Lipschutz and her family. Toiba was born in Vilkomir 1869,
the daughter of Moshe Abram Geffen and Ita Feiga Popilsky.
"Researching the Geffen family has been a fascinating
project which will continue on for quite a while."
My great grandmother, Toiba Geffen Lipschutz, was
a vague memory to me, but a very vital part of my mother's
life. After completing a family history book on my mother's
family, I decided to see if I could obtain more information
on Toiba's family. I knew none of her relatives and nothing
about her pertaining to the "old country."
As is my usual practice, the first place I looked for information
was at the cemetery. On Toiba's tombstone I found the name
of her father, Moshe Abram, along with the name of her husband,
David Lipschutz's father.
Next, death certificates provided me with the name of her
mother which was Ita Popilsky or Popofsky and the town where
she was born, Vilkomir, Lithuania.
On the Internet I looked up all the Geffens listed in the
white pages and sent out 250 form letters. When I received
over fifty answers, many confirming Vilkomir and all confirming
Lithuania, I knew I was on my way.
I was very fortunate to receive the tree compiled on the descendants
of Tuvia Geffen from Joel Ziff. This gave me a working basis
to start adding names to. Also, I received information on
the records in the Lithuanian State Archives that provided
information on several branches of the family from Thom Montgomery.
We did an additional search of the Lithuanian records and
came up with more Geffen names in Vilkomir and surrounding
The Internet, and JewishGen in particular, provides many database
with genealogical information. There are the resources from
the federal government where ship manifests, naturalization
records and census information is available.
Slowly we were able to start building a large family tree.
We determined that there were at least six branches of the
family dating back to the original David, born circa 1758.
Personal conversations gave us many clues as to which family
members knew others and who were deemed cousins.
Research showed us, that if a surname was Geffen, and the
family had Lithuanian roots, they were part of our tree. Thusly,
our tree branched out and has grown to over 2600 family members.
We also learned that the six branches of the tree were very
diverse. Among the descendants of Tuvia Geffen were many Rabbis.
The descendants of Barouch included the wine makers and religious
book publishers. The descendants of Kusel were shopkeepers,
innkeepers and tradesmen.
The research is continuing. There are many Geffens in South
Africa whom we know are part of our tree as well as many that
we have to research to connect. We have now accomplished part
of this quest and have added over 200 of our ancestors and
their descendants who resided in South Africa.
Family legend has told us that the Geffen family originated
in Portugal. We are trying to research where the family might
have settled after The Spanish Inquisition. At first we were
certain that the family settled in the town of Geffen in The
Netherlands. This proved to be incorrect. Presently, we believe
they settled in Germany and are doing research there.
We welcome information and input that anyone can provide.
New information will be posted on this site as it is found.
Please see the resources listed on the Bibliography Page for
Research Project Updates..May 14, 2007
South African Geffens...We
have completed adding all of the known Geffens from
South Africa. We have made contact with several of the families,
who have been very helpful. There still remains a few families
not connected and we are working on these.
Geffens in Ukraine...We
believe that the family of Mikhel Geffen (Gyfain) emigrated
fom Lithuania to Ukraine and first settled in the Uman area.
Mikhel was quite possibly a brother of our first known David.
Please see Relationship of the name Gefen to Gafanovich below.
tree has been prepared from archival Ukranian documents
for this family
Vilna Archives Documents...We
have seen the listings for many Vilna documents. Please see
Relationship of the name Gefen to Gafanovich below.
Relationship of the name Gefen to Gafanovich...We
believe the Geffen family came from Portugal. We do not know
as of yet where they settled after expulsion from Portugal,
but do know that Kupiskis, Lithuania was a hub for settlement.
The name Gafanovich was seen among many Kupiskis documents.
It is quite possible that our original name was Gafanovich.
There are many similarities of names and dates among the various
Lithuanian records that show cross overs of names and birth
dates. Through translations of the various records the name
is shown with a variety of spellings.
It is also a possibility that our first David Geffen was actually
named David Benzion (or Bentzel) Gafanovich. We also see the
possibility of our David having at least three brothers: Mikel
Gyfain b.1732, who settled in Uman, Ukraine, Movsha Vaynshtok b.c.1743 and remained in Kupiskis, Izrael Geyban
b.c.1750 settled in Kedani, Kuanas, Lithuania and Lazer Gafanovich
b.c.1755 from Kupiskes. We are presently awaiting further research from Kupiskis.
Looking at the naming patterns of the above and of those of their descandants, it also seems
possible that their father was named Itsko b.c.1710. This
is a theory that needs more documentation, but it does seem
certain that there were settlements of Geffens in several
areas in the early 1800s. Our part of the family was certainly
from Vilkomir but it appears that David's brothers may have
each settled in a different town.
We have been working with Dr. Gerald Gaffin from London on the Gafanovich research. Gerald has done extensive research on his family and has most graciously shared it with us.
We invite you to look at the proposed combined Family Tree based solely upon my theory.