Boros/Wasel

Boros/Wasel

Kirsten Wander
Kirsten Wander

May 9th, 2012, 3:58 am #1

Hello! I was told that this was the site to come to for possible hints on Lithuanian ancestors so I'm hoping for some luck. Two of my great-grandparents came to the US from Lithuania in the late 1890s and early 1900's. They met in New York and got married there. The family eventually relocated to Chicago. The name that we know my great-grandfather by is John Boros, and his wife was Elena or Helena Boros. I can't find any records of John from prior to the 1910 US census, so I am not sure if that was always the name he went by or an Americanized version. Any guesses? His World War II draft card says he was from Kovno. I have the same problem with my great-grandmother, Helena (later called Helen). We don't know her place of birth, outside of knowing she was from Lithuania, but her death certificate from Chicago states her father's name as George Wason and her mother's name as Bertha Witkilson. Neither of those names sound very Lithuanian to me. My father believes Helena's father's last name was actually Wasel. According to my family's oral history, she traveled to the States with a German Jewish woman and her child, although Helena was Roman Catholic and so was John. I can't find any documentation of either of their voyages here.

Thank you for any hints that anyone can provide!

Kirsten
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Jankauskas
Jankauskas

May 9th, 2012, 7:14 pm #2

Kirstin, The 1905 census from New York (Familysearch.org) lists: John Boros 32 yrs. wife Helena 22 yrs, daughter Helena 2 yrs and son Alexander 8 (months/days/?) living at 141 Haag St, Brooklyn, New York. This may be the family you are researching. Carl J
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Kirsten
Kirsten

May 16th, 2012, 7:24 pm #3

Carl -

Thank you for your quick response. I would have been back here sooner, but work became a bit crazy. I actually found that family as well, but it is not a match with my relatives as my relatives were a little younger than that. If this is the same family I keep coming across, they were from Hungary. However, it is very confusing, because of the names. While in New York, my relatives did have a son they also named John and a daughter they did name Helen. Later, in Chicago, they had a daughter named Alexandra (born in 1910 - my grandmother), and two twin sons, Peter and Paul, who died in infancy in 1914.

I did find something on the familysearch.org site you mention, a John Boris who was in New York and single in 1930 who might be my great grandfather. My great grandfather had been kicked out of the house by my great grandmother, and she actually divorced him(something you didn't do as a Roman Catholic, which is why my great grandmother went to the Episcopal Church). He had been very drunk, and left the twin sons referenced above alone in their apartment, while my great grandmother was working, with the door/windows open to the cold. They caught pneumonia and died. All that to say, in 1930 he would have been single and back living in New York. I would be interested into how/when he died...I can't seem to find his death records. But, mostly, I'd like to see if I can track his family back to Lithuania, and his wife, Helena's family back as well.

Kirsten
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Jankauskas
Jankauskas

May 16th, 2012, 10:11 pm #4

Kirstin, I noticed that on his World War 1 & World War 11 draft card he names his nearest relative as Anna Gelzinis living at 59 Hudson Ave, Brooklyn, NY, In the 1930 census Brooklyn, NY. there is a Dominic and Anna Gelzinis living at 59 Hudson Ave. both born in Lithuania. The New York Marriage records (Italian Genealogical Group on line New York Records)reveals that Dominikas Gelzinis married Anna BORISEVICZAITE on 1 Oct 1911; Kings Co, New York Lic# 10211. I think this may be John's sister or a close relative. Notice the beginning of Anna's last name. John's BOROS surname may be the masculine version of this name, i.e Borisevicius, Borissevich etc. Perhaps someone on this site can give you the masculine version. Good luck, Carl J
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John Peters
John Peters

May 17th, 2012, 10:13 am #5

"Boros-" or "Boris-" is the root or stem of several surnames, all based on the convention of naming a child using an ancestor's given name. This is very common among Scandinavians as seen in such names as Alfred Jensen or Jenson, i., Alfred, descendant of someone named Jens (John) or Carl Larson, i.e., Carl, descendant of someone named Lars. The Lithuanian version of this convention is seen is the name, Kazimieras Borisevic^ius, i., Casimir (or commonly Charles in the U.S.), descendant of someone named Boris. Borisevic^ius is actually a Lithuanian version of the Polish Borisewicz.

Here are extracts from other posted messages online, mostly from Fred Hoffman, published author about this naming process:
Russian vs Lithuanian names

BORISEVIC^IUS is the Lithuanian equivalent of Polish BORYSEWICZ or BORYSEWICZ or BORYSIEWICZ. It means "son of Boris." There's some info on that first name here:

http://www.behindthename.com/name/boris

Note that a Russian who is the son of a man named Boris would have Borisevich as his middle name. Thus if a Russian named Ivan Karpov was the son of a man named Boris, Ivan's full, formal name in Russian would be Ivan Borisevich Karpov. Russians use these so-called patronymics -- names meaning "son of" -- as middle names, but not very often as surnames. In Belarusian and Polish (and many other Slavic languages as well) they came to be used primarily as surnames.

So a Lithuanian who went by BORISEVIC^IUS might show up on documents with his name in the Russian form BORISEVICH or the Polish form BORISEWICZ. There's nothing unusual about this at all.

Boris is a first name used primarily by Eastern Slavs, that is, Belarusians, Russians, and Ukrainians, and by Southern Slavs, for instance, Bulgarians. It's not a name that ever caught on among the Poles or Lithuanians. A family named BORISEVIC^IUS probably had an ancestor who came from farther east, from Belarus or Russia. In those areas, the first name Boris is pretty common, so trying to tell anything from your family by analyzing BORISEVIC^IUS is a little like trying to tell something about an American family from a surname such as DAVIDSON. It doesn't tell you much, except the first name of an ancestor several centuries ago -- one who probably came originally from Belarus or Russia or Ukraine.

AUDYCKI (pronounced roughly "ow-DITT-skee") is a Polish version of the Lithuanian surname AUDICKAS (roughly "ow-DITTS-koss"). According to the Lithuanian Surname Dictionary, that surname probably developed from the Belarusian first name Avdiy or Avdei or Ovdei, so that it meant "of the kin of Avdiy" or "one from the place of Avdiy." That first name is an East Slavic version of the Biblical name we know as Obadiah http://www.behindthename.com/name/obadiah).

You might wonder why these names would appear in Polish forms. During the period when most folks emigrated from Lithuania, it was ruled by the Russian Empire, which had made it illegal to use any language but Russian in official documents. That meant when a Lithuanian emigrated, his papers were all in Russian, and his name appeared in Russian form, spelled in the Cyrillic alphabet. Obviously, as he headed west, at some point it would be necessary to render that Cyrillic form in our alphabet.

Remember that back then, Lithuanian had never really come into much use as a written language. That was beginning to change as of the late 19th century, but there was still no consensus on how Lithuanian was to be spelled. So there weren't that many officials familiar with the Lithuanian forms of surnames. Very often, the person who rendered the Cyrillic spelling in our alphabet spoke Polish; he would tend to write the name in the form that seemed correct to him. To a Pole, AUDICKAS was an obscure form of the name; AUDYCKI would seem much more reasonable.

So even if a person was called BORISEVIC^IUS or AUDICKAS back home, his papers were likely to refer to him as BORISEWICZ or AUDYCKI. There were plenty of exceptions, of course. But the Polish versions of these names were the most familiar ones available in the Roman alphabet. Also, before Russian was mandated as the official language for all documents, Polish had served that role in Lithuania. So there was a tradition of writing names down in their Polish form. It wasn't until Lithuania gained its independence after World War I that you start seeing documents with Lithuanian forms of names. Before then, they were usually either Russified or Polonized.

I hope that clarifies things a bit.
Fred Hoffman

John Peters
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Kirsten
Kirsten

May 25th, 2012, 12:33 pm #6

Thank you both so much for your feedback. I have work to do researching the Boros name, but now have some direction because of your help. On my great-grandmother's side Helen/Helena/Elena, it appears on her death certificate that her parents names were George Wason and Bertha Witkilson. Could these be Americanized names? I know she came over from Lithuania as well as a teenager. I'm not sure if she came with her parents or not. Those names just don't sound Lithuanian to me, but I'm sure they are not written in their correct form. My father is convinced that George Wason's last name was actually Wasel. I don't know why it would be recorded as the wrong name on the death certificate. Anyway, my great-grandmother actually died as Helen Birbalis (her second husband). Any help on the names Wason, Witkilson, and, possibly Wasel? Thank you so much for any feedback.

Kirsten
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Terese
Terese

October 25th, 2013, 6:27 am #7

Hello! I was told that this was the site to come to for possible hints on Lithuanian ancestors so I'm hoping for some luck. Two of my great-grandparents came to the US from Lithuania in the late 1890s and early 1900's. They met in New York and got married there. The family eventually relocated to Chicago. The name that we know my great-grandfather by is John Boros, and his wife was Elena or Helena Boros. I can't find any records of John from prior to the 1910 US census, so I am not sure if that was always the name he went by or an Americanized version. Any guesses? His World War II draft card says he was from Kovno. I have the same problem with my great-grandmother, Helena (later called Helen). We don't know her place of birth, outside of knowing she was from Lithuania, but her death certificate from Chicago states her father's name as George Wason and her mother's name as Bertha Witkilson. Neither of those names sound very Lithuanian to me. My father believes Helena's father's last name was actually Wasel. According to my family's oral history, she traveled to the States with a German Jewish woman and her child, although Helena was Roman Catholic and so was John. I can't find any documentation of either of their voyages here.

Thank you for any hints that anyone can provide!

Kirsten
Do you know what village/region your Boris* came from?
I have a witness on a document of 1875 called Jonas Borisevicius/Jan Borisewicz in the Smolwy/Smalvas parish church, for the christening of Stanislavas Umbrasas of Zatokai village (now in Zarasai province, Lith). It was once in the Kowno gubernia - also once named Novoaleksandrovsk province.
Your Wason/Wasel and Witkilson may very well be jewish - it was not uncommon for faith to become a burden (happened to one branch of my family). Helena's shipboard friendship (I assume it was, as the lady and child contact is part of the story) may very well suggest a cultural/religious connection.
Cheers
Terese
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