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I'm looking for a town my ancestors emigrated from in 1911 in Russia.

The spelling for the town on envelopes is Wortono, Russia.

I think it's in the central to northern west section of the country.

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    Welcome to G&FH SE! It sounds like you are reading the town name from the envelopes of perhaps letters or documents. It may help if you are able to include a scan of the town name and some surrounding text. Also, are you talking about immigration to the United States, or to another country? – PolyGeo Nov 29 '15 at 6:13
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    What was the date of the letters? What ethnicity were your ancestors? – bgwiehle Nov 29 '15 at 16:50
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    The country is pretty big, can you specify more precise location? Especially if we are talking about the northwest, is it a northwest of today's Russia, or northwest of the Russian Empire (it coud be current Baltic states or Poland for example). If we are talking about central part, do you mean the European part of Russia or something else? – vladich Nov 29 '15 at 16:58
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    Can you take a photo of the envelope so we can see the cyrillic or other script? – CRSouser Dec 10 '15 at 21:39
  • Northern west Russia in 1911 sounds like Finland to me. – Bregalad Dec 11 '15 at 21:46
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I'm new to "Genealogy & Family History". I'm a native English speaker, but have been researching Eastern European places for nearly 20 years now.

I've never heard of Wortono, but let me suggest a few approaches to this:

  1. the most basic thing to try is entering something like "Wortono, Russia" in a couple search engines (like Google, Bing, Yandex) and see what it brings up...
  2. get a good translator for your browser (I use IMTranslator), and if you have an idea of the language origin of Wortono, try to find a translation of Wortono to English or Russian. (in this case it didn't work for me)
  3. there are several good online place name databases. I use geoname.org. Nothing comes up when I did a basic search for Wortono in Russia, but when I did an advanced "fuzzy" search for Wortono in Europe, I came up with a large number of variations. (see: http://www.geonames.org/advanced-search.html?q=Wortono&country=&featureClass=P&continentCode=EU&fuzzy=0.6 ) If any are of interest, use the Russian variation and do a search (on Yandex with a good browser translator)
  4. there are even more things that can be done if you don't get enough info about the place. If you have a Russian language variation of the name, use a Russian search engine to look up the name (as already suggested). You will get a lot more information if you use the language of that place, at that time. You will get even more results if you use a dedicated VPN site originating in Russia and browse anonymously.

I've been searching for details of a village (area) in Russia for about 15 years, and I'm still finding new details about the place, the culture and the people who lived there. (Online information seems to come and go, especially in Russia and other places that have political and economic issues.) It all depends on how much time you want to spend.

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  • Welcome to G&GH SE! As a new user be sure to take the 2-minute tour to learn about our focussed Q&A format which is different to bulletin boards, discussion forums and other Q&A sites. I hope you will enjoy asking and answering questions here. – PolyGeo Dec 12 '15 at 8:10
  • Thanks #PolyGeo for your comments and for editing my answer (improvements are appreciated and I'm not good with markdown). I will review your tour before posting again. – TJK Dec 12 '15 at 22:30
  • Please don't think there was anything "wrong" with your first post which already has two upvotes including mine. – PolyGeo Dec 12 '15 at 22:51
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Without further information (where in central or north-western Russia it was located or whether it was a big or small town, etc), it will be difficult to identify the place with any certainty.

I took a look in The Geographical Dictionary of the Kingdom of Poland and other Slavic Countries for the town but did not find anything. Towns with names beginning with Wor begin on page 939 of volume XIII and end on page 7 of volume XIV. An advantage of this book for searching for towns is that it is in Polish and so the characters are Latin; a disadvantage for many is that it is in Polish.

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If "Wortono" is taken literally as cyrillic "Шoгtoпo" or "щoгtoпo"(approximately shogtopo) ;it doesn't appear as a place or a valid word.. or at first glance sound Russian.

"W" does not exist is Russian Cyrillic or is used in Baltic State languages, and "Ш" is the closest thing to it and the 'r' looking character may be a "g" sound for "г" and the 'n' looking character a "p" sounding character "п".

Searching for Vortono using a German like pronunciation almost all hits return to "Lithuanian" websites and Google Translate Translates "Wortono" and "Vorton" to "Wharton" (usually in reference to the Pennsylvania School of Business in the US); but that may be a error.

Lithuania was part of Russia from 1795-1918 when it re-established its independence briefly until World War II where it was absorbed by the former Soviet Union, and again re-establishing independence in 1990.

Note: Lithuania also does not use Cyrillic; it uses the Latin alphabet.

So my best guess at this time is Lithuania, but continue to search for the exact location of Vortono or variant spelling. An image might help to narrow this down further.

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Maybe Wortono is a misspelling of Воротыня (Vorotynya), a small village in the Vologda oblast. See the Russian Wikipedia article for Воротыня.

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