One of the biggest mysteries I encountered in researching my Rosenzweig cousins was the mystery of Lilly Rosenzweig, the first child of Gustave and Gussie Rosenzweig. Lilly was my grandfather Isadore Goldschlager’s first cousin. Lilly had married Toscano Bartolino in 1901 and had had a child William with him, born March 9, 1902. Then just two years later on April 27, 1904, Toscano had died from kidney disease at age 27, leaving Lilly a twenty year old widow with a two year old child.
Lilly and her son William were living with Gustave and Gussie in 1905, but by 1910, William was no longer living with his mother and grandparents, but was in St. John’s Home for Boys in Brooklyn.
Lilly was still living with her parents in 1910 and working as a nurse. In 1915, William was at a different residential home, but I could not find Lilly at all on the 1915 NYS census nor could I find her anywhere after that. None of the great-grandchildren of Gustave and Gussie knew what had happened to her, except that they thought she had remarried and moved to New Jersey at some point. No one knew her married name or whether she had more children. I was stuck and could not get any further.
I thought I had a new clue when I obtained Gustave’s 1944 death certificate. It was signed by an informant I thought might be Lilly. I posted the signature on the blog, hoping someone would be able to decipher it more clearly than I could, but every possible reading of the signature led me nowhere, even using wildcard searches and as many variations as I could. I put Lilly aside and figured it was a lost cause.
And then? Well, this past weekend I received a call from Harriet, one of Lilly’s nieces. She not only remembered Lilly well—she remembered the first name of her second husband—Carmen. And she said they had lived in Jersey City. She remembered Lilly fondly and described her as funny and fun-loving, like all the Rosenzweig siblings.
So I now had two more clues. Lilly had married someone named Carmen, and they had lived in Jersey City, New Jersey. Armed with just those additional pieces of information, I was able to design a search on FamilySearch using the two first names and the location. The first result on the results list was a Lilly and Carmen Dorme living in Rutherford, New Jersey in 1940.
Rutherford was not Jersey City, but it was close by, so I decided to try that surname. Using Dorme, I was able to search more thoroughly and found that Lilly and Carmen Dorme were already married by 1918 when Carmen (using Carmine Dormes then) registered for the World War I draft and that they were living in Jersey City. This had to be my long-missing cousin Lilly.
After that, I was also able to find Lilly and Carmen in several Jersey City directories and in the 1930 US census, which revealed that Lilly and Carmen had a child, Louis, who was then sixteen years old.
Further searching uncovered a Louis Dorme’s entry on the Social Security Death Index, indicating that he was born in New York on May 13, 1913, and had died in 1977. This was consistent with the age and birthplace for Louis on the 1930 census, so I am reasonably certain that this is the correct person.
I still cannot find the family on the 1920 census, and since they were living in Jersey City both before and after 1920, I assumed that they would have been there then as well. But although Carmen is listed in both the 1918 and the 1925 Jersey City directories, he is not in the 1922 directory (the intermediate years are not available online). Harriet thought that Lilly had served as a nurse overseas during World War I, so perhaps that is where the family was located during that period. I cannot, however, find a military record for Carmen, so I have no way to know for sure where they were during that period.
And although I do know when Louis died (1977) and when Carmen died (1962) from the SSDI, I cannot find Lilly on the SSDI nor can I find any other record of her death. Harriet does remember Lilly’s death (in fact, Harriet’s mother reported that Lilly’s last words was a request for a corned beef sandwich!), but not the specific year or place.
But I do have one clue, and it goes back to Gustave’s death certificate. As soon as I saw that Lilly’s married name was Dorme, something clicked in my head. I went back to look at Gustave’s death certificate, and now it seemed strikingly clear that the informant’s name was L. Dorme.
How could I not have seen that or found her before? I just don’t know. But now I knew that it was in fact Lilly who signed her father’s death certificate. And so I know that she was still alive as of October 16, 1944, when Gustave died. I am sure with a few more clues I will be able to narrow down the year and perhaps find her death record as well.
So in the space of one afternoon with the help of a new cousin, I was able to resolve one of the biggest questions I had remaining about my grandfather’s Rosenzweig first cousins. Thank you, Harriet!