Another mystery! Looking for theories from the rest of you

After learning the name of Frieda Brotman’s husband, I was curious as to what happened to Harry Coopersmith after losing his young wife and infant son. Also, I wondered how long they had been married and whether or not Max had been born prematurely. I looked up Harry Coopersmith in the index of NYC marriages and found two for whom no bride was listed. I ordered both certificates, hoping one would be for the marriage of Harry Coopersmith and Frieda Brotman. They arrived yesterday, and imagine my confusion when BOTH certificates were for Harry and Frieda.

The first one is dated May 28, 1923. The marriage ceremony took place at City Hall in NYC, and the officiant was the Assistant City Clerk. It has Frieda’s home address wrong—it was 646 E. 6th Street, not 446 E. 6th Street. It was witnessed by L.B. Waterman and Nathan Stern and signed by Nathan Stern. The front of the form seems to have been filled out by someone in the clerk’s office, not Frieda, Harry or Mr. Stern, since their signatures all are in very different handwriting than that on the front. Also, Frieda would have known her own address. But this is certainly our Frieda—parents’ names are Joseph and Bessie Brotman. [Notice also that her age is wrong; in 1923 she was 26, not 20. Perhaps she lied about her age because Harry was younger than she was?]


The second one is dated September 2, 1923, a little over three months later. This one appears to have been filled out by someone else, not the clerk. It now has Frieda’s correct address (but not her correct age), but Bessie is spelled incorrectly. I can’t tell whether the handwriting matches any of the signatures on the back (I guess I need the FBI, Bruce!), but what’s odd is that all those signatures seem to match, as if one person signed for Harry, Frieda and the witnesses Max Sambel and Juda Kramer (?). This time the ceremony took place at Bessie and Philip’s apartment at 646 E. 6th Street, and the officiant was Selig Vogel. There is only one Selig Vogel in the 1930 US Census, and he was a rabbi. So obviously this was a religious ceremony, presumably meant to “validate” the earlier civil ceremony.


So…why did they get married twice? Was the first one a secret marriage? Why did they decide to have a religious ceremony the second time, and why did they wait three months? If Max was a full term baby, Frieda would have been about a month pregnant by September 2, 1923 —would she have even known she was pregnant that early back then before EPT? If so, were they then ready to “go public” and have a public ceremony? If Max was born prematurely, which was one possible cause of his death, then maybe Frieda wasn’t even pregnant yet. And who filled out and signed the forms? And who are Max Sambel and Juda Kramer (if that’s what it says)?

I would love to hear the speculations of the rest of you. Leave your thoughts in the comments space below. Meanwhile, I will go see what else I can learn about what happened to Harry and who those other witnesses might have been.

3 thoughts on “Another mystery! Looking for theories from the rest of you

  1. The more I look at these forms, the more it seems that Frieda filled out the second form and signed all four names on the back. The F in Frieda is the same in all three places where her name is written—on the first record and twice on the second record. What do you think?


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