A Brick Wall Crumbles

In an earlier post I looked forward to the day when I could find record of Ruth’s other grandmother, Rochma Hoffer nee Szacher, sister of Bluma. As any genealogist can tell you, if you chip away at your brick walls, you will finally break through. Rochma’s Yad Vashem record created by her niece Mania Genislau in Herzliyah Petuach, Israel states that she was born in 1884 in Bresc, now in Belarus. This turned out to be another dead end when a thorough examination of Bresc records turned up no trace of Szachers. Working with my Polish colleague, Piotr Nazuruk, having exhausted the vital records of Biala Podlaska and neighboring communities, and ending up in dead ends in Belarus records, I asked Piotr if there were other records such as tax records or housing censuses that we should be examining. He said there might be and proceeded in his methodical way to track them down.

In the Radzyn Archives Piotr discovered an early 20th century housing census of Biala Podlaska. An exited email message highlighted the discovery. The records were in Russian and there were some notes in Polish. There was David Hoffer and his wife Rochma Szacher from Slawatyzce. She was born in 1889?? to Szlama Chaim and Estera Frajda Wiernik. Bingo! Another scribbled note indicated that David and Rochma were married in 1923. What? Their first child Sara was born in 1907 in Czestochowa. Interesting. Now what? Now a search ensued for their marriage record. Poland abides by the 100 year rule which means that all vital records are kept private for 100 years. So did I have to wait until 2024 to get their marriage record? Now the fun began. Letters and calls went out to the Archives in Biala Podlaska, Slawatyzce, and Czestochowa. Nothing in Biala Podlaska nor Slawatyzce but yes, there was a marriage record for 1923 in Czestochowa. I am summarizing a process that took several months. Fees are paid. Power of Attorney is given over. The marriage record arrives. The marriage was clearly registered in Czestochowa in 1923. But when were they actually married. Probably between 1900 and 1905 in Slawatycze – but no record remains. That would make Rochma anywhere from 11 to 16 when she married. I would rather believe the Yad Vashem birth date of 1884 and sure enough there it was in the “official” marriage record.

Some mysteries remain. Biala Podlaska and Slawatycze were in Russia in 1900. Why did the Hoffers move to Czestochowa, 450 kilometers away? Moving from Russia to Poland is extremely rare according to several sources. And why Czestochowa? This may forever remain a mystery.


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