As we will see, Harry Schoenthal and his sons were not the only descendants of Simon and Rose (Mansbach) Schoenthal to spend much of their lives in Atlantic City; five of Harry’s siblings also spent most of their lives there. Harry’s younger sister Gertrude had left Atlantic City for Arizona after she married Jacob J. Miller in 1898, but she returned to Atlantic City, albeit a quarter century later.
As I wrote earlier, Jacob Miller was a German immigrant who had arrived in the US in the 1880s (records are in conflict as to whether it was 1880, 1882, or 1888, but 1882 is supported by three different records so may be the most accurate date). I don’t know how Jacob met Gertrude or where Jacob was living before he married Gertrude, but they must have moved to Arizona not long after they married because Jacob was listed in the Tucson directory in the cigar business in 1899. On the 1900 census, Jacob and Gertrude and their infant daughter Juliet (sometimes spelled Juliette) were living in Pima County, Arizona, where Jacob was a grocer. (Tucson is in Pima County, so I assume they were living in or near Tucson but the enumeration sheet does not identify the city, only the county.)
When I looked further down the enumeration sheet where Jacob and Gertrude and Juliet were listed, I noticed that there were two other Millers just a few entries below that of Jacob and Gertrude: Albert Miller and his brother Solomon. The census record reports that Albert and Solomon were also born in Germany and that Albert was also a grocer (Solomon a store clerk). A little further research into the backgrounds of Albert and Solomon confirmed my hunch that these were Jacob’s brothers. Albert had been in Arizona since at least 1896; he had married his wife Fanny Goldbaum in Pima County on January 19, 1896. Research into Fanny’s background revealed that she had been living in Pima County since at least 1880 when she was just four years old.
Based on these observations, my hunch is that Albert, the oldest brother, must have moved out west to Arizona sometime before 1896 and then lured his two younger brothers, Jacob and Solomon, to join him out there. It reminds me of the story of Bernard Seligman, my great-great-grandfather, who followed his older brother Sigmund to Santa Fe and was then followed by their younger brother Adolf to that city as well.
I am sure that like my Seligmann ancestors, the Miller brothers were among a very small number of Jewish settlers in Arizona during that time. According to the Arizona Jewish History Museum, there was no synagogue in the entire Arizona Territory until Eva Mansfield purchased land to build one in Tucson in 1900. The history of the Jewish community of Tucson is also discussed on the Jewish Virtual Library website:
The total Jewish population of Arizona in the 1880s was estimated at about 50 people, so the numbers in Tucson must have been fewer. ….
Almost none of the descendants of the pioneer families are counted among the Jews of Tucson today. Many of the original Jewish settlers fled to other parts of the West or the nation in the late 1880s and 1890s when an economic depression hit the Arizona territory. Moreover, those Jews who had already made money left the community because of the unbearable heat, often over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which could last sometimes from May through October.
In the early 20th century a number of Jews remained in Tucson as is evidenced by the presence of a Hebrew Ladies’ Benevolent Society and the building in 1910 of the first Jewish temple in Arizona: Temple Emanu-el (Reform).
Until World War II, and even among some of the pioneers, the Jews who arrived in Tucson came because someone in the family needed the dry air for his/her health.
So Jacob and his brothers appear to have settled in Arizona and stayed when many others, Jewish and non-Jewish, had left. Had they been drawn to the dry air for their health? Or did they see opportunities where others did not?
Jacob and Gertrude had their second child, Harry, in Arizona in 1902. According to the 1910 census, however, their third son Sylvester was born in 1906 in New Jersey, so perhaps Jacob and Gertrude had returned to the east coast for some time in 1906, but they then had returned to Arizona by 1910. Jacob was the manager of the liquor department of a wholesale store in Tucson, Arizona, according to the 1910 census record.
When he registered for the draft in 1918, Jacob was living in Ray, Pinal County, Arizona, and working for himself as a merchant. The 1920 census confused me because Jacob is listed twice: one enumeration page dated January 21, 1920, has him living with his brother Albert in Ray, Arizona, where Jacob was again working as a grocery store merchant and Albert as a dry goods store merchant. Both were still married according to that record. The other enumeration page from the 1920 census that includes Jacob , dated January 10-12, 1920, has him living in Tucson with Gertrude and his three children and working as the proprietor of a general merchandise store. Did Jacob move between January 12 and January 21? Or was he living in Ray while his family lived in Tucson? Tucson is 90 miles from Ray, so he was not commuting from home. Perhaps Jacob and Albert believed that there were better bisiness opportunities for merchants in Ray, but that there families would be better off in Tucson.
It does seem that Jacob stayed in Ray for too long. The 1922 Tucson, Arizona, city directory lists Jacob Miller as a grocer, living with Gertrude; there are also separate listings for their children Juliet and Harry, described as students, living at the same address as their parents. The 1923 directory for Tucson has the same entries. But the 1924 Tucson directory does not have any of them listed.
Like those who had left Arizona before them, as mentioned above, Jacob and Gertrude left Arizona and returned to the east. The family must have moved to Atlantic City sometime after 1923 and before 1926, because they appear in the 1926 directory for Atlantic City. The family was residing at 141 St. James Avenue, which was the address for the Hotel Lockhart. Jacob was working for the Hotel Lockhart as was his son Harry; Sylvester was working at the Rittenhouse Hotel. Gertrude’s mother, Rosa Mansbach Schoenthal, was also living at the Hotel Lockhart that year. The owner of the Hotel Lockhart in 1919-1920 was Mrs. J. Wirtschafter, the mother of Esther Wirtschafter, who was the wife of Harry Schoenthal, Gertrude’s brother. Thus, Jacob and Gertrude were living in a hotel owned by Harry’s mother-in-law. And it was at that same address, 141 St. James Avenue, that Harry and Esther Schoenthal had been living in 1920.
Thus, Gertrude’s brother Harry Schoenthal made it easier for his sister to return to Atlantic City by providing job opportunities for her husband Jacob and her sons Harry and Sylvester as well as providing a place for them all to live at the Hotel Lockhart.
In 1925, Gertrude and Jacob’s daughter Juliet married Arthur Ferrin in Philadelphia. Arthur was not from Philadelphia or from Atlantic City. He was born in 1881 in Tucson, Arizona, making him almost twenty years older than Juliet.
He had been previously married to a woman named Jennie Della Owens, with whom he had had a son named Harold in 1915. Jennie had died in 1919. In 1920, Arthur was listed on the census in Graham, Arizona, married to a woman named Marie, who was only nineteen. Marie died in San Francisco, California, a year and half later on September 1, 1921, from typhoid fever. She was just 21 years old. From the death certificate, it appears that she had arrived in California just 14 days earlier.
So Juliet’s husband Arthur had been twice widowed when he married her in 1925. Juliet and Arthur were living in Tucson in 1926, but by March 1929, they had also moved to Atlantic City as their first child, Helene, was born there that month. On the 1930 census, Juliet, her husband Arthur, his son Harold, and their daughter Helene were living with Juliet’s parents and her brother Harry at 141 St. James Avenue, the address of the Hotel Lockhart. Jacob Miller was now listed as the hotel proprietor; his son Harry was working as a clerk, and his son-in-law Arthur was working as a waiter, both at the hotel. (Arthur seemed to have shaved several years off his age; he was born in 1881, but later records say 1884, and on the 1930 census, when he should have been listed as 48 or 49, his age is reported as 42.)
Thus, by 1930, yet another household of the Simon Schoenthal family was living and working in the Atlantic City hospitality business.
Meanwhile, Gertrude and Jacob’s youngest child Sylvester Miller was a student at the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1920s and became a licensed dentist in Pennsylvania on July 19, 1928. He married Isabella Lazarus in Philadelphia in 1933. She was a Philadelphia native, the daughter of Joseph Lazarus and Aimee Frechie. Joseph was a manufacturer of shirtwaists. Sylvester and Isabella would have two children during the 1930s. Isabella became an artist of some note. You can see one of her paintings here.
When I saw the name Frechie, I knew it was familiar and checked my tree. Harry Frechie, also born in Philadelphia about four years after Aimee, had married Minnie Cohen, my great-grandfather Emanuel Cohen’s niece. Could Harry and Aimee be related? Both had fathers from Antwerp, Belgium, and they both had settled in Philadelphia. Harry’s father Ephraim was an auctioneer. Aimee’s father Meyer Solomon was a cigar manufacturer. They were buried in different cemeteries, and I could not find the name of Meyer’s parents to compare to the parents of Ephraim. I’ve no idea how common a name Frechie is in Belgium, so perhaps it’s just a coincidence. But if Aimee and Harry were in fact cousins, it would be one more twisted branch of my ever-growing family tree.
Harry Miller also married in the 1930s. He married Mildred Pimes who was a Washington, DC, native, daughter of Max Pimes, a tailor born in England, and Ray or Rachel Frankfurther, a Virginia native. Harry and Mildred’s first child was born in August 1935 in Atlantic City so presumably they were married sometime in 1934 or before. They would have a second child a few years later.
Thus, by 1940, all three of Gertrude (Schoenthal) and Jacob Miller’s children were married, and there were seven grandchildren, five living in the Atlantic City environs and two not too far away in Philadelphia. According to the 1940 census, Jacob was working at a restaurant; he was 66 years old, and Gertrude was 63. They were living at 4 Bartram Street in Atlantic City.
Both the 1938 and the 1941 Atlantic City directories list their daughter Juliet and her husband Arthur Ferrin living at 4 South Cambridge Street in Ventnor City; Juliet was the vice-president and Arthur was the secretary-treasurer of Atlantic Beverage Company, where his son Harold was also employed. (In the 1941 directory, Harold is listed with his wife Dorothy and residing at a different address.) The 1940 census is consistent with these listings.
Harry Miller and his family were living in Margate City, another community near Atlantic City, in 1940. Harry was a partner in a beverage company; the 1941 Atlantic City directory is more specific. Harry was the president of Atlantic Beverage Company. The directory identified the company as a beer distributor.
Sylvester Miller was practicing dentistry and living with his family in Philadelphia.
Jacob Miller died on October 18, 1949, from coronary thrombosis and a heart attack; he was 76 years old and was buried at Mt. Sinai cemetery in Philadelphia. (There was a coroner’s inquest and thus two certificates.)His wife, my first cousin twice removed Gertrude Schoenthal, died almost thirteen years later on January 4, 1962. She was 86 years old and was buried with Jacob at Mt. Sinai cemetery. (Gertrude must have died outside of Pennsylvania because there is no death certificate for her in the Pennsylvania death certificate database on Ancestry.)
Juliet Miller Ferrin lived to be 102; her husband Arthur Ferrin lived to 104. I could not find death records for Harry Miller or his wife Mildred, but another genealogy researcher claimed that Harry died in 1983 when he was 81 and that Sylvester Miller, the youngest child, died in 1980 when he was 74. I am still trying to confirm that information and have tried contacting a couple of presumed descendants, but have not heard back. Isabelle Lazarus Miller died on May 21, 1996.
I had no luck finding any newspaper articles about Gertrude and Jacob or any of their children. Maybe I will hear from a descendant and learn stories about Gertrude and her family that will go beyond the facts revealed in the census records, directories, and death certificates. There must be some good family stories about living in Tucson in the first part of the 20th century and about living in Atlantic City when it was the “World’s Playground.”
 I don’t know whether there is any connection between the Atlantic Beverage Company run by Harry Miller and his sister Juliet Ferrin and her husband Arthur Ferrin and the Atlantic Wine and Liquor Company with which Harry Schoenthal, Gertrude’s brother, had been associated in 1900.