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Information needed to make connections with other Wolinsky-variation surname families

To attract people to a Wolinsky-group family history Y-DNA website, it would be helpful to have informative discussions of various pertinent subjects, such as:

1. Surname origins for Wolinsky, Wilonsky, Wilensky, Wolinetz, Wolins, Wolens, Wilentz and other apparently related surnames.

2. Famous or notable persons of these related surnames.

3. Discussions of particular family lines for these related surnames that we would like to test and see whether they are related -- both immigrant families in America and elsewhere, and families that have remained in (or returned to) LIthuania, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere.

4. Information on Nazi extermination actions in Lithuania.near Sakai and other Lithuanian or Eastern European locations pertinent to people in the Wolinsky-variation discussion group.

5. Y-DNA findings on the different Wolinsky-variation testers we have identified.

In summary, we need information of the type that Wolinsky folks would find interesting and informative and would motivate them to want to learn more about their family history. Other subjects might be suggested, also.

Anyone who has knowledge of these subjects might find this a useful location to post a pertinent discussion.

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Replies to This Discussion

Well, we didn't come Wolinskys until my great uncle arrived in New York City in 1884. He came to the US as Isaac Sragan, born around 1864 in Keidan, Lithuania.
We don't know why Isaac changed his name.
One story had it that he bought a business with the name Wolinsky on it. The name first shows up on his daughter's birth certificate.
He moved to Boston around 1890.
There, my grandfather Hillel Sragan met up with him and changed his name to Henry Wolinsky.
Isaac around 1900 changed his name to Wolinski. So we have relatives with the Wolinsky and Wolinski names.
And we have some Schrogin relations, a variation of Sragan. They arrived after the Russian Revolution.
Sragan means someone descended from Sraga-from the Aramaic word for "light." Orphaned Jews were given the name Uri Sraga, both meaning light, in the Middle Ages to ward off the light, a Jewish names expert told me.
Feyvel is the Yiddish version of Sraga.
Sragan was taken as a surname around 1806 as reuired by the Czar as the Russian Empire attempted to assimilate, control, count, conscript, tax Jews.
Howard, being unfamiliar with Jewish surnames, I took a brief look at the on-line sources on the Wolinsky-variation surnames and on Jewish surnames both generally and in Lithuania. I will try to upload a brief summary on these sources when I can figure out how to do that.

These sources indicate a number of reasons why it would have been no big deal for Lithuanian Jews to change their names, especially when moving to another country. Their history of patronymic surnames meant that they changed last names each generation, and had no long tradition of the same fixed surname continuing from one generation to the next. Lithuanian Jews only adopted surnames when they were required to do so in the 1800's. Their ancestors often changed names due to moving into a new place or country in order to fit in. Other name changes might have been to avoid bad luck in various situations, as in the case of an orphan per the sources mentioned. It would have been understandable with this background for your ancestors to have changed names from Sragan to Wolinsky in order to maintain continuity of a public business with the Wolinsky name which had just been purchased.

It seems to me that with this history of patronymic surnames and surname changes, we would expect a number of unrelated genetic profiles to wind up using the same Wolinsky-variation surnames even in the same area of Poland or Lithuania. For that reason a study of Wolinsky-variation surnames should be looking primarily to the genetic profile as a determinant of relationships, with the surname being secondary. Any DNA study of Wolinsky-variation surnames should also include the variants of Sragan and any other closely matching genetic profile. This reasoning is probably behind the WIRTH group's decision to follow only their own J2 profile through many different but related surnames, rather than just follow their surname list.

Also, in view of your comment that the name Sragan is a version of Feyvel, which I understand to be a given name, I wonder if this name reflects the earlier patronymic naming system in which last names were a version of the father's first name.

My Wolinsky ancestors from area between Mir and Minsk in Belarus Russia. They spelled their names in a wide variety of ways over the years including also Vilonskii, Wilensky, Vilensky, and Wilinsky. My great grandfather's name was Benjamin Berl (Dov in Hebrew) and he was reported in various documents such as birth certificates as Berl, Berke, Benjamin, Benny, and Barney and in Ancerstry.com even a Borney. I have a few theories some of which are mutually consistent:

1/ Hebrew and Yiddish are often written without vowels and there are no vowels so VLNSKY could be written in different ways.

2/  A government clerk who speaks a different language asks for a name and then misspells it a bit. There can be a double error when a geneology site tries to transcribe handwriting.

3/  In the case of Berl Wolinsky and his brothers maybe they were trying to confuse central government official trying to draft young men for the Russian army. 

Reuben Sokol

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