The History of Zolotonosha



Compiled by Boris Belitsky


Zolotonosha coat of arms
The coat of arms (town emblem) of Zolotonosha


Map of Zolotonosha

The present map of Zolotonosha and surrounding communities


Zolotonosha is presently a raion center of the Cherkassy oblast in Ukraine. It is located on the banks of the Zolotonoshka river, a left tributary of the Dnieper, not far from the Dnieper itself.

The first written mention of Zolotonosha was in 1576 when this territory belonged to Poland. Its name (a load of gold or a gold carrier) could have originated from the golden glisten of the Zolotonoshka sand, though other legends are known. In the early 17th century, Zolotonosha was awarded the Magdeburg Right, and in 1635 the town got its own coat of arms. In the first half of the 17th century, Zolotonosha was the hub of tax collection for the Polish magnate J. Wisniowiecki, the owner of vast Ukrainian territories at the time. In 1654, Zolotonosha became part of Russia and was a squadron seat of the Cherkassy and later Pereyaslav regimens.

In 1781, Zolotonosha received again town status and was appointed a center of an uyzed in the Kiev namestnichestvo. In 1796-1797, Zolotonosha uezd was transferred to the Malorossiya guberniya and, after the latter was dissolved in 1802, to the newly formed Poltava guberniya.

Zolotonosha raion was formed in 1923; from 1932 to 1954, it was part of the Kiev and Poltava oblasts. According to the middle 18th century laws of Russia, no Jew was allowed to live in the country. Though there is little doubt that Zolotonosha had some Jewish population when it belonged to Poland in the 17th century, it is likely that few if any Jews resided in Zolotonosha immediately before the Poland partitions and incorporation of the Polish territories into Russia at the end the 18th century. The settlement of Jews in the Kiev namestnichestvo, that included Zolotonosha, was officially allowed only in 1794.

According to the statistical tables from various sources, 134 and 231 Jews resided in Zolotonosha in 1799 and 1803, respectively (apparently, only males were counted at the time). 55 and 45 of them belonged to the merchant estate in each of these years; for comparison, 82 members of the Jewish merchant estate were registered in the entire Poltava guberniya in 1803. The 1811 census of taxable male population (revizskie skazki) listed 171 Jewish males in 86 households of the Zolotonosha kahal. Most of these families had been already present in Zolotonosha during the previous census taken in 1806. The Jewish merchant population of Zolotonosha decreased from 51 in 1806 to 12 males in 2 households in 1811, probably due to a higher capital threshold for admittance to the merchant estate (8,000 roubles) introduced in 1807.


1811 Zolotonosha Census exerpt

The title of the 1811 census of the Zolotonosha kahal

During the 1835 census, 988 men and women in 137 households were listed as members of the Zolotonosha kahal (the merchant estate included 53 persons in 3 households). The 1811 and 1835 census data can be found in the Family History Library (films 2199926 and 2199927, respectively) as can be some Zolotonosha vital records starting from 1868; Zolotonosha birth records for four more years can be found in one of the Kiev archives.

The primary census data of the Zolotonosha Jewish community for other years and earlier vital records have apparently been lost.In 1847, the Jewish Zolotonosha community comprised 1001 persons. In 1862, it grew to 1,864 members out of total Zolotonosha population of 6,902. At that time, Zolotonosha had 843 private wooden houses, 2 brick buildings, 36 trading posts, an elementary school, 5 churches, a synagogue, and 2 praying houses.

In 1881, a steamboat, bought in Belgium, connected Zolotonosha with Cherkassy, a larger town about 30 km away and across the Dnieper (now this part of the Dnieper is covered by the Kremenchug reservoir). A railroad was extended to Zolotonosha in 1897. The photo studios of Saksonov, Klimovsky, and Braginsky operated in the town at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.


1867 Zolotonosha Journal title page

1911 Zolotonosha Journal title page

The title page of the Journals of the zemstvo board of the Zolotonosha uezd for the year of 1867

The title page of the Report of the Zolotonosha Jewish Charity Society for the year of 1911 (published in 1912 by the V. B. Goldenberg’s printing-house in Zolotonosha)


The 1897 census found 7,714 Jews in the entire Zolotonosha uezd, including 2,769 in the town of Zolotonosha. Total population of Zolotonosha in 1897 was 8,739. Emigration, pogroms of 1905-1919, destruction of the Civil War, migration to larger cities and outside the Pale, the World War II devastation, and new waves of Jewish emigration followed.

At present, Zolotonosha has a population of 31,000; the Jewish community is very small.

Zlata Belitsky

Zlata Belitsky, taken circa 1890 in  
I. S. Saksonov’s studio in Zolotonosha


Related sites

Ellis Island database - about 120 names of immigrants from Zolotonosha

Mt.Carmel Cemetery - 110 names belonging to the Zolotonosher Friends burial society

Yad Vashem Holocaust records - 559 names related to Zolotonosha. This link is to the Welcome page. Type "Zolotonosha" into the Location field, and click Search.

Vsia Rossia - about 20 names of Zolotonosha traders from the Vsia Rossia 1895, an all-Russia business directory

Russian Jewish Encyclopedia – 12 names of prominent Zolotonosha descendants from the Russian Jewish Encyclopedia

Family History Library catalogue – information on the Zolotonosha census and vital records in the Cherkassy archive and the Family History Library

Roots to Routes Foundation - information on the Zolotonosha census and vital records in the Cherkassy and Kiev archives

Belitsky family website – the web page of the Belitsky family from Zolotonosha