LithuanianCatholic

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Lithuanian Roman Catholic (RC) Ancestor Search Information

Lithuanian RC Ancestor Search Process

2. Identify U.S. Immigrant Lithuanian Ancestor's Birth Parish in Lithuania


Outline

  • Overview
  • About the Spellings of the Birth Place Names Found in U.S. Records
  • Names of Birth Country Found in U.S. Records
  • Names of Birth Province or of Birth District Found in U.S. Records
  • Finding the Lithuanian Names of the Towns and Villages Found in U.S. Records


Overview

Once you have found the birth place of the immigrant ancestor [and of any immigrant Lithuanian relatives] in available records, the next step is to use that information to find out where that place is on a map of present-day Lithuania.  [It is also possible that the Lithuanian immigrant's birth place is not in present-day Lithuania, because of the various actions by Tsarist Russia and the Soviet regime that divided the lands of the Lithuanian people. The description here is limited to places that are in present-day Lithuania.]


About the Spellings of the Birth Place Names Found in U.S. Records

Whatever names you have found in U.S. records, it is extremely unlikely that any of them (other than "Lithuania" or "Russia") are equivalent to the present-day spelling of the place. The names that you have found are likely to be (very) corrupted and/or antiquated spellings of the birth place.


Names of Birth Country Found in U.S. Records

Many of the names that you may have found in U.S. records for the birth place of the immigrant Lithuanian ancestor refer to areas that have great expanses of territory and have no real value in the search for the specific birth place of the immigrant Lithuanian ancestor.  These include:

  • Lithuania
  • Russia



Names of Birth Province or of Birth District Found in U.S. Records


Some of the names that you may have found in U.S. records for the birth place of the immigrant Lithuanian ancestor may refer to areas that have large expanses of territory and so have very limited value in the search for your ancestor's specific birth place.  These are names of gubernijas (provinces, "governorates") of the nineteenth-century Russian Empire.  These include:

  • Vilnius (Vilna, Wilno, etc.)
  • Kaunas (Kovno, Kowno, etc.)
  • Suvalkai

Although these were the names of large-area gubernijas, each gubernija was named after the largest populated place (city) within its boundaries, so it is also possible (but improbable) that your immigrant Lithuanian ancestor was born in a smaller-area (county-size, city-size) place bearing the same name as the gubernija.


Some of the names that you may have found in U.S. records for the birth place of the immigrant Lithuanian ancestor may refer to areas that have county-size expanses of territory and so have some (but limited) value in the search for the ancestor's specific birth place.  These are names of (county-size) districts within the gubernijas of the nineteenth-century Russian Empire.  These include:

  • Ašmena
  • Augustavas
  • Kalvarija
  • Kaunas
  • Klaipeda
  • Lyda
  • Marijampolė
  • Naumiestis
  • Panevėžys (or earlier Upytė)
  • Raseiniai
  • Seinai
  • Suvalkai
  • Šiauliai
  • Švenčionys
  • Telšiai
  • Trakai
  • Ukmergė
  • Vileika
  • Vilkaviškis
  • Vilnius
  • Zarasai

Although these were the names of (county-size) districts, each district was named after the largest populated place (city or large town) within its boundaries, so it is also possible (but unlikely if your ancestor was a peasant farmer) that your immigrant Lithuanian ancestor was born in a smaller-area (city or large town) place bearing the same name as the district.



Finding the Lithuanian Names of the Towns and Villages Found in U.S. Records


Your objective was/ is to find in U.S. records the name of the village or town where your immigrant Lithuanian ancestor was born or of the town that is closest to his/ her birth village.  [In my nomenclature, the "village" was a group of farms and farm dwellings, and the "town" was the closest place that had a church (or synagogue) and any kind of business-related structure.  My idea of a nineteenth-century Lithuanian "village" is equivalent to the group of houses and farm structures associated with a large cluster of rural mailboxes along a U.S. rural road or highway. My idea of a nineteenth-century Lithuanian "town" is equivalent to the "town" in old U.S. cowboy movies.]  The town is where the church was located, and that is where your Roman Catholic ancestor would have been baptized.


Whatever names of Lithuanian towns or villages you have found in U.S. records, it is extremely unlikely that any of them are equivalent to the present-day spelling of the place. The names that you have found are likely to be (very) corrupted and/or antiquated spellings of the birth place.  I use the index of a detailed road atlas of Lithuania (Reference 7) to search for present-day names of towns and villages in Lithuania.  Many people use the "Alphabetical listing of Places in Lithuania" on the website www.fallingrain.com/world/LH/ (but some of those names are not in nominative case spelling).


In any event, you need to find all of the potential candidate birth villages and then locate each one on a map of Lithuania, and then decide if it could be the birth village of your ancestor.  If your ancestor had listed a birth place that was the name of a gubernija, you can probably eliminate places outside that gubernija. Even better, if your ancestor had listed a birth place that was the name of a district (and not one that also was the name of a gubernija), you can probably eliminate places outside that district.  Maps of gubernijas and districts are [will be] shown in the web page about Pre-1918 "Lithuania".


To locate villages and towns on a map of Lithuania, a good resource is the searchable interactive map at www.maps.lt/map/?lang=en.  You can click anywhere on the map of Lithuania and zoom in on that area; the names of additional villages will appear as the magnification is increased.  Alternatively, you can type the name of the village into the "Location search" box.  If you think you know the first few letters of the village name, type them in, and the search will return results of all places beginning with those letters. [However, that doesn't always happen if a truncated name is entered.]


For additional ways to access online maps, refer to the page Use of Present-Day Lithuania Place Names on this website.



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