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Tracing Tillingers: Mystery Branch #2 - Zalman Tillinger

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

So my research into this branch began with this Facebook message on Tracing The Tribe. When I saw it it immediately caught my eye - someone looking for Tillingers. A subsequent comment (as you can see there are 42) also clarifies the posters family is from Zablotow (not Lodz). My first thought was could my luck be any better. After a few private messages I was able to help them find the ship manifests and other immigration information as well. Such as after finding out their Tillinger married a cousin with surname Breindel I was able to find them on JRI-Poland. However I could not find anything that indicated what their connection might be to my Tillingers. From our discussion and research I discovered that her oldest known Tillinger ancestors were Morris/Moshe Tillinger and his wife Sara Breindel. Eventually I was able to acquire that person's child's DNA results and upon comparison to my mother's first test from a few years ago, it was a small match. But that doesn't mean there is not connections, it just means that it might be further back than I am expecting. The person does match a little higher to another Tillinger branch, but my branch seems to have not inherited the common DNA, it happens. This was all happening as I was finishing up my deep dive of my German ancestors so I put it aside for the time being.

While I was a few months into the Tillinger deep dive I began also looking at the DNA matches for my mom, two of her second cousins, and my second cousin for other Tillingers they matched with. As I was collecting information I created some charts so I compare how everyone matched with each other. I also got my DNA tested and asked my mom to retest at a different company that doesn't allow uploads. With all of this I was able to compare how the person mentioned above compared to other family members.

And then, this past August, Ancestry released an index of all USC Shoah Foundation Jewish Survivor Interviews. My first search search of course was my grandmother, but my second search was for the surname Tillinger. Lo and behold there was one lone Tillinger interviewee (Samuel) and 16 people listed as relatives. And what did a see but not only Tillinger, but Breindel as well. I went about comparing what I knew from the above person's tree to this one and it seems they were a cousin branch. Further research revealed that Samuel's father was Hersch and that his Hersch's brother was Morris, as well as their other siblings; Nissan, Eliazer, and Hanelke, The interview also listed Samuel's mother as Rifke Thau and tht she had been murdered in the Holocaust so I went to the Yad Vashem Database and found her Page of Testimony submitted by her brother-in-law Eliazer. I also found other POT's submitted by him, including the one for Hanelke which listed their parents as Zalman Tillinger and Marjem Stettner. I was now a further generation back and had more to go on, or so I thought. Unfortunately, I have so far been unsuccessful in getting further back than Zalman and Marjem. However like in past posts let me further break down what I have found from the top down.


Zalman Tillinger - While searching the indexes at JRI-Poland I was able to find another child for Zalman and Marjem; Jakob Schamson as wel as the birth record for Chana Elke (not Hanelke as I had seen previously). All in all they had 7 children I know about; Moses, Jakob Schamson (b. 1880-1882), Chana Elke (b. 1881 or 1887 sources differ), Lea (1889-1961), Eliazer (1899), Nisan and Hersch (d. 1917). According to Jakob and Chana's birth records Zalman was born in Rudniki which is a smaller town 7km away from Zablotow. Based on his children's birthdates I would estimate his birth to be around 1860, but might have been as early as around 1850 based on Marjem's birthdate in 1853. While writing this I did come up with a theory that would take me back a few more generations, but nothing that concretely connects them to my branch, yet!


Moses Tillinger - As mentioned above Moses' descendants is what initially got me started working on this branch. I have thus far been unable to find his birth or death dates. All I know is he had already passed by the time his wife Sara (nee Breindel), and three of their children; Majer, Fanni, and Frida, arrived arrived in the US in 1922 to meet up with her brother Hyman/Chaim. Their daughter Bella, who had married her cousin Morris Breindel, came over in 1920 ans stated that she was meeting up with her uncle Hyman. This branch has two people who have taken DNA tests.


Hersch Tillinger - Also as mentioned above, Hersch's son Samuel is what led me to connecting Moses to his siblings. He is also the only other child of Zalman whose birth and death dates I have not been able to find. After doing some digging I was able to find his descendants and in September spoke to his grandson from whom I received a good amount of information regarding Zalman's descendants but not a clue as to who is parents were. I was told that Hersch disappeared in World War I which gives me an estimated death date, but no birth info. Hersch was married to Rifke Thau and they had 7 children - Moses, Ruchel, Uszer, Miriam, Henia, Samuel, and Devorah. The daughters were all murdered in the Holocaust. Samuel and Uszer survived and came to the US. Moses died as an infant.


Lea Tillinger - After I found Hersch's parents' information I started digging on Ancestry and found their sister Lea or Lena as she was known in the US. Lea came over in 1911 and like Moses' family listed Chaim, listed as her brother-in-law but actually her brother's brother-in-law, as the person she was meeting up with. Her father Zalman (Solomon) is also mentioned. She also appears on the detained aliens list for sister Chaie Breindel? But I am not sure what that is all about at this time. A few years after arriving she married Sussman Katz. They had three children and I have yet to contact their descendants.


Eliazer (Stettner) Tillinger - Aside from the previously mentioned phone call with Hirsch's descendant, I have not been able to find out a lot of information about Eliazer. I know he ended up in Israel and was the one who provided the Pages of Testimony at Yad Vashem for his nieces, brother Nisan and sister Chana Elke. I was also informed the had three children and used his mother's maiden name as his surname.


Up next Mystery Branch #3 Isak Tillinger

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