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  • The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library

What's in a name? Kontinska? Kunkinski? Konopinska?

As a historian, I have come across my fair share of illegible handwriting. Luckily, I learned to write in cursive—prefer it, actually—and I can usually read most handwriting. Honestly, if you start reading a diary or personal papers, you get used the writers style and can generally figure things out as you go along. So, what's worse than deciphering someone's handwriting? Misspelled names!


Deciphering misspellings can be especially difficult when you are talking about people's names. As I am adding images from the Richard M. Bloomer Glass Plate Negative Collection onto New York Heritage, occasionally I take a break and go down a research rabbit hole to uncover a story about the face looking back at me. Of course, it's much easier to research someone when they are identified with a first and last name. Sometimes Mr. Bloomer only wrote a last name. Some people are unidentified because the sleeve housing the negative has been lost to time. And sometimes, Mr. Bloomer did not spell the names correctly.


What's in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet; (Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare)

Since I cannot take Juliet's lovesick monologue to heart, let's have a look at the two handwritten examples below.


Handwritten on the paper envelope housing the negative Bloomer0653: "Miss Konotinska[?] 6 P.C. 6 stiff mats"
Handwritten on the paper envelope housing the negative Bloomer0653: "Miss Konotinska[?] 6 P.C. 6 stiff mats"

Handwritten on the paper envelope housing the negative Bloomer0659: "Miss Kunkinski[?] 3 of each"
Handwritten on the paper envelope housing the negative Bloomer0659: "Miss Kunkinski[?] 3 of each"

These names look totally different, right? One looks like "Miss Konotinbba" or "Miss Konotinska" and the other looks like "Miss Kunkinski." However, none of those names show up in the city directories, or the local newspapers. What does come up is "Konopinska."


You may be wondering "Why do you even think those are even the same name?" Let's take a look at the corresponding photographs below.


Black and white portrait of a light skinned woman with dark hair wearing a dark colored dress and pendant necklace.
Bloomer0653 "Miss Konopinska[?]" <Richard M. Bloomer Glass Plate Negative Collection, The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls, NY>


Black and white portrait of a light skinned woman with dark curly hair wearing a lace and satin dress, corsage and pearl necklace.
Bloomer0659 "Miss Konopinska[?]" <Richard M. Bloomer Glass Plate Negative Collection, The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls, NY>

Don't they look like the same woman? The negatives in the collection are all undated, and we do have examples of people sitting for photographs with Mr. Bloomer at different times in their lives. After all, he was in business in Hudson Falls for 26 years.


My best guess is these photographs (there are four in total, two from each sitting) are of Janina "Janet" Konopinska. She was born in Lithuania (then part of Imperial Russia) in 1897 or 1898 and emigrated to the US in 1912. In the 1923 and 1924 Glens Falls area city directories she is listed as living in Hudson Falls and working in a shirt factory. Since Mr. Bloomer listed Janet as "Miss," both photos would have been take before she married Idelfons Lukaszewicz in 1924.


Janet Konopinska listed as living in Hudson Falls, NY in the 1924  Glens Falls area city directory.
Janet Konopinska listed as living in Hudson Falls, NY in the 1924 Glens Falls area city directory. <The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library, Glens Falls, NY>

The following is an excerpt of Janet's obituary as it appeared in the Post-Star (Glens Falls, NY) on December 11, 1992.


Back and white half portrait of an older woman wearing glasses.
Photo of Janina (Janet) Konopinska Lukaszewicz that accompanied her obituary in the Post-Star on 12/11/1992.

"Janina (Janet) Lukaszewicz

HUDSON [FALLS] — Janina (Janet) Lukaszewicz, OF River St., died Thursday (Dec. 10, 1992) at her home following a short illness.

                She was born in Lithuania, the daughter of Joseph and Caroline Konopinska. She came to the United States in 1912.

                In Sept. 27, 1924, she married Idelfons Lukaszewicz in the Polish Catholic Church in Granville. Mr. Lukaszewicz died in 1968.

                She was a communicant of St. Mary’s/St. Paul’s Church of Hudson Falls. Her enjoyments included gardening, baking, sewing and knitting.

                Two sisters, Melanie Rojcewicz of Worcester, Ma., and formerly of Hudson Falls, died Oct. 20, 1976, and Kateryo Sweiskiene of Lithuania died Jan. 6, 1992. Ten other brothers and sisters also died before her…

                Burial will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in the town of Fort Edward…"


You can help us identify more people photographed by Richard M. Bloomer by stopping by the Folklife Center to view 1,500+ images currently in our database, or click the link to see the ever growing digital collection online: https://nyheritage.org/collections/richard-m-bloomer-glass-plate-negative-collection

 

Resources used to write this post include newspapers.com, ancestry.com, findagrave.com, as well as Glens Falls city directories, & the biographical vertical files held in the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library.


 

Tisha Dolton is Librarian/Historian at The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY. Her areas of interest are suffrage music, suffragists of Warren and Washington Counties, local women and minority populations, and embroidery.


 

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