These last few days have been very exciting ones for me. Not only did I find persuasive evidence of another member of the Brotman family, I also have persuasive evidence of a new member of the Goldschlager family, a third Rosenzweig sister, Zusia, also called Sonsa, Celie, Susie and Susan. I am still piecing together her life and need to obtain more documentation to do that, but this is what I know so far.
First, some background: Moritz Goldschlager, my great-grandfather, married Ghitla Rosenzweig, daughter of David and Esther Rosenzweig, according to the records found by my researcher in Iasi, Romania. Ghitla, who was also called Gittel, Gussie and Gisella, emigrated to the United States in 1910 with her son David, following my grandfather Isadore in 1904, her husband Moritz in 1909, and her daughter Betty in 1910. As described before, her husband died in April, 1910, and her two children, Isadore and Betty, moved in with Tillie Strolowitz, herself a widow, and her seven children. According to Tillie’s death certificate, her birth name was Tillie Rosenzweig, and her parents were also David and Esther Rosensweig. Tillie had emigrated with her husband and her three youngest children in 1907, following her older children who had emigrated over the years 1901 through 1907. I was quite excited when I figured out that Tillie was my grandfather’s aunt and had taken him and Betty in after their father had died.
Then a few weeks ago, I reviewed my grandfather’s ship manifest from 1904 (under his brother David’s name) and noticed again that he was supposed to meet an uncle, Morsche or Moische Mintz, in New York City. I had not been able to find this uncle before, and I was stymied again when I searched for him. Then I located a document indicating that my grandfather had been shortly detained at Ellis Island, apparently because his uncle had not been able to meet him. Instead he was met by an aunt Zusie Mintz, who lived at 110 East 117th Street. But who was she?
By searching the NYC marriage index, I was able to locate a Zusie Rosenzweig married to a Harry Mintz and wondered whether this could be the aunt who met Isadore and whether she was another sister of Ghitla and Tillie. I ordered a copy of the marriage certificate and also looked for further documentation of Zusie Mintz. I found one census reference for a Sonsa Mintz, living with cousins Jacob and Rachel Reitman in 1900 as a widow. If this was the same person as Zusie Mintz, it explained why the uncle had not been available in 1904; he had died. But was Sonsa also Zusie, and who were the Reitmans?
I looked for Zusie or Sonsa or Susie on the later census reports, but could not find her on any of them. Had she remarried and changed her name? Had she died?
I then looked for and found a death certificate for a Susie Mintz dated March 11, 1931, and I ordered that as well. At that point I decided to wait for these two documents to arrive before going on what might be a wild goose chase. I received those documents two days ago, the same day I received the documents evidencing that David Brotman was my great-uncle. Could I have struck gold twice in one day?
Yes, I could, and I did. The marriage certificate, dated December 6, 1896, confirmed that the Zusi Rosenzweig who married Harry Mintz was the daughter of David Rosenzweig and Esther Gilberman, revealing for the first time Esther’s birth name. The certificate confirmed also that Zusi was from Romania. Zusi had been living at 136 Allen Street, and Harry was living at 191 Allen Street, so presumably they had met in the neighborhood. Harry was 31 years old, born in Austria, and was marrying for the first time. Zusi was 24 years old, but already a widow.
Had she married before she left Romania, or since arriving in NYC? Why had she gone back to her birth name, Rosenzweig? These are questions for which I still do not have answers.
The second document I received, the death certificate for Susie Mintz who died on March 11, 1931, also confirmed that Zusi, now Susie, was the daughter of David and Esther Rosenzweig, born in Romania. Susie was 54 years old at the time of her death, meaning that she was born in 1877, whereas if she had been 24 in 1896, her birth year would have been 1872. The death certificate also indicated that she was a widow, and it provided her current address: 523 East 108th Street in the Bronx.
The reverse side of her death certificate contained some surprising information. It revealed that the undertaker had been employed by “Mr. Mintz,” Susie’s son. Susie had a son? If so, where was he in 1900 when Sonsa was living with Jacob Reitman? Or was that really Susie/Zusi? If Susie had a son, perhaps she had other descendants as well. But what was her son’s name? When was he born?
Using the address on the death certificate, I worked backwards to see if I could find Susie on the 1930 census, since I assumed she had not moved between the 1930 census and the time of her death in March, 1931. This took some doing, as you have to scan through all the pages within a specific enumeration district to find the address; there is no index by address. I finally found her address, and then I found her listing: she was living at the same address, listing herself as Susan Mintz, 42 years old, a dressmaker, and as married. Married? She was living with a boarder named Hannah Kassel, an older woman who was a widow. When I looked at the form more closely, I realized that the M for married also could be a W for widowed. I think the indexers read it incorrectly, and that Susie was in fact still a widow in 1930, as she was in 1900 and at her death.
From the 1930 census, I then went to see if she had been at that address ten years earlier for the 1920 census. After more scanning and searching, I found her once again at the same address, but now using the name Celie, or at least that is how the census taker recorded it. She was listed as a widow, a dressmaker, and 42 years old (I guess she did not want to admit being any older ten years later in 1930). Zusi/Susie/Celie was living alone at that time.
Next came the 1915 New York State census—could I find her again at that address? I searched for Celie Mintz this time, and without having to scan the census, I found her on the next block at 522 East 139th Street in the Bronx, working at a cloak and suit factory, and living with her son, Nathan. Her son! I had found a record for her son.
I could not find either of them on the 1910 census or the 1905 New York State census, at least not yet, but now I had her son’s name and could search for him.
I checked the New York City birth index for a birth certificate for a baby named Nathan Mintz and found one dated December 6, 1897, exactly a year after Harry Mintz had married Zusi Rosenzweig. This certainly could be the right Nathan, but I now need to obtain that certificate to be sure.
I did find Nathan’s 1917 draft registration for World War I, listing his mother as Cecile Mintz living at 523 East 138th Street in the Bronx, the same address where she was living from 1920 until her death. Cecile is closer to Zusi and Susie than Celie, and looking at the 1915 census it does look more like Ceci than Celie. The fact that Nathan’s address in 1917 was the same as that on Susie Mintz’s death certificate confirms that Susie and Cecile and Celie and Susan were all the same woman.
I then found a Nathan Mintz who married Gertrude Friedman in 1930. I need to order that certificate as well, but I suspect that this is the correct Nathan because on the 1940 census, Nathan and Gertrude have an eight year old daughter, born then in 1932, named Susanne. If this is the right Nathan, it makes perfect sense that he would name his first born child after his mother Susie one year after her death.
But there are obviously many unanswered questions. I can’t find a death certificate for Harry—did he really die, or did he just disappear? Who are Jacob and Rachel Reitman? How, if it all, were they related to Zusi? And where was Nathan living if that was Zusi living with the Reitmans in 1900? Zusi was the one who met my grandfather at Ellis Island in 1904, but he was living alone in 1905. Where was Zusi living in 1905? 1910? She was not living with either of her sisters in 1910, so where did she go? And where was Nathan in those years and between 1917 when he registered for the draft and 1930 when he married Gertrude?
Yes, there are a lot of holes and a lot of questions, but I remain fairly certain that Zusi Rosenzweig Mintz was my great-grandmother’s sister and thus my great-great aunt and that Nathan Mintz was therefore a first cousin to Isadore, David and Betty Goldschlager and to all the Strolowitz children. Did they know him? And, of course, if Susanne Mintz was Nathan’s daughter, then she would have been my mother’s second cousin. And if Susanne had children, then they would be my third cousins.
So stay tuned—more to come once I receive more information.