Telzer / Telzak Family History


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Q: Are all persons with the Telzer surname related?
A: All Telzers in the U.S.A. are most likely related. Many Telzers in the U.S. are descendants of Goodman Telzer or are married to one of his descendants. Another line in the U.S. are descendants of Goodman's brother, Israel Telzer, or are married to one of his descendants. A picture of Israel is shown on the Photos page.

Q: Are there Telzers in countries other than the U.S.A.?
A: Yes. There are several Telzers in Canada, England and Germany. It is not known whether they are related to those in the U.S.A. However, it seems unlikely that Telzers in Europe are related since the Telzer name in the U.S.A. is the name adopted by most of the Telzaks who emigrated from Europe. Those that remained in Europe retained the Telzak name. 

Q: Are there Telzers who are clearly not related?
A: There were some Telzers in several towns in Lithuania (part of Russia at the time) in the 1800's who are probably not related. The Telzer name means "one who came from the town of Telz." The name was adopted by Jews in the early 1800's who lived in a town other than Telz and were known as the person or family that originally came from the town of Telz. Telz is now known as Telsiai and was the home of the famous Telzer Yeshiva.

Q: Are there alternative spellings of Telzer?
A: Goodman Telzer had his name spelled as Telser in some New York City business directories not too long after his arrival. One census entry showed his name as Telseer. Neither of these spellings is known to have been actively used by any Telzers. Telzak is the original family name and it was retained by those remaining in Lithuania, some of whom later went to Israel and some to the U.S. Telzak is the spelling originally used in Vandziogala, the town where the Telzers lived prior to some of them coming to the U.S.A. Several persons with the Telzak name who came from Kovno Guberniya (the district or province in which the town of Vandziogala was located) survived the holocaust and were found after the war in Germany and one Telsak in Italy. It appears that most, if not all, those with the Telzak name are related to the Telzers. There are some persons with the Telzak surname in the U.S.A, but the name is even less common than Telzer.

Q: Are the surnames Tesler and Tsesler other variations of Telzer?
A: No, those names mean "carpenter" and are not variants of Telzer.

Q: What is the significance of the Telzer name being Kohanim?
A: The Telzer name has Kohen or Levite origins meaning that according to Jewish tradition, Telzers are direct descendants of Moses' brother Aaron. Kohanim were priests in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Q: In what towns in Europe did the Telzers live?
A: Vandziogala (now in Lithuania, part of Russia when most Telzers emigrated to the U.S.A.) is the town where the Telzer family was at the time of the 1874 census. The very meaning of the name Telzer indicates that the original person or family with that name came from Telsiai (also in Lithuania). Some records after 1874 indicate some Telzaks had connections with Vilijampole (known by the Yiddish name of Slobodka), which was a suburb of the city of Kaunas (previously known as Kovno). Goodman's wife came from Vilijampole. A trip to Europe to visit the place origins of the Telzer family should probably include Vandziogala, Telsiai and Vilijampole/Kaunas.

Q: Were the Telzers Russian or Lithuanian?
A: No, they emigrated from the Russian empire from an area now in Lithuania. They were Litvaks or Lithuanian Jews. Ethnically and religiously, they were Jews.

Q: Has all the genealogical research on the Telzers been completed?
A: No, not all of the lines of those known to have come to the U.S.A. have been fully researched. No contacts have yet been established with descendants of four of the five Telzer/Telzak sisters who came to the U.S. If you are a descendant of the Telzer/Telzak family, the author of this site would love to hear from you. See Feedback.

Q: Are there other web sites for those interested in the Telzer family history?
A: There are links to some other sites at the Links page.

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This page was last updated 03/11/08