I’ve run into some tough brick walls in my research, but never as many as I have with the descendants of Charlotte Seligman, the third child of Marx and Sarah Seligman. It’s been one frustration after another, searching for her children and grandchildren.
As noted in my earlier post, Charlotte (or Lottie) married Max Schlesinger in 1874, and they had four children: Harriet (1875), Arthur (1876), Lillie (1877), and Louis (1884). Max was in the tie manufacturing business. Lillie and Louis were still living at home in 1900.
By 1900, Harriet (or Hattie) had married George Cain and had had one child, originally named Edith, but then renamed Lucie in memory of George’s sister. The following year Harriet and George had a second daughter named Ethel.
I could not locate Arthur at all on the 1900 census, nor have I found him on any other record aside from the 1880 census and the NYC birth record index. There is one possible military enlistment record for him dated March 4, 1895, but I can’t even be sure it is the same Arthur Schlesinger from the record.
On December 14, 1904, Max and Charlotte’s third child Lillie married Solomon Sondheim. Solomon, or Sol, was born in New Hampshire in 1867, making him ten years older than Lillie. His father, a German immigrant, was in the dry goods business. After living in New Hampshire, Sol had lived in Buffalo, New York, and then Bradford, Pennsylvania. By 1900 when he was 33, Sol was working as a salesman and living in New York City as a boarder in what appears to be a large boarding house at 589 Second Avenue. After marrying, Lillie and Sol were living on East 116th Street, and Sol listed his occupation on the 1905 NY census as a merchant.
In searching to learn more about Sol Sondheim, I found numerous articles about the suicide of his brother Philip. From these articles, I learned that Sol’s father had been a wealthy man, leaving quite a large estate to be divided among his four children (which apparently Philip squandered through gambling).
New_York_Times_December_9_1900_page_1 Philip Sondheim
As for the rest of the family of Charlotte and Max Schlesinger, the 1905 NY census just presented me with problems. First, I cannot find Hattie and George Cain at all on the 1905 census (and Arthur still was missing). What’s even more confusing, Charlotte Schlesinger is listed twice on the 1905 census (both with the date June 1, 1905, preprinted on the page). On one page, Charlotte and Max were living at 231 West 116th Street, and Max was still working in manufacturing (presumably ties).
On another page of the 1905 census, Charlotte is listed with her son Louis and his wife Alice, living at 1838 Seventh Avenue. Louis was only 21, and Alice was only 19.
I assume Max died sometime between the first census listing and the second, but I cannot find any record for Max’s death. There is no listing in the NYC death index, no obituary, nothing that explains what happened to him. Moreover, the NYC marriage index has Louis marrying Alice Stacke on April 26, 1906, a year after the 1905 census. Is it possible that this second census entry was filled in and filed a year late? Or perhaps it is more likely the marriage certificate was filed a year late. Or they weren’t legally married until April 1906?
According to the 1910 US census, Louis and Alice were still living with Charlotte, now listed as a widow (the NY 1905 census had not asked about marital status). They were living at 200 West 136th Street, and Louis was working as a clothing salesman. Harriet and George Cain and their two daughters were living at 2308 Seventh Avenue, and George was the secretary of a bank. Lillie and Sol Sondheim were living on West 122nd Street, and Sol was a traveling salesman. Arthur remained missing.
On June 4, 1914, Harriet’s husband George Cain died. I could not find a death record for him, but did find this death notice in the June 5, 1914, New York Times.
Since there is no listing for George Cain in the NYC death index, I assume George died someplace outside of New York City. He left behind two young daughters, just 14 and 13, as well as his wife Harriet. On the 1915 NY census, Harriet was living with her two daughters Lucie and Ethel as well as her mother Charlotte at 2308 Seventh Avenue. No one in the household was employed outside the home.
In 1920, Harriet was living with Lucie and Ethel, now 19 and 18, at 465 Central Park West. Harriet’s occupation was reported as “renting rooms” at home, and there was one lodger listed in the household, but her name was crossed out. Lucie was working in the bonding department of a security company, and Ethel was not employed.
I cannot find either Louis Schlesinger or Lillie Schlesinger Sondheim on the 1915 NY census. (These people are just incredibly elusive, no matter how I search.) But between 1910 and 1920, much had changed for both of them. First, on July 12, 1917, Louis married a second time, this time to Bertha Stein.
I would have thought this was a different Louis, except that the marriage record reveals his parents’ names as Charlotte Seligman and Max Schlesinger. What had happened to Alice, his first wife? I don’t know. There is no death record for her, but neither was there one for George Cain or for Max Schlesinger. There are a number of later records for women named Alice Schlesinger, but none is obviously the right one. If she remarried, I haven’t found her.
At any rate, Louis and Bertha Schlesinger had a child on June 14, 1918, less than a year after marrying. They named him Arthur, which makes me believe that Louis’ older brother Arthur had died. According to his draft registration for World War I, Louis was the financial secretary for the Joe Morris Music Publishing Company, and he, Bertha, and their son Arthur were living at 301 St. Nicholas Avenue in New York City. Their residence remained the same on the 1920 census.
As for Lillie, her life also changed dramatically between 1910 and 1920. Her husband Sol died on March 12, 1919, while he was in Chicago; I assume he was traveling there as part of his job as a salesman as he died at a hotel. He died from heart and kidney disease. He was 52 years old.
Six months later Lillie married William Lindsay on September 24, 1919. William was born in Philadelphia, the son of Joseph Lindsay and Mary Thomson, who were born in Scotland and Ireland, respectively. William grew up in Philadelphia, where his father was a shirt manufacturer. In 1920, William was working as an advertising solicitor for a trade magazine, and he and Lillie were living on 112th Street.
Thus, between 1910 and 1920, three of the children of Charlotte Seligman and Max Schlesinger had had major marital status changes in their lives. Harriet had become a widow; Lillie also had become a widow and then remarried; and Louis had either become a widower or had his marriage end, and he had remarried. Meanwhile, their mother Charlotte was living on her own at 2040 Seventh Avenue. Charlotte died three years later on January 19, 1923, when she was 69 years old.
I cannot find Harriet on the 1925 NY census, but according to a directory listing, she was still living at 465 Central Park West in 1925. Her younger daughter Ethel had married Milton Robitchek on June 29, 1922, when she was 21, and had a daughter Georgia in 1928. By 1930, however, Ethel was divorced, and she and two year old Georgia were living with Harriet on West End Avenue. Ethel was a public school teacher. (I can’t seem to find Milton Robitchek at all after the 1922 marriage record. How could someone with such an unusual name just disappear?)
Harriet’s older daughter Lucie was living on her own on Clinton Street in Brooklyn, according to the 1930 census, which reported that her occupation was “child placing” for an accountant. I have no clue what that means.
In 1940, Harriet was still living with her daughter Ethel, now on East 68th Street, and with her granddaughter Georgia, now twelve. Ethel was still working as a teacher. Lucie was still living on her own in Brooklyn, and her occupation now clearly states that she was a public accountant. I have not found any later records for Harriet, Lucie, Ethel, or Georgia. I have searched as many ways as I can, but have found no documents, no news stories, no obituaries.
As for Harriet’s sister Lillie, she became a widow again on November 14, 1924, when her husband William Lindsay died at age 58. Like Harriet’s first husband Sol, William died of both heart and kidney disease.
I’ve had no luck finding Lillie on either the 1925 NY census or the 1930 US census, but did find her on the 1940 census. She was 62 years old, living at the Wyndham Hotel, and not employed. That is the last record I have for Lillie.
Finally, there is Charlotte and Max’s youngest child Louis Schlesinger. In 1925, he was still married to Bertha, and they were still living on St. Nicholas Avenue with their son Arthur, now six years old. Louis was still employed in music publishing. Although the family had moved to West 180th Street by 1930, all else remained the same (though everyone was five years older, of course).
But then the big mystery for me surrounding Louis and his family surfaced in the 1940 census. Now Louis, Bertha, and Arthur are living on West 164th Street, but there are two more children living with them: Henry, listed as their son, 17 years old, and Matilda, listed as their daughter, 12 years old. Where did these two children come from? If they were in fact Louis and Bertha’s children, they should have been listed with them on the 1930 census, but they were not. Had they been adopted after 1930? They both had the surname Schlesinger, at least on the census record. I don’t know, and what’s even more mystifying, I cannot find either of them on any later record or document. I would think Henry would have served in World War II, but I cannot find any record that would match him, if his name in fact was Henry Schlesinger.
At any rate, in 1940 Louis was still in music sales, and his son Arthur, now 21, was a clerk in an advertising firm. On his draft registration for World War II, Louis reported that he was a music salesman and the president of Lewis Music Company.
Arthur Schlesinger, Louis and Bertha’s son, died on February 20, 1943. He was 24 years old. His death certificate does not report the cause of death, but it does indicate that he had been under a doctor’s care since October, 1942. He had been working as a clerk in federal court.
That, unfortunately, is the last record I have for Louis Schlesinger and his family. As with his siblings Harriet, Arthur, and Lillie, I do not know when he died. I don’t know when his wife Bertha died, what happened to his first wife Alice, or what happened to the two children who were living with him as his children in 1940, Henry and Matilda.
Since I cannot find out what happened to Ethel Cain Robitchek’s daughter Georgia either, I don’t know whether there are any living descendants of Charlotte Seligman and her husband Max Schlesinger. Harriet’s other daughter Lucie did not marry. Lillie had no children. Louis’s son Arthur died at a young age. But what I did learn about Charlotte and her family is that this was a family where many marriages ended early either due to divorce or death. Lillie was widowed twice. Harriet was left a widow at a young age with her two young daughters. Her daughter Ethel’s marriage was over by the time Ethel’s daughter Georgia was only two. And Louis married twice, though I don’t know if the first ended because his first wife died or because they divorced.
So many unanswered questions. I am hoping that with further digging, some answers will turn up, but for now I must say that searching for the family of Charlotte Seligman has made me feel like a very poor researcher and a very frustrated genealogist! If any of you out there reading have any suggestions on how I might find more about these people, please let me know.
Hang in there, Amy! If anyone can bust through walls, it’s you.
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Thanks, Pancho. I think I’ve done what I can for now—hopefully, when I come back to check, my fresh eyes will see something I missed. If you have any suggestions for searching those census reports, let me know!
Amy, I enjoy how you use the blog to gather your research thoughts – it helps me too when preparing for the next step of a case. Always enjoy reading about your research!
Thanks, Jake. It has proven to be very helpful to me as a way of keeping track of what I’ve done and what I need to do. I like reading your thought processes as well!
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