My Halpert and Szleper families come from Kalisz. Or at least, that’s what I’ve always known. Just before I left for my trip, I double checked the records that I wanted from the PSA in JRI-Poland and discovered that some Halpert records I wanted were actually in the Konin Archive and not the Kalisz Archive. Unfortunately, this meant trying to squeeze both of those cities into one day, which was a failure. I had trouble with transportation from Konin to Kalisz and never made it to Kalisz this trip.
But I learned something interesting in Konin.
My great-grandparents were Henry Halpert and Bertha Szleper, just to establish the connection between these families. I already had tons of records from Kalisz for the Szleper family from microfilm, and probably some ordered from the PSA years ago. I can go back into the late 1700s with them, and sideways to many other cousins. In my great-grandmother’s generation, they all Anglicized their surname, to Smith, Sheppard, Levy, Burnstein, or Bornstein. I assume that Smith and Sheppard were to be similar to the original. Levy is a maiden name in the family. I still haven’t figured out the reason for Burnstein yet, but the multiple spellings don’t concern me; they’re probably all for the same reason or copying each other.
Halpert is another problem. I have barely found them indexed by JRI, except for two births that were in the Konin Archive (and one death in the Kalisz Archive). Upon arrival in Konin, I ordered up a few books, two for the indexed records, and the following years to look for more. I soon confused the archivist when I didn’t want to look through the other books, though I eventually did.
The two records that were indexed, I was certain, were Henry’s siblings, Benjamin and Fajga. I already knew their parents’ names, Itzik and Rachel Leah (or, more correctly, Ruchla Laia in Polish). My family had been within about five years of their correct birth years, upon interviews with another cousin before I was born. Benjamin was born in 1891 and Fajga in 1894.
But it was Fajga’s birth certificate that surprised me. Even though I had the information in my database already (though a few years off), I just hadn’t noticed. Her mother was listed as a widow.
I even had Itzik’s death year, and the listing from JRI-Poland to retrieve the record in the Kalisz Archive. But since my information was more like estimations, and I didn’t realize that he died while his children were so young, finding that he died six months before one of them was born was a shock. The month and year of his death are listed on his daughter’s birth, but I still need to get the death certificate for the exact date.
We also have some surname issues in this family. Both birth certificates listed Ruchla Laia’s surname as Bruks. I had been given that surname before, but it was not yet attached to her in my database. I don’t know if the person who told me that said it was her surname or just that it was in the family. (I’ll have to search for that note.) I was also told by two people that the name was changed to Halpert, but I don’t know what from. I think my grandmother told me when I was 11, but I didn’t write down every word she said. Her sister told me it was Moshkowitz, but I’ve found that as a maiden name in the family; she mixed up quite a few names, so it’s less likely she got it right.
I’ve tried searching for Itzik and Ruchla Laia’s marriage by their given names, but haven’t yet been successful.
Once again, I have more work to do on this. The Halperts are tricky.