Schattner Family Genealogy

The Schattner family name appears to belong to,  at least,  two distinct families.  One family - to which I belong - is Jewish and comes from the town of Kuty  (or Kitev in Yiddish) which is currently part of the Ukraine.  Except when noted otherwise this is the family that I will be referring to in this website as the "Schattner Family."  (The other Schattner family is located primarily in Germany, Austria and the Midwest of the United States and is not Jewish.  There are genealogical records for this Schattner family going back to at least 1665 in Germany.  It is interesting to consider whether the two Schattner families may have been related at some point in the distant past.  However I am aware of no evidence to support this speculation.)

Origin of the Schattner Name

Because of the very limited geneological records in Eastern Europe - especially for Jews - information about the Schattner family prior to the early 1800's is virtually non-existent. The origin of the Schattner name is obscure as well.  Most members of the family appear to believe that the name stems from the German word "Schatten" meaning shadow.  However an alternative explanation in the "Encyclopedia of Jewish Names" suggests that the name Schattner came from the Polish word "szata" meaning garment.  This interpretation appears plausible especially since several of the Schattners of the 19th century appear to have been in the garment business. Yet another claimed origin comes from an old German genealogical book which claims that the name Schattner comes from old Lower German word "Schatter" meaning appraiser or money collector.
 

Kuty

In the 1800's, essentially all of the Schattners appear to have lived in the village of Kuty.   Kuty is located at the base of the Carpathian Mountains on the Czermosz River on the border between the provinces of Bukovina and Galicia. The nearest city of any size is Czernovtsy.  A good map of this area is available on the Web. (Kuty is in the lower right corner of the map - it is located approximately 50 km west of Czernovitz).   At various times in the last two centuries, Kuty has been part of Poland, Austria-Hungary, Roumania, the Soviet Union and the Ukraine.

Kuty was a small town of approximately 5000 people.  In medieval times, Kuty was for seven years the home of the Jewish scholar, Baal Shem Tov.  At the turn of the twentieth century approximately half of the population was Jewish.  Many left Kuty during World War I and in the years between the World Wars.  The Jews who remained were killed in the Holocaust.  At present there are essentially no Jews in Kuty.  There are two good books available on Jewish life in Kuty prior to World War II - "The Kuty Memorial Book" written after World War II by the survivors from Kuty in Israel and "Kitov, My Hometown - Survivors of Kuty Tell the Story of their Hometown" by Chiam Zins.  Unfortunately these books are available only in Yiddish and Hebrew respectively.   More information about  Kuty is also available on the Web.  For a more "first-hand" description, you may be interested to read my journal and see some photos from my recent travels to the Western Ukraine in search of links to my Schattner past.
 

Family History

The most consistent characteristic of the members of the Schattner family in the 19th and early 20th century appears to be how religious they were.  Nearly every branch of the family remembers at least one rabbi or scholar among their ancestors.  Some of these scholars achieved considerable respect in the community.  For example,the Kuty Memorial Book contains two references to the Schattners: Jacob Schattner

Abraham Keusch was a cousin via marriage of this Yakov (Jacob) Schattner. Keusch wrote a memoir of his life growing up in Eastern Europe which contains many references to Joseph and Jacob Schattner and other members of the Schattner family.  The memoir includes many fascinating anecdotes and descriptions of Jewish life in Galicia / Bukovina in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Excerpts from a translation of his memoirs which refer to Schattners is available here.

Around the turn of the century a few members of the family such as Philip Schattner (page 15 of the Schattner Charts), Joseph David Schattner (page 8), Joseph Schattner (page 6) and Wolfe Shatner (page 9  to page 13 ) immigrated to the United States and Canada.  Their descendents form the majority of the Schattner family members in the US and Canada today. (Wolfe Shatner changed the spelling of his family name when he arrived in Canada).

Several other branches of the family moved to Vienna at the time of World War I and lived there until they were forced to flee during World War II.  A page from the 1936 Viennese telephone book shows the addresses of several of the family members who lived in Vienna at that time.  Other members of the family moved to Palestine, Shanghai, Australia, Switzerland and South America during this time period often for the purpose of escaping the Holocaust.  As a result descendents of the Schattner Family of Kuty can now be found in - at least - 11 countries (US, Canada, Israel, Venezuela, Argentina, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Singapore, Peru, England).  However scores of other Schattners perished during the Holocaust in Europe.
 
 

Well Known Family Members

Probably the best known member of the Schattner Family is William Shatner, the noted actor of "Star Trek" fame.  As the grandson of Wolfe Shatner - after whom he was named - William Shatner shares the atypical family surname spelling common to members of the Canadian branch. (William Shatner is on page 9 of the Family Chart)

Family of Wolfe Schattner c. 1900Wolfe Shatner and family around 1900.

Within the realm of modern Jewish history, two other important members of the Schattner family stand out - Berl Loker and Mordechai Schattner. Berl Loker (page 2 of the family chart) started out as the editor of the "Yiddisher Arbeiter" (Jewish Worker) Newspaper in Lvov, Poland.  He also was one of the early leaders of the Zionist Labor Movement.   Later he became chairman of the Jewish Agency. His autobiography - "From Kuti to Jerusalem" - was published in Israel in 1970 (in Hebrew).   In the introduction to his autobiography, Loker describes interesting anecdotes from his childhood including why his last name was not Schattner - even though his father was Yakov Schattner (the Hebrew teacher mentioned in the Kuty Memorial Book).  In addition, Yakov Schattner and Berl Locker's branch of the family are mentioned in the Memorial book of the village of Zablatov.

Mordechai Schattner (son of Meschulim Schattner - see page 1 of the Family Chart) was also a Zionist pioneer who helped in the development of one of the early kibbutzim in the 1920's.  In the late 1930's he returned to Europe as an emissary from Palestine to try to persuade Jews to leave Europe for Palestine before it was too late.  Later, he became a close associate of David Ben-Gurion and was one of the signers of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. (Apparently Ben-Gurion wanted him to change his family name to something more "Israeli" - as Ben-Gurion and most of his other associates had done.  But Mordechai Schattner replied that he didn't want to distance himself from his family origins - and declined to change his surname.)
 

Other Interesting Facts

Wedding of Laura Schattner1922, Buenos Aires Wedding of Laura Schattner (daughter of Hirsch Schattner - page 5) in Buenos Aires, 1922.

Obviously there are more stories of the Schattners than I have the space or knowledge to include here.  A few "tid-bits" will need to suffice:

Tombstones of Leepa and Henrietta Schattner  Tombstones of Leepa and Henrietta Schattner.

The Charts

The Schattner Family Charts are an attempt to give an indication of the size and movement of the Schattner family over the last 150 years.  I make no claim as to the accuracy - and certainly not to the completeness - of the information.  Information generally came from oral recollections of family elders.  I believe I have recorded their recollections faithfully - but memories can dim over the years.

Because there are so many people involved the charts can be a little hard to follow.  Also many of the same names keep recurring - e.g. Mordechai and Joseph.  The problem is compounded by the fact that in many cases, links between family branches are speculative or completely unkown.
One way to follow the charts is to start with the "19th Century Family Outline", to find the name of the ancestor of the branch of interest, and then to track "back to the future" to find the branch of the tree which is of interest.
 

More Information

For more information on Jewish genealogy, an excellent place to look is the Jewish Genealogy Website. Malkie Griffel has compiled the information on the Mordechai Schattner - Devora Stein branch of the family into two genealogical books. For more information or to purchase these books, contact her at barmag@netvision.net.il.
 

Feedback and Acknowledgements

My intention is to maintain and improve this site over time.  I could use some help - if any of you have any old and/or interesting photographs that you think might be appropriate for inclusion in this site please let me know.  Similarly if you have any other relevant family information, I'd be glad to hear about it.   Many people have already helped me greatly in gathering the Schattner Family information found on this website  - especially Saralea Altman, Jehuda Schattner, Ruth Switzer, Margarita Blei and Malkie Griffel - thank you so much!  Or even if you just have feedback on the interest and usability of the information here, I'd enjoy receiving e-mail at schattnerATalumDOTswarthmoreDOTedu (just replace the "AT" with "@" and the "DOT"s with "."s). Thanks.

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This page last updated on 12/01/09