Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Galperin, Halper, Altu--Who Are You?

When my grandfather's Uncle Leibish came to America in 1905, his destination was the home of a man named "Schloime Galperin" at what looked like 30 Kilbern Street in Brooklyn.  I couldn't find a Kilbern Street, and I couldn't find Schloime anywhere, including in the 1905 New York State Census when searching for different variations of Galperin, Halperin and Alperin.  But since Schloime was listed as a friend of Leibish's travel companion rather than a relative (and then Leibish's line just got ditto marks), I didn't spent that much time and effort into a search.
Leib Blaustein and Leib Dimend Ship Manifest, joining Schloime Galperin, 1905

But my father's first cousins Berly and Alvin have mentioned that Simon Mitchneck, a famous Hollywood voice coach back in the day, was somehow related.  (And Leibish's grandson, with whom I recently got in touch, remembers his father mentioning Simon Mitchneck's name as well.)  Berly and Alvin knew that Simon was also related to Cousin Jack, meaning that there was a connection on the Diamond side; Jack brought Berly & Alvin up to New York to meet Simon several times when they were young.  Documents show that Simon came from Torczyn, which is close to where my Diamonds emigrated from.  But in his passport application was an interesting document.
Affidavit in Simon Mitchneck's 1920 Passport Application from Solomon Halper

Solomon Halper (no 'n' at the end!) wrote a letter in 1920 both saying that he was a cousin of Simon Mitchneck and that he resided at 241 Blake Avenue in Brooklyn.  Could Solomon Halper be Schloime Galperin?  (Note that the Russian alphabet has no 'h' sound, so the letter 'g' tends to be substituted, making Halperin and Galperin the same name.)

I started looking for Solomon Halper and didn't find him.  So instead I looked for 241 Blake Avenue in the 1920 census (using Steve Morse's Enumeration District Finder)--and while there was no Solomon Halper, there was a Halper family there, headed by a man named Samuel.  The rest of the family consisted of Samuel's wife Mary and children Jeanette, Mollie, an illegible name starting with M (which ended up being Morris or Murry), and Hannah.  I found the same family in the 1910 census, with the addition of the oldest daughter Minnie, Jeanette called Jennie, Morris's name being legible, and Hannah as yet not born--but here they were living on Graham Street.
The Halper Family in the 1920 Census

So is Samuel/Solomon Halper the same person as the Schloime Galperin on Kilbern Street that Uncle Leibish was going to join?  I'd need to find this family in the 1905 census, hopefully living on Kilburn Street.

While I couldn't find the family initially, I did find an index card alluding to the July 1905 naturalization of a Solomon Halper at 30 McKibben Street in Brooklyn--so it does seem that Schloime used the surname Halper as well.  But I wanted to find the same family group in the 1905 census at McKibben Street to demonstrate that Schloime was Solomon/Samuel Halper.

I did a search of the 1905 New York Census looking for a girl named Minnie born in New York around 1898 with parents named Solomon (or Samuel) and Mary as well as siblings named Jeanette (or Jennie) and Mollie (or Molly)--and I left the surname blank.  And there popped up an interesting family.
"Altu" Family, 1905 New York Census
The Altu family (with "Helter" written in as a possible correction/second try) has exactly that family structure--and where do they live?  30 McKibben Street!  So this is the Schoime Galperin that Uncle Leibish listed as his US destination!

Next, I must figure out how they're related to me.  But there's a tantalizing hint on Uncle Leibish's marriage certificate:
From Marriage Certificate of Louis "Leibish" Diamond, 1913 (New York City)

My great-great grandmother may have been an Alpern!  Stay tuned as I figure out how this all fits together.  I hope.

Note:  I'm on Twitter.  Follow me (@larasgenealogy).

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  1. Great post---I love following your research path! And isn't it always amazing how many different ways our ancestors names were spelled not only by the family but then by census enumerators? I've experienced similar strange "corruptions" of family names.

    1. Thanks! Yes, it amazes me how creative spelling was--sometimes not even a close approximation of the actual name.