Let's review the evidence so far:
The Bloomfields records have sent us on all over the map. I've examined the records of Moses Bloomfield, his siblings (Harris Blumenfeld and Mary Pincus) and seven sons and generated a list of towns. Check out the google map I created:
View Bloomfield Russian Towns in a larger map
- Malec (a town in Pruzhany district, Grodno region in current day Belarus) also known as: Malech [Rus], Malecz [Pol], Maltsh [Yid], Maleč [Bel], Maltch, Malch, Moletch- listed as Moses Bloomfield permanent residence from Harry Bloomfield's birth certificate, and on Harris Blumenfeld naturalization papers and Mary Pincus' ship manifest as their place of birth.
- Pruzhany (a town and district in the providence of Grodno also in Belarus)- from Mary Pincus's naturalization papers and Minnie Bloomfield (Crane) naturalization papers which name Pruzany as her husband William's place of birth.
- Grodno (a town, a district and a province in what is now current day Belarus)- from William Bloomfield's WWII draft registration.
- Slawatczye (a town in Biała district, Siedlce and province, currently in Poland, 25 miles from the city of Brest) from Harry Bloomfield's birth certificate and WWI draft registration.
- Brest (a town and a district in the province of Grodno now also in Belarus)- from Harry Bloomfield's WWII draft registration.
- Wladimiretz, Wolyin- Determining which town this is referring to, is a bit difficult. Wladimiretz was mentioned on the ship manifest for Moses, Freida Toby and their four youngest sons. The name Vladimerz was mentioned on Barney Bloomfield's preliminary form for Petition of Naturalization. I believe this is the town of Vladimirets in the district of Lutsk and the province of Volhynia (also known as Wolyn). This town is known by many names which include: Włodzimierzec [Pol], Volodymyrets' [Ukr], Vlodimiretz [Yid], Vlodzhimyerzets, Wladimirez, Vlodzimezhets, Vladimirei and Volodymyrec'. Before WWI, it was called, like it is now, Vladimirets. Confusingly it could also be Volodymyr Volynskyy [Ukr] also known by many names such as Vladimir Volynskiy [Rus], Włodzimierz Wolynski [Pol], Ludmir [Yid], Lodomeria [Lat], Ladmir, Lodmer, Ludomir, Vladimir Volinski, Vladzimyrz, Włodzimierz, Wladimir, Wladimir Wolynsk, Wolodymyr-Wolynskyj, which was in the district of Vladimir and the same province of Volhynia. Before WWI, this town was known as Vladimir and that is why my sense is that it's not the correct town mentioned in the manifest. What do you think?
A close examination suggest that some of the named locations are one and the same.
- Pruzhany for example was mentioned only on Mary Pincus' naturalization papers, while her ship manifest specifically mentions Malec. This suggest that Malec is the more specific location and Pruzhany is the district not the town.
- Grodno is mentioned only on William's draft registration but it is also the province where Malec is located. Since on Minnie's naturalization papers, Pruzhany is William's place of birth, it seems that Pruzhany in the Grondo province is the more specific location and Grodno the town can be eliminated. William could s
- Slawatczye was only mentioned in Harry Bloomfiled's birth record from 1892 and his WWI draft registration. The draft registration names Brest as the town and Slawatczye as the state. This seems to be backwards. Since, Brest is not mention with regards to any other family member it seems Brest the town can be eliminated from the list. Slawatczye remains on the list as Harry's place of birth. This birth record does say the family was from Malec, and only temporary residence of Slawatczye, meaning that they may have moved to Slawatczye but did not change their permanent residence. This makes Slawatczye an likely ancestral village.
- Finally, Vladimirets seems to be the Bloomfields last residence before coming to America. It's unlikely that the ship manifest correctly described all their places of birth since we have confirmed that Harry was indeed born in Slawatczye and not Vladimirets. It seems much more likely that the younger three siblings were born in Vladimirets. Though Vladimirets could have been where Moses and Freida Toby were born as well (and possibly where they returned to before going to the US), it seems more likely though that Moses was from Malec as he was registered as a permanent resident there and back then it was difficult to change one's permanent residence. Freida Toby's place of birth is a whole other mystery. Barney Bloomfield's naturalization papers state he was born in Vladimirets but qualify that he is not sure the name of the town. This suggests that they lived in the region of Vladimirets, but not necessarily the town of Vladimirets.
Using this train of thought we trim the list to 4 towns: Malech, Pruzhany, Slawatcyze and Vladimirets (or Volodymyr Volynskyy).
So, finally, after all this time, I bring to you William Bloomfield's Declaration of Intent to become a United States citizen:
|William Bloomfield Declaration of Intent (Click to enlarge)|
So Close and Yet so Far!
Unfortunately, this records did not bring us any closer to answering the big question. William lists his place of birth as Pruzany. Thanks gramps! Did you mean you were born in the town of Pruzany? Or where you born in Malec where you father and his siblings seem to be from and which is in the district of Pruzhany? Will I ever know the answer?
One new and very important clue provided by these documents is William's arrival information including the date and the name of the ship:
William arrived from Rotterdam on the Rotterdam on the 22 Dec 1903.
I was hopeful that maybe the ship manifest—another document I've been after for years—would shed some light on the subject. The manifest was not indexed which explains why it was so difficult to track-down without the specific ship information. Yet gain, luck was not on my side. While so many ship manifest forms have a column for place of birth, William's did not.
|Wolf Blumenfeld Ship Manifest (click to enlarge)|
See the close up for Williams entry on line 9:
What it did provide was a last residence: Kuselin, a place I never heard. There is a town in today's Ukraine called Kiselin [Rus, Yid], also known as Kisielin [Pol], Kysylyn [Ukr]. In 1903 Kiselin was in the district of Vladimir, the providence of Volhynia, which was part of the Russian Empire. It is located between Vladimirets and Volodymyr Volynskyy, but closer to Volodymyr Volynskyy (only 21 miles). I believe Kuselin may indeed be the town because it would be consistent with the fact that the family reported Wladimiretz as their last residence, since Kiselin was very near to Volodymyr Volynskyy. Wladimiretz may even be the referring to the name of the district Vladimir and the actual town may have been Kuselin. William who was only was only 16 in 1903 (according the his 1887 year of birth which he used consistently thought his life) was likely living with his family. (The fact that he reported to be 18 on the manifest is not troubling since many underage travelers lied about their age in order to be allowed to travel alone).
The answer to the big question: what was the Bloomfield's ancestral village? Remains confusing and illusive. Maybe my question is the problem. Maybe the question is too big and not focused enough. Which ancestor does ancestral village refers to? William, my great-grandfather, or a generation above? Am I asking where they were born or where they lived? Do I mean, where would they consider themselves to be from? Where they grew up? or perhaps where their ancestors lived?
Perhaps I assumed when I formulated this big question, that they lived in one place until they moved to America. The Bloomfields seem to have embodied the term the wandering Jew. This close review of the records answer a lot of questions smaller questions and helps outline a timeline the family's whereabouts.
The Answer for Now:
The town of Malec, in the district of Pruzhany seems to be where Moses's generation was born. If Moses was not born there in 1854, he considered it his permanent residence, and his younger siblings were born there (1871-1873). It is possible that some of Moses's older children were also born in Malec since William (the third oldest) was born in Pruzhany in 1887. The next son, Harry was born in Slawatczye in 1892 which means that between 1887 and 1892 the family moved, since Slawatczye is not in the district of Pruzhany. By 1903 the family living the Vladimir district where Barney was born (second to youngest son). They were very likely to be living in the town of Kuselin in 1904, the date William departed for America.
Malec continues to appear to be the closest approximation to an ancestral town. There is much more research to do, but from now, there will be only small questions such as: Where were each of the Bloomfield children born? How would you go about obtaining the answers? My plan is to obtain missing naturalization papers for Aaron, Max, Harry, Joseph, Barney and Benjamin. A trip to the National Archives in Waltham is probably where I'll start since they all lived in New England. These records promise to provide ship manifest for the older two brothers, Aaron and Max. Where would you look next?