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Trying to find Kellis (Keiles) family from Semiatyche (Siemiatycze), Poland

28 Jun 2013 #1
My grandfather, Solomon Kellis, age 9, emigrated from Semiatyche in 1911 to the USA with his mother, Lena, and his sister Rose. His father, Samuel Kellis, emigrated in 1908. I am told differing stories about our last name. Some say that it was changed to Kellis when they came to the USA because it was too difficult to pronounce. I can find documents of Samuel, Lena, Sol and Rose in the USA but nothing on any passenger ship around the years they emigrated. Is Kellis a Hebrew name? I see it used in Greek and Celtic (in various forms) but can find nothing in Hebrew, yet I know from my father and uncles that my grandfather and his parents were orthodox jews.

Anyone with any information? froglips at
jon357 74 | 21,780
29 Jun 2013 #2
It might have been Kalisz. On the website Jewishgen there's quite a lot of records about Siemiatycze. Lovely town, by the way. Well worth a visit.
Wroclaw 44 | 5,379
29 Jun 2013 #3
the 'lisz' part almost corresponds with 'llis' ... one can never be certain, but i'd give this a reasonable level of accuracy.

of course the name, kellis, may have been correct all the time. ...... wait for more replies.

Have a look at the Ship's Record and look for next of kin. You might find the correct spelling there.

the ship's record was written this side of the atlantic. ... so you might find a clue.

check naturalization papers too
OP froglips
29 Jun 2013 #4
I have gone through several hundred ship records. Started with checking the Ks and Cs and then, with the possiblity that the name is completely different, I have been checking records to match the date, age and amount of passengers with the same name. Still nothing but will continue my quest.

I am not convinced one way or another that Kellis is the true name. Trying to keep an open mind and find any evidence to support either hypothosis. Thanks for your help :)
ShawnH 8 | 1,497
29 Jun 2013 #5
Have you tried Kalisz as a potential last name?
OP froglips
29 Jun 2013 #6
No but I finally found a petition for citizenship from my grandfather's sister and it listed her real name (first and last) and where they lived before emigrating; Brisk. I was able to, with the other information I have, trace her to the ship's passenger list along with her mother and two other siblings. I FOUND MY NAME! Keiles! I'm going to keep searching to find the origin. Thanks!
Wroclaw 44 | 5,379
29 Jun 2013 #7

a lot of folk at social media sites with this name. it's not so rare.
OP froglips
29 Jun 2013 #8
A lot of folks in Siemiatycze, who were killed, have that name, too. Which matches the stories my grandpa told about all of our family in that area being wiped out during WWII. Such sadness but am glad to know our real family name.
Astoria - | 153
30 Jun 2013 #9

Most likely the name was spelled Kejles as this commemorative plaque to the Jews of Siemiatycze suggests:


It reads: "Here lie the mortal remains of innocent victims murdered by Hitlerite butchers in the year 1942 in the city of Siemiatycze / of children, women, men and the old / 70 people in all / among them Efraim Kejles / Abram Ekstrak / Mejta Lew and others / Remained alive in deep sorrow and conducted the exhumation Joshua Kejles / Honored be their memory

Plenty of info about the Jews of Siemiatycze, for example photos - check Google
5 Mar 2014 #10
[Moved from]: Seeking information on the Aleksiejuk and Marcinkowska families from Siemiatycze

I am looking for any information on the Aleksiejuk and Marcinkowska families in Siemiatycze, Poland. I am interested in obtaining a birth record from 1931. Would anyone know where I can obtain this? I checked on the website for the State Archive in Bialystok but I have never received any responses. Should I mail a letter? Is this the correct place to check? Please email me at mkratts@gmail. Thank you.
15 Apr 2014 #11
I am researching my family with surname of Keiles as well. They were from Vilna (Wilno, Vilnius) Lithuania, then Lodz Poland, then Warsaw, Poland. My grandfather immigrated to NYC in 1913, sisters immigrated to Palestine in 1913 and 1924.
Looker - | 1,134
5 Jan 2015 #12
I did a quick search on Google - great source of knowledge, and I saw some results for both surnames in Siemiatycze - Aleksiejuk and Marcinkowski / Marcinkowska.

Just check it yourself and try to contact any - maybe is there someone related?
17 Mar 2015 #13
My name is Freddy. My father was Joshua Kejles that is listed on that head stone. My Grandfather was Ephraim Kejles, but I am not sure how that relates to Keiles.
13 Oct 2015 #14
Merged: Try Keilis (Kejles) a matronymic family name in Siemiatycze

Keilis (Kejles) a matronymic family name in Siemiatycze
28 Jan 2023 #15
Hi, my mothers maiden name is Kellis. He was my Great great grandfather. He would never speak of his heritage.
I do have pics of them.My DNA showed (yes, I don't think that test is terribly accurate), just a tiny bit of Ashkenazi Jew. I would love to stay connected with you all. My email is 423-463-4660. I grew up in Tn/ GA in US. I now live in Alaska./ US.

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