Archive for Category: Research Trips


Auschwitz, Poland

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

On my last day in Kraków, I finally made it out to Auschwitz. I went out with a small, late tour in slightly rainy weather, which just made the trip seem more depressing. I thought it was appropriate. As we arrived, crowds of people were leaving, making the camps very desolate during our tours.

Our guide didn’t even want to walk us around the second camp for a fear of lightning. In the end, some of us insisted so she walked us out, and the rain eventually stopped. However, I thought that one of our goals was to see the big memorial at the end of the camp, and we still missed it.

I’ve heard some people complain about their tours of the camps, where the guides try to change the story and make the Poles seem more like victims. Our guide was not like that. She was unapologetic and simply told us what she knew. Some of the story that stuck with me was their restoration efforts. We saw evidence of this at both camps, scaffolding and tape that we weren’t supposed to cross. Not only were costs prohibitive, but they couldn’t be sure what condition to restore the buildings to, since some had been altered after the war.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/11/14/auschwitz/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Kazimierz

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Kazimierz is the old Jewish Quarter. When Jews were forced out of Kraków, that’s where they went. It is south of the old town, Stare Miasto. Wawel Castle is between the two.

There have been at least seven synagogues, all of which are still standing, three are still active, one is now a museum.

My hotel was in the corner of Kazimierz nearest to Wawel and Stare Miasto. I walked around the area quite a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t cross the river to see Schindler’s Factory and the ghetto. I was in Kraków during the Jewish Heritage Festival, and I could tell from the crowds I saw a few times.

More about the synagogues and Kazimierz can be found at:

Wikipedia has individual pages for the main synagogues, and a long list of others that I didn’t visit.

The URL of this post is
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Krakow, Poland

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Krakow was my longest stay in Poland. A friend told me I shouldn’t miss it, but also because my only paying client for this trip had family in Kraków.

I had done a little research, but not enough. I had an idea of a few things in the city to look for. Mostly, I just wandered around and saw what I saw, and took a lot of pictures. I did a lot of walking; my feet were in pain for days. Unfortunately, that kept me from crossing the river to visit more things I should have seen. I didn’t know exactly where they were and did not feel up to wandering more.

My photos begin in a small park near the train station. I had an incredible knack for exiting the train stations in the wrong direction and ending up in the “back”. I walked through the park, then headed the long way around towards the front of the train station. I took a taxi to my hotel because my phone had again died, so it couldn’t lead my way.

After a nap, I walked to Stare Miasto, the Old Town of Kraków. I returned again two days later for two days, as the archive was also there.

I learned a lot about the things I photographed while adding these photos to the gallery. Want to know more? Here are some Wikipedia links.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/10/23/krakow/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Konin, Poland

Sunday, 21 October 2012

My family was not from Konin, or so I thought. I still haven’t been through all the records that I retrieved during my trip, but apparently, we were there. From JRI-Poland, I knew that the Konin archive had a couple records for my Halpert family. So I took the train over and went to the archive in the morning.

I found those two records, the births of two siblings of my great-grandfather, Henry Halpert, finding that their mother was a widow on the second record. That changed the story a little. But I still haven’t found the records for the older siblings or their marriage, or any other Halpert records, except for her husband’s death, which is in the Kalisz archive.

I had plans to go to the Kalisz archive next, but that proved a bit difficult. I couldn’t find a train or the right bus, and it was Friday. Instead, I wandered around Konin for a bit before heading to Krakow, but I didn’t go much more than a couple blocks away from the train station. I hadn’t done any research about what was in the city, as I didn’t expect to stay for long while waiting for a train.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/10/21/konin/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Jedwabne, Poland

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

I had no ancestors in Jedwabne, but I believe there were some cousins. Few records, or perhaps only one, indicate my family was in Jedwabne. Kurlender has appeared on surname lists.

This town is a sad tale in Poland’s history. Most of the atrocities brought against the Jews were committed by the Nazis, but there were some Poles who took it upon themselves to also contribute. In this village, already under some German influence, they rounded up the Jews into a barn by the Jewish cemetery and burned it down.

I saw three stories about the fate of the Jews in Rutki. In one, they were sent to Łomza. In a second, they were marched out to the forest and killed. (It was along the way to Łomza, so maybe both of those stories are the same.) In a third, they were sent to Jedwabne.

I knew where the synagogue used to be in town, but I just drove by the spot quickly. I went out to the memorial and the Jewish cemetery.

You can read more about the Jedwabne pogrom.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/10/02/jedwabne/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Wizna, Poland

Sunday, 23 September 2012

After the interesting time I had in Rutki, and backtracking some of my journey to find that memorial, I went back to Rutki and followed that sign to Wizna.

I knew the road would take me through a few even smaller villages. One of them was Grądy Woniecko, the birth place of the earliest Mularzewicz ancestor who’s birth record I have. I only stopped long enough to take a picture of the sign. It seemed like the only thing in town was a prison, which Polish Wikipedia confirms opened in 1999.

The earliest Mularzewicz record I have so far is the for a marriage for Moszko in 1838 in Wizna. However, Wizna is primarily known to me as where my Kurlender family comes from. My great-grandmother Sorka was born there in 1865. When I first got her Polish birth record, I was not sure it was hers because I lacked more information about her. But I was just being hesitant. After retrieving all of the indexed Kurlender records, I was able to put them all together into one large family tree.

As I did with Rutki, I tried to find where the synagogue used to be, but while I found some pictures online, I could find no address or other details. So I just went to the center of town. There was a sign pointing for information, but when I followed it, I got to a one way street out of the center of town and could never find where it wanted me to go.

And to be a good genealogist, the names inscribed on the monument in the Wizna park:

  • Dobronski Jozef
  • Glinski Jan
  • Grzeszczyk Marceli
  • Konopko Franciszek
  • Krasnowski Jozef
  • Lipinski Jozef
  • Markfart Boleslaw
  • Olszewski Teofil
  • Ostrowski Stefan
  • Pruszko Jozef
  • Piotrowski Andrzej
  • Ptaszynski Edmund
  • Radziwon Antoni
  • Renkiewicz Apolinary
  • Szulc Antoni
  • Trepanowski Jozef

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/09/23/wizna/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Rutki, Poland

Saturday, 22 September 2012

After my first day of research in an archive, I headed out to see where my ancestors once lived. The first stop was the birth place of my paternal grandmother, Marian Mularzewicz (later Mary Miller).

Marian was born in May 1910 and arrived with her mother Sorka and several siblings to Ellis Island in 1920. Her father Zyskind and all the older siblings were already in America. Zyskind had travelled back and forth a few times, having first visited the US in 1904. The second of his arrivals that I found was in March 1910, so unless he quickly turned around and went back to Poland, he was in America when she was born.

This is all assuming that her birth date is accurate. I have found that none of my Polish ancestors (nor anyone else’s) actually knew their birth dates. They didn’t celebrate every year like we do today, so it wasn’t as important to know. While in the Łomza archive, I looked for records for the children in this family and did not find any except for the first born son (which I’d already had). So the dates that they used in America are the closest we’ll ever know to when they were actually born.

Zyskind probably did meet his youngest daughter before her arrival in America, as a third ship list for him was found in 1913. His birth I found in the records as well as his wife’s.

The Napoleonic records do not give street addresses or even house numbers usually, so I was just in Rutki to visit the town in general. There was nothing left of the Jewish cemetery, but it was established in the 1920s or 1930s, so my ancestors weren’t buried there; some cousins may have been.

I did find online information about the former synagogue, including the street address. I had some trouble finding it because there were two buildings there, neither with addresses. I gathered my courage (and as much Polish language skill as I could muster) and went inside the general store to ask for help. We eventually found that one of those buildings was the correct one, but it was set so far back from the street that they had changed the access to the other side. It is now a few different shops in one building. At one end, the owner invited me in and knew it had been the synagogue. His shop was on the side that was the bima. He pointed out that all of the surrounding houses were once occupied by Jews.

He then told me where to find a memorial to the Jews of Rutki who were killed by the Nazis, which I visited.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/09/22/rutki/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Zambrow Jewish Cemetery, Poland

Friday, 7 September 2012

There was no Jewish cemetery in Rutki when my ancestors were there. They did have one in later years, but earlier, they used the cemetery in Zambrów. I didn’t visit anything else in the city.

This was a depressing stop. Though I’ve posted photos from the Łomza Jewish cemeteries already, this is the first one I visited (besides Warsaw, where I didn’t go inside). Once I found the entrance right on the main road, I was both expecting and also not expecting what I saw.

At first, all I saw was a field. Was there really no trace of the cemetery besides the sign? I couldn’t remember if I’d read anything about this cemetery. Was it being restored or was there nothing left? I walked in and soon saw traces of a cemetery. The farther up the hill, the more I saw. And it was depressing. I don’t find cemeteries depressing in general, but the condition of this one was abysmal.

The one bright point was that it was obviously being cared for, what was left of it. The grass and weeds were recently enough cut so it was not an overgrown mess.

I’m sure I had a few ancestors buried in this cemetery.

A new memorial was placed in this cemetery less than three weeks after I visited, with further plans to continue cleaning, restoring, and building a new fence around it.

That web site doesn’t say that the cemetery was destroyed in the war, only that it was “gradually falling into ruins” after the war. But there had to be more stones than what I saw. What happened to them? Or were there really that few burials? Maybe the cemetery went even deeper into the forested area.

The URL of this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/09/07/zambrow-jewish-cemetery/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Lomza, Poland

Thursday, 30 August 2012

My first research destination in Poland was Łomza. My paternal grandmother was born in a small village nearby and I had already found records for both of her parents’ families before my trip. While researching at the archive and visiting those small towns, I stayed in the city for a few days.

Łomza is a small city that closes even earlier than Salt Lake City. One evening, inquiring about where I can go for food, I was told that only McDonald’s was open; I think it was around 4pm. I did discover online that there were two 24 hour gas stations near to McD’s. I never did try to find them, but I recall driving past them on my way out of town.

My visit to the city was over two days. The first day, it was raining and I just walked from my hotel to some nearby locations. The second was when I was returning from visiting the small villages and I drove a bit farther away.

For more information:

The URL for this post is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/08/30/lomza/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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Warsaw, Poland

Monday, 27 August 2012

I was in Warsaw four separate times on this trip, arriving by plane and spending the night, returning from Lomza and continuing on, then passing through by train and plane without leaving the station/airport.

Because I was pressed for time on this trip and had no major research plans, I did not take the time to explore the city more. I had only a few hours on two separate days. I made the Jewish historical sites my priority, visiting only a small number of them.

Want to know more about what some of these are? Here are some Wikipedia links that will shed some light and fill in more details:

The URL of this page is http://idogenealogy.com/blog/2012/08/27/warsaw/.
All photos and content Copyright 2012 by Banai Lynn Feldstein.

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