1771, son of Efroim
- Efroim, b.c. 1841, son of Zorach Faivish, son of Hirsh b.c. 1762, son of Efroim
Tsalko (Calko, Charlies), derived presumably from Bezalel
- Tsalko (hypothesized) may have been the father of Efroim b.c. 1746. If so, he would have been born circa 1720 - 1730 and died before 1796.
- Tsalko b.c. 1796, son of Leiba, son of Efroim (c. 1746) died before 1870.
- Tsalko, b. 1797, son of Hirsh, son of Efroim (c. 1746)
- Tsalko b. c. 1870, son of Tevel (c. 1843), son of Abram (c.1817), son of Tsalko (c. 1796) son of Leiba (c 1771), son of Efroim (c. 1746)
- Calko (Charles) Frankel of Charlottesville, Virginia b.c. son of Yosel (c. 1837) son of Abram (c. 1817), son of Tsalko (c. 1796), son of Leiba (c. 1771) son of Efroim (c. 1746)
- Leo Charles Frankel of Philadephia (c. 1874; Hebrew name unknown but may be on his gravestone), likely grandson of Abram because he was a cousin to his wife, Rebecca Frankel who was Abram's granddaughter. He appears to have been named for both his great great grandfather Leiba and his great grandfather Tsalko. His father's name on his death certificate was Hirsh and his mother's name Jennie. Abram did not have a son named Hirsh, although since men had two names, it could have been the Hebrew name of one of his sons. The best fit for Leo Charles at this point is the son of David (son of Abram c. 1817), who had a son named Leiba born 1874.
Leiba (Leib, Leo, Leon, Lawrence)
- Leo Charles Frankel b.c. 1874 (see above).
Wives and Son-in-laws: the search for Frankel marriages
I have begun looking at the other families who resided in Ratnycia, to see I can ascertain which families the Frankels intermarried with. That is, what families did the spouses of our male Frankel ancestors / relatives belong to and who did our female Frankel relatives marry?
I have two pieces of information only supporting possible marriages.
- A Revision List that shows Leah Rosinsky that suggests that she the wife of Abram b.c. 1817 due to her death date.
- A Revision List that lists Meir son of Efroim as living in a household headed by a Romanov, along with two Rosinsky youths.
I have started looking at later marriages as well, to see if I can find evidence of intermarriage patterns. I did find a Romanov - Rosinsky marriage of Hirsh Rosinski b. 1910 and Frida Romanov b. 1910, who both perished in the Holocaust.
Geography and Demographics
Ratnycia was a small village 8 miles to the southwest of Merkine, close to Druskininkai, a resort town, 13 miles SW of Merkine. It was associated with the Merkine Jewish Community (noted as such on the Revision Lists). Its inhabitants were listed separately in some of the Revision Lists and listed with Merkine in one of them. It has been absorbed into Druskininkai in the 20th century. There were a handful of Jewish families living in Ratnycia. Other spellings of the name include Radnitsa and Rotniza and those from Ratnycia were referrred to as Rotnizers.
A 20th century native of the village describes the village in this document. According to the author, "Marriages were arranged with others from Merkine, Baltrimanz, Lipen, Lozdzieje, Nominik and on occasion, Grodno."
Nearby towns and villages, as noted, included Merkine (13 miles NE) Population 1900, Leipalingis (Leipun, Lipen) Population 200, Nemunaitis (Nemoneitz) Population 350, Druskieniki, a spa town, population 600 (9.9 miles W), Grodno Population and Lazdijai (Lozdzieje) Population 1500.
In the 1834-1842 Revision List, there were 198 Jewish inhabitants listed in Ratnycia, the majority of whom had -ov/ovski/ski suffixes. The vast majority were toponymic surnames, from Trakai or nearby regions or from Belarus, e.g., Iagustovski "from Augustow" and a few were derived from a given name, occupation, or personal nickname, e.g., Mordusovski "(son) of Mordechai. Surnames were likely just being imposed in that era. Of the 198 Jewish inhabitants in the 1834-1842 RL, 49 of them were from our Frankel (Frenkel) family, whose surname was maintained from their Franconian Medieval origin. According to Alexander Beider, those who had older toponymic surnames like Frankel in the Russian Empire were usually rabbinical families.
In the 1858 Revision List, residents of Ratnycia are listed under Merkine. There are 74 Frenkels in 1858, all the Ratnycia Frenkel family.
The Joint Distribution District Committee (JDDC), Rotnitzer Vohed Hkhol Committee, is undated but presumably from the early 20th century.
Many of the surnames listed in the Ratnycia / Merkine Revision Lists in the 19th century are associated with Druskieniki later: Oransky, Frenkel, Kovalski, Dubinsky, Mizrakh, Romanov, and Rotnitzsky.
Other Ratnycia Familes listed in the Revision Lists or JDDC
- Abelov (Abelow), 1834; 1858; Abelovich in 1874/75 with Abelov in Varena
- Avizhanski (Vizhanski, Vezhanski, ? Visanska) 1874 (resident of Lazdijai)
- Barabatzic / Barabeichik 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Bliakh 1834; 1858
- Blokh 1834; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Brenholtz / Brengolts 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Cohen Joint Distribution District Committee
- Druchkunski 1834;
- Dubitsky / Dubinsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household); Joint Distribution District Committee
- Fegelpekofski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Frank 1874/75
- Frenkel 1834; 1858; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Gazonski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Gershtein 1874/75
- Goldberg 1874/75
- Goldov 1834; possibly 1858 under Goldovich
- Golenpol 1874/75
- Golunski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Iagustovski 1834;
- Iedvabnitski 1874/75
- Ilgovsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Iofe / Yofe 1874/75
- Isvonski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Iakirovich 1834
- Kaplin Joint Distribution District Committee
- Karab / Karap Joint Distribution District Committee
- Karanafski / Kornevski / Karnevski 1874/57; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Karash / Karach Joint Distribution District Committee
- Katz Joint Distribution District Committee
- Khavin 1834;
- Khlebovich 1874/75
- Koplon Joint Distribution District Committee
- Koram 1874/75
- Korpelski (prob. Kornevski) 1874/75
- Kozlovich 1874/75
- Krishtalsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Krivalski 1874/75
- Kubitsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household); in Varena 1874/74; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Kvint / Kvinta 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Lapuner Joint Distribution District Committee
- Lipshits 1874/75
- Lis / Liess / Leiss 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Lishkovski 1834;
- Liubetski 1874/75
- Liveite / Leveite 1874/75
- Maliovski 1834;
- Maslovski 1874/75
- Matzevitzki Joint Distribution District Committee
- Merkel 1874/75
- Miklishanski 1874/75
- Mints 1874/75
- Mirski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Mizrakh 1874/75
- Montvilitzki 1858; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Mordusovski 1834;
- Niselevitz /Niseliovich 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Nosanovich 1874/75
- Odents 1874/75
- Oranski 1874/75
- Ostranski 1874/75
- Parafski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Peretski 1874/75
- Pintel 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Prenski 1834; 1858
- Privalski / Provalski 1874/75
- Prosovski 1834;
- Pugatsky 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Romanov 1834; 1858; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Rosanski / Rusanski / Rosinsky/ Roshansky / Rushanski / Ruzhanski 1834; 1858;1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Rosenberg Joint Distribution District Committee
- Rotnits / Rotnitski 1834; 1874/75 Joint Distribution District Committee
- Rubinovich 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Sagalov 1834;
- Sapozhnik 1874/75
- Seltzer Joint Distribution District Committee
- Shabonski Joint Distribution District Committee
- Shcherbak 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Shchitsiul 1874/75
- Shkliarski 1874/75
- Shulberg Joint Distribution District Committee
- Shvitski 1834; 1858; 1874/75; Joint Distribution District Committee
- Siderski 1834; 1858
- Solatski 1834; 1858
- Soleveichik 1858 (listed in Ratnycia household)
- Stovnas Joint Distribution District Committee
- Treger 1874/75
- Vaseiski 1834; 1858
- Zhirachishski / Zhuratishsky / Zuratsiski 1834; 1858; 1874/75
- Zhivulchishki 1834;1858
- Zilberman 1874/75
- Zilberzhenig 1874/75
Ratnycia Residents who Perished in the Holocaust
200 Jews from Ratnycia were killed, along with a large number of Jews from neighboring Druskieniki. Ratnycia is described as a residential town associated with Druskieniki by the time of WW II, so it's unclear whether remaining Frenkels lived in Ratnycia or Druskieniki. The Jews of Druskieniki/Ratnycia were taken to the Kielbasin Transit camp in 1942 and from there most were sent to Treblinka. Leib Frenkel of Druskieniki was on the Judenrat and was head of the transit camp. Aron Frenkel from Druskieniki led a small group of partisans who fought the Nazis. Several Frenkels from Druskieniki perished in Auschwitz - Leah Frankel, daughter of Meir, born 1900, died Auschwitz 1942; Hirsh Frenkel son of Dina, born 1904, died at Treblinka or Auschwitz in 1943
- Several members of the Romanov family (Frida nee Rushanski and her husband Hirsh Romanov, both born in 1910, died Auschwitz in 1942)
- Several members of the the Rushanski / Rosanski family (Yenta nee Godovski, Efrayim, Roza (Shoshana) nee Frank, Yehuda, Rakhel, Nisan, Tamar). One member survived and gave testimony.
- Several members of the Berebeichik family
Famous People Associated with Ratnycia and Druskieniki
- Jacques Lipchitz, born Chaim Jacob Lipchitz in Druskieniki in 1891, a leading Cubist sculptor.
- Rabbi Isaac Margolis (R' Yitzkhak Margaliot) of Merkine, Rabbi of Druskieniki for a short period in the 1890s, relative by marriage to the Frankel family of Ratnycia. He was the first cousin of Chava Margolis, wife of Yosel Frankel son of Abram b.c. 1817.
- Translation of “Druskieniki” chapter from Pinkas Hakehillot Polin Published by Yad Vashem
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Campsand Ghettos ... By Geoffrey P. Megargee, Christopher Browning, Martin Dean
- Story of Yisrael Mei-Tal (Montwiliski) who was born in 1932 in Druskieniki, Poland, to Alexander Montvilitzki and Berta Pinchuk. Photographic memory of fleeing the Holocaust and his clandestine immigration to Palestine.
- A list of Meretch Jews murdered in the Holocaust
- Understanding the literature of World War II by James H. Meredith page 193 includes an interview with Paul Frank about the destruction of Druskieniki and Ratnycia during the Holocaust and about the Romanov and Frank families. He notes that there are still gravestones with inscriptions in the Ratnycia cemetery.
- Rashba Family This is a good article for background on Sephardic famiies in Suwalki and Lomza. There is evidence for such families in Ladzijai and Bakalerzewo and the article cites anecdotal evidence for Sephardic families in Ratnycia and for a possible Sephardic Frankel family in Suwalki.