Kneller and his son Mike spent a day in Mir, the shtetl where
their ancestors Aharon Noah Popok and Zelda Basha Pogorelski
had lived. Around 1900 four of the Popok children, Moshe, Maier,
Hanna and Esser, went to the United States. Sheldon visited in
mid-August 1977 and took photos and a video. He was kind enough
to send photos of Mir and some information about the town.
reports that Mir lies entirely on one side of a two lane highway.
This is the countryside on the opposite side of the road from
the town. Agriculture is the major occupation in the region.
(See Map of Mir area)
is Mike Kneller on a road approaching Mir. The famous castle
is in the background on the left. (Since the grass is quite green
in August, I would think that Mir gets adequate rain in the summer
to grow crops without need of irrigation.)
is the main street into the center of town. It may be the top
of the of the road into Mir, as seen in the old
is standing in front of the entrance to the town square. Note
a horse and cart in this picture, as well as in several other
photos of the town.
is one side of the town square. The tour bus was taking a
group of Los Angeles Jews on a "Roots" trip. Sheldon
and his son were not part of this tour. They had hired a 22
year old law student who spoke Russian and Polish, as well
as broken English, as their driver.
The church is at one corner of the town
square. It is the second largest building in town .(The castle
is the largest building.) Sheldon said that the square is perhaps
100 by 100 feet. The third side is made up of open wooden table-stalls,
where local peasants sell produce. The fourth side has a large
hedge with a narrow path through it. Behind the hedge is the
Mir Yeshiva. There is no more than 150 feet between the church
is the only other street leading out of the square. About
a quarter mile down this street, on the right, behind a group
of old gray wooden houses, Sheldon and Mike found the remains
of the Jewish cemetery.
Castle is being restored as a tourist attraction. The castle belonged
to the Radziwill family, who controlled much of the area and several
of the local towns for many centuries. The last private owners
were the Sviatopolk-Mirski family. Mir Castle is now owned by the