I have recordings of my grandfather's cousin interviewing his father about life in Lithuania during the late 1800s and early 1900s. My great great grandfather describes his life as a young child, in particular, a story about his family losing wealth due to a new law.

But, uh, after it comes out a law, that no Jewish can have, uh, la— land in, uh, uh, fifty miles from the border, and they used to live re— less than fifty miles from the border of [unclear, maybe, Tavlik], so they, they was chased out from the land.

He says later,

No, they did not pay nothing at all. They just chased, chased them off and that’s all. They did not pay a nothing.

  • I have two questions. The first is, he mentions a town-- what sounds like 'Tavlik'. What are its longitude and latitude.
  • The second is the validity of this story. Where can I find more about this event? I understand that throughout the 17th - early 20th century, the Pale of Settlement dictated where Jews could live, but I couldn't find the one instance he was referring to.

Some clues:

  • He was born in 1883.
  • He was born on a farm between Pumpyan [55°56' 24°21’] and Posvol [56°04' N, 24°24' E]
  • As a result of the loss in wealth, the father went to peddle in Ponovich.

(The spelling 'Tavlik' is a phonetic transcription of what he says during the interview. The sound is sub-par. It's possible I've spelled or heard wrong. I would post a snippet of the recording but I don't think I can do that on this site.)

  • Could it possibly be Tērvete, which is a municipal area of Latvia, right on the Lithuanian border? Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


I'll make a guess that this might be what was known as Шавли in 1890, just south of the 56th parallel:

Lithuania 1888 (Lithuanianmaps.com)

Russian maps of the time put the zero meridian on the Pulkovo Observatory near St Petersburg: the vertical line is labelled "−7".

Шавли would be pronounced Shavli which could sound like "Tavlik" in a poor recording of an elderly man.

The city is now called Шяуля́й (Shyaulyai) and Wikipedia even gives a Yiddish name, שאַװל (Shavel). It's listed as 55°56′N 23°19′E.


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