How Descendants Bear the Scars of their Forebears: The Legacy of Charles Hamberg and His Son Samuel

As my last several posts have described, Samuel T. Hamberg lived an interesting and in many ways sad life.  His mother Lena Goodman Hamberg died when he was nine; his father Charles Baruch Hamberg killed himself when Samuel was eleven.  Samuel was adopted by his second cousin, Henry Schoenthal, and moved to Washington, Pennsylvania, from Columbia, South Carolina.  He even probably lived with my great-grandfather Isidore Schoenthal, also his second cousin, for some time.  I feel some emotional connection to this poor orphaned boy.

Then he moved to Philadelphia where he attended and graduated from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.  He started to work as a pharmacist, married Jennie Tracy, moved to Camden, New Jersey, and had three children, Charles, Frances, and Edwin, with his wife Jennie.  His life seemed to be remarkably successful and happy for someone who had suffered so much trauma as a young child.

But perhaps there was just an outward appearance of happiness and success.  By 1910, Samuel was no longer living with his wife and children.  Even after Jennie died at a young age in 1917 when her children were not yet grown, Samuel did not come back to live with his children.  Instead, they lived with their aunt, Jennie’s widowed sister, Clara Campbell.

Jennie Hamberg and children 1910 census Year: 1910; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T624_874; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1374887

Jennie Hamberg and children 1910 census
Year: 1910; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T624_874; Page: 13A; Enumeration District: 0080; FHL microfilm: 1374887

Samuel lived in Pittsburgh for some time, working as an investigator for the state, and then by 1930 was back in Philadelphia living with a woman from western Pennsylvania named Cecelia Link.  Cecelia died in 1934.  And I have absolutely no idea what happened to Samuel after 1930.

I can’t find him on the 1940 census anywhere; I can’t find him in any city directory.  I can’t find him in any newspaper articles.  And I can’t find him on any death record. I called the cemetery where Jennie was buried.  He’s not there.  I contacted the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, but received no response.  I have run out of ideas.  A solid brick wall.  I am still searching and hoping to find out more about the rest of his life, but I worry that Samuel’s life ended poorly.

English: A brick wall (stretcher bond) Françai...

English: A brick wall (stretcher bond) Français : Un mur de briques (Appareil en paneresses). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As for his children, in 1920 they were still living at 126 Dudley Street in Camden, but with only their aunt Clara Campbell (Jennie’s sister, a widow) as the adult in the household.  Charles, now nineteen, was working as a bonds salesman.  Frances, now sixteen, was working as a clerk in an insurance company, and Edwin, thirteen, was not employed.

Samuel Hamberg's children 1920 census Year: 1920; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1024; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 84; Image: 182

Samuel Hamberg’s children 1920 census
Year: 1920; Census Place: Camden Ward 12, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1024; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 84; Image: 182

 

In 1924, Charles and his sister Frances were still living together, but at a new address—2931 Mickle Street in Camden.  They also appear to have changed the spelling of their surname from Hamberg to Hamburg. Were they disassociating from their father? Why would they change the E to a U?

Charles was working as a salesman, Frances as a clerk.  Edwin, who would have been only seventeen, was not listed in the directory.  In 1926, Charles and Frances were living at yet another address—2918 Carman Street—and still working at the same occupations. Their surname is once again spelled Hamburg.  Edwin is still not listed.

And then Charles and Frances disappear.  They are not listed in the 1927 or 1928 Camden directories nor is Edwin.  But in 1929 Edwin does appear in the directory—as Edwin F. Hampton, a salesman residing at 67 South 29th Street in Camden. The 1929 directory has him with the same name, residing at the same address and indicating that he was a salesman in Philadelphia.

Edwin had apparently changed his surname also–from Hamberg to Hampton.  I knew this was the correct Edwin because on the 1930 census Edwin Hampton was living in Camden, NJ, with his aunt Clara Campbell, the same aunt who had taken care of Edwin and his siblings after their mother died in 1917. Edwin was married, and his wife’s name was Edna.  Edwin was working as a weather-stripping contractor, Edna as a bookkeeper in a dairy. Both were 24 and were married at 23, so about a year before the 1930 census.

Edwin Hampton 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Camden, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: 1322; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0057; Image: 137.0; FHL microfilm: 2341057

Edwin Hampton 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Camden, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: 1322; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 0057; Image: 137.0; FHL microfilm: 2341057

 

I don’t know how long the marriage between Edwin and Edna lasted, but in 1939 Edwin married Ruth V. Peterson, and he is listed on the 1940 census with this second wife, Ruth. Edwin was now working as a driver for an oil company, and they had a two year old daughter.  I again knew this was the correct Edwin because also living with them was Edwin’s aunt, Clara Campbell.  Ruth and Edwin were still living in Camden in 1943, according to the city directory for that year.

Edwin Hampton 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Pennsauken, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2323; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 4-116

Edwin Hampton 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Pennsauken, Camden, New Jersey; Roll: T627_2323; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 4-116

After that there were no other records I could find for Edwin.  I did, however, find his wife Ruth’s obituary from June 25, 1995, which revealed both where she was to be buried, Bethel Memorial Park in Pennsauken, New Jersey, and that she was a widow when she died.  Thus, I knew that Edwin had died prior to June 1995.  I called the Bethel Memorial Park cemetery and asked if they had any information about Edwin.  I learned that he was buried there on November 23, 1970.  Even with that information, I could not find an exact date of death.  Edwin isn’t even listed in the Social Security Death Index.

What about his siblings, Charles and Frances?

Knowing that Edwin had changed his surname to Hampton, I searched for Charles under that surname as well. There was a Charles T. Hampton in the 1930 census, listed as in the insurance business and residing at 2617 North 33rd Street in Philadelphia. He was married to a woman named Lula (and her mother Lula Wright was living with them), and the census indicated that they had been married about three years. I found a marriage record for Charles T. Hampton and Lula Wright in Philadelphia in 1927.  In 1930 at the time of the census, they had an eighteen month old son.

Charles Hampton 1930 census Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2113; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0696; Image: 546.0; FHL microfilm: 2341847

Charles Hampton 1930 census
Year: 1930; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: 2113; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0696; Image: 546.0; FHL microfilm: 2341847

At first I was not at all convinced that this was the right Charles.  He was 32, a few years older than my Charles T. Hamberg would have been in 1930.  The census said he was born in Pennsylvania, where Charles was in fact born, but the census also said that Charles Hampton’s father was born in Pennsylvania instead of South Carolina where Samuel Hamberg had been born.  That error and the age discrepancy gave me reason to doubt that this was Charles Hamberg.

That doubt increased substantially when I found another Charles T. Hampton on the 1900 census living in Aston, Pennsylvania, a seven month old baby who would have been close to the right age to match the Charles T. Hampton I’d found on the 1930 census.  That Charles was the son of Charles and Elsie Hampton.

Some of the doubt was erased, however, when I found those Hamptons on the 1910 and 1920 census and learned that the Charles Hampton born in October 1899 was in fact Charles August Hampton and that in 1930 Charles August Hampton was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee, married to a woman named Mary.

Although that eliminated that Charles Hampton, I still hadn’t confirmed that the Charles T. Hampton married to Lula Wright was in fact born Charles Hamberg, son of Samuel Hamberg and Jenny Tracey.  So I continued to look for more clues about Charles T. Hampton.

I found him with his family on the 1940 census.  He was still married to Lula, and they now had two children, an eleven year old son and a five year old daughter.  Lula’s mother was still living with them.  Charles was a life insurance salesman.  And this time his age was reported as 39, meaning he was born in 1900 or 1901, which is consistent with the birth year for Charles Hamberg.  I was now more convinced that this could be the right person.

Charles Hampton 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3714; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 51-873

Charles Hampton 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3714; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 51-873

Could be, but was it?   Lula Wright Hampton died on October 4, 1955, from ovarian cancer.  Her husband Charles signed the death certificate as the informant, so I knew that Charles T. Hampton was still living as of October 4, 1955.  Lula was buried at Mt. Peace cemetery in Philadelphia.

Lula Wright Hampton death certificate Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Lula Wright Hampton death certificate
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014.
Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

And then I found an important clue: a June 10, 1968 bill submitted by the Oliver H. Bair funeral home for services rendered in connection with the funeral of Charles T. Hampton and his burial at Mt. Peace cemetery.  The same cemetery where Lula Hampton had been buried in 1955.  And the most revealing bit of information on that bill was that it had been submitted to Mr. Edwin F. Hampton.  That is, the brother of Charles T. Hampton.  For me, that was the one piece I needed to tie Charles T. Hampton, husband of Lula, to Charles T. Hamberg, son of Samuel: his funeral had been paid for by his brother, Edwin F. Hampton, born Edwin F. Hamberg.

Bill for funeral of Charles T. Hampton, June 1968 Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records Indexes, 1920-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

Bill for funeral of Charles T. Hampton, June 1968
Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records Indexes, 1920-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
Original data: Oliver H. Bair Funeral Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

That left one more sibling to find: Frances D. Hamberg, born in 1903 or so, whom I’d last found in the 1926 Camden directory, living with her brother Charles and working as a clerk.  As is so often the case with women, she seemed to disappear.  I assumed she’d married, but I couldn’t find a marriage record.

Once again, one small clue broke down the wall.  Someone with a private tree on Ancestry had someone on their tree named Dorothy Whitman, wife of Frank E. Whitman, indicating that Dorothy Whitman was born Frances Dorothy Hamburg. [1]  I figured it was a clue worth pursuing.

And it indeed was.  I found a marriage record dated October 4, 1924 for Frank Eugene Whitman and Frances Dorothy Hamburg from the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.  And I knew this was the right Frances D. Hambe/urg because one of the witnesses at the wedding was her brother, Charles T. Hamburg (before he changed his surname to Hampton).  See the last entry on the document below:

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1018 Description Organization Name : Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Historical Society of Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Collection Name: Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records; Reel: 1018
Description
Organization Name : Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

 

Frank E. Whitman had been previously married to Mildred Mendenhall, with whom he’d had a son in 1919 named Frank E. Whitman, Jr.  Mildred had died on January 31, 1920, from influenza during the epidemic that killed so many people.  Her infant son, like Samuel T. Hamberg and then like Samuel’s own three children, was left motherless.

There are some strange occurrences in the directory entries for Frank and for Frances in the years right after they married.  In 1925, Frank is listed in the Philadelphia directory as a salesman, living at 3450A Angora Street.  But in 1926, Frances is listed as Frances Hamburg in the Camden directory, living at the same address as her brother Charles, 2918 Carman Street. If she had married Frank in 1924, why was she still using Hamburg, and why was she living in Camden with her brother?

Finally, in 1927 Frank and Frances are listed together at 67 South 29th Street in Camden, the same address where Frances’ brother Edwin Hampton was living. Frank and Frances are listed again at the address two years later in the 1929 Camden directory.

But I cannot find Frank and Frances anywhere on the 1930 census—not in Camden, not in Philadelphia, not in any other place.  On the other hand, I did find Frank’s son from his first marriage living with his grandparents, Frank Sr.’s parents, in Philadelphia.  He was also living with them in 1940, so it appears that he was raised by his paternal grandparents, not his father and stepmother, just as his stepmother Frances had been raised by her aunt, not her father after her mother died.

So where were Frank and Frances in 1930? I don’t know.  They don’t reappear on any records until the 1940 census when they are listed as living at 215 Walnut Lane in Philadelphia, Apt. A202.  Frances is now using her middle name Dorothy as her first name.  Frank was working as a plant manager for a petroleum company.  They had been living at the same place in 1935, and they were still living there two years later when Frank registered for the World War II draft.

Frank and Dorothy Whitman 1940 census Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3704; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 51-553

Frank and Dorothy Whitman 1940 census
Year: 1940; Census Place: Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Roll: T627_3704; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 51-553

 

Frank and Frances Dorothy (Hambe/urg) Whitman both died in Florida, Frank in 1981, Frances Dorothy in 1998. She was 95 years old.  As far as I can tell, they did not have children together, but without the 1930 census, I cannot be certain.  Her obituary had no personal information at all.

Thus ends the saga of Charles Hamberg, born Baruch Hamberg in Breuna, Germany.  As a young man, he immigrated in 1852 with his cousin Abraham, who died less than two years later.  Charles married Mary Hanchey in 1853, and she was murdered in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1866.  Charles remarried, and with his second wife Lena, he had one child, Samuel.  Then, as stated above, after Lena died and Charles took his own life, Samuel moved to western Pennsylvania where he grew up with his Schoenthal cousins.  As described above and in my prior post, Samuel’s own life was a rollercoaster—a tragic childhood, a promising young adulthood, and then a life that seemed to fray around the edges.

As Samuel must have borne the scars of his tragic childhood, so did his children.  They also lost their mother at a young age.  They also seemed to lose their father early in their lives, although not to death.  They all changed their surnames, perhaps to distance themselves from that father.  Charles Baruch Hamberg’s legacy appears to be a sad one, though without a few more answers, it is hard to know for sure.

 

 

[1] Although the tree was private, Ancestry will list names from a private tree; you just can’t see the details of the tree without permission of the owner.  .

25 thoughts on “How Descendants Bear the Scars of their Forebears: The Legacy of Charles Hamberg and His Son Samuel

  1. Congratulations on the Hamberg Legacy. It was not what I expected. Since you haven’t found Samuel after 1930 I have to ask, did you look for him with the Hamburg spelling or the changed surname, Hampton?

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  2. Great story! Don’t know how far back State Boards of Pharmacy keep records but if they go back far enough, you may be able to find Samuel’s license in New Jersey and if he reciprocated his license to the other states he lived in they may have a record also. I suppose it is possible the reason he didn’t work as a pharmacist in PA is because he wasn’t licensed there.

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  3. You know, it is amazing at all that we can determine who someone was or is in the minds of those who followed. The “proof” keeps changing. The name changes complicate the puzzle, or spelling changes, or like you presume, distancing from people in the family. You have done such a fine job, here.

    There is one person in our family whom I’d love to learn about, to expose, and what he did in his past that we think made him change his name several times. This much we know: he had a criminal background, stole from my father, and behaved inappropriately with others. When his wife died, she had incriminating papers/evidence buried with her to protect him. To dig, or not to dig (not literally, I refer to research)? I’m itching to but so far have not to protect someone close to me.

    Great job, Amy.

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  4. Samuel’s personal family history seemed to resonate, very sad he could not settle. I note Aunt Clara being a steady influence when his children were young.

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  5. Excellent post Amy! You do a great job detailing your thought process as you search. I don’t know if I could do that, I never seem to get to finish anything in one sitting so I often forget what prompted me to look at a specific record. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Amberly. I like to do that for two reasons—so I can remember how I figured something out and so perhaps I can help someone else figure out a way to solve their own research issues. As for the first reason, it drives me crazy when I look back at my tree and wonder—how did I know that!?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I couldn’t agree more!! I go a little crazy when I have to retrace my steps to remind myself why I drew a certain conclusion. I suppose when my little guy is in school full time I will have the luxury of being more methodical and detailed but man I am in no hurry for that to happen!

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  6. Pingback: A Special Photograph | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

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