the familys history
about our family lines.
stories will be added later,
so check back from time to time!
Some researches writing in the 1950's
said that the Smetters descended from the Huguenot family
of "de Smet." This was an assumption made based
solely on the similarity of names and the
"German" nature of the Smetters line in
America. (The Huguenots were French Calvinist Protestants
of the 16th and 17th centuries. Many Huguenots moved to
Most current research indicates that the
Smetters were not German, but were desecended from the
Smither family that came to America from the British Isles. Some settled among the Germans in Pennsylvania and
became known as Pennsylvania Dutch. Here the name changed
from Smither to Smithers, and later to Schmetter or
Schmetters, Smothers, Smathers, Smethers, or Smetters.
Some of the family line in Pennsylvania moved to the
Carolinas and used the name Smathers.
Smither family history indicates that
they were found in in Yorkshire, England since ancient
times, as Lords of the manor of Smithers, some say well
before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke
William at Hastings in 1066.
"Framp" means "strong or firm" and is
from a British word meaning "fair" or
"Brisk," and the "ton" at the end of
the name means "farmstead" or
"enclosure." Frampton means "one who comes
from Frampton." It is a habitation name, taken from
various places. There were about ten places in
Glouschestershire and one Dorest, England with the name.
Most locations take the name from the Frome river and the
Old English word "tun" which means an enclosure
or settlement. A primary location was the homestead
Frampton on the Frome River in England. It was in what
was known as Freola's people village --"freo,"
means free. The place called Fampton in Lincs probably
gets its name from the Old English name
"Framece," a derivative of "fram,"
which means valient, plus the Old English
"tun." In Doresethsire, northwest of
Dorchester, was a town of Frampton. Three parishes are
known as Frampton Courts.
Framptons are from the Anglo-Saxons in England of about
the 10th century. Descendants are traced to Norman,
Welsh, Saxon, or Irish ancestors. The family was of the
aristocracy of England--the House of Frampton. They
derived maternally from a Norman chieftan. The
"ton" ending of the name indicates they were
Anglo-Saxons--not Celts, Danes, or Germans since the
ending is not found in those names. At the time of the
Norman Conquest in 1066, the principal seat of the
English Framptons was at Dorsetshire, in the County of
Dorset. In 1794, a pavement of unusual size and beauty
was unearthed at Frampton in Doreset. It was a pavement
laid during the Roman occupation.
In 1300, John Frampton's oldest son married Marjorie
Morton, of Morton (Moreton) House. A Frampton served as a
member of Parliament in 1354, was knighted in 1371. A
Frampton was Knighted, made Sheriff in 1387, and was
granted a crest and a coat-of-arms. The Framptons
actually have two family crests or coat-of-arms. The
first is a greyhound sitting and has a collar ring with
wings. The second crest a fabled creature--a demi-griffin
(a half-griffin)--with claws outstretched. Between the
claws is a mullet or staff.
Go to the
FRAMPTON surname list.
The name Compton means "one who comes from Compton
(hollow estate). It is the name of many places in
England. It comes from the Old English "cumb"-
a short, straight valley-- and "tun"--an
enclosure or settlement. Various spellings are Cumpton,
Coombe, Comton, etc.
Our earliest Compton ancestor in America seems to have
been David Compton who lived and kept tavern in Broome
County, New York. In 1798, David settled four miles above
Binghamton, near the Susquehanna river. He was the second
military captain in this region. Joseph Compton
(apparently his brother) settled near Binghamton on the
south side of the river.
Go to the
COMPTON surname list.
According to a history by William Forrest Shonkwiler, the
family name probably came from German for
"shoen" which means beautiful, and
"weiler," a word derived from the Italian
"villa" or the French "viller" and
means a village or town. The 'pretty' or 'beautiful'
village that provided the Shonkwiler family with its name
was located in the Rhien-Pfals region of southwestern
Germany which was part of ancient Palatinate. The village
was located in foothills of the Vosage mountains in the
wine producing regions between the Moselle and Rhine
rivers. It was about 50 kilometers east of the border of
the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Thirty miles to the
southwest was the ancient Roman city of Trier which was
founded in 15 A.D. Ritberg was about ten miles to the
northeast. Enemies often invaded the land. Few people
stayed outside the friendly town's wall after dark.
In the first half of the twentieth century, about 200
people inhabited the town. Most farmed land, at night
returning to two-story stone houses that had attached
barns. Those who did not farm worked in factories in
Trier and Bitberg.
the SHONKWILER surname list.
The Satinovers came from Palestine, Romania, central
Europe, or western Russia. Harry Boonin, a noted Jewish
genealogist stated about 1985, that the family name of
Satinover came from the name of the town Satanov from
which they originally came:
Satanov, a townlet called Satanov in
Location: Khmelnitsky district, Ukraine
Foundation date of Jewish community: 16th century
Pre-Holocaust population: approx. 2500
The Tovrog family goes back only a few generations by
that name. The surname Michelson was also used.
Even the Michelson name probably was not used as a family
designation before the early 1800. Until then, many
people, especially the Jews, did not use surnames. In the
beginning of the 19th century, laws were made in Europe
that required almost everyone to have a fixed family name.
The name of Tovrog occurred at least by the end of the 19th century when Label Michelsons
married son Max came to America. Max and his familywent the last
name of Tovrog; his wife was Freda Bobrov. It is possible that emigration officials
hearing him speak in a Russian or Yiddish accent,
recorded his name as Tovrog rather than similarly
Taking on a mother or wifes surname name was common
among European Jews. Sometimes the mothers surname
was used if she were from a famous rabbinical family or
was the family breadwinner (while the men studied in the
Yeshivas). In some countries, rabbinical marriage
ceremonies were not recognized by the local governments,
thus causing children to assume the surname of the
mother. Other reasons given for changing surnames were to
circumvent mandatory, military service under the Czars.
Tradition says the name change in the Michelson-Tovrog
line came from fear the Czarist authorities would locate
the family in America.
The Brenner line closely associates with the
Tovrog-Michelson line and shares relatives. Ida Brenner
and her husband Benjamin Tovrog were first
cousins--grandchildren of Label Michelson. Marriage among
cousins was not uncommon before the 20th century. Many
European royal families were related in this way. In
Jewish families, elegible mates had to be found within
their community of faith.
The surnames of Brenner and Brender are derived from the
German word for the Alembic apparatus of distilling which
is "brenner" (burner). The names were often
assumed by a distiller of alcohol, particulary in Eastern
Europe, where Morris Brenner's family came from. Working
in a trade there was licensed by a government monoply.
Names denoting occupation, trades, crafts, and
professionss and trade were extremely common among most
peoples, including the Jewish people. Ashkenazi Jews in
particular seemed to have used this source for creating
family names, especially from the 19th century when laws
were passed in Europe forcing all Jews to assume fixed
family names, which until them they had not deemed
necessary. In many parts of Germany, when family names
were chosen, there was a prohibition on using names that
were specifically Jewish, such as Cohen or Levy.
The Edict of 1789 in the Austro-Hungarian Empire required
all Jews to register with the burgermeister with a
Germanic family name for purposes of taxation and
military conscription. Most Jewish-Germanic surnames were
desciptive of occupation, geographic location, or
religious background. Many surnames came from other
sources, such as appearance, patronyms, some matronyms if
they were more prestigious, etc. The haste in which such
laws were enforced may explain why many used the name of
their trade or tools used in the trade. The wide range of
Jewish family names coming from occupations illustrates
the variety of trades they had and the areas where the
Go to the
TOVROG-MICHELSON -BRENNER surname list.
Michelson simply means "the son of Michel."
Michel is a German form of Michael. Michael was one of
four archangels who surrounded the throne of the Lord.
The name means "who is like God" or
"Godly". In the Hebrew Bible (Daniel 10),
Michael is the constant defender of the Jewish people and
is God's messenger. Michal also was the name of the
younger daughter of the Biblical King Saul. She became a
wife of King David.
Many Jewish and non-Jewish given and surnames are based
on Michael, among them the German Michel/Michl. The
French use Michel, Italian forms use Michele, the Russian
Mikhail, the Hungarian Mihaly, and the Rumanina Mihai(l).
Various spellings include Meisel and Maisel to Meysel and
Meusel, and could have produced the forms Miss and Miess.
Some sources connect Michael with house signs which
pictured a mouse (in German "maus") or a
Titmouse (in German "meise"). Before the 19th
century--prior to the modern system of addressing
property by number and street name--European houses
generally were identified with a picture sign or shield
hanging in front.
Among Jewish people, Michael is recorded in 1212 at
Wuerzburg in Germany, Michaleis in 1261 at Main
(Germany), Michahel in 1334 at Strasbourg, France; Mikiel
in 1337 in the Hainot, France; Michelin in 1392 at
Colmar, France, Michaellis in 1400 in France; Meisel in
1477 at Prague (Bohemia); Michel in 1550 in Hessen,
Germany. Michelis (1678), Michelis and Michelupp (1720),
Miess and Miss (1721), Mischke (1731), and Machelopp
(1745) are documented in the lists of visitors who
attended and Leipzig fairs in Germany. Misch, Maechel,
and Meishchel are recorded in 18th-century Alsace,
Distinguished Michelsons include the siblings Albert,
Charles, and Miriam who were Mitzi's cousins. Albert was
the famed physicist who won the first American Nobel
prize in physics. Charles was the speach writer for
Theodore Roosevelt. Miriam was a noted novelist, whose
books were published over a forty year span.
Little is known of our specific
Rappaport ancestors -- only that Mitzi's paternal
grandmather Paulina Rappaport was born about 1883 and
came to America from Romania in 1903 to stay with her
sister in Chicago who was married to Leon Rubin
(Rubenstein). Apparently sometime later Paulina's mother
Bessie also came to America.
Various branches of the Rappaport family
claim a common Kohenitic (priestly) origin. The names of Rapa or
Rappe ha-Kohen are found about 1450. At that time
Meshullam Kusi Rapa ha-Kohen, the earliest known member
of the family, lived on the Rhine in Germany. Several
decades later the family disappeared from Germany,
probably due to the expulsion of the Jews from Mayence
Oct. 29, 1462. In 1467, in Mestre, near Venice, the
wealthy Rappe is found as collector of alms for the poor
of the Holy Land. In Venice the physician R. Moses Rap
was exempted in 1475 from wearing the Jew's badge.
to the SATINOVER surname list.