More Manna: The Family of Sidney Oestreicher and Esther Siff

In my last post I shared some of the wonderful photographs I received from my cousin Steve of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher and their three children, Sidney, Frank, and Helen.  This post will focus on the children of Sidney Oestreicher and Esther Siff, Steve’s grandparents.

Their first child Gerald was born in 1916, in Chicago, where Sidney and Esther lived in the early years of their marriage. Their daughter Betty was born three years later in 1919. Sidney was working as a traveling salesman during those years.

Gerald Oestreicher

Gerald Oestreicher, c. 1917

Gerald and Betty Oestreicher, c. 1922

Gerald and Betty Oestreicher, c. 1923

Betty and Gerald Oestreicher

Betty and Gerald Oestreicher, c. 1930

By 1930 Sidney’s father Gustav had retired and moved with Sarah to Atlantic City, and Sidney returned with Esther, Gerald, and Betty to Pittsburgh to help run the family store, The People’s Store.  Sidney and Esther had their third child Elaine in Pittsburgh in 1931.

Elaine Oestreicher

Elaine Oestreicher

This photograph below, probably taken in Pittsburgh in the late 1930s, includes the whole family–from left to right, Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald.

Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald

Betty, Sidney, Elaine, Esther, and Gerald

After The People’s Store went bankrupt during the Depression, Sidney had a hard time finding work.  Steve told me that Gerald would sell apples on the street after school to earn money.  Steve also shared this story about his grandmother Esther:

Grandma, Esther Oestreicher, was a homemaker to her three children, but also a very good pinochle player.  Twice a week she would sit down at night with friends and earn a living. 

Once a week or month, there was a raffle at the local theater after the matinee movie.  On one occasion as Gerald and Esther were walking to the theater, she repeatedly announced to neighbors sitting on their stoups, “My son and I are going to the movie where I will win the raffle today.”  This terribly embarrassed my Dad, who said he wanted to tuck his head under his shirt.  Sure enough after the movie ended, Esther won the raffle.  On the way home passing many of those same neighbors on their stoup, she waved the money at them joyfully yelling, ” I told you I would win the raffle.”

Elaine, Gerald, and Esther Oestreicher

Elaine, Gerald, and Esther Oestreicher

Gerald played saxophone in high school.  In 1937 and 1938, Gerald was a student at Northeastern University in Boston, where he continued to play the saxophone in the university band.

Gerald Oestreicher playing saxophone

Gerald Oestreicher playing saxophone


On October 1, 1941, Gerald enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. Here is his draft registration card and his Army identification card. (Note that his name change to Striker is dated December 5, 1945, while he was in the service.)

Gerald Oestreicher draft registration for World Wa II

Gerald Oestreicher draft registration for World Wa II


Steve shared with me the following story about his father’s decision to enlist.  Gerald could see that war was coming, and without consulting with his parents, he decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps.  He had hammerhead toes so his choice of which service to join was limited.  As told by Steve, Gerald had to break the news to his parents the night before he had to report for duty:

The Oestreicher family dinner that night started with nothing out of the ordinary.  Sidney at the head of the table, Esther next to him, Jerry next to his mother on one side, and sister Elaine on the other.  Sister Betty on the other side of her father.  A roast and potatoes in the middle.

Towards the middle of the meal the war was brought up.  There had been little talk from Jerry about it.  My Dad told me his mother at one time looked up,and then straight at him, and dropped her fork on her plate.  “My God, you’ve enlisted.” Jerry responded.  Esther’s eyes teared.  Sidney said,  “When do you leave?”  Jerry announced early tomorrow morning.Sidney became very angry.  Jerry announced he needed to pack and get some sleep.  Sidney offered to take him to the train station, but Jerry insisted no, “I want to say our goodbyes here”. There was a lot of crying by everyone but Sidney.  Jerry announced they should say their goodbye’s that night.  Shortly later Jerry then went to bed.  He left without saying goodbye in the morning.

The next morning Jerry arrived alone at the train station around 6am.  Waiting for him was Sidney, with a sack of food, and advise “stay alive for your mother”.

They waved to each other as the train departed

As you can see from his service record posted below, he had a distinguished record of service during the war.  He attended Officer Candidate School in Aberdeen, Maryland, and a Naval Mine Warfare training center in Yorktown, Virginia.

Gerald Striker service record during World War II

Gerald Striker service record during World War II

In February, 1944, he shipped out, arriving in North Africa by March 10, 1944, when he wrote the following note to his father Sidney:

Gerald Oestreicher note to Sidney Oestreicher, March 10, 1944

Gerald Oestreicher note to Sidney Oestreicher, March 10, 1944

What a sweet and reassuring note! Can you imagine thinking that fighting in a war could be an experience one could “thoroughly enjoy”? I certainly can’t.

After some time in North Africa, Gerald was shipped out again, this time to Asia.  While at sea, he wrote the following undated long letter to his family. Please read it, especially the last two pages.  It is truly a look into the heart and mind of a young man about to face combat.

Gerald Striker letter home from WW2 p 1

“Somewhere at Sea”

Dear Folks,

It has been sometime since I last wrote a letter of any length to you, and will attempt to do justice to this one.

While I was in Africa I had my first taste of what will be in store for me during the duration.  I can honestly say that it is not too bad.  Militarily there is nothing I may write, however I can tell you that living conditions were most primitive. We slept on the ground and lived out of cans.  And speaking of cans—even the toilet paper was rationed out to us.  We get plenty of cigarettes, but candy is very scarce.

I had the opportunity to visit Oran, North Africa, and found the living conditions most interesting.  I was surprised how much of my high school French held me in good stead.  I also picked up a little Arabic.  My knowledge of the foreign rate of currency exchange

Gerald Striker letter home p2

has been added to my general knowledge.  Among the strange things that I saw were rest stations located in the middle of streets, natives without shoes, and automobiles drawn by horses, and I saw the Kasbah which was built in 1501.  I drank champagne at $2.00 per bottle until it poured out of my ears—cognac at dinner time—and ice cream in the afternoon!

Since I left the states I have been to Italy which I found not as beautiful as the travel booklets make one believe—perhaps that is due to friendly and enemy bombings.  The natives fight for American products.  I could have bought a horse for 2 cases of soap! Of course I had no need of a horse, but it does give you an idea as to what the natives are like in this part of the world.

While on ship I gained back the weight

Gerald Striker letter home p3

I lost while in Africa,  I have felt very well at all times and can not complain of anything.  I had my head shaved and after 5 weeks time I finally have grown about 3/4 of an inch back.  I did notice that on top it is getting “a la Sidny.” Also, it is getting slightly gray.

I suppose by the time I get to my destination there will be plenty of mail for me.  If there is—I’m going to ration myself several letters every day.

I think I did tell you that I got my promotion to “first”while in Africa.

I have an insurance premium due in May or June, so just draw the amount out of my account.  I could use some Bond Street tobacco—so you can send me some when you again see Harold Powell.  We can’t get that kind, and I’d rather not smoke a piple than smoke the stuff they sell us here.

Gerald Striker p4

There is so much more I would like to say—but somehow I do not wish to reveal everything.

No, you did not raise your boy to be a soldier nor did he wish to be a soldier.  But we can not control all factors.

I am not a soldier.  I am merely a chap who is doing as directed, and to some extent doing what I believe in.  The German boys too are doing what they believe in.  It is a game of life—death really has no part. The dead can not play.

Yes, I am going in there fighting—I’m fighting for you and folks like you, I’m fighting for myself, my friends—and I’m fighting for what I know is right!

Thanks to you my life has been almost complete.  I can face the worst of it and still smile for I know there is happiness ahead.

And so I’m saying “I’ll be seeing you”—and it won’t be long.

Just remember—if I can feel that you are all good soldiers at home, I can be the best one abroad.  Well I guess

Gerald Striker p5

there is little else I can think of to write at this time.

I hope you are all well and brave.  Also, if at any time you do not hear from me for even a months time do not get alarmed as the mails may be late or I am in such a position that writing is impossible or of little value.

My love to all,


You can see in this letter that Gerald was still struggling with his parents’ reaction to his enlistment, and despite his brave words, his statement that his “life has been almost complete” seems to suggest that he did worry about being killed in the war.

As his service record indicates, after leaving Africa Gerald served as an ordnance officer in the China Burma India theater of the war and received several commendations for his service.  Here are a few photographs of Gerald while serving in World War II.  Steve told me that his father considered his time in the service the best and most exciting time of his life.

IMG_6974 IMG_6978 IMG_6981

Steve also shared this story of his father’s return home from the war:

Four plus years after leaving the U.S, Jerry sailed into New York.  He did not tell anyone when  he would return.  He got to his parents’ apartment and entered a phone booth to call his mother Esther with the intention of announcing he would be home “shortly”. But his little sister Elaine arbitrarily came bounding down the stairs.  But he said she was not his little sister, but a grown young woman.  Then Elaine also spotted him.  Yelling Jerry! Jerry!  she leaped at him.  They both went upstairs to see their mother.

Shortly after the war, Gerald was invited by his Uncle Frank to the Scaroon Manor resort in upstate New York.  There he met a woman who was singing at the resort, Faye Karol, whose real name was Faye Krakower. Her career as a singer was described in my earlier post.  According to Steve, his father Gerald proposed to Faye six days later, and they were married in November, 1946.

Here are some pictures of Faye.

Faye Krakower and her mother Freida

Faye Krakower and her mother Freida

Faye Striker

Gerald and Faye (Krakower) Striker

Gerald and Faye (Krakower) Striker

Gerald and Faye and their son moved to California in 1948 where Gerald worked as a salesman for a number of different clothing lines and other businesses.

Meanwhile, Gerald’s younger sister Betty had married Julius Jacob in 1942.  I wrote about Betty and Julius here.

Betty Oestreicher and Julius Jacob

Betty Oestreicher and Julius Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob

This is Betty and Gerald’s little sister, Elaine, the one who stayed and lived with Maxine Schulherr Stein in PIttsburgh and started me on the journey that led to all these amazing photographs.

Elaine Oestreicher

Elaine Oestreicher

Although Steve shared many more photos of the family, I will end with this one of my cousin Sidney Oestreicher, later in life, with his three adult children, my cousins Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.

Standing: Betty, Gerald, and Elaine Seated: Sidney Oestreicher Striker

Standing: Betty, Gerald, and Elaine
Seated: Sidney Oestreicher Striker

There are a few more posts to come based on the materials Steve shared with me including the letters written by his uncle Frank Striker during his service in World War I and some letters that were written to Frank by various family members.



Like Manna from Heaven

Last Monday I posted about my third cousin, Betty Oestreicher Jacob, who passed away on July 19, 2016.  Betty and I were related through our mutual great-great-grandparents, Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg.  Her great-grandmother Hannah Schoenthal and my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal were sister and brother.  Betty’s grandparents were Sarah Stern, Hannah’s daughter, and Gustav Oestreicher.  Her parents were Sidney (Oestreicher) Striker and Esther Siff

At the time I posted about Betty’s passing, I had only one photograph of Betty and none of her grandparents, parents, or siblings.  But within hours of publishing my post, I received a comment on the blog and then emails from Betty’s nephew, Steve, the son of her brother Gerald.  And Steve generously shared with me numerous photos of all those people and then some. Now I can place faces to the names of the people I have researched and written about.  And what gorgeous photos these are.

In this post, I will share some photographs of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher and their three children, Sidney, Frank, and Helen.  In a later post, I will share the photos of Sidney’s children, Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.  All are courtesy of Steve Striker, who so generously spent his time scanning and emailing these to me and answering my many questions.

First, here are some photographs of Sarah Stern Oestreicher, my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s first cousin.  I’ve written about Sarah’s life here.

Sarah Stern as a child edited

Sarah Stern as a young child in Germany, probably before her mother married Solomon Stern in 1874. Sarah was born in 1865, so this picture was probably taken between 1870 and 1872.

The photograph below of Sarah was taken in Pittsburgh.  She emigrated to the US by herself around 1884 when she was nineteen years old.

Sarah Stern

Sarah Stern

I assume the photograph below was taken sometime later than the one above, but I am not sure. Does Sarah look older or younger in this photograph? The hairstyle in the one above seems more “contemporary,” but Sarah’s face seems softer and somewhat younger than in the one immediately below.

Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Sarah Stern Oestreicher


A while back I had posted the next photograph, which I’d received from my cousin Maxine Stein, and she and I had wondered whether the woman on the left was Sarah Stern, her grandmother’s sister.  Now I am quite certain that it is in fact Sarah.  What do you think? Is the woman on the far left of the photograph the same woman as the one in the photo directly above?


Jennie Stern Arnold, center, and perhaps Sarah Stern Ostreicher on the right and Edith Stern Good on the right

Jennie Stern Arnold, center, and perhaps Sarah Stern Ostreicher on the left and Edith Stern Good on the right

Sarah married Gustav Oestreicher, the man she met while he was staying at her mother’s boarding house in Pittsburgh in about 1890. Gustav, an immigrant from Austria, was working as an artist and photographer in 1900.

Gustav Oestreicher

Gustav Oestreicher

What a dashing man he was!

Here are Sarah and Gustav’s three children, Sidney (1891), Francis (Frank) (1893), and Helen (1895).  You can see that the children inherited their father’s piercing light-colored eyes.  I would guess that these were taken in the late 1890s, perhaps 1898 or 1899, from the ages of the children.  They were also probably taken at the same time as the photos above of Gustav and Sarah, as all five photos were mounted together in a frame.  Perhaps Gustav himself took these photos.

Sidney Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher

Frank Oestreicher as a boy

Helen Oestreicher

This photo of Gustav and Sarah was taken in 1915, when their children were already grown.  By this time Gustav was no longer working as an artist, but was a merchant in Pittsburgh.
Gustav and Sarah Stern Oestreicher

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher store in Pittsburgh:

Oestreicher store

Here’s a photo of Gustav and Sarah and their three children in about 1910, I’d guess, given the ages of the children. Unfortunately, Sidney’s head was cut off either in the photo itself or in the scan.

Rear: Frank, Helen, Gerald (with head cut off) Front: Gustav and Sarah Oestreicher

Rear: Frank, Helen, Sidney (with head cut off)
Front: Gustav and Sarah Oestreicher

Sidney Oestreicher (later Striker) married Esther Siff on November 16, 1915, in Chicago. Sidney was working as a traveling salesman, and as his daughter Betty told me, he met Esther at a dance in Chicago while there on business.  Esther’s father was also a traveling salesman. (I have more pictures of Sidney and Esther, but will share them in my next post.)

Sidney and Esther 1915

The second son, Francis, better known as Frank, served his country in World War I. (Sidney was exempt as he had a wife and young child.)  The postcard below shows Frank’s dates of service:

Frank postcard with military service dates

He was gone for just over a year—from June 25, 1918, when he left for camp, until July 17, 1919, when he arrived home.  He had gone overseas on September 24, 1918.  As I wrote about here, Frank served in the Meuse Argonne Offensive, one of the most important if not the most important battle in World War I. He was a member of Company C of the 301 Water Tank Train in the American Expeditionary Forces.

According to Richard Rubin’s book, The Last of the Doughboys:The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), p.220, a water tank train was actually a caravan of white trucks used to carry water to the front.  According to his honorable discharge papers, Frank served as a private, which Rubin’s book suggests meant he was likely an assistant driver of one of the trucks.

I found this photograph online depicting Company C of the 301 Water Tank Train.  I wonder if Frank is in the photograph:

Company C, 301 Water Tank Train, H. E. Edwards, Capt. M. J. C. U. S. A., Arthur Armstrong Paler papers, Box 1, World War I Photographs

Company C, 301 Water Tank Train,
H. E. Edwards, Capt. M. J. C. U. S. A., Arthur
Armstrong Paler papers, Box 1, World War I

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

Francis Oestreicher (Frank Striker) discharge papers

As you can see below, he was awarded a Victory medal for his service. (Steve has also sent me some of the letters Frank wrote home during World War I; I will post those separately once I have a chance to review and transcribe them.)

Frank Striker WW1

Francis Oestreicher, later known as Frank Striker

Frank Striker WW1 medal

Frank Striker’s Victory Medal for service in World War I

Gustav and Sarah’s third child was their daughter Helen. Here she is in 1917 when she was 22 years old.

Helen Oestreicher 1917

Helen Oestreicher 1917

As I wrote earlier, Helen married Robert Steel Kann in 1920, but he died a year later at age 26.  Sometime before 1929, she married Aaron Mitchell Siegel, known as Mickie, and they had a daughter Betty.

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

Helen Oestreicher Kann Siegel and her family

I was tickled to see this item in Steve’s collection:

invitation to Henry Schoenthal 50th anniv party

As you can see, it is an invitation to the 50th wedding anniversary celebration in 1922 for Henry Schoenthal and Helen Lilienfeld, about whom I’ve written extensively.  Henry Schoenthal, my great-great-uncle, was Sarah Stern Oestreicher’s uncle, brother of her mother Hannah Schoenthal Stern.

Steve sent me this photo labeled Aunt Helen by his uncle Frank, and I wonder whether this is Helen Lilienfeld Schoenthal, who would have been Frank’s great-aunt.  Frank received a long letter from his great-aunt Helen and great-uncle Henry while he was serving in Europe; the tone and content of that letter suggest that Helen and Henry Schoenthal had a very close relationship with the Oestreicher family. (I will post the letter in a separate post.)

Aunt Helen--maybe Lilienfeld Schoenthal

Frank returned to Pittsburgh after the war and worked as a salesman in the family dry goods store. After the family store went bankrupt in 1933, the Oestreicher family began its migration west to California. Although neither Steve nor his cousin Ron was sure of who first went to California or why, the 1940 census indicates that by 1935 at least Helen and her family and Gustav and Sarah had settled there.  I was not able to locate Frank on the 1930 or the 1940 census,nor do I have any address for him between 1920 and 1942, but his World War II draft registration indicates that by then he was definitely living in California along with his parents and his sister Helen.  Sidney and his family did not move west until the 1940s.

Here is a photograph of the Oestreicher family in Los Angeles in 1936.

Oestreicher family edited 1936

I found this letter written by Sarah Stern Oestreicher to her son Frank in 1933 to be very touching in its religious tone and its affection for her son.  Perhaps it was written around the time that family members were planning to move to California.  From the text of the letter, it appears that Frank had just visited, perhaps before he was leaving to move out west or his parents were.



Letter from Sarah Stern Oestreicher to her son Frank, dated January 11, 1933

My dear Francis!

Always remember that The present is under God’s guidance, the future in His keeping. God is guiding, directing, controlling and suplying His children with all good.  His Love and [?] is with you always. Thanking you for all your kindness and the pleasure of having you with us will be the the most pleasant memmories to us.

With my love I remain your devoted Mother. January 11—1933

Here is a photo of Frank in 1940.

Frank Striker 3

One of Steve’s favorite stories about Frank is that he offered to take photographs at Steve’s bar mitzvah, only to discover there was no film left in the camera.  There is only this one photo taken by Frank that day.


Although Steve has many photographs with Frank with women throughout the years, Frank never married. He died in Los Angeles on April 23, 1990, at the age of 96.  His sister Helen died in 1989 when she was 94.

I am so grateful to my cousin Steve for sharing these amazing photographs with me and allowing me to post them on my blog. There is just nothing better than a photograph to help bring to life the people whose lives I’ve researched.

More photos and stories about the Oestreicher family in my next post.



My Cousin Ben’s Bar Mitzvah

I was privileged last weekend to experience something I never would have been able to share if I hadn’t started on this genealogy journey over four years ago.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or even just know its title), then you know that the first family I researched was that of my maternal grandmother, Gussie Brotman.  From my mother and my aunt, I knew some of the names of my grandmother’s siblings—Hymie, Tillie, Frieda, and Sam. And eventually I found three of her half-siblings as well—Abraham, David, and Max.

Gussie Brotman

Gussie Brotman, my grandmother

But my mother had long ago lost touch with her cousins, the children of her mother’s siblings, and had no idea in many cases of their names, let alone their whereabouts.  So I set out to find them, and as I’ve described elsewhere, the first two long lost cousins I located just about four years ago were my second cousin Judy, granddaughter of Max Brotman, and my second cousin Bruce, grandson of Hymie (Herman) Brotman. From Judy and Bruce, I learned so much about the family and also was able to find all my other Brotman second cousins.

Max Brotman

Max Brotman, my great-uncle

Hyman Brotman

Hyman Brotman, my great-uncle

A little over three years ago, some of the grandchildren of Hyman Brotman and some of my grandmother’s grandchildren met in New York City and had a wonderful reunion—or more accurately for some of us—a first meeting.  It remains one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I’ve had since starting to research my family history.  And thanks to the miracle of email and Facebook, I’ve managed to stay in touch as best I can with many of these new second cousins.

Celebrating Ben's bar mitzvah---the Brotman cousins, all descendants of Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod

Celebrating Ben’s bar mitzvah—some of the Brotman cousins, all descendants of Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod, and their spouses

So I was thrilled and honored to be invited to the bar mitzvah of my cousin Benjamin—my second cousin, once removed.  As I sat in the sanctuary of his family’s friendly congregation, I marveled at the fact that I was sitting in this place with many of my second cousins, sharing in a Jewish tradition that dates back long before the time when our great-grandparents lived in Galicia.  What would our great-grandparents Joseph Brotman and Bessie Brod have thought about this whole thing?

Bessie Brotman

Bessie Brotman, Ben’s great-great-grandmother

As Ben led us through the prayer that includes the phrase L’dor v’dor, from one generation to another, I got goosebumps. I realized that our great-grandparents could have sat in that sanctuary and felt very comfortable, hearing prayers that would have been just as familiar to them as they are to me and as they are now to Ben.  Would our great-grandparents have ever expected that over 120 years after they came to the United States their great-great-grandchildren would still be learning these ancient prayers, reading from the Torah, and chanting the Haftorah?

Surely they would have been amazed to see that sharing in this experience in the synagogue that morning were not just other Jewish people, but people of all different  faiths and backgrounds, all learning from the wonderful rabbi about Jewish practices and values. Everyone was welcome, and everyone there wanted to be there.

Joseph and Bessie would likely smile to think that they had made the right decision coming to the US, despite all their travails, because today in 2016 not only do their ancient traditions survive, they also can be practiced openly in creative, inclusive ways without fear of persecution.

L’dor v’dor.  The family and the traditions continue.  Mazel tov, Ben!

(I just realized this is my 500th post on Brotmanblog—how appropriate!)


Don’t Wait to Make Those Calls: My Cousin Betty

This is a post I started back in May before my trip to Colorado and Santa Fe.  I had planned to finish it when I got back, but was distracted and put it aside.  Now I must finish it.  Unfortunately, it no longer has the happy ending it originally had.

As I wrote a few months ago, my newly found third cousin Maxine Schulherr Stein, the great-granddaughter of Hannah Schoenthal Stern (my great-grandfather Isidor Schoenthal’s sister), had lost touch with her second cousins Betty and Elaine, also great-granddaughters of Hannah Schoenthal Stern.

relationship of Maxine Schulherr to Betty Oestreicher

Betty and Elaine’s grandmother Sarah Stern and her husband Gustav Oestreicher had had three children: Sidney, born in 1891; Francis (known as Frank), born in 1893; and Helen, born in 1895.  They’d all lived in the Pittsburgh area at first, but as Sarah and Gustav’s children became adults, they’d eventually left the Pittsburgh area.

Helen had moved to California by 1935 where she and her husband Aaron Siegel and their daughter Betty lived in Los Angeles.  Frank also was living in Los Angeles by 1942.  It was Sidney Oestreicher and his family whom Maxine knew best. She knew that Sidney was married to Esther Siff, and they had had three children: Gerald, Florence Betty (known as Betty), and Elaine.

But Sidney Oestreicher also had left the Pittsburgh area when he moved to New York in the 1940s.  The family had left their youngest child Elaine behind with Maxine’s family so that she could finish the school year in Pittsburgh, according to Maxine.

By the 1950s, all of the members of Sidney Oestreicher’s family had moved to California to be closer to the other members of the family.  Given the distance and the limited modes of communication back then, the family members back in Pittsburgh eventually lost touch with the California branch of the family.   When I spoke with Maxine, she asked me to help her locate the cousins she’d known as a child.

Hattie Martin Maxine Alan Henrietta Stein Alan's mother

Hattie Arnold Schulherr, Martin Schulherr, Maxine Schulherr Stein, Alan Stein, Henrietta Stein

I knew from my own research that Gerald Oestreicher (who, like his father Sidney and his uncle Frank, changed his surname to Striker) had married Faye Krakower and had had two children.  Gerald died in 2014 and Faye in 2015.   But finding Gerald’s sisters Betty and Elaine had proven to be more difficult, as is generally the case with women.

Fortunately, I found one very important clue that helped me find both Betty and Elaine for Maxine (and for me).

Betty Oestreicher engagement announcement

I thus knew that Betty had married a man named Julius H. Jacob.  And from various other records for Julius, I knew that they had lived in the NYC area for some time and that they, like the other Oestreichers/Strikers, had eventually moved to California.  But I had not been able to find their current residence.

Newly motivated by Maxine’s request, I looked again at the engagement announcement and saw that Julius was described as the brother of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Spear.  Who was that? I inferred that Julius was the brother of Mrs. Spear, not Mr. Spear, given the different surnames, and decided to see what I could find about the Spears.  I found Jacob Spear and his wife Else (presumably born with the surname Jacob) on the 1940 census, but more importantly, I found them both on several family trees on Ancestry.

Although I am generally skeptical of Ancestry trees, one of those trees belonged to a genealogy researcher whose work I trust: Jennifer Spier-Stern.  I contacted Jennifer, and after we exchanged more information and verified the connection between Julius Jacob and Elsie Jacob, Jennifer was able to put me in touch with the son of Jacob Spear and Else Jacob, John.  John is the nephew therefore of Julius Jacob, husband of my cousin Betty Oestreicher.  Not only did John know the whereabouts of his aunt Betty—he had contact information for her son Ron.  And he pointed out that the upcoming weekend would be her 97th birthday.  Now that gave me the chills!

I emailed Ron, and we exchanged several emails.  And Ron gave me the phone numbers for both his mother Betty and his aunt Elaine, who is also still living in California.  In May I had the great pleasure of speaking to two more of my third cousins, Betty Oestreicher Jacob and Elaine Oestreicher Wallace. The following information came from a combination of my conversations with Betty and Elaine and the emails and conversations I had with my cousin Ron.

Betty was remarkably lucid for a 97 year old woman, and she was delighted to answer my questions and reminisce about her family and her life.  Elaine also was warm and excited to share her stories with me.  I had hoped that one of them would have stories about their grandmother, Sarah Stern, who was the first child of Hannah Schoenthal and who had come without her family to the US when she was nineteen years old.  Unfortunately, as was so often the case, both Betty and Elaine said that their grandmother Sarah did not speak about her childhood or about the move to the United States.

I did learn, however, from Betty that Sarah met her future husband, Gustav Oestreicher, when he was staying at the boarding house in Pittsburgh run by her mother, Hannah Schoenthal, my great-grandfather’s oldest sibling.

Betty also told me that her grandmother Sarah suffered from migraines, and after they married, Gustav and she moved to Atlantic City because he thought it would be better for her health.  Sarah also converted to Christian Science, and although Betty and her family remained Jewish, Betty would often accompany her grandmother Sarah to church when she visited her in Atlantic City.

Ron shared with me a particular memory his mother Betty shared with him:

“Once, Sarah and Gustav purchased 300 ice cream cones for children at an orphanage/home for crippled children, and my mother and uncle (Jerry) got to ride along in the truck to deliver them.  Apparently, my mother was the apple of Gustav’s eye.”

I also asked Betty how her father Sidney met her mother Esther Siff, who lived in Chicago.  Betty explained that her father was a traveling salesman, working for a ladies’ lingerie company called Adelson’s.  While traveling to Chicago for work, he attended a dance where he met Esther Siff.  Sidney and Esther lived in Chicago for the early years of their marriage, and their first two children, Gerald and Betty, were born there.  By 1930, however, the family had moved back to Pittsburgh, where their youngest child Elaine was born.

Betty said that her immediate family moved to New York in the 1940s for her father’s job.  She had married Julius Jacob by that time, and after spending some time in Massachusetts where Julius was stationed at Fort Devens during the war, they ended up moving to New York where Julius worked for Spear & Company.  In 1954 or so, they returned to Pittsburgh, where Julius continued to work for Spear & Company, but the company was not doing well at that point.

Betty Oestreicher Jacob at Ft Devens, Massachusetts. 1940s Courtesy of Ron Jacob

Betty Oestreicher Jacob. 1940s
Courtesy of Ron Jacob

In 1956, the family moved to Los Angeles where Julius took a job with Broadway Department Stores.  Betty’s brother Gerald was already living there at that time as was her aunt Helen and uncle Frank.  Sidney and Esther soon followed their children to Los Angeles. Elaine arrived a few years later after her divorce from her first husband, Jerry Kruger. Sadly, Esther Siff Oestreicher/Striker died on her 68th birthday, March 11, 1961.

Thus, by the 1960s, all the members of the Oestreicher family were living in the Los Angeles area: the three children of Sarah Stern and Gustav Oestreicher, Sidney, Frank, and Helen, and all of their children, including Sidney’s three children, Gerald, Betty, and Elaine.

Ron shared with me his memories of his great-uncle Frank and his grandfather Sidney:

“My Uncle Frank, who I adored, was a lifelong bachelor.  He was also quite the world traveler and I was always fascinated to hear of the places he had been.  Spending a fair amount of time traveling by ship, he became quite an accomplished dancer and tennis table player.  (I believe he had trophies for both.)  When we got a ping pong table, he had fun annihilating me.  To be fair, my grandfather, Sidney, taught me how to play gin rummy (for points) and he also had the grandest smile every time he beat me.  Both men were true gentlemen, and they were loving, caring men and enjoyed spending time with us kids.  My grandfather died when he was 94 and my uncle died when he was 96.” 

Ron also sent me this picture of Faye Krakower Striker, his uncle Gerald’s wife:Faye Krakower Striker professional photo

Faye had quite an interesting life as a singer before marrying Gerald in 1946.  The following is an excerpt from the eulogy given at her funeral in 2015.

JPG Eulogy of Faye Striker

Even with all this information, I realized when I got off the phone with Betty that I still had more questions about her childhood and adolescence in Pittsburgh.  Did she know the other Schoenthal cousins? What was life like? Were they active in the Jewish community? There were many more things I wanted to discuss with her.

I had planned to call Betty and Elaine again after those initial conversations. But then I left for our trip to Colorado and New Mexico, and when I returned, I was distracted by a number of other matters, and I failed to follow up.

I recently learned that Betty’s health deteriorated while I was away, and sadly she passed away on July 19, 2016.  She had had a good long life with very few health issues, according to her son Ron.  And although I know that anyone who lives 97 years has had a remarkable journey, I am kicking myself for not making that second call.  Betty had been so excited to share her memories with me, and there were so many more questions to ask and stories to hear.

Life is unpredictable, and we can’t assume anything or take anything for granted.

May my cousin Betty rest in peace, and may her family find comfort in all their memories.



Fallen Leaves

I admit that I have been putting off this blog post.  Because it makes me sad.  One of the great gifts I’ve experienced in doing genealogy is learning about and sometimes having conversations with older people whose memories and lives can teach us so much.  The downside of that is that I am catching them in the final chapter in the lives.

In the past year or so, four of my parents’ first cousins have passed away.  I already wrote about my mother’s first cousin, Murray Leonard, born Goldschlager, son of my grandfather’s brother David Goldschlager.  You can see my tribute to Murray here, in case you missed it.

Murray Leonard older

Murray Leonard

Murray Leonard

David and Murray Goldschlager

David and Murray Goldschlager

Two of my mother’s other Goldschlager-side first cousins also died in the last year: Frieda Feuerstein Albert and Estelle Feuerstein Kenner, who were sisters and the daughters of Betty Goldschlager, my grandfather’s sister, and her husband Isidor Feuerstein.

Frieda died on July 30, 2015; she was 93. Frieda was born in New York on April 21, 1922. She married Abram Albert in 1943, and in 1957, they moved with their children to Arizona, where Abram opened a bedspread and drapery store in Phoenix. He died in 1991, and Frieda continued to live in Phoenix until her death last summer.

Frieda and Abe

Frieda and Abe

Frieda and Abe Albert at their wedding in 1943

Frieda and Abe Albert at their wedding in 1943


Her younger sister Estelle died almost three months ago on May 16, 2016.  She was 86 years old and had been living in Florida for many years.  She was born May 15, 1929.


courtesy of Barry Kenner

courtesy of Barry Kenner



Estelle Feuerstein, Betty's daughter

Estelle Feuerstein, Betty’s daughter

Estelle and Frieda each had three children who survive them—six second cousins I’d never known about until I started doing genealogy research.

I never had a chance to speak to either Frieda or Estelle, but have been in touch with some of their children.  My mother recalls Frieda and Estelle very well, although she had not seen them for many, many years.  She remembers them as beautiful young girls coming to visit her family in Brooklyn when they were living out on Long Island.

The other cousin who died in the past year was my father’s first cousin, Marjorie Cohen.  I wrote about my wonderful conversations with Marjorie here.  She died on July 6, 2015, but I did not learn about it until quite recently.  She was just a few months shy of 90 when she died, and she was living in Ventnor, New Jersey, near Atlantic City, where she had lived for almost all of her adult life after growing up in Philadelphia.  She was born on October 15, 1925, the daughter of Bessie Craig and Stanley Cohen, my grandfather’s brother.

Arthur Seligman, Marjorie, and Eva May Cohen, 1932 Atlantic City

Arthur Seligman, Marjorie, and Eva May Cohen, 1932 Atlantic City

Marjorie Cohen with Pete-page-001 Marjorie model 2-page-001

According to her obituary,

She was a graduate of the Sacred Heart School in Philadelphia and Trinity College in Washington, DC. For 33 years she served as the Director of the AAA Mid-Atlantic Travel Agency in Northfield. During her time with AAA she escorted both cruises and tours throughout the world. In 1978, she was the recipient of the Contemporary Woman of the Year Award for outstanding community involvement by McDonald’s Restaurant and radio station WAYV. Upon retirement she became actively involved in volunteer work with the Atlantic City Medical Center, RNS Cancer and Heart Organization, the LPGA Annual Golf Tournament and served as a Hostess with the Miss America Pageant for a number of years. Throughout her life, she had a deep and abiding love for all animals and was a generous supporter of the Humane Society.  (Press of Atlantic City, July 9, 2015.)

I am so grateful that I had the chance to talk to Marjorie, and I am filled with regret that I never was able to get to Atlantic City to meet with her as I had hoped.

These losses remind me once again how important it is to find my extended family members, especially those whose memories run back the longest.  I wish I had had the chance to meet all of these cousins, and now it is too late.



Where Am I? At A Crossroads

I am once again at a crossroads in my genealogy research.  I have, for now, found as much as I can find about the children of Levi Schoenthal and Henriette Hamberg.  And I have also exhausted, for now, the resources available for learning about the family of Amalia Hamberg.  There are more Hambergs and Schoenthals to research, however.  Levi Schoenthal had (at least) two sisters—Mina who married Marcus Rosenberg and Fradchen (Fanny), who married Simon Goldschmidt.  Both sisters immigrated to the US and settled at least for some time in western Pennsylvania.  I have written about them some, but there is much more to do.

There is also a lot more to do with the family of Henriette Hamberg, my great-great-grandmother.  Although I have written about some of the other Hambergs—Amalia, Charles/Baruch, Abraham, and Moses—who came to the US in the 19th century, there were many more who stayed in Germany, and their family story is one I need to research more deeply and write about.  It won’t be an easy one to research or to share.

And then there is also some additional information about my Seligmann relatives that has more recently come to light.

On my mother’s side, I have done a fair amount of work on the Goldfarb family, but have yet had a chance to write about them.  They were the cousins I discovered when my cousin shared with me my aunt’s baby book and my grandfather’s notebook.  I have been hoping to get to their story for quite a while, but wanted some closure on the Schoenthal family first.

And then there are my remaining two great-great-grandparents on my father’s side—Gerson Katzenstein and Eva Goldschmidt, parents of my great-grandmother Hilda Katzenstein, who married Isidore Schoenthal.

First, I have a few sad notices to post about recent losses in the family.  And then? Where do I go next?


Do I finish the Schoenthals by focusing on Fanny and Mina? Do I complete the Hamberg line?

Do I turn back temporarily to the Seligmanns and fill in a few gaps?

Or should I move on to my next two paternal lines, the Katzensteins and Goldschmidts?

Or do I turn to something on my mother’s side—-the Goldfarbs?

This is why people say you are never finished with your family history.  As for where I turn next, I am going to give it some thought and see where I land.  The compulsive side of me says stick with the Schoenthals until I am done.  The less compulsive side (there is no non-compulsive side) says break free, don’t be so logical, jump to something else.  Let’s see which side wins.


The Last Chapter of the Story of Amalia Hamberg

Finally, I come to the two youngest children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer to survive to adulthood[1]: Elsie Baer Grant and Lawrence Baer.   With this post, I close the chapter on Amalia Hamberg, first cousin of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, or my first cousin, three times removed.  Her children were my second cousins, twice removed (or my grandmother Eva Schoenthal’s second cousins).

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

Elsie Baer was born in Pittsburgh in 1886 and married Jerome Grant in 1913.  For almost their entire married lives they lived in New York City, where Jerome worked for Baer & Wilde, one of the family jewelry businesses based in Attleboro, Massachusetts.  Elsie and Jerome had two daughters, Marjorie and Elinor.  As of 1930, they were still living in New York City, and Jerome was still working for the family jewelry business.  The same was true in 1940; both daughters were still at home.

In the next decade both daughters married. Marjorie married Richard E. Weinreich, whose family was also in the jewelry business.  Richard’s father, Sol Weinreich, had founded Marvella Pearls, a jewelry wholesale business with his brother in Philadelphia, where Richard was born in 1915.  By 1930, the family and the business had relocated to New York, and by 1940, both Richard and his father were working in the business.

Marvella pearls

I assume that Richard and Marjorie met as a result of the fact that both families were in the jewelry business in New York.  Richard and Marjorie would have one child.  Richard eventually became president of Marvella.  According to this antiques website, “Marvella was purchased by Trifari in the early 1980s and eventually became part of the Liz Claiborne group. As of 2010, jewelry is still being distributed in department stores and other retail outlets on cards bearing the Marvella name.”

Marjorie’s sister Elinor served for over a year with the Red Cross in India in the early 1940s. On December 19, 1946, she married Alan Fredrick Kline of Chicago.

Elinor Grant wedding to Alan Kline 1946 NYTimes-page-001

Alan was a graduate of Dartmouth College and had served in the US Naval Reserves during World War II.  His father Jacob was one of the founders of Kline Brothers, a department store chain that started in Lorain, Ohio, and eventually had a large number of stores in the Midwest.

Suburbanite_Economist_Sun__Oct_28__1973_ article about Kline Bros

Elinor and Alan had two children before Alan died at only 37 years old on October 1, 1950, leaving Elinor with two very young sons.  Elinor would eventually remarry.

Elsie Baer’s husband Jerome Grant died on July 29, 1964; he was 75.  According to the death notices in The New York Times, he was a Mason, a member of The Golden Circle, and a member of the Maiden Lane Outing Club.

Like her sisters Josephine, Tilda, and Amanda, Elsie Baer Grant lived a long life, dying many years after her husband in May 1983 at age 96.

Unfortunately, the daughters of Elsie and Jerome were not blessed with their mother’s longevity.  Marjorie predeceased her mother, dying in May, 1978; she was only 59.  Her sister Elinor died at age 72 on November 2, 1993.

As for Elsie’s younger brother Lawrence, the youngest of the children of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer, he played, as I’ve written here, a critical part in the success of the family jewelry business in Attleboro.  He not only invented the Kum-A-Part cufflinks that made the company highly successful in the 1920s; he also invented and received patents for several other jewelry products.  For example, in 1922, Lawrence received a patent (No.  US 1420232 A) for a jewelry contained, described as “a container which can be carried in the pocket or in a traveling bag or the like or placed in an article of furniture in the home, for holding buckles, brooches, buttons, and any article of jewelry.”  He also received during the 1920s and 1930s patents for a number of other inventions: necktie holders, a belt fastener, a bill holder, a shirt holder, and a display device.

Jewelry holder invented by Lawrence Baer


As noted in my earlier post, Lawrence had married Donna Degen in 1919, and they had one child, a son named John Degen Baer, born in 1921.  As of 1942 when Lawrence registered for the draft, they were still living in Attleboro and Lawrence was still working for the family jewelry business, now known as Swank, Inc.  But by 1946, Lawrence was listed with his second wife, Olivia Ganong, in the West Palm Beach, Florida, city directory.  He and Olivia lived in Florida for the rest of his life.  Lawrence died in May, 1969, in Lake Worth, Florida. He was 77 years old.

His son John remained in Attleboro even after Lawrence remarried and moved to Florida. According to his obituary, John attended Yale and Brown, graduating from Brown in 1943. During World War II, he served in the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific theater and in the occupation of Japan.

In 1946, the Attleboro city directory lists John as serving in the United States Marine Corps and married to a woman named Minette. In 1953, he was the executive vice-president of The Bishop Company in Attleboro.  According to his obituary, John “was the owner and C.E.O. of the Bishop Company, an Ophthalmic Manufacturing Company, which he merged with the Univis Lens Company of Dayton, Ohio in 1960. The merged company, Univis, Inc., was headquartered in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, with branch manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, Tennessee, New York and Massachusetts. Univis was sold to Itek, Inc. in 1970.“

In 1963, John was still listed with Minette in the Attleboro, directory, but that is the last listing I can find for him there.  Sometime in the 1960s, John relocated to Florida, living not far from where his father was also living at that time.  He also appears to have married his second wife, Jane Rollins, during this time period.

After he sold Univis in 1970 (a year after his father died), John moved again, this time to Atlanta, Georgia, where he was executive vice-president of Edwards Baking Company until 1978.  In 1985, he relocated yet again, moving to Blairsville, Georgia, where he started and managed the Truck and Gas Market until 1992, when he retired.  John Baer died on November 3, 2015.  He was 94 years old. (All this information comes from his obituary, which also includes a number of photographs of John.)


Thus ends the recounting of the lives of all of the children (and the children of the children) of Amalia Hamberg and Jacob Baer: Maurice, Hattie, Josephine, Amanda, Flora, Tilda, Elsie, Alfred, and Lawrence.  I am once again amazed by the fact that two immigrants who came to the United States in the 19th century raised children who achieved such remarkable success both in business and in the arts.

Perhaps it is a lesson to us all about the contributions that immigrants have made and will continue to make this country.  We should be very wary of anyone who seeks to exclude immigrants from this country.  After all, most of us living in the US today are descended from immigrants.




[1] Alfred Baer, the second youngest child, had died years before.

The Legacy of Flora Baer Adler

I am back after two weeks with family members—first, a wonderful week with our grandson Nate and then a week with the extended family.  We had gorgeous weather, lots of laughs, and too much good food.  But now things are quiet, and I am returning to finish the story of the children of Amalia Hamberg.

It’s been a long break since I last posted, so I thought it would be helpful to clarify where I was when I left off. I had been discussing the many children of Amalia/Mlalchen Hamberg, who was a first cousin of my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal through his mother Henriette Hamberg.

corrected relationship isidore schoenthal to malchen hamberg

I have already discussed six of Amalia’s nine children, including Maurice, Hattie, Josephine, Amanda, Alfred and Tilda.  That leaves three more: Elsie, Lawrence, and the subject of this post, Flora.

Although Hattie Baer died at a young age as did her brother Alfred, most of the other siblings lived long lives.  As we saw in the earlier posts, Amanda lived late into her 90th year, and Josephine lived to 97. Their sister Elsie also lived to 97, and Tilda was within a few months of her 90th birthday.

Unfortunately, their sister Flora did not live as long a life.  As I wrote here, Flora  married Julius Adler, an engineer who had worked for the Philadelphia highway department, supervising the construction of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.  They had three children between 1917 and 1920, Stanley, Jerrold, and Amy.  Thanks to one of the grandchildren of Flora and Julius, I now have some photographs of the family.

Wedding photograph of Flora Baer and Julius Adler, March 15, 1915 Courtesy of the Adler family

Wedding photograph of Flora Baer and Julius Adler, March 15, 1915
Courtesy of the Adler family

Flora Baer Adler and one of her children

Flora Baer Adler and one of her children


In 1940, all three children were still living at home with their parents in Philadelphia.  Julius listed his occupation as an independent civil engineer.  Their son Stanley was working as a chemical engineer for a chemical company, and their daughter Amy was a social services worker at a hospital.  Jerrold had no occupation listed; perhaps he was still in school.

Flora Baer Adler 1943

Flora Baer Adler 1943, courtesy of the Adler family


Jerrold Adler, Flora Baer Adler, and Julius Adler 1943 Courtesy of the Adler family

Jerrold Adler, Flora Baer Adler, and Julius Adler
Courtesy of the Adler family

Then tragedy struck.  On August 27, 1945, my cousin Flora died from fluoride poisoning; her death was ruled a suicide by the coroner.

FLora Baer death certificate preliminary

FLora Baer death certificate with coroner result Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Julius and the three children somehow recovered from this tragedy.  Julius married his second wife Katinka Dannenburg Olsho in 1971 when he was 84 years old.

Julius Adler, 1977 Courtesy of the Adler family

Julius Adler, 1977
Courtesy of the Adler family

When he died in 1993 at the age of 106, the Philadelphia Inquirer published a wonderful tribute to him:

… [Julius Adler] was an erudite man who could quote long passages from Kipling, recite Latin and Greek verse, and speak authoritatively on any of his varied interests, which included growing roses and playing bridge, according to his family.

“This man was unique, just an extraordinary human being,” said Mr. Adler’s son-in-law, Leonard Malamut. “In everything he did, he was top-notch. And he was a man of great dignity. He grew up at a time when decency and ethics and morality were the guiding principles of how one lived.”

Mr. Adler was born in Memphis, Tenn., and moved to Philadelphia as a child. He was a graduate of Central High School’s 109th class in 1904 and a 1908 graduate of the School of Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, which he attended on an academic scholarship. His family believes he was the oldest living graduate from Central and Penn.

Mr. Adler’s supervision of the Ben Franklin Bridge paving took place when he was deputy chief of the city’s highway department, his son-in-law said. The bridge, when it was built, was called the Delaware River Bridge.  He also supervised the repaving of Broad Street after the construction of the Broad Street Subway.

Mr. Adler taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Washington. He was a member of the Engineers Club of Philadelphia, the American Society of Civil Engineering and the American Society for Testing Materials.

For 70 years, he was a member of Congregation Rodeph Shalom.

Mr. Adler was, as well, a devoted fan of the Phillies. “He could tell you players’ ERAs and batting averages with great accuracy until he was 100,” Malamut said. “I regret that he died in the season the Phillies are having such a great season – that he had to die before the season was over.”

Stanley, Amy, Julius, and Jerrold Adler 1960 Courtesy of the Adler family

Stanley, Amy, Julius, and Jerrold Adler 1960
Courtesy of the Adler family

Julius and Flora’s three children also all lived productive lives.  Their daughter Amy died in 2003 of a heart attack; she was 83.  According to her obituary:

She served as a hospital volunteer when she was a teenager and later studied X-ray technology and electrocardiography.  In 1942, she met Dr. Leonard Malamut when she was working at Jewish Hospital, now Albert Einstein Medical Center. The couple married in 1944.

Dr. Malamut opened a practice near Albert Einstein Medical Center in Olney after serving several years in the Army during World War II. Mrs. Malamut joined him in the office. She managed the practice, keeping the books and helping with electrocardiograms, blood work and other tests.  She enjoyed attending concerts and the theater with Dr. Malamut.

Amy’s older brother Stanley died on April 21, 2006; he was 89 years old.  According to his obituary, like his father, he was an engineer who had graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.  The obituary reported:

During World War II, Stan was an aircraft inspector for the United States Navy. …. He was active in Reform Judaism, scouting, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He wrote many technical papers. His interests included amateur radio, bridge, calculus, gardening, classical music, and a more cooperative world.

Stanley Baer Adler Fold3_Page_1_Selective_Service_Registration_Cards_World_War_II_Multiple_Registrations

Stanley Baer Adler

The last surviving child of Flora Baer and Julius Adler was Jerrold, who died on March 5, 2008, when he was, like his brother Stanley, 89 years old.   He had attended the University of Pennsylvania and had served in the army during World War II.

Jerrold Adler draft registration Fold3_Page_1_Selective_Service_Registration_Cards_World_War_II_Multiple_Registrations

Jerrold Adler draft registration

Jerrold Adler, courtesy of the Adler family

Jerrold Adler, courtesy of the Adler family

He had married Doris Elaine Getz on October 6, 1946.

Wedding of Jerrold Adler and Doris Getz, October 6, 1946

Wedding of Jerrold Adler and Doris Getz, October 6, 1946

Although Flora’s life ended tragically, she left behind the legacy of three successful children.  Their lives enriched the country that Flora’s mother Amalia had moved to as a young woman back in the 19th century.  They served in our armed forces during World War II and contributed to society through their chosen careers.  Like so many of us, the grandchildren of immigrants, they justified the risks their grandparents took when immigrating to the United States.






Family Time

Of course, doing genealogy means every day is a day of family time.  But this week and next will be time with the current members of the family—starting this week with my dear grandson Nate.


He’s been with us all week, and it’s been such a pleasure to be with this wonderful boy. He was my initial inspiration for researching my family’s history. When he was born six years ago, it made me think about the links back in a long chain that didn’t start with his parents, his grandparents, or his great-grandparents.  It started long before that, but I knew nothing, or almost nothing, about those earlier generations.  I wanted to be able to share their stories with him, but first I had to learn those stories myself.

So here I am, six years later, still working at it and planning to do so until I am done.  And as genealogists often say, we are never done.  Maybe my grandchildren won’t care about any of this—at least until they have grandchildren.  But just in case, I am sticking to it.

The blog may be relatively quiet in the next week or so, though I do have a few things that I am almost ready to post. (And I may also fall behind in reading other blogs, but I will catch up.)  My mission is far from complete, so for all those generations to come, I will return to tell the stories of the generations who came before them.


Ray, Arizona: Home of Gertrude and Hettie Schoenthal

Some of you may remember that about six months ago I wrote about Gertrude and Hettie Schoenthal, two of the daughters of Simon Schoenthal, brother of my great-grandfather Isidore.  Gertrude had married Jacob Miller in 1898 and moved to Arizona. Jacob and his brothers were merchants in the Tucson area. Gertrude’s younger sister Hettie followed her out there around 1906, where she met her husband Henry Stein and eventually settled as well.

Eventually both the Millers and the Steins moved to the small mining town of Ray, Arizona, where they lived for several years before returning to Atlantic City, where most of the members Schoenthal family were still living.   Hettie and her son Walter Stein wrote wonderfully descriptive memoirs of their rough and tumble pioneer life in Ray, Arizona.  I quoted extensively from their writings in this blog post.

A week ago I was Skyping with Sharon Lippincott, who is married to Ezra Lippincott, grandson of Hettie Schoenthal, and Sharon and Ezra were excited to share with me a photograph that their daughter-in-law had found somewhere on the internet.  It is a panoramic view of Ray, Arizona, taken in the time that Hettie and her sister Gertrude were living there.  In fact, you can see the Miller Brothers store in the photo if you zoom in to the right side of the picture.  Just click, and then click again to zoom in to the photograph to see it more clearly.

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet

Here’s a closeup of the section showing the Miller store:

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet (2)

Both Hettie and Walter described their first house in Ray.  Walter wrote:

Our first house was placed on the side of a hill with one door. The back of the house was against the hill. To reach the house you walked up steps that also took care of other householders on the hill. I cannot remember the location of the outhouse. I do remember to bathe, water was heated on the stove and then poured into a galvanized tub that had been placed on the floor.

Hettie’s description is similar:

I will tell you a little about the house. It was up on a hill, just four rooms no bath or toilet. It was terrible. I did not think I could live there, but we did. Your grandfather and a helper built a room and we bought a tub. The pipes had to be on top of the ground. Well, the sun was so hot we had to draw the water and let it stand for hours before bathing.

Can you locate the house in the photograph above?  The houses are all to the far right in the panoramic photograph, and I have a guess as to which one was the home of Hettie Schoenthal and Henry Stein and their children.  Which one do you think it was?  (Look first before looking at my guess at the bottom of this post.)


In my head I am humming the Final Jeopardy theme song.














Here’s my guess:

Ray Arizona Panarama from Internet (3)

See the house in the left foreground with the huge cactus in front?  I think that’s it.  It’s built into the hill, and there is a staircase behind that leads to the other houses.  It looks like the outhouse was right in front of the house.

What do you think?

My thanks to Ezra and Sharon Lippincott and their daughter-in-law Carrie for sharing the photograph with me.