Wolf Finkelstein was my great-great grandfather. He was born in Romania in 1832 which was before that country came into existence.

I don't know how to find out anything about him such as who his parents were.? How could I determine a more precise location and date for his birth?

I think he was born in a town called Jassy which I have also seen spelled Iasi.

  • 1
    Welcome to G&FH.SE. Your question has very little information and is not likely to attract a good answer. See How do I ask a good question? for suggestions on how you can improve it. You may also be able to find some ideas by looking at other questions with the tag 'Romania' or at other questions that talk about finding someone's birthplace. If you have more information to add to the question, use the 'edit' function underneath your question.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 3:39
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    Something that I think would be very useful for you to edit into your question is what else you know about Wolf Finkelstein e.g. when/where he died and was married (and to whom)? That way if we find any records of a Wolf Finkelstein we will be in a better position to assess whether he appears to be your Wolf Finkelstein.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 4:11
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    How do you know he was born in Romania? When was that record dated? How consistently is Romania named as his birthplace if there are multiple records? "Romania" did not exist until the 1859 union of Moldavia and Wallachia and only became independent of the Ottoman empire in 1877. Transylvania and other former Hungarian territories were not added until 1920.
    – bgwiehle
    Commented Mar 13, 2015 at 14:16
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    I agree with the comments above - you need to provide more details for a decent answer. Out of curiosity, I performed a search with your request's parameters on MyHeritage website and it came up with more than 260K records in all collections. Possible details include names of wife/husband, siblings, children, etc. Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 2:34
  • The information I have came from a great-uncle now deceased. According to him, Wolf Finkelstein married Hannah Cohen who was born in 1840 and died in 1896. He died December 29, 1908 in New York City. They raised three sons: Emil [who changed his name to Mark Fenton] a doctor with the Public Health Service, Joseph Finkelstein [a dentist], and Ignatz [or Ignace] Finkelstein who experienced several career changes during his life. Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 2:23

2 Answers 2


One full side of my family, also Jewish, was born in Romania, and I know its not easy to find the town or area of origin.

Finkelstein is a very common name, so it is important you try to narrow down the birthplace.

What worked best for me was first finding where the family settled in North America. Generally they would not have come alone, but would have come with other Jewish families. Often if the families came at the same time, they could have come from the same place. So find out more about the other Jewish families in the area. Maybe see if other genealogists are researching them and contact them to find their origins.

Second step: Get the ship immigration record. Find out when the family came to North America and which port. Identify them in the record and it will always give the location they came from - usually the province in Romania, which will narrow things down. Again, look for others on the same ship from the same area and find out about them.

Third step: Find census records of your early immigrant ancestors. Often the Census will give the place of birth. Were any married here, or died here? Marriage and death records rarely list place of birth as more than Romania, but you may get lucky.

Fourth step: Join the ROM-SIG of JewishGen, and look through all of their resources. There is a lot of information available here. Don't assume any of the Finkelsteins you find are related until you have enough evidence to show it.

No one said it would be easy.


You may be able to determine his town (or at least county/region) of birth through various means: his immigration records, his naturalization records, his Landsmanschaften membership records (for example, was he buried in a cemetery with other people from his hometown area?), his World War I draft records (even if he didn't serve), and so on.

Also, please remember that Eastern European borders changed a lot in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Do make sure that he was born in Romania itself, and not a piece of land that was considered Romania at the time that he was answering the "where were you born" question. For example, a large chunk of eastern Hungary was later absorbed by Romania.

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