John Nusbaum died in 1889, leaving behind his widow Jeanette and their six children: Adolphus in Peoria, Simon and Frances both in Santa Fe, Julius in Iowa, and Miriam and Lottie both in Philadelphia. By 1925 Jeanette and all six children were gone. This post will describe their lives in the decades between 1890 and 1925.
Jeanette and Lottie: In 1890, Jeanette Dreyfuss Nusbaum was a widow, living in Philadelphia with her daughter Lottie. In 1900, Jeanette and Lottie were still living together in Philadelphia. According to the 1900 census, they were living as boarders in the home of another German-born widow named Jenette Oberdorf and her children. Lottie was working as a stenographer, according to two Philadelphia directories in the 1890s.
Miriam and Gustavus: In 1890, Miriam and her husband Gustavus Josephs had one surviving child, Florence, who was now ten years old. Their son Jean was born in 1893. After researching more about Gustavus, I learned that he had served in the Civil War as a musician. According to Wikipedia, “The rank of Musician was a position held by military band members, particularly during the American Civil War. The rank was just below Corporal, and just above Private. In some units it was more or less equal to the rank of Private. During the American Civil War, military leaders with the Union and Confederate Armies relied on military musicians to entertain troops, position troops in battle, and stir them on to victory — some actually performing concerts in forward positions during the fighting.”
Perhaps Gustavus is one of the musicians depicted in one of these videos:
He did not, however, pursue music as a profession after the war. On the 1880 census, he listed his occupation as an embroiderer, and on various city directories in the 1880s he had been listed as a salesman. In 1894 and 1896, he is listed as being in the curtains business, and in 1897 he is listed in business with Laurence Frank in the cotton goods business under the firm name Josephs and Frank Co. Then in 1898 he is still in the cotton goods business, but with a new partner, Louis Wertheimer.
On the 1900 census, Gustavus and Miriam were living with their two children, Florence, now nineteen, and Jean, just six years old. The 1900 census asked women how many children they had had and how many were still living. For Miriam, the census reported that she had only had two children, both of whom were still living. This was obviously not true, as Miriam and Gustavus had had two other children, Milton and Gertrude, who had died. Was this just bad information given by someone who did not know the facts? Or were Miriam and Gustavus just in denial?
Gustavus’ occupation on the 1900 census was listed as manufacturing without specifying the type of goods. The 1901 directory, however, indicates that he was in the upholstered goods business. Then in 1905 he listed his occupation on the directory as “silks.” It appears that he was still in the silk business as of the 1910 census, but I cannot quite make out the word that follows “silk.” I believe it says “silk winder.” According to the Hall Genealogy website list of old occupations, a silk winder “Wound the silk from the silkworm cocoons onto bobbins.”
Interestingly, by 1914 Gustavus had returned to the embroidery business, or perhaps that was what he’d been doing even in 1910 as a silk winder. He is listed as an embroiderer thereafter in subsequent directories as well, although on the 1920 census he is listed as a manufacturer in the mill industry. I am not quite sure what to make of Gustavus’ career path. Were these really all related businesses or even the same business? He certainly seemed to be involved with fabrics throughout in one way or another.
Adolphus and Fanny: In 1890, the oldest child of John and Jeanette, Adolphus Nusbaum, was still living in Peoria with his wife Fanny, but he was no longer in business with his brother younger brother Julius. The last Peoria directory to include Julius was the one published in 1887. Adolphus is listed with only a residential address in the 1890 and 1891 Peoria directories, but beginning with the 1895 directory, he is listed as being in the feed business. He was still in the feed business as of the 1900 census and the 1900 Peoria directory.
Then on February 8, 1902, Adolphus died “20 miles from Chicago while en route to Chicago,” according to the Nusbaum family bible. I did not know what this could possibly mean, and I was even more confused when I found a Philadelphia death certificate for Adolphus, given that the last address I had for him was in Peoria.
Why did Philadelphia issue a death certificate? Why was there a Philadelphia address given as the residence? And why was there an inquest pending? I am still searching for an answer to the last two questions and some answer as to the results of the inquest, but I found some answers in this article from the February 9, 1902, Chicago Daily Tribune:
But this article also raised more questions. As far as I know, in 1902, Adolphus did not have a brother in Philadelphia, unless Julius had relocated there at that time. Simon was still living in Santa Fe. And what had Adolphus been doing in Washington? He must have been traveling by train. Did he have a heart attack or stroke while traveling? Was his wife Fanny with him? I don’t know. It’s also interesting that despite having lived in Peoria since he was barely in his 20s and having married a woman who had been living in Indiana in 1863, Adolphus was buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia with the other members of the extended family, including his father John.
UPDATE on the coroner’s report can be found here.
Frances and Bernard: In 1890, two of the children of John and Jeanette continued to live in Santa Fe, my great-great-grandmother Frances Nusbaum Seligman and her brother Simon Nusbaum. Frances was busy with her charitable and social activities in Santa Fe. Her children Eva, James, Minnie and Arthur all went off to Swarthmore in Philadelphia in the 1880s, where Minnie died at age eighteen in 1887, as I’ve written about previously. Frances herself died in July, 1905, two years after her husband Bernard. She was 59 years old. As I described when writing about Frances and Bernard, both were warmly praised and well-loved by the Santa Fe community. Both were buried, however, back in Philadelphia at Mt. Sinai cemetery.
It must have been terrible for Jeanette to lose her son Adolphus in 1902 and her daughter Frances 1905, not that many years after losing her husband John as well as so many grandchildren. Jeanette herself died on January 12, 1908, from edema of her lungs, according to the death certificate. She was 90 years old. She was buried along with her husband, her children Frances and Adolphus, and numerous grandchildren and other relatives at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia.Julius: As for Julius Nusbaum, who had once been Adolphus’ business partner in Peoria, as noted above he was last listed in the Peoria directory in 1887 and then disappeared from Peoria. He next surfaced in 1900 in Grinnell, Iowa, living alone as a single man and working as a tobacco merchant. Grinnell is over two hundred miles from Peoria and over a thousand miles from Philadelphia.
What had taken him to Iowa and when had he gotten there? Had he gone into the tobacco business for the same reasons that his father John had gone into the cigar business in the mid-1880s? In 1891 Julius is listed in the Waterloo, Iowa directory as a cigar dealer, and on the 1905 Iowa State Census he is living in Grinnell. It does not thus seem like he was living in Philadelphia in 1902 when Adolphus and Fannie came to visit. Was the newspaper just wrong about that detail, or was the 1905 directory wrong? Certainly Adolphus had other family members to visit in Philadelphia, including his mother Jeanette, his sister Lottie, and his sister Miriam and her family.
Julius is not listed in either the 1904 or the 1906 Waterloo, Iowa business directory, and I cannot find him on the 1910 census anywhere, so I do not know whether he was still living in Iowa at that point. But by 1920 he had returned to Philadelphia, listing his occupation on the 1920 census as a retired cigar merchant and living as a boarder. Living in the same residence with him in 1920 also as a boarder was a 62 year old widow named Fannie Nusbaum who had been born in Germany; this was obviously Adolphus’ widow, Julius’ sister-in-law.
I could create all kind of romantic stories about Julius and Fannie, but they would be speculative for sure. Julius had lived with Adolphus and Fannie in Peoria and had been in business with his brother. Suddenly after working together for over twenty years, Julius left Peoria and moved to Iowa, where he presumably knew no one and where he started an entirely new business selling cigars. Then Adolphus died in 1902, and I can’t find Julius or Fannie anywhere on the 1910 US census or in city directories. Ten years later, Julius and Fannie ended up living together in Philadelphia. Where were they both in 1910? Of course, it could be completely innocent: a devoted brother taking care of the widow of his older brother. And it probably was. I’ve likely read too many novels and seen too many movies. I have no evidence of any such scandalous events. I am sure the story is far less interesting than all that.
Simon: Meanwhile, back in Santa Fe, the other Nusbaum brother, Simon, had settled in as part of the community by 1890. The Santa Fe New Mexican reported in September 1889 that he had returned from a month’s vacation and “looked like a new man,” having gained twenty pounds. There was no further explanation for the comment, but perhaps Simon had had a rough time after losing his father in January of 1889. After that, his life seems to have taken a positive turn. Having served first as a clerk and then as assistant postmaster in Santa Fe, Simon was appointed by President McKinley to be the postmaster there in May, 1898.
His appointment was enthusiastically approved by the press and the people of Santa Fe. On May 5, 1898, the Santa Fe New Mexican opined on page 2, “As good a piece of news as Santa Fe has received for some time was that of the appointment of Simon Nusbaum to be postmaster of this city. This appointment was one that had been strongly recommended by the best and leading citizens of this city and indeed by all those desiring a competent official and a honest and proper man in that important office. Mr. Nusbaum’s political support was also very powerful….He is a skilled accountant and book-keeper, in fact one of the best in the southwest. He … had held several positions of trust and importance in big business establishments, in this territory and in eastern cities.”
The Santa Fe newspaper also quoted from the Peoria Evening Star, which said, “Years ago Nusbaum & Co. were the great dry goods firm of this city. One of the members was Simon Nusbaum. He was a smart, active, pushing man….” Santa Fe New Mexican, May 19, 1898, p. 2.
Simon was still a single man at that point. In 1899 he reportedly bought a fruit farm near Tesuque, New Mexico, apparently for a very good price.
He later began breeding high bred Belgian hares in partnership with one of his clerks at the post office.
Although Simon was still single as of the 1900 census, he married Dora Rutledge in 1903. It was the first marriage for Simon, who was 57 years old. Dora was only forty. She had a daughter from an earlier marriage, Nellie Rogers, who was born in 1897. Simon and Dora’s son John Bernard Nusbaum, was born on May 15, 1904. On the 1910 census, Simon was now the assistant New Mexico Territorial Treasurer, and he and Dora and the children must have been living in a boarding house because they had seven lodgers living with them. In fact, the 1920 census reveals that Simon and Dora were the owners of that boarding house, which was being managed by Dora. Simon was now 76 years old and Dora was 49.
1916-1925: Years of Loss
When Jeanette Nusbaum died in 1908 at age 90, she had outlived two of her children, Adolphus and Frances, and many of her grandchildren, as well as her husband John. Four of her children had survived her: Simon, Julius, Miriam and Lottie. By 1925, all of those children would be gone. On February 13, 1916, Miriam died of heart disease. She was 57 years old and survived by her husband Gustavus and two children, Florence, who was 36, and Jean, who was 23. Gustavus died eight year later at age 75 of pectoris angina.Simon Nusbaum died on February 25, 1921. He was 76. Unlike his siblings, he was not buried at Mt Sinai in Philadelphia, but in Santa Fe, where he had lived the last forty or so years of his life. He was survived by his wife Dora, stepdaughter Nellie, and son John, who was only 16 years old. Thanks to my cousin Pete, I have a copy of Simon’s obituary. It reports that Simon had had a stroke in September, 1920 and had not been himself since, but that prior to the stroke, he had been “able to walk around as briskly as he had for decades, and he was a familiar figure in the plaza and sitting on the swing in front of his apartment house on Washington Avenue.” Here is the full obituary:
(Santa Fe New Mexican, February 25, 1921)
I winced at the references to “bad Indians” and “red chiefs,” trying to keep in mind that this was 1921. I was intrigued by the references to Simon’s time living in Missouri and South Dakota, as I have seen no documentation of his time in either place. He was still in Philadelphia in 1860 when he was 17, and he was in Peoria starting in 1863 until 1877. By 1880 he was in Santa Fe. So perhaps he had spent those years in between in Missouri and South Dakota.
The image of Simon as the postmaster sorting the mail in his nightgown at midnight is wonderful.
Just two years later, Simon’s brother Julius Nusbaum died in Philadelphia on January 3, 1923. He was 74 years old and died from “Dil of heart, superinduced by acute indigestion.” I googled this phrase and found that it was often used as description of a cause of death in the early 20th century, but I could not find any medical dictionary that explained what this meant. Dilation of the heart refers to an enlarged heart that cannot adequately pump blood, what we might refer to today as heart failure. But I have no idea what “superinduced by acute indigestion” means or whether that is today considered even medically accurate. Perhaps my medical consultant will fill me in.
Update here.Finally, the last of the children of John and Jeanette Nusbaum, Lottie died on December 23, 1925, of nephritis and diabetes. She was 64 years old. Both Julius and Lottie did not have any children.
Thus, as of 1925, all six children of John and Jeanette were gone. Three of them had no children to survive them, Adolphus, Julius, and Lottie. The other three siblings had together six surviving children: the three surviving children of Frances Nusbaum and Bernard Seligman, Eva, James, and Arthur; the two surviving children of Miriam Nusbaum and Gustavus Josephs, Florence and Jean; and the son of Simon Nusbaum and Dora Rutledge, John Bernard Nusbaum. If I include Simon’s stepdaughter Nellie, who was after all referred to as his daughter in his obituary, that would make seven surviving children. And there were the four grandchildren who had died as children, Florence and Minnie Seligman and Milton and Gertrude Josephs.
I have already written about the surviving Seligman children, my great-grandmother Eva and her brothers James and Arthur. In a later post, I will follow up on the other surviving grandchildren of Jeanette Dreyfuss and John Nusbaum, Florence and Jean Josephs and Nellie and John Nusbaum and their families.