Kaplan Surname Genealogy

in German signifies “chaplain” or “curate.” The same meaning is
to be found in the Polish and Hungarian languages. It is a name
common among Ashkenazi Jews, usually indicating descent from the
priestly lineage (the kohanin). Here the origin is more likely to
be Russian or Polish.

Kaplan Resources on

Kaplan Ancestry

Kaplan name was to be found in Jewish circles in the Russian
empire and Poland
during the 19th century. Distinguished
bearers of the name included the Polish rabbi and philanthropist Nachum
Usiel Kaplan and the Latvian-born poet Seeb Wolf

Kaplans continued in these parts into the 20th century until they were
crushed by the Nazis. Joseph Kaplan was one of the leaders of the
Jewish resistance in the Warsaw ghetto. Chaim Kaplan’s Warsaw
diary Scroll of Agony has
lived on after he himself perished. David Kaplan, born in Lithuania,
survived the Nazi concentration camps and was able to make a new home
for himself in El Paso, Texas.

America. Kaplans coming
to America were, for the large part, from the Russian empire.
The Kaplan immigrants of Jewish orgin arriving in New York would
receive a “K”
spelling (i.e. Kaplan) whereas those arriving in Baltimore would
receive a “C” spelling (i.e. Caplan). New York still has the most
Kaplans and Baltimore the most Caplans. But Kaplans outnumber
Caplans by seven to one.

Kaplans tended to settle in big cities like New York.
Two Kaplan families who sought and found places outside were
of Hirsch Kaplan, who came
to New
York in 1887 and moved to Chesterfield, Connecticut three years later,
and of Joseph
Kaplan, who arrived in New York in 1904 and bought a farm near Camden,
Jersey eight years later. His
family subsequently scattered.

The small town of Kaplan
in SW Louisiana was named after Abrom Kaplan
who had come to Louisiana from Poland in 1885 and started rice mills
there and across the region. His nephew Jack Kaplan settled in
Kaplan in 1915.

Some Kaplan sons of immigrants in New York became very

  • Jacob Kaplan who left home at sixteen and
    spent two decades making money in the molasses trade. But
    much of his wealth derived from the Welch
    Grape Juice Company which he reorganized in the 1940’s.
    His nephew Joel Kaplan
    attracted national headlines when he escaped from a
    Mexican jail in 1971.
  • Stanley Kaplan
    who graduated from City
    College and, after tutoring for a while, devised preparation programs
    to help
    students pass academic admission tests.
  • and Gabe Kaplan who made his name in the 1970’s TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter and subsequently
    became a professional poker player.

Among the Caplan sons was Irwin Caplan, nicknamed Cap, the
illustrator and cartoonist best known for his cartoons in The
Saturday Evening Post.

Kaplan Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Kaplan Names

Stanley Kaplan was an educationalist who
developed America’s largest test preparation company.
Mendel Kaplan was a
South African industrialist and philanthropist.
Isaac Kaplan, a resident of
Johannesburg, was a pioneer in laser surgery.

Select Kaplans Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 18,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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