Were our Abramowitz ancestors from Salaspils or Jalgava or from somewhere else?

Our Abramowitz Great-grandparents Gussie’s mother was Yetta/Jetta Shmarkovich (aka Etel Smetkovitz) and her father was Hirsch (Harry) Lev Ha Levy.  What does Hirsch’s name signify?  Hirsch would be his first name.  Lev would be his middle name. Most Jewish men had 2 names: a Yiddish one and a Hebrew one. Lev would be his Hebrew name.  HaLevy or HaLevi would be inherited from his father’s side of the family.  It would designate an unbroken line from the Levites of ancient Israel.  This status would give Hirsch privileges and responsibilities in synagogue rituals. What we don’t know is if he actually used that as his last name or was just called that as a sign of respect. Hirsch and Etel had 10 children: Max,  Sarah, Gussie, Samuel, Abe, Anne Marie, Lazar, and 3 more boys whose names we do not know (Actually,one  of them was Leib, but we do not know which one).  To learn a little bit about each one of them, click on Gussie’s Siblings under the Abramowitz menu. Hirsch’s father was Leib.


Sadly, based on the YadVasheem database listing for Leiser Abramowitsch, son of Hirsch, we learn where Hirsch and Yetta Abramowitz lived with their family.  Were all of the children born here, or did they live somewhere else before Leiser was born?  It appears that they were from Salaspils, Rigas, Vidzeme, Latvia.  This agrees with the information we already knew about her family. We were told they lived outside of Riga and raised cattle for the Czar’s army. Being one of the oldest settlements, Vidzeme is now one of the historical and cultural regions of Latvia.  It means “the Middle Land” and it is situated in north-central Latvia north of the Daugava River.  In German, it is known as Livland and in Latin, Livonia.  The Riga-Daugavpils railway opened in 1861 which led to growth in the area.  There were about 9,000 Jews in Livonia by the middle of the 19th century. Russia conquered Livonia, along with Riga, from Sweden in 1721.  Beings outside the Pale of Settlement, Jews who could prove that they had lived there legally before the takeover, were allowed to stay in Livonia. In 1905, life once again became hard for the Jews as they were blamed for inciting riots during the revolution of 1905.  Many Latvians (and Jews) were executed, others were deported to Siberia, and still others left the country.
Additional Research:
  • Leib was born in 1874 in Jalgava, Courland.  Did Hirsch and Yetta live there before moving to Salaspils?  I always thought the Abramowitz family came from Courland was this could fit.