(ZEV) WILLIAM PUZNYAK (February 1, 1884-January 3, 1919)
He was born in Brisk (Brest), Lithuania. He received a traditional Jewish education, and he also attended the municipal school. In 1896 he made his way with his parents to England. There he joined the Zionist movement. At age eighteen he became secretary of the Zionist organization, Maaravi. He began literary activities with a mayse noyre (extraordinary tale) in verse: “R’ gorens khosed” (R. Goren’s Hassid) in the London humor newspaper Pipifaks. He contributed to the weekly Di yidishe tsaytung (The Jewish newspaper), to London’s Idishe prese (Jewish press), and to Kalmen Marmor’s Idishe frayhayt (Jewish freedom). He immigrated to the United States, became an express bookkeeper, and also turned his attention to journalism. He served as assistant editor of Yidisher kuryer (Jewish courier) (1904-1905) and Yidishe prese (Jewish press) (1905-1906), of the Chicago-based Togblat (Daily newspaper) (1906-1908), and Der forshteher (The contribution) (St. Louis). He was invited in 1908 to Cleveland to edit Idishe teglekhe prese (Daly Yiddish press), later Di idishe velt (The Jewish world), Chicago’s Idisher rekord (Jewish record), St. Louis’s weekly Der forshteher, and Idishe prese, Idisher kunst-fraynd (Jewish friend of art), and Baltimore’s Der fraynd (The friend), among other serials. He wrote in various fields of journalism. He excelled particularly with feature pieces and biting satires. In book form: Dos shvartse bukh (The black book), a translation of a collection of memoirs about the pogroms against Jews in Poland and Galicia at the beginning of WWI (New York, 1916). He left in manuscript a four-act play entitled Shvarts un vays (Black and white), from the era of the Civil War in the United States. One of the principal heroes was Judah Philip Benjamin. He died in Cleveland.
Sources: Zalmen Reyzen, Leksikon, vol. 2; Sefer brisk delita (The volume for Brisk, Lithuania), in Entsiklopediya shel galiyut (Encyclopedia of the Diaspora) (Tel Aviv, 1955), 2:349-50.