Saturday, July 7, 2012 Updated

I have just uploaded the latest revisions to . Major revision were made to Chapters 1-11 in Volume I (Efron Family from Amdur), as well as Chapter 11 in Volume II, Other Efrom Families.

Chapter 42 in Volume II, the family of Itzhak Meyer EPHRON of London has been moved and is now part of the family found in Chapter 10, in Vol. I. This is a result of DNA testing.

The changes in the first 11 chapters of Volume I are:
- Incorporated recently emailed information
- hyperlinked all endnotes to the appropriate appendix, and in many cases, also to the Source Document ("SD") for that information.
- Cleaned up some of the misspellings and grammar proplems.
- Explained complexities of evidence showing connectiveness of several families believed to be the descendants of Elihu Ephron, including the Schneider/Efron/Ephron/Berstein families, in chapters 8-11 of Volume I.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Finding Your Roots, Barbara Walters, Skip and Me

Well, it's finally here -- my national television debut! On Sunday evening, April 1, 2012 I will appear on PBS stations across the country (and then on the web, I believe) in the third episode of "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." I researched the roots of Barbara Walters for the show and was interviewed by the host, Professor Gates.

A link to www.248Ancestors placed on the PBS web page for the FYR series will enable people new to Jewish genealogy to find what the need to get started.

Well, there will be much more to write once the show airs, and I have no idea what the show will look like.

Besides me -- as if that weren't a good enough reason to watch!! this is a really well done series. Can't wait!!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Highs and Lows of switching to FamilyTreeMaker 2012

I've just updated to FamilyTreeMaker software version 2012, and so far, I'm regretting it. I was doing fine with my 2005 version, except that with a new, 64 bit computer I was unable to generate pdf reports. The Indexes and Charts volume of the Efron Family History ( is a pdf generated from my FamilyTreeMaker data, so I certainly needed to update the software.

The issues I'm running into with this updated software are primarily related to the "privatization" function of the software. "Privatization" is where all personal informatin about a person is removed if that person is still living. When I updated the Indexes and Charts volume, I found that many living people were NOT privatized, and some deceased people WERE privatized. The software is not too smart because it does not look at other people in fhte family to determine whether to privatize or not -- it only looks to the death date to see if the person has died. If there is no birth date, the person is not privatize. But if there is no birth date and no death date, it does NOT privatize.

Currently I have just shy of 4000 people in my databas that need to be editted, one-by-one, for me to add "unknown" to their birth field. In addtion, any person in my database born before 1900 is also considered deceased, so they need an "unknown" in their death date field. This will be a long process. Which is too bad because I had other plans for my spare time.

I'm also not pleased that in FTM 2012 privatization removes the given name of a person if they are not shown as deceased. This is unfortunate: I want my privatization to remove data (such as brith and deaht dates and pleases) but not the person's given name! ...

The first problem I ran into was that decased people in my database were being privatized because they did not have a death date listed, EVEN IF THEY WERE BORN MORE THAN 120 YEARS EARLIER!

I had been editing chapter by chapter based on information I've gathered from emails over the years (to the extent I had not already added such information). So, this little diversion will take at least a few weeks.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Legend of Shael "Samuel Lowenstein" Efron of Amdur and Frankfurt

I've spent quite a bit of energy trying to determine the genealogy of the family of Shael (Saul) Efron. He's quite interesting for a few reasons, but mostly because of the legend that is told about his business dealings in the mid-1800s in Russia, his jailing and escape from jail, and his exile for more than 40 years in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His interest to me is because his father, Chaim Efron son of Leib and Tsine of Amdur, is my ancestor. That is, Shael's brother, Avraham Efron, was my great-great-great-great-grandfather. I am especially hopeful that there is more information to find out about Shael's mother, who is also my ancestor, because she is supposed to be a member of the famous Katzenellenbogen family: possibly, Chaim is mentioned as a son-in-law in some early 19th century text.

I first learned of him from Sam Effron of Poughkeepsie's 1954 genealogy of the Effron family. In it he wrote:

There was in the city of Grodno, a man by the name of Bregman who, with Shael Effron, was in the fur business. They would go all over Russia buying furs, even as far north as Siberia. The Russian government had gold mines in that section. They still have them in operation today. In Russia, vodka and the rub1e always worked wonders. Shael Effron got acquainted with some officials in charge of the gold mine operations, and a smuggling of gold developed.

The government found out what was going on and the whole gang, including Shael Effron, was put behind bars in prison, awaiting trial. But Bregman was working to get Shael out; Bregman was a wealthy man, so he used vodka and money. Shael escaped from prison. The government placed a reward on his head, if he should get caught, but he went over the border to Germany. Two men came into Germany and started a fur business. They knew where Shael was and got in touch with him, and he engaged in business with them. After a time they had him over the border in a deal, and then revealed themselves as detectives. And he was in prison again! Then the sensational news appeared in the Russian newspapers that "Effron was caught again." But Bregman and all his friends started to work hard again with vodka and money, and he walked out of the prison disguised as one of the officers of the guard. Again he was over the border into Frankfort an Main, where he remained until his death. His wife and one daughter were living in the city of Vilna.

The story of Shael is also told in Yedidia Effron's book about Amdur (pages 68-69), where he wrote:

[T]he wealthy Shael Efron... Reb Shael used to deal with gold in the time of Alexander II, a business forbidden to Jews. He was arrested and spent a long time in solitary confinement, in the Grodno Citadel. A guard was bribed, and Reb Shael’s body was exchanged with that of an executed prisoner’s. He was carted out of the fortress like a corpse. Then he escaped to the other side of the border. The story shook up the entire government, but without results. Reb Shael lived in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, for more than forty years. He was always rich, but rigidly fanatic. He would not touch meat in Germany because he did not trust the ritual slaughterers in Frankfurt, even thought they were devout and strictly orthodox. He died in 1897, leaving a rich inheritance to his sons Moshe, a county judge, and to Leizer.

Leizer Efron, son of Shael, also wrote about his father. Leizer's book, HaMishan Alphin ( ) has been partially translated. The story of Shael's jailing is supposed to have been repeated there.

 Many years ago I received revision list information for Efron families living in Amdur, including this family:

In 1858, Shoul Efron, the son of Chaim, is age 36 (1850 he was 28)
his son Leyzer-Arel, 14 (6 in 1850)
son Chaim, absent (not born in 1850)
wife Sora, 33
daughter Taiba, 5
daughter Chaia-Pesia, 1 ½
mother, Lea, 68

The St. Paul Efrons to the Amdur Branch

How is the extensive Efron family of St. Paul, Minnesota related to the descendents of Leib and Tsinne Efron, who lived in the town of Amdur? We know they are related, through DNA testing, but how?

Chapter 8 of the online family tree of the Efrons of Amdur ( ) explains.

The earliest known ancestor is Chaim Efron. He was born around 1825. He lived in Volkovysk -- either the town or the district which is named after the town. Volkovysk district, and the town of Volkovysk, are located in today's Belarus, although in the 19th and early 20th century it would have been considered Russian Poland. Some of Chaim's children also came from a town called Izabelin, which is located in the Volkovysk district, and not too far fromt he town of Volkovysk.

We know about Chaim from the gravestones of his children and vital records. He had six known children. Four of them came to the US: Julia (Yehudit) Mintz; Sarah (Sara Rivka) Bulgatz; Morris (Moshe) Efron; and Anna Nachimoff.

Another child was Ephraim Simcha Efron, and he apparently died before his family came to this country. Although he did not come to this country, his wife and most of his children did, and they all settled in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.

Julia, Sarah and Morris also came ot the "Twin Cities" and Anna settled in New York City.

Chaim's son Yosef Shmuel Rosenshein did not come to America, but died in the town of Izabelin. Yosef Shmuel Efron was adopted into the Rosenshein family, likely as a way to avoid the Russian draft, and used their surname. We know about him from oral history.

Chaim was born around 1825-1830 because the youngest child of whom we know was born about 1847. He very likely had his first child at the age 20 or so, maybe even younger.
And this is where the research stood for several years, UNTIL, in 2010 when a record was found. The record was from the 1858 revision list (census) project for towns in Grodno and Volkovysk Uezds (counties) which I spearheaded and which is now available on as a component of the All Belarus database.
There, registered as residents of the city of Grodno, entry 606 were
Khaim Efron, son of Ephraim, head of household, age 32 (that is, born about 1826). PERFECT!
his wife, Sheina Khaia, age 30
his son, Efroim Simkhel, age 9
his daughter, Judes, age 2
Also in the house are his brother and family:
Josel Efron (brother of Khaim), age 30
Josel's wife, Khaia, age 26
Josel's daughter, Bashe, age 6
The revision list's family of Khaim Efron is an extraordinarily good match to what was already known about him from the research of the "St. Paul" Efrons. About Josel, and his brother -- that is for another post. Suffice it to say that this enabled conclusions related to the family of the Chicago Efrons, including the Bashe Schneider family.
How then is Ephraim Efron related to Leib and Tsine, the earliest known ancestors of the Efron family? He is already known from the 1816 revision list, in Amdur, where he is listed as 26 years old (born around 1790), and married to Ghenya. AND, he is known from the introductory remarks on page two of Sam Effron's genealogy of the family ( ), written as "Afroim."

EfronFamilyHistory website updated

I've uploaded new files to the website. This is the first major upload of revised files since the beginning of 2011 -- a year ago. Most of the changes are to the Index and Charts document, where many additional family members have been added. I've also been re-writing several chapters over the past half year or so, based on a review of emails I've received.

I am continuing to review emails I've received on the topic of the Efron family history and additional changes will be made. I have already categorized the emails according to volume (Amdur families vs. non-Amdur families) and chapters within each volume. I've already reviewed emails for the first 16 chapters of the Amdur volume, so most changes are found in those chapters.