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Mir, Belarus

 Some pictures were found in a box of old photographs that belonged to my grandfather, Joseph Jacobson. He lived in Mir, before coming to the United States in 1884 at age 14 to live in Des Moines, Iowa. His older brother Hyman Isaac had come to Des Moines to work as a Shochet (ritual butcher). Hyman Isaac encouraged his brothers Moses and Joe, his married sister Malka and her husband Isaac Chapman, nephews and a variety of cousins to move to Iowa in the years before the turn of the century. These photos seem to have been taken some time after WWI, but well before WWII. Because they have numbers on the front, I think that they are part of a series that may have been for sale, possibly at a talk about someone's trip to Eastern Europe. My grandfather died in 1932, so the photos would have been taken before that time. Photographs can be a way of entering the past. It is how I first found my way to Mir. Mir, Belarus, view into old village
I posted the photos on this web site in late August 1998, under the title "Might be Mir" with the hope that someone might know for sure. Two people whose ancestors also came from Mir contacted me by e-mail within a few days. They assure me that this was indeed Mir and provided more details. If you have ancestors from Mir, please let me know and share information. If you have old photos in this series or any pictures of Mir, I would be happy to put them on these web pages. Please e-mail me:

Close up of Mir street
A close up of the center of the old photo of Mir.

This is a close-up of the photo above. Now you can see the road going uphill. Just beyond the bridge, notice how close the buildings are to each other and how narrow the road becomes once it enters the town.

I guess that the poles are for telegraphy wires, but I cannot see that wires have been strung.

According to a visitor to Mir in the mid 1990s, the town did not have running water in many homes or public buildings. In the 1990s, there were four pumps, powered by electricity, in four corners of the town where one could bring containers and get water to carry home. Other water pumps were still hand operated.

Old Mir left side
A close up of the left side of the old photo of Mir.
Buildings and children in Mir
The shul. Rick Saffran said this synagogue was called the "beit haknesset hacar" which means the cold shul. It is still standing today and in 1996 was being used as a school. (click on photo to see enhanced views) The Cold Shul
Updated August 2007


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